MAC: Mines and Communities

Environmental Enforcement Dropping Under Bush

Published by MAC on 2006-09-06

Environmental Enforcement Dropping Under Bush


6th September 2006

U.S. Justice Department figures show that federal enforcement of anti-pollution laws has steadily and substantially declined since George W. Bush became president. The department's statistics, released Tuesday by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), detail that requests by federal agencies for criminal prosecution have dropped by more than half since 2000 while such referrals for civil prosecution have declined by more than a third.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for most of the anti-pollution enforcement - other environmental prosecutions are initiated from cases developed by other federal agencies, ranging from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Referrals for new environmental criminal prosecutions government-wide have dropped by 54 percent from 2000 to 2005.

At the EPA, such requests for prosecution have fallen 33 percent during that same five-year period.

PEER's analysis found that referrals for new civil prosecutions of environmental offenses have declined by 34 percent between 2000 and 2003 - the last year for which statistics are available.

New federal civil court complaints against polluters have dropped even more, with a government-wide decline of 37 percent in new cases filed. EPA civil filings are down by 44 percent in this same period.

Furthermore, the number of federal criminal environmental prosecutions filed in 2005 has decreased 14 percent since 2000 and the number of convictions obtained is down 13 percent.

During the same period, criminal prosecutions filed on EPA cases have declined by 18 percent while convictions are down 6 percent.

"This Bush administration can make no claim to law and order credentials when it comes to pollution," said PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "Corporate transgressors have growing reason for confidence that environmental violations will not trigger federal prosecution."

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