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New York environmental officials are proposing to replace their waste site monitors with private-sector workers, despite complaints the switch would compromise pollution-fighting policies.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation wants to change rules that require agency employees to monitor certain hazardous waste sites, such as landfills and incinerators. The agency says allowing a switch to monitors hired by facility operators would save money and allow them to broaden monitoring statewide.

Critics fear that monitors hired by private operators would be too beholden to their employers -- a potential case of "the fox guarding the chicken coop."

"It strains credulity to believe that a monitor paid by the violator would be as objective . . . or as vigilant as an employee of the DEC," Stephen Connolly of the Public Employees Federation noted. .

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