The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced that the St. Tammany Parish, La., government received a...
U.S. Senators Kit Bond and Barbara Mikulski introduced bipartisan legislation on April 1 to boost enforcement of our nation's environmental laws, increase homeland security, and further protect our nation's water supply from terrorist attack.
"Our communities' drinking water supplies must be safeguarded from terrorist threats," said Senator Bond. "With this new commitment to environmental enforcement and water system protection, we are telling those who would intentionally harm us that we are coming after them."
"Criminals who intentionally violate environmental laws and threaten public health must be caught and prosecuted," said Senator Mikulski. "This bill makes sure that EPA has robust criminal enforcement. It puts more environmental cops on the beat, and helps secure our drinking water systems to make our communities safer and stronger."
The Environmental Enforcement and Security Act (EESA) of 2004 will put 50 new EPA Criminal Enforcement Special Agents on the environmental beat. EESA will also nearly triple EPA Homeland Security Special Agents working with the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and Department of Justice to fight terrorism.
The legislation will also provide $100 million for physical protections of drinking water systems. Grants to local communities will pay for additional fencing, intruder detection, access control and drinking water monitoring.
"Our nation's environmental laws exist to protect our families, our communities and our natural resources," Bond added. "Those who would intentionally violate our environmental laws deserve the full force of the government to stop them."
The legislation responds to a recent EPA Inspector General report, internal EPA review and numerous media accounts describing an EPA Enforcement program straining to meet its dual post-9/11 missions of pursuing environmental violations and responding to terror threats. In addition to new funds for environmental and homeland security personnel, EESA will triple the enforcement training budget, double compliance assistance funding and fully fund strategic targeting of enforcement actions.
EPA's Criminal Enforcement program investigates the most egregious violators of environmental laws that pose a significant threat to human health and the environment. EPA Homeland Security Special Agents are members of FBI Counter Terrorism Response Teams that detect terrorist activities, investigate crime scenes involving hazardous or toxic materials and would respond to terrorist attacks involving chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction.
"As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee funding EPA and a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. I will do everything I can to send vital new funds to local communities and EPA for homeland security and environmental protection," said Bond.