December 09, 2003

Far Fewer Polluters Punished Under Bush Administration, Records Show

Yes, more US GIs died in Iraq last night. And for
what? Well, no more than a neo-con wet dream.
The US electorate, I believe, know this...And Al "I'll
fight for you!" Gore is, in his own way, actually
fighting....fighting for "all that is Good in this
world," as Sam Gamgee put it...His endorsement,
today, of Howard Dead (D-Jeffords) was rich with
meaning and symbolism largely ignored in the "US
mainstream news media" reports. Gore and Dean
announced the endorsement in Harlem. It was the
African American vote that was most grotesquely
savaged in Fraudida. It is also three years to the day
since the Coup of 2000 was made a certainty through
the perversion of the U.S. Supreme Court. No
coincidences in any of this...Do not underestimate the
electoral impact of the war Gore rightly calls
"disasterous" and a "quagmire." Yesterday, the
Indonesian government (the world's largest Muslim
population) denounced the Bush policy in Iraq. The
world's press is filling with stories of how our
military is now using Sharon's tactics to "control"
the situation in Iraq. Our place in the world is lost
-- perhaps forever if we do not reject the _resident
and what he personifies. Gore's endorsement will turn
up the heat on Joe Lieberman ("D" - Sanctimonicutt),
Dick LoseHeart (D-Misery) and unfortunately, Sen. John
Kerry (D-Mekong Delta) -- all of whom chose the wrong
side of history on the _resident's foolish military
adventure in Iraq. By endorsing Dean, and hopefully
hastening the departure of these three from the race,
Gore has also given Wesley Clark (D-NATO) a boost and
a clear shot at coming in second in New Hampshire and
maybe first in South Carolina and elsewhere on Super
Tuesday. Anyway, after Iowa and New Hampshire, it will
more than likely be a two man race between Dean and
Clark, which could only be good (and economical) for
the Democrats. I still am thinking that Clark-Dean or
Dean-Clark is the best balanced ticket...Meanwhile,
here is some more revolting news on the incompetent,
corrupt and illegitimate cabal in the White
House...Kudos for courage to Knight-Ridder....

Knight-Ridder: "Violation notices against polluters are the most important enforcement tool, experts say, and they've had the biggest drop under the current President Bush. The monthly average of violation notices since January 2001 has dropped 58 percent compared with the Clinton administration's monthly average."

Save the Environment! Show Up for Democracy in 2004:
Defeat Bush (again!)

Published on Tuesday, December 9, 2003 by
Far Fewer Polluters Punished Under Bush Administration, Records Show
by Seth Borenstein

WASHINGTON - 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.

Civil enforcement of pollution laws peaked when the
president's father, George H.W. Bush, was in office
from 1989-93 and has fallen ever since, but it's
plummeted since George W. Bush took office three years
ago. That's according to records of 17 different
categories of enforcement activity obtained by Knight
Ridder through the Freedom of Information Act.

It's very discouraging. 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.

EPA Official
William K. Reilly, the EPA administrator under the
first President Bush, said he told his enforcers that
"under no circumstances do I want the numbers to drop.
It's your job to bring in these cases."

Violation notices against polluters are the most
important enforcement tool, experts say, and they've
had the biggest drop under the current President Bush.
The monthly average of violation notices since January
2001 has dropped 58 percent compared with the Clinton
administration's monthly average.

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

Punishing polluters - by fines or referrals for
prosecution - has dropped as well, but not as
dramatically. Administrative fines since January 2001
are down 28 percent, when adjusted for inflation, from
Clinton administration levels. Civil penalties average
6 percent less, when adjusted for inflation. And the
number of cases referred to the Justice Department for
prosecution is down 5 percent.

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."

However, administrative orders to stop some polluting
activity - a quick technique used for more mundane
cases - are up 14 percent under the Bush

"There's definitely less emphasis on enforcement,"
said Dave Ullrich, who retired this summer after 30
years at the Environmental Protection Agency,
including jobs in enforcement and as a deputy regional

The EPA will brief congressional officials Thursday on
its enforcement statistics and will outline new
counting methods.

