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IEPA Director Doug Scott embrolied in allegations
Posted By Jim Hagerty On August 26, 2009 @ 8:11 pm In Happening Now | No Comments
By Jim Hagerty, Staff Writer
Some say former Rockford Mayor and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director Doug Scott’s days at his current post are numbered. Others, specifically Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, say Scott has worn out his welcome and should be removed.
Scott was appointed by former Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) to head the Illinois EPA after serving four years as Rockford mayor. He was defeated by Larry Morrissey (I) in 2005 in his bid for a second term.
Hynes, who will reportedly begin a gubernatorial campaign, has criticized current Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn’s (D) leadership ability, most notably his decision to allow Blagojevich appointees to operate on what he calls a continuation of “pay- to-play” politics.
“The Blagojevich culture of politically driven decisions still has a foothold in Pat Quinn’s administration, and Illinois families are the clear victim,” Hynes claimed in a press release. “I am calling on the governor immediately to remove Doug Scott.”
According to reports, a number of state environmental wrongdoings have gone unreported by Scott’s office, including cancer-causing pollution and waste leaks in at least two Chicago suburbs.
Scott’s office has allegedly only brushed-over similar occurrences locally, such as the June 19 train derailment that allegedly spilled tens of thousands of gallons of ethanol into the Kishwaukee and Rock rivers, killing more than 70,000 fish.
The attorney general has been given the green light by the IEPA to pursue enforcement against Canadian National/Illinois Central Railroad for the accident, which also killed two people. However, a reported gag order and several conflicting reports have shed little light on the true nature of the environmental damage.
The IEPA is also said to have been too lenient on the city of South Beloit in requiring it to repair its wastewater treatment plant, which, for several months this year, had been leaking more than 700,000 gallons of untreated wastewater per day into the Rock River.
In a late July report, a representative from Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan’s office told The Rock River Times the office had not yet been contacted by the IEPA regarding the treatment plant problems.
IEPA officials initially gave South Beloit until Aug. 4 to draft a plan to fix leaks and an old pump, and a year to re-vamp the plant, or have the matter turned over the attorney general.
After the Chicago Tribune alleged the IEPA has been extremely lax in properly sending reports of violations to Madigan’s office, Scott admitted his office did have problems with the attorney general in the past. He did not, however, elaborate on them.
“There were some issues between us and the attorney general,” Scott told the Tribune.
Some assert the issues Scott referred to are connected to Madigan’s investigation of Rod Blagojevich and his alleged acts of making political appointments in exchange for campaign contributions.
Records show the IEPA, under Doug Scott, has not sent a criminal case to the attorney general in two years.
Rod Blagojevich was impeached in January after being charged with several federal crimes including allegedly putting the U.S. Senate seat, vacated by President Barack Obama (D), up for sale.
Before Hynes began calling for Scott’s head, Lisa Madigan’s office uncovered thousands of environmental violations by several coal-fired power plants owned by known Chicago-polluter, Midwest Generation. Those infractions were reportedly disregarded by the IEPA, while Blago’s administration began smooth-over attempts without keeping the attorney general abreast of its actions.
Midwest Generation owns five coal plants and was first cited by the IEPA for environmental infractions in 2007. Aside from its Chicago site, the company owns plants in Pekin, Waukegan, Joliet and Romeoville.
A Chicago-area coalition of environmental groups claims plants in Romeoville and Joliet cause more than 90 premature deaths and almost 7,000 asthma attacks each year. The coalition filed a civil suit against the company in July.
A federal investigation of the Midwest Generation case uncovered company ties to Blagojevich through a campaign aide.
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