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[GreenYes] EPA Director of Regulatory Enforcement Resigns
Apologies for cross-postings.

You may have seen this article in today's New York Times.  His letter to

Administrator Whitman is below.


********************************
Christine Whitman
Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20004

Dear Ms. Whitman:

        I resign today from the Environmental Protection Agency after
twelve
years of service, the last five as Director of the Office of Regulatory
Enforcement.  I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given, and

leave with a deep admiration for the men and women of EPA who dedicate
their
lives to protecting the environment and the public health.  Their faith
in
the Agency's mission is an inspiring example to those who still believe
that
government should stand for the public interest.

        But I cannot leave without sharing my frustration about the fate
of
our enforcement actions against power companies that have violated the
Clean
Air Act.  Between November of 1999 and December of 2000, EPA filed
lawsuits
against 9 power companies for expanding their plants, without obtaining
New
Source Review permits and the up to date pollution controls required by
law.
The companies named in our lawsuits emit an incredible 5.0  million tons
of
sulfur dioxide every year (a quarter of the emissions in the entire
country)
as well as 2 million tons of nitrogen oxide.

        As the scale of pollution from these coal-fired smokestacks is
immense, so is the damage to public health.  Data supplied to the Senate

Environment Committee by EPA last year estimate the annual health bill
from
7 million tons of SO2 and NO2: more than 10,800 premature deaths; at
least
5,400 incidents of chronic bronchitis; more than 5,100 hospital
emergency
visits; and over 1.5 million lost work days.  Add to that severe damage
to
our natural resources, as acid rain attacks soils and plants, and
deposits
nitrogen in the Chesapeake Bay and other critical bodies of water.


        Fifteen months ago, it looked as though our lawsuits were going
to
shrink these dismal statistics, when EPA publicly announced agreements
with
Cinergy and Vepco to reduce Sox and Nox emissions by a combined 750,000
tons
per year.  Settlements already lodged with two other companies - TECO
and
PSE&G - will eventually take another quarter million tons of Nox and Sox
out
of the air annually.  If we get similar results from the 9 companies
with
filed complaints, we are on track to reduce both pollutants by a
combined
4.8 million tons per year.  And that does not count the hundreds of
thousands of additional tons that can be obtained from other companies
with
whom we have been negotiating.

        Yet today, we seem about to snatch defeat from the jaws of
victory.
We are in the 9th month of a "90 day review" to reexamine the law, and
fighting a White House that seems determined to weaken the rules we are
trying to enforce.  It is hard to know which is worse, the endless delay
or
the repeated leaks by energy industry lobbyists of draft rule changes
that
would undermine lawsuits already filed.  At their heart, these proposals

would turn narrow exemptions into larger loopholes that would allow old
"grandfathered" plants to be continually rebuilt (and emissions to
increase)
without modern pollution controls.

        Our negotiating position is weakened further by the
Administration's
budget proposal to cut the civil enforcement program by more than 200
staff
positions below the 2001 level.  Already, we are unable to fill key
staff
positions, not only in air enforcement, but in other critical programs,
and
the proposed budget cuts would leave us desperately short of the
resources
needed to deal with the large, sophisticated corporate defendants we
face.
And it is completely unrealistic to expect underfunded state
environmental
programs, facing their own budget cuts, to take up the slack.

        It is no longer possible to pretend that the ongoing debate with
the
White House and Department of Energy is not effecting our ability to
negotiate settlements.   Cinergy and Vepco have refused to sign the
consent
decrees they agreed to 15 months ago, hedging their bets while waiting
for
the Administration's Clean Air Act reform proposals.  Other companies
with
whom we were close to settlement have walked away from the table.  The
momentum we obtained with agreements announced earlier has stopped, and
we
have filed no new lawsuits against utility companies since this
Administration took office.  We obviously cannot settle cases with
defendants who think we are still rewriting the law.

        The arguments against sustaining our enforcement actions don't
hold
up to scrutiny.

        Were the complaints filed by the U.S. government based on
conflicting or changing interpretations?  The Justice Department doesn't

think so.  Its review of our enforcement actions found EPA's
interpretation
of the law to be reasonable and consistent.  While the Justice
Department
has gamely insisted it will continue to prosecute existing cases, the
confusion over where EPA is going with New Source Review has made
settlement
almost impossible, and protracted litigation inevitable.

        What about the energy crisis?  It stubbornly refuses to
materialize,
as experts predict a glut of power plants in some areas of the U.S.  In
any
case, our settlements are flexible enough to provide for cleaner air
while
protecting consumers from rate shock.

        The relative costs and benefits?  EPA's regulatory impact
analyses,
reviewed by OMB, quantify health and environmental benefits of $7,300
per
ton of SO2 reduced at a cost of less than $1,000 per ton.  These cases
should be supported by anyone who thinks cost-benefit analysis is a
serious
tool for decision-making, not a political game.

        Is the law too complicated to understand?  Most of the projects
our
cases targeted involved big expansion projects that pushed emission
increases many times over the limits allowed by law.

        Should we try to fix the problem by passing a new law?  Assuming
the
Administration's bill survives a legislative odyssey in today's evenly
divided Congress, it will send us right back where we started with new
rules
to write, which will then be delayed by industry challenges, and with
fewer
emissions reductions than we can get by enforcing today's law.

         I believe you share the concerns I have expressed, and wish you

well in your efforts to persuade the Administration to put our
enforcement
actions back on course.  Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican and our greatest
environmental President, said, "Compliance with the law is demanded as a

right, not asked as a favor."  By showing that powerful utility
interests
are not exempt from that principle, you will prove to EPA's staff that
their
faith in the Agency's mission is not in vain.  And you will leave the
American public with an environmental victory that will be felt for
generations to come.

                                                Sincerely,



                                                Eric V. Schaeffer,
Director
                                                Office of Regulatory
Enforcement

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