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OH--EPA Review-Glance

The Associated Press
11/13/01 6:11 PM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is conducting its largest-ever review of a state counterpart.

The review of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was sparked by four environmental groups who accused Ohio of being lax with polluters.

In 1997 Ohio Citizen Action, the Ohio Public Interest Research Group, Rivers Unlimited and the Sierra Club asked for federal revocation of the Ohio EPA's authority to administer programs under the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and hazardous waste laws.

According to the draft report released Sept. 4, the Ohio agency:

--Doesn't employ enough people to run its clean air programs, has too many vacancies in its Division of Air Pollution Control and lacks a training program to ensure statewide consistency.

--Has no "procedures to check the accuracy of statements made by regulated entities."

--Reported declining numbers in recent years of air inspections, conclusions to enforcement cases, complaint investigations and amounts of penalties collected.

The Ohio EPA disputes the report on several points. Among the responses:

--The federal EPA looked at the wrong database when it determined the state inspected just 105 of Ohio's largest air emissions sources in 1999. The state says there were 698 inspections.

--The state has 14 staff vacancies in its air programs -- not the 179 reported in the review.

--Numbers of enforcement cases resolved and penalties collected had fluctuated from year to year, not decreased.

The U.S. EPA is accepting written public comments on its draft through Dec. 13.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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