Environmental enforcement has declined under Bush, says new report

Well, knock us over with a feather: since the Bush administration began running the joint, industries committing environmental violations have been investigated less, penalized less, and sued less, says a new report from watchdog group Environmental Integrity Project. The Department of Justice has filed fewer than 16 lawsuits per year against polluters since Bush took office; the last three years under Clinton saw an annual average of 52 lawsuits. Between fiscal years 2002 and 2006, polluters shelled out $81 million per year in civil penalties; between 1996 and 2000, they ponied up $107 million annually. Criminal fines have dropped 38 percent under Bush, and the number of new criminal investigations has declined by 23 percent. Numbers shmumbers, says a Justice Department rep: “Any suggestion that the Justice Department is not enforcing the nation’s laws is utterly false.” EIP Executive Director Eric Schaeffer must humbly disagree: “I don’t think it’s because polluters have gotten nicer.”