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EPA Official Says He Was Ousted After Pressure From Coal Companies

A veteran Ohio environmental regulator says Republican Governor John Kasich is forcing him to resign after pressure from the coal industry.

In an email distributed widely to Ohio Environmental Protection Agency employees Monday, George Elmaraghy said the Division of Surface Water he's headed since June 2005 faced "considerable pressure" this year to accommodate industry demands. Elmaraghy commended his staff for its work as coal companies sought permits he said would have violated state and federal laws and harmed Ohio's streams and wetlands. The email, first reported by The Huffington Post, said Kasich and Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally have asked Elmaraghy to resign effective Sept. 13. Agency spokesperson Carol Hester couldn't discuss personnel. But she defended Ohio's water permitting process as sound. She said permits face intense scrutiny.