Quit Polluting Our Aquifers. Please. Pretty Please.

Republican revolutionaries want environmental regulators who cooperate with business. Those who enforce Arizona's groundwater laws have to cooperate; there are too few of them to do much else.

Bouma does.
"I think Ed had a realistic picture of what would happen to him if he took on the mines," says Bouma. "And he decided, with all of his other problems, that he did not need to walk into that buzz saw."

Two years ago, Fox successfully fought off an attempt by industry lobbyists to scrap the entire aquifer protection program.

Last year, he defeated an effort by Bowers and Buster to pass a law that would speed up permitting times by forcing DEQ to issue permits within prescribed time frames. Such a plan would cripple DEQ's ability to obtain and process the critical data necessary to issue a reasonable permit, environmentalists say.

Governor Symington remained silent on the issue.
Fox also opposed a Bowers-Buster move to allow businesses that tell DEQ they have polluted to keep information on that pollution secret. The Legislature passed the bill.

Symington was faced with the very real possibility that the bill, which opponents labeled the Polluter Protection Law, would be shot down by voters in an initiative election. He vetoed it. But Bowers and Buster say the governor has assured them of his support when both of these bills come up again in 1996.

Fox is now an environmental vice president of Arizona Public Service Company, a state-regulated utility. As such, he's in no position to rankle either Symington or the Legislature. Insiders say he resigned because of the extremist, anti-environmental political climate emanating from the Governor's Office and the Legislature. Fox will only say he resigned because he grew "tired."

He remains outwardly loyal to Symington. The governor cares about clean air and water, he says. Don't listen to his rhetoric; look at what he's done.

One thing Symington has done is appoint a new director for the Department of Environmental Quality: Russell Rhoades, a former upper-level assistant administrator for the EPA in Dallas. Rhoades would not return phone calls or respond to a request for an interview.

But there are some indications of the new director's views toward environmental regulation. Rhoades wrote a letter to Governor Symington on December 1, 1995.

"I share your commitment to protecting the environment as essential to the sustained economic health of the State," he wrote.

He closed the letter by saying, "I look forward to working with you and our customers to continue advancing the needs of Arizona in developing national environmental policy."

The customers may be looking forward to it, too.

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