In a memo revealed in the wake of Lavelle's departure, she had accused the agency's counsel of "systematically alienating the primary constituents of this administration, the business community."
This reference was of particular interest to state government officials, who had been told by the EPA that they were the agency's prime constituency, now that "New Federalism" is in vogue. But several state environmental officials hastened to add that they, too, feel alienated by recent EPA activities, especially a proposal to make large cuts in funds that help states implement federal water pollution laws.
In the name of state-federal partnerships, EPA officials announced last week that their proposed fiscal 1984 budget would cut 56 percent of the grants to states for monitoring and controlling water pollution by industrial and municipal plants--a requirement of the federal Clean Water Act.
What passes for partnership at the EPA--"encouraging" states to assume more financial responsibility for pollution programs--goes by another name in state capitals.
"It's unconscionable from our perspective," said Dan Barolo, director of the water division of New York state's Department of Environmental Conservation. "Unfortunately, the partnership seems to be a one-way street at this point. We welcome the opportunity to share resources and knowledge. What we don't welcome is the continuing transfer of responsibilities without the resources to carry them out.
"We are dealing with compounds we can't even spell or pronounce, but that have long-term and acute toxicity associated with them," he said. "We are analyzing toxic pollutants in concentrations that are 1,000 and even 10,000 times what we saw in the more familiar kinds of pollution."
If the federal cuts are approved by Congress, a questionable prospect in light of angry state resistance, Barolo said he would have to lay off 50 employes, or one-third of the 140 people on his staff whose salaries are paid with federal funds.
With his current work force, Barolo said, the office is understaffed to monitor the 7,200 facilities along the state's 70,000 miles of rivers and streams. Just last week, the state attorney general's office and environmentalists criticized the environmental department for failing to control toxic dumping.