WASHINGTON - While Republican presidential hopeful Gov. George W. Bush and his transition team focus on high-profile offices such as secretary of state, names are surfacing for the agencies that matter most to the automobile industry.
For example, David Struhs could be the EPA administrator in a Bush administration.
He is secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection in Florida, appointed to that post by Gov. Jeb Bush, brother of the would-be president.
Struhs served as chief of staff for the Council on Environmental Quality in the White House under former President Bush.
Struhs could not be reached for comment, and industry lobbyists who were contacted said they either hadn't heard of Struhs or believe such speculation is premature.
But Frank O'Donnell, executive director of the environmental group Clean Air Trust, said of Struhs, 'He's a good guy who would try to do positive things.'
Environmental groups worry, however, how much clout any EPA administrator would have in a Bush administration, O'Donnell said.
During Struhs's tenure in Florida, the legislature and governor repealed the state's program of inspecting vehicle emission equipment for proper operation.
Environmental groups would be even more concerned, O'Donnell said, if Bush chooses someone vocally opposed to environmental regulation, such as Christopher DeMuth, president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
DeMuth also could not be reached.
Meanwhile, a name mentioned by safety officials as a possible administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is John Graham. He is founding director of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis at Harvard University.
The center says its purpose is to promote 'a reasoned response' to risks to public health, safety and the environment.
Its most recent automotive study challenged the assumption that all children under 12 are safer when seated away from airbags. Graham and other researchers found children in the 9-to-12-age group, if belted, get additional protection from front airbags.
Graham, who has done extensive research on motor vehicle safety, said he is not connected politically and has not talked with Bush transition officials. But he said, 'If the administration came to me and had a role of national significance, I would consider it.'