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EPA Chief Forced Out

By Kevin Robinson in News on May 2, 2008 4:44PM

2008_5_epa.jpgEPA Midwest administrator Mary Gade has been forced to resign her post. Last summer, Gade invoked emergency powers against Dow Chemical to force the company to clean up three toxic hotspots near their Midlands, Michigan headquarters. She had been fighting the company for years over dioxin-contaminated soil and sediment that extends 50 miles beyond the Midlands plant and into Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron. And when tests revealed that dioxin levels in along a park in Saginaw were the highest in the nation, she ordered more dredging. Dow and the EPA had been working out a deal over the cleanup, but Gade ended those negotiations in January, saying that Dow wasn't taking the steps necessary to protect public health. Company officials appealed to Washington, and Gade was forced from her position yesterday.

Gade, who was appointed to the EPA post by President Bush in 2006, led the Illinois EPA under former Governor Jim Thompson. "She is very committed to the environment, but she's not a fanatic," he told the Tribune. The former corporate attorney won praise from both politicians and environmentalists as someone who could bring together businesses and environmental groups. "We have a responsibility to make sure people are living in a healthy and safe environment," Gade said. "This problem has been out there for more than 30 years, and it's unconscionable that action hasn't been taken." Her departure leaves open the question of when dioxins in the state of Michigan will finally be cleaned up.