New EPA policy threatens enforcement of environmental rules

As if President Trump’s proposed 40 percent cut to the enforcement office at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wouldn’t do enough to hamstring the carrying out of our country’s health and environmental laws, all information requests to companies regarding whether they are in compliance now need approval from EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. Until now, the agency’s regional offices were free to investigate potential environmental violations without blessings from D.C. EPA spokeswoman Amy Graham said the agency is “eliminating overly broad and unduly burdensome requests for information,” but critics fear the change may let polluters off the hook. Doug Parker, former head of criminal enforcement at the EPA and 27-year agency veteran, says the policy will likely diminish the enforcement of our country’s clean air and water laws. Concentrating the requests in Washington would create an information bottleneck, which would slow down the agency’s enforcement capabilities—or even give political officials the opportunity to play favorites with or do favors for companies under investigation.

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