I have spent some time reading during the last few days. I read the proposed Consent Order between the DEQ and Dow Chemical that was released recently for public comment. I read (some of) the excellent assortment of technical and scientific articles posted by The Ecology Center on their web site as they relate to the problem in Midland, and I read the collection of relevant memoranda also posted on the subject.
I found one part of the whole package troublesome. The press release posted by The Ecology Center talked about many "illegalities" in the proposed Consent Order and referred the reader to memoranda prepared by Mr. Robert Reichel and Mr. Mike Leffler of the Department of Attorney General. Those memos were addressed to several honchos at the DEQ including Mr. Art Nash. (I found only Mr. Reichel's memo; the referenced memo from Mr. Leffler -- while quoted liberally in the press release -- was not posted by The Ecology Center.) I also noted that both memos reportedly carried dates three weeks to over a month earlier than the draft Consent Order released for comment.
Frankly, I could not find any of the "illegalities" specifically cited in Mr. Reichel's memo. Mr. Reichel cited several passages as being particularly troublesome, but I could not find those passages in the current draft released for public comment. It is obvious to me that he commented on an earlier draft that was substantially rewritten before release -- probably as a result of his and Mr. Leffler's review.
What I find particularly troublesome myself is the use of one set of comments to pass judgment on a revised document when one knows they are no longer linked. This tactic is a manipulation of the press (and of a trusting public) that I find objectionable. I have seen this tactic condemned in many messages posted to this august bulletin board. If we are to condemn someone for using the tactic while employing it ourselves, we can be no better than the original perpetrator. (Or does the end, in fact, justify the means?)
I implore everyone who wishes to comment on the proposed agreement to read it (as I did) and understand it (as I tried to) in order to make an informed decision. There are some good parts to the order and some not so good parts, too. You be the judge. If you intend to prepare comments (and I encourage everyone to do so) please base them on the facts and on your own interests, but please do not base them solely on what you read in the newspapers. The comment period is open through December 9.