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EPA Report: Problems, recommendations and the state's response

The Associated Press
9/5/01 7:00 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Four Ohio environmental groups asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1997 to revoke the authority of its state counterpart to administer several federal programs, including the Clean Air and Clean Water acts.

The groups questioned how the Ohio agency deals with regulated facilities, follows up on complaints, monitors facilities, issues permits, sets standards, releases information to the public, pursues enforcement, and conducts and oversees cleanups.

A draft review of the programs in question was released by the EPA this week. While it did not find enough cause to revoke the Ohio agency's administration of these programs, it did find several problem areas.

Following is a breakdown of what problems were found, what recommendations were made and how the state has or plans to respond:

IMPLEMENTATION

Problem: The state agency has not finished putting its acid rain program in place.

Recommendation: Set up and begin enforcing the required acid rain program.

State Response: "In order for Ohio EPA to enforce these standards, state rules must be proposed and adopted. A draft of these state rules has been developed, and will be distributed to stakeholders for public comment before the end of September."

TRACKING

Problem: The state agency has not submitted plans for inspecting and tracking compliance with the Title V program, which deals with air pollution.

Recommendation: Submit a plan.

State Response: "While this is true, it should be noted that this application was submitted in 1994 and approved in full by U.S. EPA in 1996, and this concern was never brought forward during the application review period. Ohio EPA is happy to work with U.S. EPA on this issue."

ENFORCEMENT

Problem: The state agency does not have procedures in place to check the accuracy of statements made by regulated industries.

Recommendation: Submit a plan for approval by the EPA on how it identifies, permits and monitors clean air programs.

State Response: "U.S. EPA's concern seems to be specifically that Ohio EPA does not routinely obtain samples of paints used in industrial applications for independent laboratory analysis of their composition. This is an issue Ohio EPA will discuss further with the federal agency."

PUBLIC RELATIONS

Problems: The agency is not making permit applications available to the public.

Recommendation: Require companies to submit permits that can be made available to the public. Also, better define and expand the role of the public in regulatory activities.

State Response: "The draft report inaccurately alleges that Ohio EPA is not obtaining public versions of the Title V permit applications. Out of the total 839 Title V applications, there are four facilities that have not supplied a public version of the application. In each of these cases, Ohio EPA has initiated the enforcement process to obtain the applications."

The state said regarding public participation, it will be happy to work with the EPA to "clarify" it public participation programs, of which there are several.

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The 224-page EPA draft report is available for download: http://www.epa.gov/region5/ohioreview

Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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