Undermining the Rule of Law at the E.P.A.

“Last week brought more bad news: Mr. Pruitt is proposing to end a decades-long agreement with the Justice Department that funds the E.P.A.’s lawsuits against polluters responsible for creating hazardous waste sites. Neither Congress nor the courts will have the final say. The decision rests with the Trump administration.

Since the Reagan administration, the E.P.A. has reimbursed the Justice Department for the cost of suing companies as part of the Superfund hazardous waste site cleanup program. In communities like the Love Canal neighborhood in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Times Beach, Mo., the Justice Department sued polluters to force them to pay the cost of relocating residents. More recently, the E.P.A. covered the upfront costs of suing the W. R. Grace chemical conglomerate in the small town of Libby, Mont., where hundreds have died from asbestos poisoning, and compelling General Electric to clean up decades of PCB pollution that ravaged the Hudson River.

But in its budget proposal, the E.P.A. said it no longer intended to reimburse the Justice Department for Superfund litigation costs.”

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