By Julie Carr Smyth
COLUMBUS: Four Democratic lawmakers asked the state watchdog Tuesday to investigate allegations of political pressure at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Their letter to Inspector General Randall Meyer seeks review of pollution-discharge permits for 13 coal facilities that have expired since Gov. John Kasich took office in 2011. The Associated Press reported the expirations last week.
State Reps. Debbie Phillips, John Carney, Nickie Antonio and Robert Hagan also asked Meyer to look into a pro-drilling communications plan developed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
A spokesman for Meyer did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment.
The legislators asked Meyer to determine if the administration and regulators are exerting inappropriate political pressure.
Ohio EPA spokesman Chris Abbruzzese said the agency is working closely with the U.S. EPA and the coal industry on the permit renewals, even as expired permits remain legal, protective and enforceable.