April 23, 2019 Feature

Filling the Federal Enforcement Gap

Caroline Cecot

In December 2017, the New York Times published an analysis of formal enforcement actions taken by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the first nine months of the Trump administration. See Eric Lipton & Danielle Ivory, Under Trump, E.P.A. Has Slowed Actions Against Polluters, and Put Limits on Enforcement Officers, N.Y. Times (Dec. 10, 2017). The analysis revealed that President Trump’s EPA initiated fewer civil cases and sought less in penalties against polluters than did President Obama’s EPA or President George W. Bush’s EPA in the first nine months of those administrations, respectively. Compared to Obama’s EPA, Trump’s EPA started about 30 percent fewer cases and sought about 60 percent less in civil penalties. Id. Even compared to G.W. Bush’s EPA, Trump’s EPA started about 25 percent fewer cases and sought about 30 percent less in penalties. Id.

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