Lawyer for Metropolitan Sewer District is Married to EPA Official Who is Suing Agency

The Kansas City Star has a curious story out today involving an ethical quandary that could impact a lawsuit filed against the Metropolitan Sewer District.

Terry Satterlee -
Terry Satterlee
The paper reports that the Kansas City attorney representing MSD, Terry Satterlee, is the wife of, Bill Rice, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency's Region 7 that oversees St. Louis. The EPA is suing MSD to fix its St. Louis sewer system that can unleash raw sewage into streams and rivers during heavy rains. Millions of dollars in penalities and fees are at stake in the suit.

"[Satterlee] sleeps every night with the head of Region 7," Kathleen Logan Smith, executive director of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment (and party to the lawsuit with the EPA) tells the Star. "How do you keep from being influenced?"

Meanwhile, the EPA argues that no conflict exists because Rice -- who works in Region 7's Kansas City headquarters -- will step aside from any involvement in the lawsuit. MSD also defends its decision to hire Satterlee. Agency spokesman Lance LeComb tells the Star that it hired Satterlee because of her legal prowess and not because she's married to the plaintiff.

That's of little comfort to Logan Smith, who wonders why MSD had to go across state to Kansas City when St. Louis has so many attorneys. "We have world-class law firms here," she tells the Star.

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