U.S. to investigate states for pollution enforcement EPA officials say some do not report all violators

December 15, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON -- Worried that some state governments are neglecting federal environmental laws, the Clinton administration is mounting detailed investigations of several states' performance, according to senior administration officials.

Environmental Protection Agency officials say they have found that Pennsylvania and some other big industrial states are reporting only a handful of major pollution violations, suggesting that inspectors in those states may be turning a blind eye to pollution problems.

"Unfortunately, lately we have seen a number of states that are emboldened by the anti-environmental sentiment that began here in Congress, and they are retreating from their commitment to enforce the laws," said Carol Browner, the agency's administrator.

"We are fighting the same fight that we fought over the 'Contract with America,' but unfortunately the battle has moved down to the states."

A number of states have passed laws that may conflict with federal policies by providing too much protection for companies that voluntarily identify their own pollution violations.

The agency has warned several states that it may revoke their authority to enforce laws such as the Clean Air Act, or withhold federal grants that help the states enforce the laws, unless they change their practices.

Federal laws on air and water pollution and the handling and disposal of wastes are enforced mainly by state agencies, which issue and enforce operating permits under the supervision of the EPA.

Pub Date: 12/15/96

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