Politicians and Pollution

A story that makes my blood boil: politicians dithering and being petty about enforcing environmental laws. They treat pollution like it is an earmark, or something to be bartererd. No you evil people, it isn’t – toxic death is permanent, and willfully destroying the health of your citizens should be a felony. The Illinois EPA is so corrupt and toothless, the entire organization’s staff should be fired, and new employees brought in, preferably not from the ranks of energy-related corporation employees.

Blago Jogging on May Street

Even though the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency had plenty of evidence to file charges against the owner and operator of Anchor Metal Finishing, top agency officials sat on the case for more than a year. Meanwhile, carcinogenic solvents and caustic acids kept leaching from barrels packed haphazardly into a ramshackle building, two blocks away from a Schiller Park subdivision.

What appeared to be an obvious violation of state environmental laws became entangled in one of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s political feuds, delaying action for months. Dozens of other cases against polluters languished as well, largely because Blagojevich and his top aides refused to refer them to his archnemesis, Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan, a Tribune investigation found.

The bitter dispute still reverberates through state government today, eight months after Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges and then impeached and removed from office. Nearly 19 months after it was discovered, the Schiller Park site still hasn’t been cleaned up, and several other older cases are moving through an enforcement system that Gov. Pat Quinn and Madigan only recently have begun to repair.

Blagojevich and Madigan started out on amicable terms after they were elected in 2002. But EPA referrals of civil and criminal violations to the attorney general began to drop sharply in 2005, and fell to a record low of 114 in 2007, according to state records.

The agency hasn’t sent a criminal case to the attorney general in two years, records show.

[Click to continue reading Illinois pollution enforcement hampered by politics — chicagotribune.com]

Up Yours Illinois!

and this is just horrible:

Federal regulators also cited Midwest Generation, the owner of six coal-fired power plants that records show are some of the biggest contributors to dirty air in the Chicago area. Madigan’s staff documented thousands of pollution violations at the plants, but the state EPA repeatedly refused to take action against the company, which was represented for years by one of Blagojevich’s top campaign aides.

Business lobbyists persuaded lawmakers in 2002 to require a less-confrontational approach that doesn’t involve the attorney general’s office unless there is an imminent threat to the environment; lawsuits still can be filled if an agreement can’t be brokered.

Although the state EPA declined to cite Midwest Generation — the agency agreed with the company that frequent bursts of soot from its coal plants weren’t harmful — Scott noted the Blagojevich administration negotiated a deal that will force the aging generators to clean up or shut down by the end of the next decade. Environmental groups are seeking to impose tighter deadlines.

Withered and Died

The EPA agreed with the polluter that frequent bursts of soot from its coal plants weren’t harmful? Un-fucking-believable. The EPA should be forced to move their offices to be located adjacent to pollution sites like the Midwest Generation plants, or adjacent to the Crestwood polluted well.

Read the whole article if you can stomach it.

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