Tuesday, December 16, 2003


The Bush administration is catching and punishing far fewer polluters than the two previous administrations, according to a Knight Ridder analysis of 15 years of environmental-enforcement records.


Those pollution citations dropped 12 percent from 2001 to 2002, and another 35 percent from 2002 through the first 10 months of 2003. …

Some current EPA enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation from their bosses, say they're getting the signal to slow down enforcement cases.

"It's very discouraging," said one official. "We're concerned about people's health. We have a job that we're supposed to be doing and we're not doing it. And we should be." …

"It's a sign that this administration is flat-out falling down on the job," said Dan Esty, a deputy assistant EPA administrator during the first Bush administration and now director of the Yale University Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

The statistics - examined by Lowrance and other former top EPA officials in both Republican and Democratic administrations - are the standard way the EPA measured enforcement progress.

"They measure presence. They measure whether the enforcement cop is on the beat," Lowrance said, adding: "And increasingly the cop is absent."

"The cop is absent" is the halmark of the Bush administration . . . unless you're selling dildos or bongs.

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