Ritter administration’s Martin named regional head of EPA

Jim Martin, named just last fall to head the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, has been appointed regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region VIII office, Gov. Bill Ritter’s office announced Wednesday.

Martin formerly headed up the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment before being picked by Ritter to replace Harris Sherman at the DNR. Sherman was selected by the Obama administration as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary for natural resources and environment, in charge of the U.S. Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“Over the past three years, Jim has served the people of Colorado with great distinction as a key member of my administration,” Ritter said in a release. “He is widely respected and trusted by people with diverse and often opposing viewpoints because he is able to work through complex issues and find areas of common ground.”

Some of those issues include the long, winding and often arduous road to a Colorado roadless rule – a controversial petition to the USDA outlining how the state wants to manage 4.2 million acres of roadless public lands in Colorado. Some scientists and environmentalists have blasted the rule for allowing too many road-building exemptions or logging, coal mining and ski-area expansion.

Martin was also instrumental in crafting the recently passed Clean Air Clean Jobs Act, which requires Xcel Energy to close down or retrofit coal-fired power plants in favor of natural gas, and the state’s increased renewable energy standard, which requires 30 percent of the electricity produced by investor-owned utilities to come from renewable sources by the year 2025.

The EPA’s Region VIII office oversees Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. Martin is expected to continue with the state for several more weeks before transitioning to the EPA.

Martin, the former executive director of Western Resource Advocates, director of the Natural Resources Law Center at the University of Colorado School of Law and director of energy programs for Environmental Defense, also worked for former Colorado U.S. Rep. and Sen. Tim Wirth.

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