The data fits with the experiences of Tim Whitehouse, a former senior attorney at EPA who helped enforce water pollution laws in the 1990s and early 2000s. During his tenure, Whitehouse said, he felt the agency was supported by Congress, which provided both higher funding and more meaningful oversight, not only to EPA but the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“There was a sense we were moving in the right direction to protect water quality and protect some of the most valuable wetlands in the country,” Whitehouse said.
Now an executive director of the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Whitehouse said there has since been a “complete breakdown” in bipartisan support for the EPA. That has manifested itself in not only lower funding and staffing levels, but also more hostility in Congress and from some state environmental agencies, leading to a further chilling effect on the agency’s work.
“It makes it very difficult for the EPA” to complete its mission, Whitehouse said.