Trump picks 2 Republicans from Washington state to work on EPA transition

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From left, former state Sen. Don Benton, of Vancouver, and state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale

SEATTLE (AP) — A Republican Washington state legislator and a former state lawmaker have been chosen by President Donald Trump to help reshape the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Seattle Times reports ( http://bit.ly/2jjVEEV ) that former state Sen. Don Benton, of Vancouver, and state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, are among 10 officials who joined the EPA over the weekend as part of a transition effort. Both Benton and Ericksen were early campaign backers of Trump.

Benton was named senior White House adviser supervising the EPA transition. Ericksen will act as communications director for the agency transition.

Ericksen said he does not intend to resign his state senate seat — but instead will fly back and forth to do both jobs. If Ericksen were to quit, it would leave the state Senate temporarily in a tie — a Republican led caucus now holds a 25-24 majority.

In a statement, Benton said he looked forward to working with career EPA employees “to make this transition work as well as possible, and to carry out the agency’s mission to protect public health and the environment.”

While Ericksen and Benton’s new roles are temporary — lasting up to a few months — they could transition to permanent jobs in the agency. Ericksen said he doesn’t want to live in Washington, D.C., but is interested in a local role, such as leading the EPA’s regional office.