Report Says Environmental Law Enforcement Drops Under Biden

According to a report released earlier this month by the national environmental group, federal environmental enforcement, according to EPA data closed by civil cases against polluters, hit its lowest level in two decades in 2022, according to a report released earlier this month by the national by an environmental group that blamed budget cuts, staff shortages and the US Senate’s failure to confirm key leaders.

The Environmental Integrity Project said the 72 civil cases dismissed in court during the fiscal year ending in September under President Joe Biden’s administration was “the lowest number in at least 22 years.”

The Trump administration’s EPA closed an average of 94 cases per year, while the Obama administration averaged 210 cases per year. Report He speaks.

“The Biden administration’s EPA was expected to increase enforcement of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and other environmental laws after pollutant investigations and prosecutions hit a new low under the Trump administration,” the group said in a statement. “He has yet to keep that promise due to Congress’ refusal to reverse more than a decade of budget cuts or confirm President Biden’s nomination to head the EPA Enforcement and Compliance Office.”

The report says the number of people working in the EPA Civil Law Enforcement Program has dropped from 3,294 in 2012 to 2,253 in 2022. In 2012, there were 189 EPA prosecution agents, but by 2022, that number has fallen to 155.

“Professional EPA staff seem to be doing their best with increasingly limited resources,” said Eric Schaeffer, executive director of the Environmental Integrity Project and former director of civil enforcement at the EPA. “But they’re not helped by ruthless budget cuts and the Senate’s failure to approve President Biden’s nomination for EPA Enforcement and Compliance Office Assistant Administrator David Ullman.”

Ullmann, former chief of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environmental Crime Unit and director of the University of Michigan Environmental Law Program, was nominated in June 2021 for this post, but the vote to confirm him stalled.

“The former president’s hostility towards the Environmental Protection Agency and, in particular, environmental law enforcement is well known,” Schaeffer said. “But the Democrats have controlled the House of Representatives for the last four years and the Senate for the last two years. At this point, Congress’ failure to support enforcement of its environmental laws is a bipartisan issue.”

US Senator Bill Cassidy, R-La., placed holds about Biden’s nominees over a dispute with the Environmental Protection Agency over Louisiana’s application to permit, locate, and monitor carbon sequestration wells. (Retention is an informal practice for a senator to inform the leadership of the Senate that they object to holding a general vote on a nominee or measure.)

In August the Senate voted for dismissal Ulman’s nomination from the Environment and Public Works Committee, where it was delayed, but it’s still go to the voting room.

“Senator Cassidy is not eligible to nominate EPA candidates because none of those considered on committee were brought to the Senate floor for the final vote,” a spokesman for the senator said Wednesday. “The senator does not plan to detain Ulman if he is taken to the Senate floor, but the senator plans to detain other candidates. … The EPA continues to block the state government’s ability to reduce emissions through CO2 capture and storage, a vital step in preserving existing jobs and strengthening Louisiana’s economy.”

In the meantime, however, enforcement at hundreds of facilities with serious air and water pollution violations languishes, the report said.

“EPA enforcement records show at least 257 major air pollution sources with high priority violations that have persisted for more than 30 months without any real response,” the Environmental Integrity Project said in a statement. “Similarly, discharge monitoring reports indicate that more than 900 facilities have violated water pollution restrictions at least 50 times in the past three years, but have not faced significant enforcement action.”

Budget negotiations

Environmental Protection Agency overall budget was almost $9.5 billion in 2012 and had a workforce of 17,106. In the fiscal year ending September, it had a budget of nearly $9.6 billion and 14,581 employees.

According to the EPA, the budget for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance was $593 million in 2011 and has been reduced to $539 million in 2022.

“The EPA is proud of its enforcement work in FY22, especially given the resource constraints the agency continues to face as a result of decade-long enforcement budget cuts,” said Melissa Sullivan, EPA spokeswoman. AT decree in 2021Biden directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to step up enforcement of violations, “with disproportionate consequences for underserved communities.”

“Our focused enforcement work in overburdened and vulnerable communities has stepped up significantly in recent years and demonstrates the Administration’s commitment to holding polluters accountable,” Sullivan said. “President Biden’s budget includes a significant increase in law enforcement resources that will help reverse the decline in law enforcement that has occurred over the past decade.”

in fiscal year budget which ends in September 2023, the Biden administration has requested a total EPA budget of almost $11.9 billion, which is about 1900 new full-time employees and an additional $213 million for civil enforcement activities.

Congress is currently finalizing appropriation legislation that includes The EPA budget is $10.1 billion., less than Biden wanted, but still $576 million more. It includes an additional $71.6 million in enforcement and compliance.

“We are pleased to see Congress increase the EPA Enforcement Budget in its 2023 Consolidated Spending Bill and urge our leaders to take immediate steps to further improve environmental law enforcement by appointing David Ullman as EPA Head of Enforcement and compliance in the near future. to the best of our ability,” said Patrick Drapp, Sierra Club Associate Director for Legislative Affairs.

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