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Top Toxics Regulator Quits


Debbie Raphael says it was her decision to leave - Consumer group welcomes her departure

  Debbie Raphael has quit as director of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to take a higher-paying job as director of San Francisco’s Department of the Environment.

Ms. Raphael tells the Sacramento Bee that quitting was her idea.

But her departure has made at least one consumer group happy.

The resignation “is a hopeful sign that the Brown Administration will finally clean up a deeply troubled department,” says the Santa Monica group Consumer Watchdog.

“We hope that this is just the start of a thorough housecleaning at the DTSC by Governor Brown,” says advocate Liza Tucker.

During Ms. Raphael’s tenure, the department was criticized for dawdling in coming up with a list of possibly toxic consumer products, spent millions of taxpayer dollars to clean up toxic sites but never got around to billing the polluters and saw the sudden retirement of its chief deputy director after the Fair Political Practices Commission began poking into reports of possible conflicts of interest.

Consumer Watchdog’s list is longer, including what it calls the department’s poor enforcement of some of the nation’s toughest environmental laws, allowing toxic polluters to keep polluting on expired permits for years at a time, granting permits to serial polluters, and levying wrist-slap fines.