Civil penalties for polluters dropped dramatically in Trumps first two years, analysis shows
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Washington Post
Posted: March 17th, 2019
Civil penalties for polluters under the Trump administration plummeted during the past fiscal year to the lowest average level since 1994, according to a new analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data. In the two decades before President Trump took office, EPA civil fines averaged more than $500 million a year, when adjusted for inflation. Last years total was 85 percent below that amount $72 million, according to the agencys Enforcement and Compliance History Online database. Cynthia Giles, who headed the EPAs enforcement office in the Obama administration and conducted the analysis, said the inflation-adjusted figures were the lowest since the agencys Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance was established. The decline in civil penalties could undermine the EPAs ability to deter wrongdoing, some former agency officials said, because they help ensure it is more expensive to violate the law than to comply with it. The analysis ... shows that in addition to the drop in civil penalties for polluting, the amount of money companies must pay to come into compliance with federal environmental laws also declined last fiscal year, to nearly $5.6 billion. That represents the lowest amount of injunctive relief since 2003 ... and is below the roughly $7.8 billion average for the two decades before Trump took office. A decline in the number of criminal investigators, which began during the Obama administration, has taken a toll. The EPAs enforcement division ... has lost at least 80 people since Trump entered office.
Note: A 2017 Washington Post article reported over 700 people leaving the EPA since Trump took office. The EPA is one of three federal agencies reported to have been "gagged" by the Trump administration. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the scientific community.