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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.
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The earliest iteration of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was founded in 1977 to “defend, conserve and protect our ocean.” Meet three women, featured by Vogue, who are carrying out the organization’s mission: Eva Hidalgo: 31-year-old Spanish scientist who was part of the team that possibly identified a new […]
by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer A bill sitting on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s desk could take away local government’s decision-making about their energy choices, including where to build large-scale solar arrays. The outcome will impact the historically Black town of Archer, where Origis Energy and Gainesville Regional Utilities want to build a 50-megawatt solar […]
The American Jobs Plan is an unmissable moment for communities across the country to address the legacy of urban freeways and set a new course for a more equitable future. It’s absolutely critical that as we begin to reimagine and build the transportation infrastructure of the 21st century that we do not repeat the mistakes […]
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