An assortment of environmental groups, has come out swinging against one of President Reagan's intended nominees to the Council on Environmental Quality. The target is James A. McAvoy, who, as head of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, "has compiled a record of poor management, hostility to environmental concerns and a failure to deal with some of the greatest health hazards in Ohio," the Friends of the Earth said yesterday.
"It's an abominable appointment," says Geoffrey Webb, Friends of the Earthhs legislative liaison.
McAvoy didn't exactly endear himself to environmental activists in his Ohio EPA job -- for one thing he had a habit of referring to them with such phrases as "a small, noisy minority" and "harbingers of doom," as well as "extremists," an increasingly popular Reagan administration epithet.
But McAvoy's foes are trying to build their case on sticks and stones. Their primary concern is that, as a member of CEQ, McAvoy apparently would be put in charge of efforts to deal with the problem of acid rain. Last year he told an Ohio business group that the "harbingers of doom are now telling us that acid rain is 'poison from the sky,'" and he has been quoted as saying that "there are no proven direct health effects associated with acid rain."
The environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and the National Clean Air Coalition, intned to truck that information up to the Hill for McAvoy's confirmation hearing, along with their contention that, under McAvoy, Ohio has achieved one of the nation's worst environmental records: it's the only state without a federally approved sulfur dioxide control plan; it managed to lose $39 million in federal aid for wastewater treatment a couple of years ago, and its hazardous waste management is so loose that chemical companies across the nation take their waste to Ohio.
But apparently some workers in the environmental field aren't distressed by McAvoy's pending nomination. "By all accounts, morale has shot up tremendously" at Ohio EPA since McAvoy's departure, says Webb.