Belatedly, a note on a Sunday article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on the state’s $13 million bailout of a solid waste management district in North Arkansas.

A bigger story seemed to lurk in a passage several paragraphs down in the article about a meeting of the state Pollution Control and Ecology Commission:

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Commissioner Wesley Stites, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, has asked the department for the past several months to provide him with a report on how the solid waste district failed and what the department can do to prevent another district failure in the future.

Stites chastised department officials last month for communicating with him verbally rather than providing a written report, which prompted department Director Becky Keogh to decline to speak to the commission as per usual this month. Department Senior Deputy Director Julie Chapman told the commission that Keogh declined because there was no longer a “symbiotic” relationship between the department and the commission.

The director of the state Department of Environmental Quality will not speak to the state Pollution Control and Ecology Commission or provide written reports? There is no “symbiotic” relationship?

Sound like a problem? Gov. Hutchinson?

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Environmentalists might tell you a larger problem is laissez-faire regulation by the state department, unsurprising since Keogh came from an extraction industry job (she’s also the sister-in-law of the state Republican Party chair). The governor, attorney general and Arkansas representatives in Congress have been endeavoring to do everything possible to reduce requirements on business to contribute to cleaner air and water. The permit for the Buffalo River watershed factory hog farm is not an isolated instance of questionable ADEQ work.

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