May 18, 2004

Environment - Did EPA Rule on Hazardous Waste Favor Ohio Businessman Who Is a Big GOP Donor?

"Fundraiser Denies Link Between Money, Access ," is the title of this very long story yesterday in the Washington Post. A sample:

The Clinton proposal would have required that woven shop towels contaminated with chemical solvents be wrung dry for them to be treated as laundry, not hazardous waste. Last November, the EPA changed its position, adopting a more lenient proposal for the woven towels. Farmer and his industry were overjoyed, because the change promised to save them millions and preserve their advantage over the competition -- paper towels. "It would have been a big problem," Farmer said.

After a series of telephone calls, e-mails, letters and meetings with representatives of the laundry industry, the EPA had provided industrial-laundry lobbyists with an advance copy of a portion of the proposed rule, which the lobbyists edited and the agency adopted.

That same opportunity was not given to the rule's opponents -- environmental groups, a labor union, hazardous-waste landfill operators and paper towel manufacturers who argue their product should be treated as environmentally equal to laundered towels. The opponents say industrial laundries send tens of thousands of tons of hazardous chemicals to municipal sewage treatment plants and landfills where toxics can get into groundwater, streams and rivers. Labor unions contend that the towels expose workers to cancer-causing fumes.

Posted by Marcia Oddi at May 18, 2004 07:52 AM