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IDEM Restructuring Questioned by Legislature

January 29, 2009

Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner Tom Easterly Wednesday defended recent decisions to cancel air quality monitoring contracts statewide and shut down the agency’s Office of Enforcement. His testimony came as the House Environmental Committee considered legislation that would reverse those recent actions. IDEM’s decisions to cancel the air monitoring contracts and eliminate its office of enforcement have come into question not only by state legislators, but also by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has requested a meeting with Commissioner Tom Easterly to discuss the changes. The proposed Indiana legislation would require IDEM to re-open the enforcement office and go back to contracting with local agencies to monitor air quality. Easterly told the committee the moves were to save money and improve services, citing one example where contractors in Evansville hadn’t granted air permits for two years. Donna Bergman, a city employee who worked on the contracts, says that’s because her agency focused on businesses complying with permits that were already issued. Easterly says the shutdown of his agencies enforcement office was a restructuring measure, and enforcement will still be done, but within IDEM programs.

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