Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Saturday, December 02, 2006

"Time for the EPA to change its name"

Nice editorial today in the Daily News by Murf Raquet about Moscow's EPA problems. It's equally as applicable to Pullman's woes with the Department of Ecology:
Recent encounters with city of Moscow officials could lead one to question whether the Environmental Protection Agency deserves its middle name.

The whole stinky situation began about four years ago when the EPA cited the city’s wastewater treatment plant with the first of four violations of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit standards. The citations included violation of standards for total residual chlorine, fecal coliform, phosphorus and dissolved oxygen.

That’s the EPA’s job, to ensure what enters a system for cleaning emerges in the desired condition.

Moscow was having a few problems with the end product.

The EPA recently sent a letter to Moscow threatening fines of $11,000 per day if the agency believes the city isn't making an effort to resolve the issues.

The EPA added the city could face fines of $32,000 a day if the issue went to federal court — just a little friendly reminder to emphasize the situation’s serious nature.

Times are tough enough without facing the financial ruin of excessive fines.

But five-figure fines aren’t what’s got city officials wondering about the feds.

The last two violations occurred two years ago and have been resolved through improvements to the wastewater treatment plant. The other two violations will be addressed when the next phase of the treatment plant is completed.

“As we spoke with the folks at the EPA about improvements we are making, they were surprised at where we were in the process,” said Les MacDonald, Moscow public works director. “Our impression was that they didn’t know we were making improvements.”

They were surprised?

So much for protection.

This isn’t what taxpayers expect from the agency. If this degree of inattention exists throughout the United States, it’s time to change the EPA’s middle name.

No comments: