Washington, D.C. -- The Senate has approved a bill that expands the duties of the Office of Ombudsman of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The bill calls for the president to appoint an ombudsman who will report directly to the EPA administrator. The bill adds increased administrative and investigative powers to the job and requires the ombudsman to appoint a deputy who will maintain contact with each region of the EPA. News sources report that under former administrator Christine Todd Whitman, the ombudsman’s authority to investigate problems for the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response had diminished. The bill currently is before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.