EPA rejects La. challenge to DEQ

05 18, 2012 by The Advocate

Two environmental groups sent a letter Thursday to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency renewing their request that EPA take over the state’s authority to manage the Clean Air Act program, but EPA officials indicated they are satisfied with the job that the state is doing.

The letter written by the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and the Environmental Integrity Project, of Washington, D.C., is a follow-up to a similar request the groups sent to EPA in December.

In a statement released by EPA’s Region 6 spokesman, Dave Bary, the federal agency expressed satisfaction in the job the state Department of Environmental Quality does in administering the Clean Air Act.

“Through annual EPA audit and review processes the EPA remains confident the LDEQ will continue to ensure the protection of public health and the environment throughout the State of Louisiana,” Bary said.

The most recent letter from the Louisiana Bucket Brigade alleges the state DEQ’s staff arrive at the scene of industrial releases too late to monitor possible impacts, that DEQ doesn’t collect enough Title V Clean Air Act fees to pay for an effective program and that DEQ’s management of the program puts community safety in jeopardy.

“Clearly, they’re not up to the job,” Anne Rolfes, founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, said about DEQ.

A DEQ spokesman released a statement saying staff at the state agency strongly disagree with the contents of the letter from the Bucket Brigade.

“The Bucket Brigade and Environmental Integrity Project have once again made erroneous and misleading claims about DEQ’s ability to protect human health and the environment,” DEQ spokesman Rodney Mallett said. “The allegation that ‘LDEQ failed to show up at the scene of four recent accidents until it was too late to assess the threat to the public health’ is an outright fabrication.”