A federal judge refused Friday to block the Bush administration's plan to transfer the Environmental Protection Agency's hazardous waste ombudsman to another office.

U.S. District Judge Richard W. Roberts ruled that Robert Martin had not exhausted all administrative remedies before going to court.

Martin, who handles citizen complaints on waste and Superfund matters, had asked the court to block EPA Administrator Christie Whitman from moving his office to the EPA Inspector General's Office.

The ruling lifted a temporary restraining order preventing the transfer; Whitman said the transfer was under way.

Martin and his supporters, including members of Congress, say the transfer from the Superfund section is meant to rein him in and weaken his independence. He says it is being done in retaliation for his criticism of Whitman's corporate ties in Superfund cases involving large-scale hazardous waste cleanups.

Whitman said in a statement that the decision will allow the agency "to proceed with our efforts to make the ombudsman function more independent."

Martin has clashed with EPA administrators while heading an investigation into the agency's 1991 decision to leave a radioactive dump in Denver.

Martin and the Government Accountability Project, which is representing him, plan to appeal the case administratively and ask for a stay to prevent the move.