Ethics recusal keeps Region 5 chief sidelined on ozone plan

As EPA moves to reconsider a set of politically fraught air quality decisions for Wisconsin and address other environmental battles, one key player must watch from the sidelines.

The reason: Kurt Thiede, the agency`s current Midwest regional chief, played at least a supporting role several years ago in shaping those decisions.

As deputy secretary of Wisconsin`s Department of Natural Resources, Thiede was looped into a lobbying campaign by then-Gov. Scott Walker (R) to dissuade EPA from declaring a large swath of land along Lake Michigan out of compliance with ground-level ozone standards.

That campaign largely prevailed despite objections from EPA career staff.

Now, under legal pressure, the agency wants the opportunity for a do-over. Thiede, meanwhile, is barred from involvement in any determinations on whether nine eastern Wisconsin counties clustered on or near the lake meet the national standards, his recusal statement shows.

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- - Volume: 8 - WEEK: 21 Date: 5/18/2020 10:06:06 AM -