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Baucus plans Libby hearing on cleanup

| March 30, 2007 12:00 AM

U.S. Sen. Max Baucus has called top Environmental Protection Agency officials to a field hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in Libby on Thursday, April 5.

Baucus, a senior member and former chairman of the panel, said the hearing is designed to make sure that asbestos cleanup efforts stay on track.

Susan Parker Bodine, who heads the EPA's Superfund program, will be the lead witness. Other agency officials, community leaders, and members of the public will be invited to testify as well, Baucus said.

"This is a great opportunity for folks in Libby," Baucus said. "This hearing will give us a chance to make sure the EPA is stepping up to the plate to get Libby a clean bill of health - once and for all."

Baucus has continually pressured the EPA over clean-up efforts in Libby. In 2006, Baucus blocked all EPA nominees from receiving Senate confirmation until the agency agreed to expedite a long-awaited study about asbestos cleanup. The toxicity study is under way, and Baucus says he wants a status check into its progress.

"We're going to keep EPA's feet to the fire until that study is complete and until folks in Libby are assured their town is safe from asbestos," Baucus said.

Scheduled for 1 p.m. in the Ponderosa Room at Libby City Hall, the hearing is open to the public. Citizens interested in testifying are asked to contact Baucus' Kalispell office at (406) 756-1150.