EPA Region 5 chief resigns after dispute with leaders
over Dow Chemical Co.
The head of the United States Environmental Protection
Agency’s (EPA) Midwest office (Region 5) in Chicago has resigned in a
dispute with agency leadership over enforcement actions involving Dow
Dow acknowledges it discharged dioxin, a highly toxic cancer-causing
chemical, into the water and air from its Midland plant for years, though
it says it stopped decades ago.
Mary Gade, whose departure is the latest in a series of public conflicts
between the EPA’s chief, Stephen Johnson, and his subordinates, comes
at a time when Johnson is under criticism from congressional Democrats
for some of his decisions.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Gade, a former corporate
attorney who advised the Bush presidential campaign in 2000 on environmental
matters and who was appointed to her post less than two years ago, said
she was forced to resign.
Gade linked the agency’s action to her office’s efforts to press Dow
Chemical to clean up a Michigan river system that is near a Dow chemical-manufacturing
plant. The river is contaminated as a result of past waste-disposal practices,
emissions and incineration at the Dow plant. The contaminated region
stretches from the plant down to the Saginaw River, its floodplains and
Michigan Environmental Council President Lana Pollack released a statement
expressing dissatisfaction with the way the situation ended. She stated
that Gade is ‘a woman of unquestioned credentials and integrity who was
doing her job enforcing our environmental laws’.