WASHINGTON — State environmental officials disgruntled with the Clinton administration's tough air quality standards for industry plan to meet next week to plot strategy for dealing with the next president.
The gathering of regulators struggling with current Environmental Protection Agency air pollution standards was arranged by Michigan Gov. John Engler's top environmental official, Russ Harding.
Engler is a top supporter of Republican George W. Bush's presidential bid. But Ken Silfven, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, said the meeting is not connected to any campaign.
Silfven characterized the gathering as a policy discussion among officials who believe the EPA's air quality standards are too cumbersome for industries to comply with or for states to implement.
"It isn't a G.W. or an Al Gore meeting," Silfven said Thursday. "The fact is that there is an upcoming election and there will be new members of Congress, regardless of party, and a new administrator, regardless of party. Obviously the timing is right."
Vice President Gore, the presumptive Democratic nominee, is the administration's point man on environmental issues.
Harding invited top regulators from 17 other states involved in major policy fights with the EPA to the Thursday conference in Detroit. Representatives of auto makers, utilities, paper and oil industries plan to meet at the same hotel on the same day, then come together for a brief meeting with the state officials.