Washington, DC — The enforcement record of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is uneven, at best, and the agency lacks “sufficient information on workload and results” to allow a meaningful evaluation of its needs, according to a new Office of Inspector General report released today.
Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) requested the EPA Inspector General report in the wake of a critical survey of enforcement agents by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and release of figures compiled by PEER showing a precipitous decline in new cases submitted for federal prosecutions. The report finds that EPA–
· Diverted criminal, white collar enforcement staff for security purposes, such as an escort detail for then-Administrator Christie Whitman and sending teams of agents to the Superbowl and the Winter Olympics;
· Lacks the ability to track agent workload information needed to present a coherent statement of its budgetary and personnel needs; and
· Barely made a dent in significant corporate non-compliance with clean air, clean water and toxic pollution rules.
“This report underlines the fact that enforcement of pollution laws is not a priority of the Bush Administration,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, who noted that EPA is also conducting a management review of its enforcement program. “Hundreds of dedicated environmental enforcement professionals are trapped in a management vacuum at EPA.”
The Inspector General report also details a dramatic falloff in Clean Water Act enforcement against corporate violators, notably the factory farms known as concentrated feeding operations.
Read the EPA Inspector General report, “Congressional Request on EPA Enforcement Resources and Accomplishments” (October, 2003)
View the EPA criminal program staff survey results.
Read employee essays on how to improve EPA’s criminal enforcement program.
View figures showing decline in criminal referrals and prosecutions filed.
Read agent statements about Whitman’s protection detail.