Washington, DC — The waters of the southeastern U.S. suffer from serious water quality problems that have yet to be addressed during the Bush years, according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency memo released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In a sobering admission, EPA is calling for internal suggestions about any “mid-course corrections” that “actually manage to achieve improvements in water quality” in the southeastern states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, North and South Carolina.
The July 5, 2007 memo written by EPA Regional Water Management Division Director Jim Giattina asks for volunteers to develop recommendations for improving “the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the waters of the southeastern United States.” Giattina lists problems that have persisted since 2002, as outlined in reports delivered at the advent of the Bush administration, including:
- Approximately 2,250 water bodies in the region that fail to meet Clean Water Act standards; and
- More than 5,600 known pollution sources that continue to contaminate the region’s rivers and lakes.
The memo does not propose any new policies but instead sets out a new date for making progress – 2012, long after the Bush administration has left office. It calls for forming a new “Workgroup” and lays out a schedule for “a communication plan for rolling out recommendations of the Workgroup…including a powerpoint presentation for the Regional Administrator,” a former Mississippi state official named Jimmy Palmer.
“A new Workgroup is the perfect tactic for killing time while hoping that a new Regional Administrator with backbone is eventually appointed,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Our southeastern waters are in bad shape but you will not find a hint of these hard facts on the EPA web site.”
Significantly, Giattina’s memo appears to be calling for less enforcement even before the Workgroup is convened by intimating that the path for improving “environmental outcomes [is] through process changes (e.g., reduced State oversight) [and] process efficiencies (e.g., streamlining grant reviews)…”
“The idea of EPA actually enforcing the Clean Water Act does not appear even to be on the table,” added Ruch. “This is a classic green-wash by committee ploy to give the appearance of action while forestalling progress.”