Mayor names new director for D.C.'s Department of the Environment

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Local,DC,Eric P. Newcomer,Vincent Gray

Mayor Vincent Gray has picked a successor to Christophe Tulou, the former director of the District's Department of the Environment whom the mayor fired in August.

Keith Anderson, who served as Tulou's chief of staff, was chosen by Gray to run the office. He has been serving as interim director since Tulou was canned.

Tulou was axed after he went to the Environmental Protection Agency with concerns about the mayor's plan to delay an expensive rainwater runoff project meant to keep the District in compliance with federal requirements. Tulou filed a federal whistleblower complaint in the fall after he got the boot.

Some of the city's environmental activist community bristled at the decision to remove Tulou, who was originally appointed by then-Mayor Adrian Fenty.

D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh, chairwoman of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, said she is reserving judgment on Anderson until he appears before her committee.

"I wasn't consulted on this, nor did I have advanced notice. I'm just going to have to wait and see," Cheh said. "We'll have a hearing."

If the committee approves his nomination, the whole council will vote.

Cheh reflected on Tulou's tenure and said Anderson may be an abler leader.

"One of the issues with the prior director was his managerial skills. He was very bright and he did have vision and plans, but there was always the question 'Is he a good manager? Is he a good implementer of the plan?' " Cheh said. "Maybe [with Anderson)]we have a manager, maybe we have someone that if there's direction from the top knows you shouldn't necessarily go off in a different direction."

Rebecca Hammer, a local environmental activist, said Tulou did a "really good job" for the city.

"We were disappointed with how that ended, but we're hopeful that Keith will continue some of the good initiatives that Christophe got started," said Hammer, who is an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

In an interview, Anderson said the office will remain focused on the cleanliness of the Anacostia River.

"The mayor's made it clear to me that this is a commitment to him, to focus on the health and life of the Anacostia," he said.

enewcomer@washingtonexaminer.com

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