Update on March 6: Former Maine DEP Commissioner Paul Mercer has decided not to accept a job offer to be regional administrator to the EPA’s Region 1 office in Boston. An internal email to staffers last week said Mercer was supposed to begin work on March 4, but the appointment hadn’t yet been publicly announced as of the publish date of this story. An EPA spokesperson wouldn’t comment, beyond saying in a written statement, “We have no personnel announcements in Region 1 at this time.” Mercer confirmed to WGBH News that he’s not accepting the job and said only that it was for personal reasons.

Along with news that the acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency, former energy lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, was confirmed by the Senate today to officially lead the agency, there’s also a new head of the regional EPA office here in New England. WGBH News has learned that Paul Mercer, the former head of Maine's Department of Environmental Protection, has been appointed to lead the agency's office in Boston. WGBH Radio's Craig LeMoult has been following this story and spoke with WGBH All Things Considered anchor Barbara Howard about it. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Barbara Howard: So have you had a chance to talk to Mr. Mercer?

Craig LeMoult: I did briefly speak with him today, but he declined to be interviewed because his appointment is actually not formally announced yet. There was an internal e-mail in the regional EPA office that said he would be coming on.

Read more: Paul Mercer Appointed To Head New England EPA Office

Howard: He's coming from being the head of the Department of Environmental Protection up in Maine. What was his legacy up there?

LeMoult: I talked with a few environmental groups in Maine about Mercer, and for the most part, he got pretty good grades. Sean Mahoney, head of the Conservation Law Foundation's Maine office, said, "From all that we could tell, he was a leader at the DEP that respected the staff, respected their expertise, and respected the importance of science and facts."

Howard: OK, but Mercer served under Maine's former governor, Republican Paul LePage — he's pretty well known up in those parts.

LeMoult: Yeah, and not an environmental governor, we’ll say. From what I'm told, Mercer actually replaced a DEP head in the state who was not at all popular with environmentalists. And it was a pretty tumultuous time for the department. Pete Didisheim of the Natural Resources Council of Maine told me LePage was not at all a fan of environmental regulation. Didisheim said, "The mantra of the LePage era was to not enforce environmental laws, and the number of enforcement cases collapsed throughout those eight years. And I would say that didn't change while Paul Mercer was the commissioner."

LeMoult: So a little bit of criticism there, but despite that, Didisheim is optimistic that the choice of Mercer to head the New England EPA office is a good one. He says it's as good a choice as he could expect under the Trump administration.

Howard: While at the EPA, he's once again under the administration that's been critical of his agency's role, right?

LeMoult: Yeah, exactly. The Trump administration has actively sought to roll back a wide range of environmental regulations and has allowed the EPA to shrink by attrition. I recently spoke with a number of current and former employees in the regional EPA office here who described a demoralized office that's struggling with its sense of mission as it's being diminished.

Read more: Boston's EPA Office Is Shrinking, And Employees Are Speaking Out

But I spoke with former Maine state Sen. Tom Saviello, who chaired the state's Environmental and Natural Resources Committee, and he worked a lot with Mercer. He said that Maine experience is good preparation for this new job, saying, "I think he's going into a situation where the environment is not a priority to this present administration, and to put somebody like Paul in there is putting somebody who really does care about the environment. I'm actually surprised that he got the appointment, to tell you the truth."

LeMoult: So Mercer is expected to start the job on Monday, and we'll be covering him from now on to see how that goes.

Howard: That's WGBH Radio's Craig LeMoult, telling us about Paul Mercer, the incoming head of the EPA regional office in Boston. This is WGBH’s All Things Considered.