Shocking news: Bush Administration failing to enforce the Clean Water Act!!

shocked.jpg The Waterblogged.info team is shocked, totally Casablanca shocked, to learn the following from a local and occasionally reliable source:

More than half of all industrial and municipal facilities across the country dumped more sewage and other pollutants into the nation’s waterways than allowed under the Clean Water Act, (summary here) according to a report released Thursday by an environmental group.

Our source also revealed that environmentalists believe this is happening because the Bush Administration refuses to adequately enforce the law.

Well, the U.S Public Information Research Group, which issued that report and offers it as a free PDF on its site, had better be able to back up these outlandish allegations, because our source provided, at no additional cost, this assertion from none other than Roxanne Smith, an EPA spokesperson:

“We will continue to aggressively enforce our nation’s environmental laws through effective compliance assistance and a strong enforcement program.”

‘Nuff said, right? Because that, dear reader, is an EPA spokesperson, who isn’t about to besmirch her professional reputation by lying like a rug dealer, right? And she represents, after all, the Environmental Protection Agency, which is charged with protecting our water, right?

Our smug sanguinity evaporated, however, when the phrase effective compliance assistance caught the attention of our sharp-eyed copy editor, who is always on the lookout for words and phrases that ring with portent and authority but wither to nothing under close scrutiny. Graciously, we allow our able copy editor to expand on his discovery:

“Effective compliance assistance? What the does that friggin’ mean besides abso-friggin’-lutely nothing? It’s just a friggin’ euphemism for letting the friggin’ polluters monitor themselves. As-friggin’ if!”

Errrrr, thank you, copy editor! Jolly good! You can just toddle off to your cube and your nit-picking, and we’ll take it from here! There, that’s the good, salty-tongued lad!

Reminded why we don’t let him “write more,” like he’s always going on about, we nonetheless completely agree with the copy editor’s point, however unfortunately stated. Polluters cannot be allowed to monitor themselves, as the appalling statistics that our source provides make abundantly clear. And since we’re parsing empty rhetoric, how about strong enforcement program? Our source states:

EPA officials defended the agency’s record, saying they had taken enforcement actions resulting in $8.8 million in fines last year for those caught violating the Clean Water Act.

$8.8 million? Whoooooaaaaaaa! See there? That’s right, EPA, kick those polluters right in the bottom line, where it really hurts! You go, federal agency!

All of our hooting and high-fiving came to an embarrassed halt when our spoilsport accountant pointed out that if you crunch the numbers (divide that 8.8 mega-large by the total number of offending industrial and municipal facilities cited during 2005–the most recent year for which statistics are available) you arrive at an average fine of about $2, 500. Even if the fines levied in 2005 were two, three, four, whatever times as large–which they most assuredly were not–you’re still not going to calculate a figure that is going to make major industrial polluters like Chevron do anything but laugh. Oh, and lie. When asked about the mercury and other pollutants the oil giant had illegally dumped in 2005, A Chevron spokesperson, Alex Yelland, said:

. . .the company is “committed to the highest standards of environmental stewardship.”

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