Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore has filled the top environmental positions in his administration and, in contrast to those of his predecessor, his picks have been better received in the environmental community.

John Paul Woodley Jr., Gilmore's choice as Secretary of Natural Resources, pledged in a recent speech at the Virginia Military Institute's annual environmental conference that the new administration would follow through on its pledges to make waterways cleaner, work with federal regulators and vigorously enforce environmental laws.

Woodley said communities across Virginia are concerned about threats to their water and declared water quality improvement was Gilmore's top environmental priority. "Vigorous and fair enforcement of the state water control law is also a key element in our crusade for water quality," Woodley said.

His predecessor, Becky Norton Dunlop, had used the same forum in the past to blast EPA regulations as excessive and burdensome on industry and to say that natural resources were "dynamic and resilient." "We are hopeful that this is a new era for state government as far as environmental issues," Chuck Epes of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said after listening to Woodley.

As Secretary of Natural Resources, Woodley oversees eight state agencies and serves as Virginia's principal environmental policy maker. Prior to his appointment, Woodley served from 1994-1998 as deputy attorney general for government operations, a role in which he represented numerous state agencies, include those dealing with natural resources.

He oversaw several environmental enforcement actions, including actions against Lone Mountain Processing in Lee County, and Lorton Prison and Colonial Pipeline, both in Fairfax County. He also was in charge of the state's legal action to fight centralized auto emissions testing and imposition of the so-called "California car" requirements in Northern Virginia. In 1996, Woodley was principle staff support for the Governor's Commission on Environmental Stewardship.

Meanwhile, Dennis H. Treacy was named director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Treacy previously served as head of  governmental affairs activities for Browning-Ferris Industries operations in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

From 1990-95, he worked at the Virginia Attorney General's Office as an assistant attorney general in the Natural Resources Section, acting as lead counsel for the DEQ water and waste divisions, as well as the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Treacy has also worked at the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources as an advisor to the director for regulatory and policy issues and served as Assistant Attorney General at the West Virginia Office of the Attorney General, Environmental and Energy Division.

Also, David A. Johnson was named chief deputy of the DEQ. Johnson has been a sales engineer with Cummins-Wagner Co. Inc. in Richmond since 1987. From 1976 to 1987 he worked for Ingersoll-Rand Co. in Richmond.

Before Gilmore took office, Johnson was a member of the governor-elect's transition team for natural resources. He also served on the Governor's Commission on Environmental Stewardship.