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Re: apologies for bashed mail message
> From: Rebecca Leighton Katers <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Mr. Mc Clintock wrote, disagreeing with the claim
> that agencies advise polluters to use loopholes.
I said "usually found by the consultant . . . " :<)
> When Granulation Technologies, Inc. in Green Bay failed
> their air test by gross margins, and DNR proposed
> simply to raise their limits --- DNR staff
> advised them to avoid serious permit
> reviews and an Environmental Assessment by
> pursuing a permit MODIFICATION instead of a
> permit ALTERATION.
Well, you are going to get me talking about a situation that is not
fully defined (lot of info missing). However:
Permit limits are not normally changed to a higher value unless an
error in the initial assumptions were found. If the original
assumptions were sound, then the permit limits are set by state
regulation and not *supposed* to be subject to alteration. If DNR
changed this without cause other than the plant wanted a break, it may
have been something to bring to the state attorney general . . . ?
> When we challenged them in court, DNR staff
> became champions of GranTech and fought us every
> step of the way when we tried to prove this new
> permit was an ALTERATION involving significant
> equipment and process changes. We wanted a full
> Environmental Assessment, but DNR blocked us.
Keep in mind that in most states, modification and alteration are
synonyms for many instances. DNR in this case makes a legal
distinction between the two. Was it an "alteration?" I am not saying
DNR was correct for changing the limits, but the permit change is not
an alteration to the plant, it is just a change to the limits on the
plant. DNR may have been "correct" in the format, but grossly unfair
to the environment in changing the permit limits. As to an EA, it
depends on the type of pollution - toxics, particulates, NOx, whatever.
Even a significant plant alteration may not entail an EA.
> Even though the DNR staff people and others might
> think they are basically nice people trapped in
> a bad situation --- this doesn't explain such
> serious gaps in ethical standards. How can so
> many 'nice' people deliberately mislead the
> public? Where is their sense of honor?
Well, I don't do any work in Wisconsin (for good reason?). :<(
However, if GT failed their compliance criteria for a pollutant by a
gross margin, then there may have been several different tacts you
could have taken other than to challenge the permit format,
particularly in an urban area. I don't know. Those DNR people
involved? Most states fine the plant and tell them to correct the
problem, here? I can't tell you that either - was their boss throwing
weight around, did a state senator threaten, did they honestly believe
the change was innocuous, were they "in pocket," or did not care -
can't tell without more info. By your description, those involved (DNR
and plant) have actually broken state law - can it be prosecuted?
I actually would appreciate more information on this instance by email
(we can probably pull the list server out of circ until later). Can't
say I'll help, but who knows? Remember that I write permits and do
emission testing, AND I have done audit work for the feds; well aware
of various tacts on both sides.
Should that serve as a descriptive effort for all DNR personnel? I
have seen a lot of state agencies pull the political line, but those
working on the front lines are normally not so blatant and actually do
some good. If you have industry in the area with working pollution
control technology and monitoring requirements - then some good is
being done. The difference between the potential and actual emissions
from a facility is usually large and the only people who monitor this
consistantly is your state agency folks. Without them your air and
water would be a LOT dirtier.
I helped write a brief for the Southern Env. Law Center in North
Carolina once on new groundwater rules; the scientific term for those
changes seemed to center on "sham" and "sucks" in my notebook. There
was reason to change things, but the stated errer well to the side of
industry and removed all hope of enforcement options. The state
rigorously pursued those changes, ignoring all advice to the contrary.
Do I judge all of the those working in the groundwater section by that
effort? No. I know the few involved in that effort and the many that
were not. I have an intense bitterness for the political interference
with the process, particularly when enforcement options are ignored for
various polluting plants. But I refuse to be blind to the efforts of
those who slave out each day trying to bring some order to the immense
industrial sector of this state or nation.