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Ties Between State EPA And Coal Companies Questioned

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Two environmental groups are calling on an audit of the Ohio EPA after the high-profile resignation of a top agency watchdog. As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports… the groups want to know more about the relationship between the Ohio EPA and the coal industry.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm

The Sierra Club and the Ohio Environmental Council want federal agents to take a closer look at the permits distributed by the Ohio EPA to coal companies.

Their call for an audit comes in light of the recent resignation of the Ohio EPA’s Division of Surface Water chief.

The chief… George Elmaraghy… said in an email to his staff last month that he was forced to resign by Governor John Kasich and Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally due to pressure from the coal industry.

The environmental advocates now want the federal EPA to look closer at permits distributed by the state agency in the last six months to figure out if there’s been any wrongdoing.

Jed Thorp, manager of the Sierra Club’s Ohio Chapter, says coal facilities have the potential to emit a large amount of pollution in streams and rivers.

“And it’s therefore essential that the people of Ohio know that those permits are being issued properly and that their streams and rivers are being protected," says Thorp. "And when there are questions about whether or not that’s happening properly—it’s completely reasonable to ask the U.S. EPA to take a look at those permits to make sure they’re being issued properly.”

The Ohio EPA says it does not discuss personnel matters but adds that their permits must already hold up against review from other groups including the federal EPA.

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