Thursday, April 26, 2007

Polluters Pay for ... Nothing

The hard-working and under appreciated Center for Public Integrity released an analysis of toxic waste sites around the country. Unsurprisingly, cleaning up toxic waste sites has fallen by the wayside under the Bush administration. They're cleaning up fewer sites, and worse, the amount of money they're collecting from polluters is dropping significantly:
In cases where the EPA has cleaned up sites and charged companies thought to be responsible for the pollution, the amount of money recovered by the agency peaked in the fiscal years 1998 and 1999, at about $320 million each year. By fiscal 2004, collected cost recoveries had dropped well below $100 million. In the last two fiscal years, 2005 and 2006, the EPA collected about $60 million each year.
The benefit to fines that are issued by departments like the EPA, is it collects revenue for the government from those who do damage to the public. Theoretically, the toxic cleanup should nearly pay for itself through fines to polluters. I knew a reporter in Minnesota who was investigating the same thing under Pawlenty's administration.

It's not shocking that Republican administrations are less gung-ho about going after polluters, especially because many of them are big dollar doners, but if it continues to go underreported, it will allow the administrations to get away with a lax attitude. Bring on the hearings!

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