Environmentalists are accusing the Indiana Department of Environmental Management of putting economic development above its core mission of protecting human health and the environment, reports the Post-Tribune of Merrillville.
In particular, environmentalists say, the agency is playing soft with petroleum giant BP and steelmaker U.S. Steel.
“They make it clear they see it as their jobs to issue more permits for businesses that can expand from jobs. They’ve been clear that’s how they see their main role although they say they protect the environment,” Bowden Quinn, a former environmental liaison with IDEM and now a conservation director with the Hoosier chapter of the Sierra Club, told the newspaper.
Tom Easterly, IDEM’s commissioner, has said that his agency’s goal is to “increase the personal income of all Hoosiers” to the national average “while maintaining and improving Indiana’s environmental quality.” Permits, Easterly stated, should be “without unnecessary requirements.”
Gov. Mitch Daniels has said he has given every department in his administration, including IDEM, responsibility for increasing personal income of Indiana residents.
Both sides agree that IDEM has cut into the agency’s backlog of permit applications.
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