A coalition of statewide environmental groups will rate the Alabama Department of Environmental Management’s progress on addressing air and water pollution and the overall enforcement of environmental laws. Representatives of the coalition – which includes groups such as Conservation Alabama, the Alabama Rivers Alliance, Mobile Baykeeper and the Cahaba River Society – met with ADEM’s new director, Lance LeFleur, and briefed him on the areas that will be evaluated relating to the agency’s performance. This will be good for ADEM if it will take this in the right way. It will be beneficial to have the agency’s past performance evaluated.
The priorities presented by the environmental groups include improving ADEM’s enforcement of the Clean Water Act. Earlier this year, several of the same groups asked the EPA to take over water pollution monitoring and enforcement, charging that ADEM has been ineffective. The groups also will grade the agency’s performance on permitting, inspecting and monitoring storm water runoff from construction and urban development. ADEM’s performance as it relates to overall enforcement action against polluters will also be considered. ADEM has long been accused of not being consistent or aggressive with polluters. Hopefully that has changed, because the agency has a duty to protect the environment in our state.
The groups also plan to evaluate state progress on limiting the release of toxic chemicals into the air, which in many cases are concentrated in particular neighborhoods. The groups say that in 12 to 18 months, they will evaluate the progress or the lack thereof of ADEM under its new leadership.
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