Senator Barbara Boxer
Superfund, Toxics, Risk and Waste Control Subcommittee
Hearing on Environmental Enforcement at EPA
March 12, 2002
Today the Superfund, Toxics, Risk and Waste Control Subcommittee will hear about the state of environmental enforcement at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and what might be in the works for environmental enforcement in the future.
The body of scientific evidence supporting the need for quick and effective action to reduce our communities= exposure to pollution continues to grow. Given the central role enforcement plays in public health protection, any change in policy on environmental enforcement requires close scrutiny.
There are a number of ways environmental protections can be rolled back. One way is to change the law. The process of changing the law is a public process. Stakeholders make their case, issues go through committee, votes are taken. When efforts are made to change a law, the process is transparent.
However, there is a more subtle way that environmental protections can be rolled back. Cuts in personnel and cuts in pollution-control targets can also result in less environmental enforcement.
The difference is that this approach is not so public. No vote is taken on the change of plans. There is much less transparency. And, it is harder to hold those responsible for the roll backs accountable. Is it any wonder which course this Administration is following? We are here today to shine a bright light on what is happening to environmental enforcement at EPA and what the Bush Administration plan seems to be for the future of environmental enforcement.
EPA=s own documents paint a disturbing picture about the Administration=s plans for environmental enforcement.
First, take a look at environmental enforcement resources. This chart comes from EPA=s own operating plan and budget request. This is from an internal document that EPA has so far refused to share with us. We have other sources. This document shows that between Fiscal Year 2001 and 2003, there is an 18 percent cut in the staff resources devoted to inspections and an 11 percent cut in civil enforcement.
Let us also take a look at EPA=s projections for accomplishments in environmental enforcement from 2001 to 2003. Again, using EPA=s own budget numbers, there are substantial declines in enforcement. This Administration=s plan is to significantly reduce inspections, civil investigations, and voluntary disclosures. There is even a plan to reduce the amount of pollution taken out of our air, water and soil.
This Administration=s approach to rolling back environmental protection B through hidden plans to undermine enforcement B may not be as transparent as changing the law. But it is just as dangerous for the American people.
I would have liked to ask the Administrator of EPA to explain these plans. She was invited to testify here today but EPA declined to send a witness.
However, we are fortunate to have Eric Schaeffer here today to discuss EPA enforcement with us. Until quite recently, Mr. Schaeffer was the Director of Regulatory Enforcement at EPA. He was responsible for a wide range of enforcement areas including air, water, pesticides, toxics, and hazardous waste. He resigned from EPA and has expressed great concern about the future of enforcement. I would like to submit his letter of resignation for the record and welcome him.
We will also hear from Dr. Barry Johnson. He is an experienced scientist and will share some of the latest research on the impacts of pollution on the public. And, we will hear from Mr. Scott Segal, a partner in a law firm that defends environmental enforcement cases.
Let us continue with opening statements, then we will hear from our witnesses.