WASHINGTON — President Bush has nominated Stephen Johnson, a career employee who earned a reputation for fairness on pesticide issues, to be the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The nomination of Johnson, who has been the acting head of the agency since former Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt departed to become Secretary of Health and Human Services, won plaudits from organizations who have sometimes been at odds with previous administrators.

President Bush called Johnson “the first professional scientist to lead the EPA. He knows the EPA from the ground up and has a passion for its mission. He will listen to those closest to the land because they know our environmental needs best.”

“Steve Johnson’s nomination is significant to CropLife America, especially because of his intimate working knowledge of the agency’s pesticide programs and his familiarity with the crop protection industry,” said Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CropLife America, the organization representing the U.S. crop protection industry.

“We have had a long-term working relationship with Steve, and he is well respected by the stakeholders and constituents that work with the EPA on a daily basis,” Vroom said.

“CropLife America looks forward to working with Steve Johnson and helping him to face ongoing challenges such as scientific risk assessments, consultations under the ESA counterpart regulations, providing adequate resources and support for a strong pesticide regulatory program within EPA, and maintaining FIFRA’s position as a rigorous, science-based statute that is protective of public health and the environment.”

Johnson had served as assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances since June 2001, with responsibility for implementing the nation’s pesticide programs, until the president named him acting head of EPA.

He also served as deputy director of the Office of Pesticide Programs from May 1997 to April 2000. Previously he served for three years in OPP as director of the Registration Division where he administered the pesticide registration program.

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