One of EPA’s Finest

A longtime leader of EPA passed away suddenly on Friday, July 26, 2013.  Ira Leighton was the Deputy Regional Administrator in New England; more importantly he was my colleague and friend.

EPA Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding (left) and Deputy Administrator Ira Leighton (right)

EPA Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding (left) and Deputy Regional Administrator Ira Leighton (right)

Ira started his legacy at EPA on June 11, 1972, just over two years after the Agency was created.  He participated and helped lead EPA through historic environmental progress.  Ira was an early pioneer in the Waste programs at EPA.  He began his career working with states before Superfund law existed, and he participated in not only developing but executing on our Superfund law in communities around New England.  To put that in perspective, there are 118 Superfund Sites in the region, and Ira Leighton has touched every single one of them in some way or another.

Then, Superfund was the ‘next big environmental challenge.’  Today, those challenges have grown.  Ira liked to say that he would “skip to work” every day because he felt privileged to have the opportunity to tackle the next big environmental problem.  He was proud of his mission:  to protect public health and the environment, and he did it by executing on successful programs and working with partners, especially state partners to make environmental progress in New England.

Curt Spalding (left) and Ira Leighton (right)

Curt Spalding (left) and Ira Leighton (right)

To use one of Ira’s favorite phrases, “break through outcomes” happen when we listen intently, and work honestly with partners from communities, states and the private sector.  That piece of wisdom will help us tackle climate change and all the complex challenges ahead.  Ira led a life of consequence for the people of New England and the country.  He will be missed beyond measure, but his legacy will live on as we strive to achieve “break through results” for years to come.