Ousted Chief Blames Political Pressure
A former chief of Water Quality for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency believes political pressure may have cost him his job.
George Elmaraghy, 67, says he was forced to retire from his job at the EPA by his boss, director Scott Nally.
"I was devastated," Elmaraghy said. The news was so overwhelming Elmaraghy says he fainted and had to be taken to a hospital.
Elmaraghy had served the department for 39 years. His last day was Friday.
He says he never got an explanation, but believes the governor's office was upset because he resisted efforts from a coal company to approve a permit that would have allowed the company to potentially pollute streams.
He says Gov. John Kasich's office wanted him to issue those permits with "no numbers."
"They were telling us exactly what to do rather than allow us to discuss alternatives," Elmaraghy said. "The direction was to write permits without numbers."
10 Investigates asked whether he was forced because of bias.
"Is it possible you were just anti-development? Anti-big Coal," Investigative reporter Paul Aker asked.
"Absolutely not," Elmaraghy said. "I believe very strongly that we need to have economic development in the state of Ohio."
Kasich's spokesman, Rob Nichols, sent 10 Investigates a statement that implied Elmaraghy failed to properly process coal industry permits.
"When the EPA asked why Ohio wouldn't seek the same permit for its coal industry that the federal government approved 600 times in for West Virginia," Nichols wrote. "There was no good explanation at all."
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