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Watchdog Probe Sought At Ohio EPA

Four Democratic lawmakers are asking the state watchdog to investigate allegations of political pressure at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Tuesday's 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. 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 veteran Ohio EPA official alleged last year that his retirement was forced under pressure from coal industry interests. The official, George Elmaraghy, said in an email to his staff that companies sought illegally weak permits. The companies and the agency have denied his claims.