A watchdog group made up of government employees charged last week that a Michigan dioxin cleanup deal under negotiation between Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “would constitute a precedent-setting abdication of public health protection to a polluter.”
Jeff Ruch, a spokesman for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) told Michigan Messenger that the proposed agreement would be “advisory” rather than “regulatory,” enabling the Midland-based chemical giant to avoid costly remedial measures for dioxin — a potent carcinogen and toxin that was put into the Tittabawassee River in the 1960s by Dow’s Midland plant.

snip
Wendy Carney, a manager for EPA’s Superfund division who is involved in the current negotiations with Dow, said that won’t happen.
Region 5 EPA officials have briefed the new administration on the status of their negotiations with Dow, Carney said. She rejected PEER’s claim that a potentially binding legal contract could be created by Feb. 15.
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If Dow signs on to EPA’s proposed Superfund Alternative Site process, she said the agency will make the agreement public and solicit public comment for 30 days before approving it.

Some comments and perspective
EPA could accept a "good faith" offer from Dow  on February 15th and enter into closed door negotiations with the company.  Dow could take years to deliver on agreed upon work just like they have for the past 8 years.
 
As for soliciting public comment. Ms. Carney stated the public would be able to comment on any final document. Commenting on  and iinfluencing the content of a document are not the same. If the public were truly stakeholders EPA and MDEQ would not be meeting behind closed doors or entering a new process with Dow Chemical in the presence of a viable RCRA corrective action permit. Compare what EPA's Ms. Carney said ( above)  about public participation to what EPA's Mary Logan said two weeks ago when pressed on the issue by ousted Region V administrator Mary Gade. From the Bay City Times:

Gade asked EPA officials if they could guarantee the public will be able to comment on and influence a settlement before it's finalized.

"I'm not in a position to guarantee that," said Mary Logan, an EPA remedial project manager.

http://www.mlive.com/news/bay-city/index.ssf/2009/01/ousted_epa_official_stop_dragg.html

Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council