New Audit Finds EPA’s Approach to Reduce Nutrient Pollution is Ineffective

(202) 667-6982
For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, September 4, 2014

Washington, D.C. – A new audit from the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finds the agency’s strategy to reduce nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River Basin and Gulf of Mexico is ineffective.
“The audit is more evidence that the EPA’s strategy is failing to reduce the pollution problems in our lakes, rivers, and streams, and the problem will only worsen unless the agency gets serious about cleanup,” said Craig Cox, EWG’s senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources.
EPA’s strategy depends on 12 so-called “task force states” to carry out plans that cut the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus entering their waterways, mostly from farming operations.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, corn and soybean crops account for 52 percent of nitrogen released into the Gulf of Mexico. In total, 71 percent of nitrogen and 80 percent of phosphorus pollution can be attributed to agriculture.
The OIG audit found that states have been slow to develop and implement strategies to reduce nutrient pollution. In particular, it found:
·       Only two of the 12 states have completed their plans.
·       Only three states have actually set quantitative goals for pollution reduction and only one of those states has a firm date by when the water will be cleaner.
·       None of the 12 states have committed to monitoring water quality to make sure their plans are working.
“This looks like business as usual to me,” added Cox. “It is a lot of talk, and no action coming from the EPA. The agency must hold states accountable to improve our waterways and protect the Gulf of Mexico.”