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Anchorage, AK – The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) has charged the supervisor of its air permit program with insubordination for writing an internal e-mail raising concerns about a proposed air quality permit for a BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. facility on the North Slope, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

ADEC Manager John Kuterbach charges Bill MacClarence — professional engineer and a 20-year ADEC employee with an unblemished personnel record — with insubordination for violating a previous order by Kuterbach against communicating regulatory problems to any staff members under MacClarence’s supervision. The first-stage disciplinary hearing is scheduled for today at 11 a.m.

The March 23rd e-mail, addressed to Kuterbach and to the staff permit writer who works under MacClarence, outlines 9 legal problems with the BP permit, including –

  • Failure to account for more than 25 tons of hazardous pollutants to be emitted each year;
  • Evasion of pollution standards by improperly counting the facility as a separate operation when it is in fact part of a much larger operation; and
  • Inadequate air quality monitoring of several aspects of facility operation.

“Bill MacClarence is being harassed for refusing to ignore major pollution violations by a favored company,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Mr. Kuterbach’s petty gag order is precisely the sort of management practice that is driving decent professionals out of the agency.”

In late February, PEER released an ADEC employee survey reflecting a widespread perception of regulatory favoritism toward the petroleum industry, political manipulation of pollution enforcement and weak agency leadership. A week later, Susan Harvey ADEC’s, the top manager for oil industry regulation who had been abruptly removed from all North Slope matters resigned from state service citing a lack of professionalism within the agency.

###See the disciplinary notice and the 3/23 e-mail

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