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One former EPA law enforcement agent told the AP that the agency was being “gutted.” According to PEER, in April 2018, there were only 140 special agents in EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, and that number is more than a third less than the number of agents in 2003, and well below the minimum of staff level of 200 agents required by the U.S. Pollution Prosecution Act of 1990.
As we reported earlier this week, the EPA did just settle a large civil enforcement case against Fiat/Chrysler for a $300 million penalty after the company admitted it had rigged its diesel-powered Dodge Ram and Jeep vehicles to cheat on emissions tests resulting in an additional 35,000 tons of pollution. One high profile case does not make up for the hundreds of other cases that are not getting to the Justice Department in the first place.
Why This Matters: I (Monica) used to work at the DOJ Environment Division, and I can say from experience that we did not bring criminal cases lightly. In criminal cases, which are already at a very high standard in terms of the severity of the action by the polluter, there is generally serious public harm and a premeditated action or extreme recklessness by the defendant involved. The plummeting of environmental criminal enforcement is a result of the President’s bias in favor of large special interests and industrial polluters. Corporate polluters know this — thus, they have very little incentive to cut back on their law-breaking since they do not need to fear prosecution. PEER has found a similar drop off in civil environmental enforcement as well. That is terrible news for the clean air and water the President claims he supports. And the worst cases are probably in poor and minority areas, making this a huge environmental justice issue. Perhaps the House Dems will investigate — they should.
Climate change is having long-term effects on the marriage prospects of farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India,The Conversation reported today. As part of a larger project running from 2018 to 2021, the researchers interviewing over 1000 farmers to learn about the “increasing vulnerability of agriculture” in the region. What they found was, in their own words, “unexpected.”
Why This Matters: As the researchers note in their study, “the focus on climate change hitherto has mostly focused on the impacts on the natural environment.”
by Julia Fine, ODP Contributing Writer As Arun Gupta and Michelle Fawcett reported last week, coronavirus is “exploding” in populations of farmworkers across America. In their report, they noted that on a single farm in Tennessee, all 200 workers tested positive for the disease while in Immokalee, Florida, results indicated that over 1,000 migrant workers […]
by Julia Pyper, host/producer, Political Climate podcast, Contributing Editor at Greentech Media The urgency of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 hasn’t dwindled amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But renewed calls to address long-standing racial injustices further underscore that climate solutions can no longer function in a silo. House Democrats’ new “Congressional Action Plan for […]
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