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Environmental Progress - Spring 1998

Magazine Names Illinois EPA's Director a "Public Official of the Year"

Cited for Leadership of Ozone Transport Assessment Group

Directory Mary Gade (12981 bytes)Governing Magazine has named Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Mary Gade one of its "Public Officials of the Year" for 1997, citing her more than two-year leadership as chair of the Ozone Transport Assessment Group, a unique public and private collaboration to address the smog problem in the easternmost 37 states and the District of Columbia.

The national magazine, devoted to coverage of state and local government, said that Director Gade "put her professional career on the line -- and her personal skills to use -- to negotiate a complex 37-state agreement to control and reduce ozone emissions."

"By all accounts, Gade’s patience, political shrewdness and good-humored optimism kept a pathbreaking process from falling apart," the magazine said in a profile in its December issue.

Gade was among 10 public officials honored by Governing at a gala dinner in Washington on Dec. 3. Others included Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Wisconsin Governor Tommy G. Thompson.

The dinner was taped by C-SPAN for national broadcast.

OTAG wrapped up its work in June 1997 after approving a dozen policy recommendations to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on addressing the continued public health menace of ground-level ozone or smog. OTAG pulled in as active participants 800 scientists, technical experts, and stakeholders, including representatives of the industries that could be most affected by additional controls to reduce ozone. OTAG was also responsible for the first comprehensive data base on the sources and movement of pollutants that cause smog across the eastern two-thirds of the United States.

Governing said "there’s no other precedent for state agencies taking the lead instead of waiting for Congress or federal regulators to address a complicated problem with implications for the public health and economic vitality of the nation’s most populous regions."

"OTAG was a unique experiment that has established a new role model for environmental policymaking. It has shown that federal and state governments and a broad spectrum of private stakeholders can collaborate to address a problem that impacts the health and daily lives of millions of Americans," Gade said.

Gade has been Director of Illinois EPA since 1991, after previously holding high-ranking positions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington and Chicago. She is also past president and co-founder of the Environmental Council of the States, and a member of the National Academy of Public Administration.

"Mary Gade’s outstanding work in environmental protection over the years has helped make Illinois a national leader in efforts to clean up the air, water and soil," commented Gov. Jim Edgar in commending Director Gade on the Governing Magazine honor.

Wisconsin Gov. Thompson, one of Gade’s fellow honorees, commented that Gade’s "leadership skill was critical in OTAG completing its mission, given the diverse public and private interests in the 37-state region."

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