NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Federal Government is the Biggest Polluter

April 22, 1997

Some state environmental officials say the federal government is among their biggest polluters, even as private industry takes the blame. Local government facilities, such as community-owned public utilities, are also culprits.

Officials in northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. say that the entities it has the most trouble getting into compliance are federal government facilities, local waste-water treatment facilities and the occasional business -- which often is doing contract work for the federal government.

While private corporations must report to the federal government the amounts of toxic chemicals they emit, government facilities are not required to report as much.

  • Experts say two of the top five air polluters in Arizona are public utilities, and the Jacksonville (Fla) Electric Authority is a top-five emitter of nitrogen oxides.
  • A California environmental official reported that it "wouldn't surprise" him if the state's largest water polluter wasn't a government plant.
  • In New York, the Buffalo Sewer Authority is known to discharge more than six million pounds of toxic chemicals annually -- more than the combined total of all of the top 200 private polluters in the state.

Source: James Freeman (PBS producer), "The Biggest Polluter: Government?" Investor's Business Daily, April 22, 1997.


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