The enforcement activities by the USEPA have declined in a significant way, under the current administration. Look no further than the USEPA Inspector General’s report “EPA’s Compliance Monitoring Activities, Enforcement Actions, and Enforcement Results Generally Declined from Fiscal Years 2006 Through 2018” (Report No. 20-P-013) (“Enforcement and Compliance Report”). And this comes on the heels of the USEPA announcing plans to “exercise discretion” in the face of COVID-19. The announcement has been met with mixed responses; some have welcomed the policy statement while others have vilified it. The announcement will result in a further decline in enforcement.
In the Enforcement and Compliance Report, from FY 2007 to FY 2018, inspections decreased by thirty-three (33) percent and enforcement actions decreased over fifty (50) percent %. That trend is continuing in the USEPA’s fiscal year 2019 in 11 of 15 compliance monitoring and enforcement measures.
The decrease in enforcement is not explained away merely by referring to a decrease in resources (i.e. budget cuts). It runs deeper. The Enforcement and Compliance Report, however, sheds light on this declining trend.
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