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Petitioners statement:
The forthcoming U.S. EPA report on Ohio EPA


For immediate release
Monday, Sep 3, 2001

Contact:
Marilyn Wall, (513) 761-4003
Sandy Buchanan, (216) 861-5200
Noreen Warnock, (614) 263-4111
David Altman, (513) 721-2180

Late on Friday, August 31, the U.S. EPA issued a press release announcing the upcoming release on Tuesday, September 4, of the agency’s report on its 20-month review of Ohio EPA’s implementation of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Hazardous Waste (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) law. The agency has previously said that the scope of this review is 'unprecedented.'

The report is being issued in response to a petition filed by Ohio Citizen Action, Sierra Club - Ohio Chapter, Rivers Unlimited, and Ohio Public Interest Research Group, asking U.S. EPA to revoke Ohio’s authority to implement these major laws. The petitioners make the following statement in response to the press release:

"We are pleased to see that the U.S. EPA letter and press release verify that all three major environmental programs could face the withdrawal process unless changes are made or continued. The federal agency asserts that it perceives the problems of the air program to be the deepest. The petitioners never challenged the sufficiency of the criminal program, which received kudos from the Bush administration.

"The press release was couched in terms attempting to minimize the political damage to Donald Schregardus, former Ohio EPA director who faces a stiff fight in the U.S. Senate for confirmation as assistant administrator of U.S. EPA. However, the release does not exonerate Ohio EPA. Instead it says that Ohio must fulfill commitments it has made pursuant to the petition, and must continue actions which it has begun in order to continue to be allowed to administer the RCRA and Clean Water Act programs. Furthermore, despite the Administrator's spin, Region V states that the Ohio EPA must 'promptly initiate specific steps in order to avoid the possible withdrawal of the (Clean Air Act) programs.'

"The petitioners have not yet been provided a copy of the draft report, and therefore cannot say whether or not all charges have been verified by the U.S. EPA, although they have clearly found serious issues. We are eager to read the full report and recommendations. We disagree with the conclusion that delegation should not be withdrawn now.

"During the petition process, the petitioners urged the U.S. EPA to speak with and get testimony from citizens in Ohio. As the comment period and 'availability' unfold it will be important for the U.S. EPA to finally hear from citizens in Ohio."

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