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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.
The Colorado River is drying up, millions are at risk of losing their water supply, and Indigenous communities are fighting to keep their water rights. The Western megadrought is taking its toll on American communities, but how did we get here? In his new film, River’s End: California’s Latest Water War, Jacob Morrison delves […]
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and HP just announced that they’re taking their friendship to the next level. The odd couple is teaming up and expanding their partnership to restore, protect, and improve the management of almost one million acres of forest. HP is pledging $80 million to forest conservation and restoration, and not stopping there […]
Researchers from the National University of Singapore used data from more than 1,000 twin siblings to evaluate their opinions about environmental policy. They found identical twins were more likely to have similar views on green policy than non-identical twins, suggesting that support for climate action may have a genetic component. Felix Tropf, a professor in […]
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