EPA administrator “Lisa Jackson has ordered the Great Lakes office of EPA to stop negotiations with the Dow Chemical company — begun in the last days of the Bush administration — over controversial dioxin cleanup in the Saginaw Bay watershed.” The Wonk Room reported in May 2008 how regional EPA administrator Mary Gade, in a scandal reminiscent of Alberto Gonzales’s firing of U.S. Attorneys, was pushed out by Bush appointees for her efforts to make Dow Chemical clean up its century-old toxic waste. Center for American Progress senior fellow Robert Sussman called her firing “highly irregular”:
If her only sin was zeal in protecting the public, firing her was wrong and will send a troubling message to EPA employees all across the country who are trying to do their jobs. Clearly, it’s up to Steve Johnson to explain why he fired Mary and up to Congress to investigate the circumstances.
Despite Congressional inquiries, Administrator Johnson never explained the firing, and only left his post when Bush left office. Now, however, Sussman — who supervised Obama’s EPA transition team — is the EPA’s senior policy counsel. According to the Michigan Messenger’s Eartha Jane Melzer, “Jackson also stated that newly appointed advisor, Robert Sussman, would provide oversight on the matter.”
Cleaning up the toxic Bush legacy will take years, but this is an welcome start, especially for the residents of Saginaw Bay.