U.S. EPA doesn’t employ enough eco-cops, memo says

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is reportedly violating a law that requires it to employ at least 200 criminal investigators. The agency has 174 eco-cops on board — some of whom are pulled off duty to guard EPA head Stephen Johnson when he travels. Because … eco-crimes have decreased? You might think so by the EPA caseload, which dropped from 484 new investigations in 2002 to 305 in 2006. Assistant Administrator Granta Nakayama says that’s due to a strategy of pursuing bigger busts, but critics scoff. “If you have fewer cops on the beat, you end up with fewer cases,” said Eric Schaeffer, a former EPA civil enforcement head. Said Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), “It is difficult to believe that environmental crime suddenly declined precipitously after Bush took office. It is more likely that the administration’s enthusiasm for criminal prosecution declined.” The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which Dingell chairs, is investigating the agency’s criminal enforcement operations.