updated 10/10/2006 5:57:40 PM ET 2006-10-10T21:57:40

A former pesticide industry executive has been selected to lead the Environmental Protection Agency's regional office here.

Elin Miller, 46, will serve as regional administrator for the EPA's Region 10, which includes Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Idaho.

She's scheduled to start work Oct. 30, taking over from Ron Kreizenbeck, who has served as acting regional administrator since July.

Miller will oversee regional operations on issues from water quality to toxic cleanup and pesticide safety. The agency handles cleanup of polluted sites such as the Duwamish River and the Asarco smelter near Tacoma.

While Miller can advocate for the regional office if conflict arises in Washington, D.C., she won't be free to set policy, said Bill Dunbar, a former EPA spokesman now working as a private consultant.

Miller was chief deputy director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. She was appointed by Republican Gov. Pete Wilson in 1995 to head the Department of Conservation, which oversees oil and gas production.

Worked for Dow, Arysta
She worked as an executive at Dow Chemical from 1996 to 2004, overseeing public affairs and the global pest-management and Asia Pacific operations, according to an EPA news release. Miller most recently served as president of the North American arm of Arysta LifeScience, a Tokyo-based pesticide maker.

While working in the pesticide industry, Miller served on the boards of two leading industry lobbying groups, CropLife and Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment.

Pesticide industry officials said Miller is smart and evenhanded, with experience as both a regulator and a businesswoman.

"The people in government I know that worked for her had a lot of admiration for her, because she took off her industry hat when she went in and went to work there," said Jay Vroom, president of CropLife America, a group representing the pesticide industry.

"I think she's a consensus builder," he said.

Some environmental groups are wary, however.

"It doesn't bode particularly well for her taking a strong stance on improving protections," said Carol Dansereau, director of the Farm Worker Pesticide Project, a nonprofit that works on pesticides and farmworker rights in Washington.

Miller, who lives in Umpqua, Ore., could not be reached for comment Friday, but in a statement expressed interest in hearing everyone's opinion.

"The best solutions to difficult challenges are those developed locally and collaboratively, with all parties actively engaged in the process," she said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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