With feds asleep at the wheel, states sue to protect air and water

Frustrated by federal inaction, states and localities are increasingly suing companies and even each other in attempts to curb air and water pollution. Oklahoma, for instance, has filed suit against eight companies that operate chicken farms in neighboring Arkansas, charging that farm pollution is damaging a tourist-attracting lake. Kentucky is weighing whether or not to sue Virginia over a strip-mining operation that could pollute a fish-filled Kentucky reservoir that lures in tens of thousands of visitors a year. With Congress and the Bushies having dropped the ball on pollution enforcement, state attorneys general are stepping up. “It’s more than a trend, it’s an ideological decision that’s been made by the Bush administration,” says New York Attorney General (and gubernatorial candidate) Eliot Spitzer, who’s taken the lead in many an environmental lawsuit. “Into that void we have stepped in to enforce the law.”