The U.S. Chamber of Commerce acknowledged yesterday that it provided the Reagan White House in 1981 with a list of "unsympathetic" Carter administration holdovers in the Environmental Protection Agency and three federal deparments -- Labor, Energy and Justice.
Many of the 18 officials targeted by the Chamber were civil servants theoretically protected from political dismissals or demotions. One was later forced out when he refused an undesired transfer, while others said they were pressured to leave or given nothing to do. Still others remain in the government, however.
The Chamber released the list and associated documents after they were demanded by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), who led last year's congressional investigation of the EPA. One issue in that investigation was whether the administration improperly politicized the agency.
Dingell said earlier this week that he had evidence of a Chamber "hit list" at EPA, and sources said he suspected that there were hit lists for other agencies.
The congressman said yesterday that "the hit list of long-term career employes" sent to the White House personnel director by the Chamber "raises serious questions of legality."
Dingell said that "in some instances adverse actions were taken and in others strong pressure was applied to remove employes from their positions."
Many of those whose names appeared on the hit list said in interviews yesterday they did not know at the time that they had been singled out by the Chamber, one of the nation's most influential business lobbying groups. Some said they were puzzled about why they were on the list and others said they were pleased.
The list targeted 10 EPA officials, six Labor officials, and one each in Justice and Energy.
"I'm honored to be an enemy of the Chamber of Commerce," said Anthony Roisman, a former Justice Department lawyer who prosecuted azardous-waste violations and now heads Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, a firm that brings suits against government and industry. Roisman, who was singled out for harsh criticism by one Chamber official, said he quit the Justice Department in January 1982, when he found that he had no waste cases to prosecute.
"I'm really pleased to be in such good company. The people on the list were some of the best in the agency," said Barbara Bankoff, an EPA political appointee who was fired by former administrator Anne M. Burford but rehired after William D. Ruckelshaus took over.
"I think it was pretty stupid of them to put me on the list," said Roy Gamse, former deputy assistant EPA administrator in charge of economic analysis, now director of strategic planning for a private corporation, MCI. "Certainly within the agency I was seen as one of those who was on the side of weighing the economic impacts of regulation, rather than advocating purely the tightening of regulations."
Richard Lesher, Chamber president, provided the list to E. Pendleton James, then the White House personnel director, in August 1981 after complaining at a luncheon about the Carter officials.
The documents show that the "hit list" was welcomed at the White House by Wayne Valis, then a Reagan aide, who sent a copy to Lyn Nofziger, then the White House political director. Valis wrote Nofziger in a covering memo that was made public yesterday: " . . . There is a great deal of concern on the part of a number of our allies about Carter Administration holdovers whom the business community feels are unsympathetic" to Reagan's programs.
The Chamber documents show, as did disclosures in the EPA scandal, the close ties that Reagan administration officials maintained with industry. The administration has argued that it has changed its policies substantially since the departure of Burford and all but one of her political appointees.
But Democratic presidential nominee Walter F. Mondale has made the administration's environmental record a major issue, saying the president "would rather take a polluter to lunch than take him to court, and I'd like to try it the other way around for a while."
Among those on the Chamber hit list was Maxine Savitz, the Energy Department's deputy assistant secretary for conservation, who was fired when she refused an undesired transfer to Colorado.
At the EPA, those on the list included:
*Attorney David Tundermann, former director of policy analysis, who resigned after refusing a transfer to Cincinnati to head a health-effects laboratory, a post for which he had no background, informed officials said.
*Walter Barber, former deputy administrator, who left to go into private business.
*Marilyn Bracken, a senior official in the regulation of toxic substances, who resigned in 1982 after a series of conflicts with political appointees.
Those on the list who remain at the EPA included Steven Schatzow, deputy assistant administrator; Paul Stolpman, former associate administrator, and Bill Pedersen, of the general counsel's office.
Also on the EPA list were Eileen Clausen and David Sussman of the solid waste division. Their status could not immediately be determined.
Among those listed at the Labor Department:
*Ralph Hartman, director of the office of workers' compensation, and Ian Lanoff, director of the office of pension/welfare benefit plans, have left the agency, according to an employe roster.
*Bert Lewis, director of unemployment insurance service, and Monica Gallagher, an associate solicitor, remain on the staff.
The status of Robert Nagle, director of Labor's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., and Henry Rose, the corporation's general counsel, could not be determined immediately.