U.S. Water News Online
MARIETTA, Ga. -- In an effort to counter criticism that the Republican majority in Congress has failed to protect the environment, House Speaker Newt Gingrich accused Atlanta, Ga., officials of "grotesque incompetence" in controlling pollution of the Chattahoochee River in Gingrich's home state of Georgia. The House majority leader went so far as to say that the federal government had "every right" to step in and force the city to halt the pollution.
Elevated levels of phosphorus in the Chattahoochee River have been blamed on inadequately treated wastewater and sewer overflows from Atlanta. Several environmental groups and communities downstream have filed suit in federal court, and the city is paying a $9,000 daily fine to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to clean up its sewer overflows.
In his usual contentious style, Gingrich suggested that as a "practical matter," the cleanup of the Chattahoochee River should be done after the Olympics this summer. "(Mayor) Bill Campbell doesn't have the energy to get through the Olympics and face this," he said. The statement brought a strong response from the Atlanta mayor, who countered by saying "I don't get my instructions on how to run the city from Speaker Gingrich."
Appearing in a recent environmental forum at Marietta, Gingrich noted that while he supports EPA's efforts to reduce pollution, he wants the fewest laws necessary for the task. "EPA is still too bureaucratic and adversarial," the House speaker stated.
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