May 2, 2007

The EPA Under Pressure

The Environmental Protection Agency has come under fire from activists and state officials for not enforcing laws to protect the public from harmful chemicals and emissions, even as it considers controversial budget cuts that will reduce its enforcement staff.

California has threatened to sue the EPA within six months if it does not issue a waiver allowing the state to enforce its own vehicle emissions standards.

The state has been waiting for the waiver since 2005, and the EPA now wants to continue the delay until it completes an analysis of whether greenhouse gases are linked to human health.

Activists also say the EPA’s new rule on power plant emissions is in conflict with a recent Supreme Court ruling that overturned a lower courts support of regulating emissions based on an hourly standard, rather than an annual standard preferred by environmental activists.

And House lawmakers have questions for the EPA’s Acting Inspector General, who was given a $150,000 bonus even as he prepares to lay off 60 employees in anticipation of a $5.1 million budget cut.

Congress has approved no such cuts, and lawmakers are concerned that the layoffs are focused on “auditors, criminal investigators and senior program analysts,” all of whom enforce laws against industrial polluters, the Washington Post reports.

Sources:

“EPA accused of flouting Supreme Court”
Associated Press, April 25, 2007

“Lawmakers upset over job cuts at EPA’s watchdog”
Reuters, April 24, 2007

“Calif. may sue EPA over clean air law”
Los Angeles Times, April 26, 2007

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