Heady times for the Environmental Protection Agency, which is being given Cabinet-level status by President-elect George W. Bush, and gets a high-profile governor as its next administrator. Bush has nominated Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey to the post.

Whitman would be the first governor to head EPA.

Whitman, 54, is in her second term as New Jersey’s governor. Her term ends in January, 2002. If approved by the U.S. Senate, Whitman would replace current EPA chief Carol Browner. Browner was a former environmental official in Florida. Whitman, an avid outdoorswoman, has no specific environmental background.

Whitman is a longtime Bush political ally who at one time was mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate, but her liberal views on abortion angered conservative Republican hard-liners.

The New Jersey governor gets mixed reviews on environmental issues. She pushed for open-space preservation in the nation's most densely developed state and refused to abandon an unpopular auto emission test designed to reduce air pollution. But critics say she cut environmental spending by 30 percent and relaxed enforcement of pollution laws.