Lax Enforcement of Clean Water Act

On Sunday, The New York Times ran an investigative report about rampant violations of the nation’s Clean Water. More distressing than the violations though was the lax enforcement by state and federal environmental agencies. According to The Times, records submitted by polluters themselves show that “the Clean Water Act has been violated more than 506,000 times since 2004, by more than 23,000 companies” around the U.S. Most of those transgressions went unremarked by local, state and federal regulators. In New Jersey enforcement of the Clean Water Act is actually pretty strong. The state ranked fourth in overall enforcement rate, behind Nevada (#1), North Carolina (#2) and Oregon (#3). Some of the credit for that respectable showing belongs to Lisa Jackson, former commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Not long after Jackson publicly dared Passaic River polluters to do the right thing and clean up their mess, the state reached agreement with corporate polluters and the process of cleaning up dioxin-laden Passaic River sediments finally got underway. If Jackson takes the same hard-nosed stand at the federal EPA, Clean Water Act violators and regulators would be well advised to clean up their acts.