Washington, DC – There has been a steep decline in environmental enforcement during President George W. Bush’s first year in office, according to figures released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

PEER’s analysis of the latest figures available shows cases referred by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for criminal prosecution dropped by a fifth (20 percent) overall during the 2001 fiscal year. The fall-off in EPA referrals was more significant in several of the agency’s principal anti-pollution priority areas:

    – Toxic Substance Control Act down 80 percent;
    – Clean Air Act down 54 percent; and
    – Clean Water Act down 53 percent.

This downturn reflects cases through September of 2001 and does not include effects of EPA staff reassignments announced last month. EPA stated that about 40 percent of its criminal enforcement staff would be moved to non-environmental security tasks.

“The spigot for environmental cases entering the prosecution pipeline is being cranked way down during President Bush’s first year in office,” commented PEER analyst Jessica V. Revere, who noted that criminal prosecution is generally reserved for the most severe pollution violations. “We can expect even greater declines in 2002 with the removal of nearly half of the criminal investigators and the new agency leadership’s pledge to de-emphasize environmental enforcement.”

The PEER analysis is based upon U.S. Department of Justice figures obtained and reviewed by the University of Syracuse’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

A complete copy of the PEER enforcement analysis of 2001 is available upon request

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