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Environmental Group Concerned About Governor’s Regulatory Reforms 

An environmental group from Lewiston is raising some questions about one of Governor LePage’s recent nominees.The Androscoggin River Alliance has asked federal authorities to look into Governor LePage’s nominee to head the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.The director of the Androscoggin River Alliance, Neil Ward, has confirmed his group has petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to look into Brown’s appointment.Ward says the appointment violates a provision of the Clean Water Act. The provision specifically prohibits people from heading up an agency if they have received more than 10% of their annual income over the previous two years from water pollution permit holders. Brown’s resume says he’s the Founder and President of Main-Land Development Consultants out of Livermore Falls.Neil Ward says Brown’s appointment presents a clear conflict of interest and the LePage transition team is to blame. “This is clearly a case where they should have done their homework but didn’t do their homework but clearly did not do their homework,” Ward said on Tuesday. “Ed Muskie, who wrote the Clean Water Act, because of the polluted state of my river put this provision in the law to protect against this very sort of conflict of interest.”The Governor’s office released this statement in response: “The administration is confident there is no conflict of interest. Mr. Brown went through the lengthy confirmation process and gained bipartisan support from the Natural Resource Committee and the Senate. The Attorney General’s office has helped develop a proper protocol to ensure that Commissioner Brown is screened from any matters where there may be a conflict.In addition, Mr. Brown has resigned as President of his company and has created a board to run the firm. He plans to sell it and in the meantime, he will recuse himself from any decisions that might create a potential conflict of interest.”A spokesperson for the Governor also says the matter has been turned over to Maine Attorney General Bill Schneider’s office.