Trickle-Down Theory

Industries get a big say in rewrite of water-pollution laws; public may pick up tab

DEQ officials did not return telephone calls.
"It's a stacked deck," says task-force member Peggy Wenrick, of the Tucson Audubon Society. "We have a pretty clear idea that legislators want to let polluters off the hook."

Including Wenrick, three representatives of citizens groups serve on the task force. But there are 14 representatives from the "private sector," which include representatives of industries known to pollute groundwater.

The task force also includes five members from state agencies and eight delegates from cities, as well as representatives from Salt River Project, the Roosevelt Irrigation District and a private water company.

The task force is co-chaired by two environmental attorneys, Karen Peters and James Derouin, who count industries among their clients. Both say, however, that they are neutral.

"I have no dog in this hunt other than good public policy," says Derouin.
Both Derouin and Peters are convinced that citizens are represented in the task force because officials from cities and the state are in effect also citizen representatives.

What's more, they say, the task force is divided into smaller groups, and members of the public are encouraged to participate in these committees and attend meetings.

But Tom Dwyer, a Phoenix automobile broker who has attended a few of the meetings, says the assemblies are scheduled during the weekdays, which makes it nearly impossible for working people to attend.

"I had an opportunity to speak," he adds, "but I don't know what effect it had.

"I was left with the impression it didn't have any effect at all.

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