Bush Administration Covered Up More Than 500 Major Water Pollution Cases

  • Published on December 17th, 2008


A high profile Congressional committee investigation has revealed that, since 2006, the outgoing Bush administration has dropped or stalled enforcement actions on more than 500 cases of severe water pollution.

According to the Committee chairmen, the situation is now so bad that, “the federal government’s Clean Water Act enforcement program has been decimated over the past two years, imperiling the health and safety of the nation’s waters.”

The investigation, carried out by Henry Waxman, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman and James Oberstar, Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, unearthed new internal documents revealing that hundreds of Clean Water Act violations have not been pursued with enforcement actions.

Depressingly, it also appears that the situation may well be worse than even this damning investigation indicates. According to Waxman and Oberstar, “EPA has withheld hundreds of documents from the Committees. When documents were provided, the EPA redacted the identity of every corporation or individual accused of polluting waterways, as well as the specific waters affected.”

The majority of the lost enforcement actions occurred in EPA Region 6, which includes the states of New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana, where 138 enforcement cases were dropped. In EPA Region 8, which includes the states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado, 106 enforcement cases have been dropped.

The chairmen have already written to president-elect Obama stressing their dismay in the strongest possible terms. Their message to the new administration is clear – it must “immediately reverse this pattern of leaving waters unprotected and hiding the mess from the public, and support swift Congressional passage of the Clean Water Restoration Act.” Something else for Obama’s rapidly filling inbox then…

Image Credit – Jan Tik via flickr.com on a Creative Commons license

About the Author

is a writer and freelance journalist specialising in sustainability and green issues. He lives in Cardiff, Wales.