- The Washington Times - Friday, June 25, 2004

ANNAPOLIS — Lynn Buhl, whose appointment as environment secretary was rejected by the state Senate last year, soon will become Maryland’s deputy secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said yesterday.

Mrs. Buhl, the first Cabinet nominee ever to be rejected by the Maryland legislature, has since held a high-level position in the planning department.

She now will become second in command at the DNR. Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, appointed the current deputy DNR secretary to a newly created position concentrating on Chesapeake Bay restoration.

Mrs. Buhl’s new appointment doesn’t require the approval of the Democratic-controlled legislature.

“The vote on Lynn Buhl continues to be maybe the worst single moment out of the Maryland Senate in recent memory. Lynn Buhl was not treated fairly,” Mr. Ehrlich told reporters yesterday. “She’s a very bright, talented lady.”

Mr. Ehrlich cited Mrs. Buhl’s help during the 2004 General Assembly session, when she contributed to legislation streamlining the cleanup of polluted industrial sites. She also helped write bills streamlining state regulations on how farmers report their fertilizer use.

“Lynn Buhl was incredibly important to our administration last session,” Mr. Ehrlich said.

Environmental advocates, who criticized her nomination as secretary of the Department of the Environment, said Mrs. Buhl’s experience doesn’t meet the qualifications needed to help run DNR. She formerly was a midlevel manager in the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, a lawyer for the federal Environmental Protection Agency and DaimlerChrysler Corp.

“We’ve had the best and brightest minds in the country on this before,” said Dru Schmidt-Perkins, head of 1000 Friends of Maryland, an environmental lobbying group. “With the problems of the Bay and protecting open space, having someone with so little natural resources experience is puzzling.”

The position of deputy DNR secretary opened up when Pete Jensen announced June 4 he would retire. Instead, Mr. Ehrlich created a new job for him as associate deputy secretary, a position focused on the restoration of Bay grasses and oysters. Mr. Ehrlich aims to introduce non-native oysters into the Bay by next year and has accelerated studies to determine if the idea is safe.

Mr. Jensen earned $100,304 as deputy DNR secretary; his new salary hasn’t yet been determined, the governor’s office said.

Mrs. Buhl earned $112,454 as a program manager in the planning department; her new salary also wasn’t available.

The news that Mrs. Buhl would take over Mr. Jensen’s job surfaced yesterday in a story in the Annapolis Capital, which reported Mrs. Buhl could be Mr. Ehrlich’s choice for the position.

Mrs. Buhl will take over Mr. Jensen’s job by this fall, said Ehrlich spokeswoman Shareese DeLeaver.

DNR, an agency of 2,000 employees, also focuses on environmental issues — such as preserving open space, taking care of state forests, controlling invasive species and restoring Bay grasses and fisheries.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Prince George’s County Democrat, said of Mrs. Buhl when her nomination was rejected that she didn’t know enough about Maryland’s environmental issues.

Republican leaders called her “eminently qualified” for environment secretary.

Environmentalists will be watching Mrs. Buhl closely to gauge how effective she is, said Sue Brown, executive director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

“We really want to make sure DNR has the best and brightest and is doing its job,” Miss Brown said. “They have a critical role to play, and we want to see them well funded and well staffed.”

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