Anita Archie, who heads the commission that supervises the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, is the new lead lobbyist for the Business Council of Alabama. In that role, she is paid to represent the interests of the Council’s members. Many of those members are companies whose pollution permits are regulated by ADEM. That sure does seem like a potential conflict of interest. But, the state Ethics Commission apparently doesn’t see a conflict in Ms. Archie’s new job.
According to media reports, State Ethics Commission Chairman Jim Sumner has said the Commission does not “clear” jobs and that they have only advised Ms. Archie on how to avoid conflicts. The Environmental Management Commission sets air and water pollution regulations in Alabama and hears appeals from companies fighting punishments. Governor Riley appointed Ms. Archie to the commission in 2006. For the head lobbyist for the BCA to serve in her job is sort of like the fox guarding the hen house.
The federal Clean Water Act requires that state environmental agencies exclude any person who gets “a significant portion of income directly or indirectly from permit holders or applicants for a permit.” The federal Clean Air Act contains similar language. It was reported by the Mobile Press Register that 100% of Ms. Archies’ income will come from the Business Council. Alabama law requires any commission member with a potential conflict to sign a “general recusal” and refrain from voting on any water pollution issues for three years. That provision was created after Governor Riley asked the EPA in 2004 to determine if ADEM was in compliance with federal law regarding conflict of interest. It would appear that the better course of action for Ms. Archie would be to stick with her full time lobbying job and let somebody else serve as head of this very important commission.
Source: Mobile Press Register
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