JUNE 2008

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 Chemical Co.

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 Saginaw Bay.

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’.