This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Under the Trump administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is more likely to give polluters a pass when they violate laws intended to keep the air healthy and water clean, according to recent reporting by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, a watchdog group.
By analyzing public data and interviewing past and current EPA employees, EDGI documented notable declines in agency law enforcement this year, particularly in EPA Region 8, which includes Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas, and 27 Indigenous nations. According to an internal EPA report, by mid-year, Region 8 had opened 53 percent fewer enforcement cases in 2018 than in 2017. And it concluded only 53 civil cases in 2018, less than half the number in any year since at least 2006. Nationally, EDGI found a 38 percent drop in the number of orders requiring polluters to comply with the law, and a 50 percent drop in the number of fines.
EDGI’s analyses are based on provisional numbers, which the EPA routinely cleans up at the end of each year, so the ... Read more