The Christian Science Monitor

Why business-friendly Georgia got tough on environmental regulation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had known for a year that Covington, Georgia, had become a hotbed for a toxic gas by the time Mayor Ronnie Johnston and the city council hired a company to test the air.

The delay wasn’t foot dragging on the city’s part. But it was residents, alerted by a WebMD article, who found “strange hot spots” using their own sensors which suggested ethylene oxide (EtO) was escaping from a medical sterilizing plant that used the gas.

Becton, Dickinson and Co. (BD) insisted that its emissions were well within its permitted limit, even as another company, Sterigenics, voluntarily closed its plant in Smyrna to address the same gas concerns. 

At first, state regulators took the company’s word for

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