Putting TRAC to Work
  Policy and Public Interest Groups
Project on Government Oversight
February 20, 2018

Enforcement of Environmental Laws Drops Under Trump Administration
By Laura Peterson

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on February 8 released its enforcement data for fiscal year 2017, which shows significant drops in civil investigations, criminal cases opened, facility inspections, and case referrals to the Department of Justice, among other indicators. The data covers the final three months of the Barack Obama Administration and the first nine months of President Donald Trump’s. But new data shows that the problem extends beyond the EPA. Justice Department data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that during October, November and December 2017—the first quarter of the 2018 fiscal year—the entire federal government launched only 55 new prosecutions for environmental crimes—a 14 percent drop from the previous year and a 45 percent drop from five years ago. If this low rate holds for the remainder of the year, fiscal year 2018 will have the lowest number of environmental prosecutions since the Justice Department began tracking environmental crimes more than two decades ago. TRAC Table 1 Criminal Environment Prosecutions The data was obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a nonprofit based at Syracuse University that analyzes federal enforcement trends. (Disclosure: TRAC’s founder and co-director, David Burnham, sits on the Project On Government Oversight’s board.)

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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