Feds Pursue Fewer Polluters

EPA cuts down on criminal cases, says focus is on biggest offenders
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2007 8:15 AM CDT
Marco Lopez jogs along train tracks Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2007 in Arvin, Calif. Arvin is home to the nation's worst air pollution. Arvin's level of ozone, the primary component in smog, exceeded the national...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 7 more images

(Newser) – 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. (Read more Environmental Protection Agency stories.)