At the same time that is it seeking to rollback the Clean Water Act and other historic environmental legislation, the Bush administration is cracking down on sewage spills in Portland, Ore., and other major cities. Municipal leaders in Portland accuse the administration of selectively punishing areas that are traditional Democratic strongholds, but the U.S. EPA says it’s just following rules drafted during the Clinton administration. “I don’t know how a spokesman for the administration could rationalize going after Portland and not against mining, to pick one obvious example,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a former Portland City Council member. Portland is the latest target, but the EPA has also been hawkish about sewer systems in Atlanta, Cleveland, Boston, New Orleans, and other cities where aging sewers spill their contents into nearby rivers and streams after rainstorms. Experts say the cost of fixing the nation’s leaky, spill-prone sewers could total nearly $1 trillion, and many older cities say they can’t afford the repair costs.
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