"U.S. EPA is on the verge of having more vacancies than Senate-confirmed officials in its top jobs.
The departures of two veteran EPA leaders -- second-in-command Bob Perciasepe and top human resources official Craig Hooks -- will leave eight of the agency's 14 key political posts vacant. Most of those empty seats have nominees pending in the Senate, but the slow pace of confirmations, coupled with controversy surrounding EPA's policies, means it could be a while before the agency is operating at full strength again -- if it happens at all before President Obama's term ends.
The vacuum of Senate-confirmed leaders comes at a time when the agency should be running on all cylinders. The administration has made EPA regulations a centerpiece of its second-term agenda, having failed to move major environmental legislation through Congress but vowing to tackle climate change through the executive branch. Lawmakers have also pressed EPA to deal with some management problems that have cropped up recently, but those efforts could be hampered if outgoing managers can't be replaced."