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Maine DEP Commissioner Aho Stepping Down

AUGUSTA, Maine - After leading the state's Department of Environmental Protection for the past four years, Commissioner Patricia Aho is stepping down to take a position as a state office representative for Sen. Susan Collins in Augusta.

A former lobbyist for chemical and drug companies, Aho presided over the DEP at a time when the state was challenging federal water quality standards, re-evaluating the use of toxic chemicals in many products and reforming a wide range of regulatory standards.

Rockport Rep. Joan Welsh, the Democratic chair of the Legislature's Environment and Natural Resources Committee, said Aho has been an effective commissioner.

"She's been a pretty good communicator with the chairs of the committee, but given this administration and given the governor, I think she's worked pretty hard to have good communication and understanding - we do have some differences," Welsh said.

According to the governor's office, Avery Day, a member of the governor's staff, will serve as acting commissioner of the department effective Sept. 7.