AUGUSTA – An environmental group accused the LePage administration Monday of ignoring deadlines in two laws aimed at curbing the use of dangerous chemicals. The group says the administration’s actions stem from its disagreement with the laws.

A spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection said the department is “committed” to upholding and enforcing the statutes.

Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, said he hand-delivered a letter to the state Attorney General’s Office asking it to compel Republican Gov. Paul LePage to comply with portions of the Kids Safe Product Act and the Toxics Use Reduction Act.

“The governor’s policies have shown a consistent hostility to public health protection,” Belliveau said. “It’s one thing to disagree about policy, but you can’t violate the law, and the governor does not get to choose and pick which laws he complies with.”

Belliveau said the LePage administration was supposed to receive compliance plans from manufacturers on July 5 that detail how they intend to cope with the ban on bisphenol-A that will take effect Jan. 1.

Samantha DePoy-Warren, spokeswoman for the DEP, said the department extended that deadline to the beginning of October to allow time for development of an online reporting program. She said the program will ease administrative burdens on manufacturers and the DEP.

Belliveau also said the administration failed to identify “priority chemicals” by July 1, as required by a law passed in 1989 and unanimously updated by the Legislature in 2010. The law is meant to reduce the use of toxic chemicals by industry and provide a predictable regulatory framework so companies know what chemicals are being targeted before the bans take effect.

“It is correct that we did not meet that July 1 deadline,” DePoy-Warren said.

While the Baldacci administration identified six priority chemicals, DePoy-Warren said the LePage administration is reviewing lists of thousands of chemicals to come up with its own proposal.

“The reality is, there’s so much information and so much research, we couldn’t just kind of rubber-stamp what they did,” she said. “We’re looking through it. We do have a draft list and it’s just not ready for prime time yet.”

The delay doesn’t mean the DEP is understaffed or underfunded, DePoy-Warren said.

Belliveau said it is ironic that an administration that touts being “business-friendly” has failed to provide companies clarity and predictability in enforcement.

Rep. Bob Duchesne, D-Hudson, the top House Democrat on the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee, said he’s not concerned that the administration is doing anything wrong.

“The environmental community, from the beginning, has had some distrust of the current administration … so it’s easy to interpret missed deadlines or a lack of vigor as being an intentional effort to not comply with the law,” he said. “I’m not personally seeing a lot of evidence that that is the case.”

DePoy-Warren said DEP officials offered to meet and discuss the issues with the Environmental Health Strategy Center, but were not taken up on the offer.

“They wanted to do this in the media,” she said.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: [email protected]