The Environmental Protection Agency’s pursuit of criminal cases against polluters has dropped off sharply during the Bush administration, with the number of prosecutions, new investigations and total convictions all down by more than a third, according to Justice Department and EPA data.
The number of civil lawsuits filed against defendants who refuse to settle environmental cases was down nearly 70 percent between fiscal years 2002 and 2006, compared with a four-year period in the late 1990s, according to those same statistics.
None of this is a surprise to me, it’s pure Bush as far as I’m concerned. I’m just glad it’s being reported on the heels of Condi Rice’s dubious claim last week at a a global climate change conference.
“I want to stress that the United States takes climate change very seriously, for we are both a major economy and a major emitter.’’
Yeah, we take it so seriously that we let polluters regulate themselves. That is, after all, the real reason new investigations and prosecutions are down at the EPA. We’re following the bold leadership of the Bush administration on environmental issues.
I read an article someplace this week where the author compared setting voluntary guidelines for emissions to making speed limits on the highways voluntary. I think that’s an apt comparison. Picture the highways if we had “speed guidelines” instead of “speed limits.” How fast would you go? Would you stick to the guidelines? Think about the other limits in your life, like your budget. Do you save as much money as you should, or like most of the rest of us, do you tend to spend about 105% of what you make? The truth is, as a society, we’re pretty lousy at self-control; even when we recognize that limiting our behavior is in our best interest.