An environmental mandate to do nothing


Katharine Mieszkowski
November 10, 2004 2:45AM (UTC)

Add this to the growing list of environmental attacks expected during President's Bush's second term: Polluters breaking the law while the feds look the other way.

A new study finds civil penalties imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency against polluters hit a 15-year low in 2004. And it's all but guaranteed that trend will continue, to listen to the top E.P.A. official. "The election is a validation of our philosophy and agenda," Michael O. Leavitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, told the New York Times this week. Nevermind that it was a closely fought race, where environmental issues barely made it into the presidential debates.

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Eric Schaeffer, the founder of the Environmental Integrity Project, which produced the report, said in a statement: "Major polluters are now enjoying an extended holiday under the current management of the E.P.A., because the agency is much more reluctant to take polluters to court when they refuse to clean up or comply with environmental laws." Schaeffer resigned from his post as the director of the E.P.A. Office of Regulatory Enforcement in 2002 after publicly criticizing the Bush administration for failing to enforce the Clean Air Act.

"If we want our environmental laws to survive, we had better be prepared to make creative use of the opportunities we have in a federal system," he added. "We'll need to put pressure on state agencies to enforce the law when E.P.A. won't, and to hold both federal and state elected officials accountable when agencies fail to protect the public." Here's the Environmental Integrity Project's predictions for what the next four years hold for federal environmental law enforcement.

If the ever-growing litany of green gloom is too much to take without a little gallows humor, tune into Bobby "Boris" Pickett's new version of the "Monster Mash." The singer who did the original recording of the Halloween ditty has released the political update "Monster Slash" to protest the proposed opening of federal forests to logging.

"(He did the slash)

They did the forest slash

(He did the slash)

It was brutually brash

(He did the slash)

Public opinion was mashed..."

Halloween is over, but there's still time to weigh in on Bush's terrifying forest policy.


Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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