The EPA has taken a decidedly less aggressive tack in criminal cases, the Washington Post reports, a trend advocates fear will embolden polluters. The number of prosecutions, new investigations, and total convictions have all dropped by more than a third. One ex-official, who resigned in protest, blamed the Bush administration, saying agents couldn’t count on support from the White House.
The administration says it pursues mainly bigger, higher profile cases to secure more convictions and cites the 1.1 billion pounds of air pollution it helped cut. But critics, insisting the agency needs to clean up its act, point to its waning resources. Agents, for example, are sometimes pulled from cases to act as security detail for the EPA administrator.