Oregon Senator Says EPA Actions Border on 'Thuggery'

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on May 14 criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's refusal to meet with Portland to discuss the city's sewer reconstruction program. 

"After the city of Portland and its ratepayers have shown their good faith by committing to years of effort and over $1.4 billion in sewer upgrades and have agreed to virtually all of EPA's requirements, it is flagrantly wrong that the administrator of the EPA and his staff now refuse to meet with city officials," Wyden said. "It's thuggery to tell the city to sign the agreement in five days or find themselves in court. No wonder Americans don't trust the Bush Administration to solve problems here at home."

Despite two years of negotiations and the city's agreement to abide by all of the EPA's requested corrective measures, the agency has taken the position that it does not believe that the city will complete its work without entering a consent decree. If the city fails to sign such a decree, EPA officials have issued an ultimatum that they will file a lawsuit claiming that the city is in violation of the Clean Water Act.
Portland Commissioner Sam Adams requested a meeting to discuss this issue with EPA Administrator Steven L. Johnson in a letter sent April 30, 2008. The EPA rejected the commissioner's request in a May 9, 2008 letter stating, "…we have concluded that it would not be productive to hold the meeting that you have requested."  That same letter also made clear EPA's intention to file a lawsuit.

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