Top Toxics Regulator Resigns in Sign of Possible Reform

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SANTA MONICA, CA –Today’s resignation of Debbie Raphael, Director of the Department of Toxic Substances Control, is a hopeful sign that the Brown Administration will finally clean up a deeply troubled department, Consumer Watchdog said today.

“We hope that this is just the start of a thorough housecleaning at the DTSC by Governor Brown,” said advocate Liza Tucker.

In a report released in 2013, Tucker documented the department’s shortcomings, including poor enforcement of some of the nation’s toughest environmental laws, allowing toxic polluters to keep polluting on expired permits for years at a time, granting permits to serial polluters, and levying wrist-slap fines.

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“Californians are waiting for an aggressive advocate who is serious about protecting the public from toxic harm by taking tough enforcement measures against companies that willfully threaten the public health,” said Tucker. “Governor Brown must appoint such a person.”

Tucker said that whoever Brown appoints to replace Raphael must be free of the influence of polluters, but that the legislature must also act. “It is imperative that the legislature not drop its effort to enact systemic reforms to prevent serial polluters from getting new permits, or polluting without either punishment or payment to fix their operations and clean up their messes.”

Tucker said that under Raphael, enforcement had languished, the permitting department did not understand its mission, the Office of Criminal Investigations, which is the only division of California EPA with sworn peace officers on staff had been sharply cut, and that the DTSC did not use the financial tools at its disposal to make sure that polluters paid to fix their operations and clean up their messes.

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Liza Tucker
Liza Tucker
Liza Tucker is a consumer advocate for Consumer Watchdog, following everything from oil and gas to the regulation of toxic substances in the state of California. She comes to us from Marketplace, the largest U.S. broadcast show on business and economics heard by ten million listeners each week on 400 radio stations. Liza worked at this public radio show for a decade, first as Commentary Editor and then as Senior Editor for both Washington and Sustainability News.

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