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Obama pick for highway safety post withdraws

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KEN THOMAS | May 12, 2009 10:26 AM EST | AP

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WASHINGTON — A top official with Mothers Against Drunk Driving who was chosen to oversee a federal highway safety agency has withdrawn his name for the post, the White House said Tuesday.

The Obama administration said in April it intended to nominate Chuck Hurley to become the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Hurley, who was not formally nominated, is a longtime safety advocate and has served as MADD's chief executive officer since 2005.

Some environmental groups had questioned Hurley's commitment to tougher fuel efficiency requirements and his ties to automakers. MADD has received funding from several auto companies, including General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor Corp., Ford Motor Co. and others.

The federal agency oversees highway safety programs and sets fuel efficiency and safety requirements for car companies.

President Barack Obama worked with Hurley while serving as a state senator in Illinois to strengthen the state's auto safety laws. Hurley has also worked for the National Safety Council and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

At MADD, Hurley has pushed states to adopt tougher drunken driving laws and require first-time offenders to use ignition interlock devices on their cars. The devices require drivers to blow into an instrument that measures alcohol and prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver's blood alcohol concentration exceeds a certain level.

MADD, a Texas-based nonprofit organization, was instrumental in pushing Congress to set aside federal highway funds for anti-drunken driving efforts and to raise the federal minimum drinking age to 21.