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Ohio groups want feds to audit state EPA to check on coal influence
Environmentalists' push follows resignation of head of surface water

Andy Chow
The head of the surface water division says he was forced out by the governor under pressure from the coal industry.
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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  EPA and the coal industry.

LISTEN: Chow on the fight over coal influence

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

Their call for an audit follows the recent resignation of the head of the agency’s Division of Surface Water.

The chief, George Elmaraghy,said in an e-mail to his staff last month that he was forced to resign by Gov.John Kasich and Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally because of 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.

Jed Thorp, manager of the Sierra Club’s Ohio Chapter, says coal plants can emit a large amount of pollution into waterways.

 “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. 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.”

The Ohio EPA says it does not discuss personnel matters, but that its permits already must hold up under scrutiny from other groups, including the federal EPA.


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