2020 Environmental Real Estate IssuesIn years unaffected by government shutdowns, EPA published its annual enforcement statistics before or just after the end of the calendar year.  EPA’s 2018 fiscal year ended September 30, 2018.

Trend of Declining EPA Enforcement
The statistics EPA published approximately a year ago, for its 2017 fiscal year, showed declining enforcement trends in the early Trump administration; however, the trend of declining enforcement began during the Obama administration.

While official 2018 EPA enforcement statistics are not yet available, some private individuals and organizations have analyzed available data and made unofficial announcements regarding EPA enforcement.

PEER Says Fewer Criminal Referrals
For example, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) issued a press release on January 15, 2019 titled “Criminal Enforcement Collapse at EPA.”  According to the press release, PEER examined EPA documents and determined EPA referred 166 cases in fiscal year 2018 to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) for criminal prosecution, the lowest in twenty years.

PEER’s press release also stated EPA’s referrals to DOJ continued to slow in October and November, the first two months of fiscal year 2019.  Coupled with the government shutdown, PEER predicts even fewer referrals to DOJ in 2019.

Fewer Cases but Harsher Punishment
PEER did not comment on the severity of criminal punishment.  While the last ten years have shown a clear trend to fewer environmental criminal cases referred to DOJ, the total incarceration time per year had not lessened, at least as of data available a year ago.  This indicates average punishment in environmental criminal cases is increasing.

For a copy of PEER’s press release https://www.peer.org/news/press-releases/criminal-enforcement-collapse-at-epa.html

4C H.S.E. Conference February 6-8 in Austin
Please join me at the 2019 4C H.S.E. Conference in Austin February 6-8.  I will be presenting “Federal, State and Local Enforcement” at 2 pm on Wednesday, February 6.  For more information on the conference, go to https://www.4cconference.com/2019-presentations.  I hope to see many of you.