President Bush, attacked by environmentalists for a string of perceived anti-green slights, has come out in support of legislation that would promote the Environmental Protection Agency to cabinet status, and make EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman a Cabinet secretary.

The White House said Bush would sign the legislation sponsored by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.). Republicans in Congress have generally opposed past efforts to elevate EPA to Cabinet status.

Boehlert's bill would create a Department of Environmental Protection. Whitman would not have to be confirmed by the Senate for a second time. Boehlert said the United States is the only industrialized nation whose top official on enviro issues lacks formal standing as a minister or Cabinet member.

Boehlert and other lawmakers have tried for more than a decade to get EPA a seat at the Cabinet table. Measures typically have failed because lawmakers used them to attach controversial provisions and pet projects.