Toxic Waters Journalist on Fresh Air

Julie Slavet
Oct 19, 2009

Today’s Fresh Air on National Public Radio features Charles Duhigg, a journalist working on the New York Times’ fascinating Toxic Waters series. In the interview, Duhigg notes that in some senses, the Times’ database of water polluters is more comprehensive than the EPA’s, because it includes raw data from all 50 states.

One of Duhigg’s recent articles explains that the EPA is vowing to work harder on enforcing water pollution laws. From the article:

The E.P.A. has come under scrutiny recently for not punishing tens of thousands of polluters over the last decade, and many of the lawmakers at the hearing on Thursday are longtime critics of the agency’s vigilance. In September, a New York Times investigation found that companies and other workplaces had violated the Clean Water Act more than 500,000 times in the last five years, but fewer than 3 percent of polluters had ever been fined or otherwise punished.

On Fresh Air, Duhigg explains there are many reasons why the EPA hasn’t effectively enforced water polluters, including lack of interest from voters, limited funding, effective lobbying from polluters and loopholes in the law. Later in the interview, he explains some of the concerns we’ve talked about associated with natural gas drilling. He also reminds listeners that “water really is a local issue.”

You can listen to the interview indefinitely here and read the Toxic Waters series here. The next article in the series will be about an issue near and dear to our hearts: the combined sewer overflow problem in older American cities!

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