Crime and No Punishment
Pollution Enforcement Has Dropped Dramatically Under Bush
President Bush talks tough about going after the bad guys, but it seems he’s been letting one set of lawbreakers off the hook: polluters. Enforcement of environmental laws under Bush has been far weaker than it was under his father and under President Clinton, according to records from the last 15 years. The number of violation notices sent to polluters each month has dropped by about 58 percent since Clinton’s days, and pollution fines have dropped as well, though not as steeply. U.S. EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt says the administration tries to work with companies to fix problems instead of focusing on punishment, but current and past EPA officials and members of the first Bush administration see lower enforcement levels as a serious problem. “It’s a sign that this administration is flat-out falling down on the job,” said Dan Esty, who served as deputy assistant EPA administrator under the first President Bush and now directs the Yale University Center for Environmental Law and Policy.