Lisa Jackson, federal EPA chief and former head of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, recently appointed Judith Enck as the EPA’s new Regional Administrator for Region 2, which includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Enck was New York State’s Deputy Secretary of the Environment under NY Governors Eliot Spitzer and David Patterson. She replaces former Region 2 administrator Alan Steinberg. Enck is one of Jackson’s five new Regional Administrator pics. (Regions 1, 3, 6 and 9 got new top dogs too.) Three of the five, including Enck, wrote Alan Steinberg recently in PolitickerNJ.com, ” have deep roots in the environmental advocacy community.” Amen to that. Back in May 2007 The New York Times referred to Enck as “tart-tongued.” No doubt Jackson had Enck’s tart tongue in mind when she picked her as the person who will trade barbs with the corporations responsible for polluting and now cleaning up the Passaic.
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.