Knight Ridder examined EPA data in 17 categories and
subcategories of civil enforcement since January 1989
and compared the records of the past three

In 13 of those 17 categories, the Bush administration
had lower average numbers than the Clinton
administration. And in 11 of those categories, the
2003 average was lower than the 2001 average, showing
the trend increasing over time.

"It tells you somebody's not minding the enforcement
store," said Sylvia Lowrance, a 24-year EPA veteran
who was the agency's acting enforcement chief under
Bush from January 2001 to July 2002.

Bush administration officials said the EPA is
enforcing anti-pollution laws, just in a more
effective way.

"The agency has what we refer to as `smart
enforcement,'" EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt said in
an interview with Knight Ridder. "Our focus is on
enforcement that changes behavior in a positive way."

That means working with companies to get them to fix
problems instead of being punishment-oriented, Leavitt
and his predecessor, Christine Todd Whitman, have

"The point of smart enforcement is that you use the
best tool for each individual situation; compliance is
the goal," Leavitt said.

The Bush administration judges itself by how much
pollution is cleaned up and how much new control
technology is installed, rather than by citations,
penalties and prosecution, said J. P. Suarez, the
EPA's enforcement chief. By those yardsticks,
enforcement is up.

"Our upcoming numbers are going to show that our
pollution reductions are through the roof, the highest
they've ever been, in almost every category," Suarez
said in an interview Monday. He pointed to treatment
of billions of pounds of contaminated soil and
billions of gallons of tainted water. He also noted
that in the category of money that has to be spent on
clean-ups and pollution control, the Bush
administration figures "blow away the Clinton

But Lowrance and environmental officials from other
Republican administrations disagree.

"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."

In each of its annual budget requests to Congress, the
Bush administration has called for dramatic cuts in
money and staffing for EPA enforcement, only to be
rebuffed by Capitol Hill.

Of the 17 enforcement categories examined, the first
Bush administration had the highest numbers in nine
categories. Clinton had the highest numbers in five.
This Bush administration has the highest numbers in
three categories.

It often takes three years for a complicated pollution
case to work from beginning to end at the EPA. The
beginning - violation notices - are "when you really
get somebody's attention," Reilly said. He said he's
on the board of directors of a cruise ship company and
"when they get (a citation), all the alarm bells go
off. It's a big deal."

The first Bush administration averaged 195 citations a
month. The Clinton administration averaged 183. This
administration, through 33 months, has averaged 77 a
month, and that's falling every month. The Bush
average in 2001 was 90 violations a month. The 2002
average was 79. For 2003 through October, the average
is 51, but October 2003 saw a record-low 35 violation

By comparison, the first Bush administration never
averaged fewer than 105 citations a month.

When citations are broken down by the specific law
violated, the differences are even starker. The first
Bush and Clinton administrations averaged 134 notices
of water pollution violations a month. The current
administration is averaging 35 a month - down 74
percent. Air pollution notices dropped 44 percent
since the Clinton administration, and hazardous waste
notices fell 7 percent.

EPA enforcement chief Suarez said violation notices
are "poor thermometers" to judge the level of
enforcement because they vary from law to law and can
be triggered by small incidents. He said he doesn't
pay attention to how many citations his agency issues
and noted that EPA has never published
violation-notice statistics as a guide.

Others insist they are very important.

The drop in violation notices doesn't bode well for
the future, because "the flow of new cases into the
(enforcement process) for handling and settlement
prosecution is slowly drying up," said former EPA
civil enforcement chief Eric Schaeffer, who quit to
form an environmental-enforcement watchdog group.

In other areas of enforcement, the figures showed a
smaller decline.

Referrals of cases to the Justice Department have been
on a steady decline since the first President Bush's
term, when they averaged 90 per quarter. That number
dropped to 79 per quarter during the Clinton
administration and to 75 per quarter during the
current administration.

Administrative penalties are down from an average of
$8.8 million a quarter during the Clinton
administration to $6.4 million a quarter now. A
second, stronger category of civil penalties is also
down, from an average of $23.6 million under Clinton
to $22.2 million under the current administration.

This Bush administration did dramatically increase
civil penalties for water polluters, from $5.4 million
per quarter under Clinton to $7.7 million per quarter.
But it registers big decreases in air and Superfund
polluter penalties.

Copyright 2003 Knight-Ridder


Posted by richard at December 9, 2003 10:54 AM