Personal tools
You are here: Home News Headlines Wetumpka Herald editorial: Will feds take over environmental regulation?
Sections
Document Actions

Wetumpka Herald editorial: Will feds take over environmental regulation?

by Katie Shaddix last modified February 08, 2010 11:39 AM

State conservation groups are asking the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency to assume Alabama’s regulatory authority over the federal Clean Water Act, charging that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) is failing to enforce provisions of the act.

Will feds take over environmental regulation?

By Bob Martin
Email this story | Print this story

 

State conservation groups are asking the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency to assume Alabama’s regulatory authority over the federal Clean Water Act, charging that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) is failing to enforce provisions of the act.

ADEM is accused of failing to issue penalties for pollution violations as required under federal law, failing to respond to complaints and information from citizen whistle-blowers and inspecting only 20 percent of large permit holders in 2009. Federal law requires that all of the major permit holders be inspected annually.

A representative of the Alabama Rivers Alliance met with EPA officials in Atlanta last week to present the petition which also alleges the state has failed to provide adequate funding and resources to enforce the federal statute and has failed to hire enough inspectors to keep track of the thousands of pollution permits on file.

The petition comes on the heels of last month’s resignation of Trey Glenn, the embattled director of the agency who spent two years battling ethics charges which were eventually dismissed by a Montgomery County Grand Jury. Glenn supported some controversial positions during his service, including an effort to enable Alabama businesses to emit more air pollution than their permits allow, something the federal Environmental Protection Agency has so far refused to authorize.

The petition also charges that there is no record of ADEM ever inspecting at least nine coal mines in the state that have water pollution discharge permits and that other coal mines had not been inspected in seven or more years.

 

“Double-Down David”

The head of Gov. Bob Riley’s gambling task force, retired District Attorney David Barber of Birmingham, has resigned after admitting that he recently walked away with $2,300.00 at a Mississippi Indian Casino.

Barber was recently thwarted from raiding a new entertainment facility in Dothan called Country Crossing to seize electronic bingo machines he claimed were illegal. Barber’s resignation because of his own gambling excursion has resulted in Houston County District Attorney Doug Valeska withdrawing his invitation to the task force to make any additional raids in the county. “While my actions were in full compliance with the law, I am convinced that the forces that operate illegal casinos in Alabama will focus on my actions as part of their continuing effort to smear you and your Task Force,” Barber wrote to Riley last Wednesday. That is probably an accurate assumption.

I am told that Riley knew Barber’s letter of resignation was coming before he addressed the legislature last Tuesday and spent about seven minutes talking about “illegal gambling in Alabama.” However, the governor’s office didn’t release the information until just before 5 p.m. Friday, long after Riley had left on a trip to Costa Rica.

It is interesting that Barber is reported to have gambled at the Golden Moon Casino owned by the Mississippi Choctaw Indians, the same casino group which is alleged to have given the governor over $2 million in his successful 2002 campaign, something the governor has denied. This has caused some to question just how much cash Barber actually walked away with at the Golden Moon. He has since acquired several nicknames, including “Double-Down David.”

 

“We have a governor who takes Mississippi gambling money and then his anti-gambling czar wins thousands from the same casino bosses who contributed to Riley’s campaign and benefit from the actions of both,” said Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, a candidate for governor who supports taxing and regulating gaming to support education in Alabama.

Country Crossing owner Ronnie Gilley says all the machines at his establishment meet the criteria set down by the Alabama Supreme Court for electronic bingo machines and that Barber was invited to inspect them “without the necessity of raids with machine guns and body armor.”

Items of note

Montgomery attorney George Beck has now been recommended by Congressman Artur Davis to be the next U. S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. Beck practices law with the Capell & Howard firm. I understand he is acceptable to the White House and Alabama’s two U. S. Senators.

During my tenure as an administrator with the state court system, I met a lot of dedicated judicial officials. Two who I came to know and appreciate died last week. They were Retired Circuit Judges Joe Macon, 92 of Wetumpka and Charles Crowder, 72 of Birmingham.

 

Bob Martin is editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent. E-mail him at: bob@montgomeryindependent.com.


Powered by Plone CMS, the Open Source Content Management System

This site conforms to the following standards: