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Report Critical of Natural Resources Agency

Montpelier, Vermont - July 15, 2008

Backed by citizens who claim they've been ignored by the State's Agency of Natural Resources, Vermonters for a Clean Environment issued a report, Tuesday, critical of the way the ANR operates.

"[Its] current focus is to view the regulated companies as their customer and citizens as an obstacle," said VCE Executive Director, Annette Smith.

The reports cites ten specific examples of the agency's failure to act quickly when it comes to environmental offenses. Among the list of complaints is the Vermont Egg Farm, which the group calls a "black hole of enforcement." VCE says the egg farm is not disposing of wastewater properly and endangering the people who live nearby.

"We have seen things come to a head, especially in the last year or two where the state agency has become so unresponsive that people simply don't feel as though there's anybody home for us anymore," said Smith.  
 
But the Agency of Natural Resources is questioning the timing of the report as it comes 18 months into a restructuring of the agency, with the aim of making it more user friendly.

"I would be open for any environmental group to come in and spend time with our staff and go over those reports one by one in each issue and I will tell you each one of them there is a story or a reason for why we're doing what we're doing," said ANR Secretary, George Crombie.  
 
VCE also accuses the agency of being uneducated when it comes to the issue of Chloramine in drinking water. The additive has been reportedly linked to fish deaths, and rashes in humans. VCE says ANR staff has blatantly ignored the science that supports those claims.

"This agency has very professional people that care dearly about what they're doing," responded Crombie.

In the end, VCE says it simply wants the ANR to serve the citizens of Vermont better through open communication, and the ANR is offering to open its doors to anyone that wants a review of how it operates.

Click here to read the report.

Bianca Slota - WCAX News

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