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Final inspection: Civil penalties against polluters drop 60% under Trump

Final Inspection, News | October 1, 2017 | By:

Current U.S. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. Photograph by Eric Vance, courtesy of the United States Environmental Protection Agency

An Aug. 10, 2017, report issued by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), indicates that, so far, President Donald J. Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has collected 60% less in civil penalties than previous administrations had recovered from environmental violators on average by the end of July in their first year after taking office.

The EIP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, based in Washington D.C., and Austin, Texas, dedicated to enforcing environmental laws and holding polluters and governments accountable to protect public health.

Federal records reviewed by the EIP also show a significant drop in the number of environmental enforcement lawsuits filed against companies for breaking pollution control laws, compared to similar periods in the Obama, Bush and Clinton administrations.

From President Trump’s first day in office through the end of July, the U.S. Department of Justice collected a total of $12 million in civil penalties as part of 26 lawsuits filed against companies for breaking pollution control laws. In contrast, $36 million in penalties in 34 cases was collected in Barack Obama’s first January through July; $30 million in 31 cases under the same period during George W. Bush’s administration; and $25 million in 45 cases during Bill Clinton’s first half year, according to EIP’s report. The totals are not adjusted for inflation.

“The early returns show fewer cases with smaller penalties for violations of environmental law,” said Eric Schaeffer, executive director of the EIP and former director of civil enforcement at the EPA.

The data for the Trump administration’s record so far is just a snapshot, and trends vary over time. Large future cases could potentially shift these results.

Read the full report at

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