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EPA Denies Withdrawal of Ohio's Environmental Programs Request

Chicago, IL - Following an extensive two-year review, U.S. Environ-mental Protection Agency Region 5 has found no basis to withdraw federal approval of Ohio environmental programs. Four Ohio environmental groups had requested the review.

"We exhaustively reviewed Ohio EPA's programs, along with each of the thousands of comments provided by the petitioners, the public and state officials. We found nothing that would justify the withdrawal of these programs," said EPA Region 5 Administrator Thomas V. Skinner.

EPA sent a letter denying the request to the attorney for Ohio Citizen Action, the Ohio Sierra Club, the Ohio Public Interest Research Group and Rivers Unlimited. It was at the request of these groups that EPA reviewed the state's administration of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery, Clean Water and Clean Air Acts. EPA also looked at Ohio's environmental enforcement offices and criminal enforcement program. EPA staff visited Ohio district and central offices, the Ohio attorney general's office and local air agencies; interviewed employees; and reviewed files.

In September 2001, EPA issued a draft report of its review and held two public meetings in Columbus to take comments. The public meetings were followed by a 60-day comment period. Although the draft report was critical of some Ohio programs, the reviewers said additional information and Ohio EPA's efforts to address program shortcomings led them to alter their preliminary findings.

EPA received and considered almost 6,700 comments during the review. Many of the comments identified facility-specific environmental problems, which are now being pursued by EPA's and Ohio EPA's enforcement staff.

The final report will be available in several site repositories in Ohio and online at www.epa.gov/region5/ohioreview.