By Jeff Rice, Puget Sound Institute
The Environmental Protection Agency last week announced the appointment of Alaskan Chris Hladick as new head of its Region 10 office based in Seattle. Hladick was appointed by EPA chief Scott Pruitt to serve as regional administrator overseeing environmental protection efforts in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington including Puget Sound.
Hladick is currently commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development for the State of Alaska, and earlier served as city manager for Unalaska and other cities within the state. According to a press release from the EPA, Hladick was a member of the Alaska Legislature’s Arctic Policy Commission and Northern Waters Task Force. Both groups were formed to explore economic development such as oil and gas drilling as well as resilience in response to “the opening of Alaska’s Arctic waters” due to global warming.
Hladick replaces interim Acting Regional Administrator Michelle Pirzadeh who took over for Dennis Mclerran earlier this year. Mclerran had served under the Obama administration and resigned on January 19th just prior to the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
EPA Region 10 oversees a variety of cleanup efforts in Puget Sound including several Superfund sites and regional tribal programs. It also distributes local research grants through the EPA’s National Estuary Program, which includes funding for the Puget Sound Institute.