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E-M:/ Dave Camp on EPA Region V chief Mary Gade

Dow spokesman John Musser said the company did not know Gade had been forced out. He said Dow still prefers to work with the EPA over Michigan officials, whom the federal agency has designated to oversee future dioxin cleanup.

But Gade's actions against Dow outraged many local officials in the Saginaw area.

"In 20 years of public life I have never encountered a more unprofessional, vindictive and insulting government official," said U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), whose wife is a former Dow attorney.

Critics said Gade's ouster was another example of the Bush administration working on behalf of polluters.

Said U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.): "I'm surprised if anybody is surprised by this."

A Chicago-area Republican, U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois, said: "Congress will want to make sure that no action was taken because an employee aggressively acted to protect the public."