Back on September 6, 2017, I wrote about the downturn in enforcement by the USEPA. Below is a guest post from my good friend James Smith with Schirrmeister Diaz-Arrastia Brem LLP in Houston, Texas, that somewhat confirms the downturn in federal enforcement.
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While the EPA is rolling back some significant regulations, and is emphasizing stories over enforcement statistics, the pressure for environmental enforcement at the local level appears to be staying strong. In interviews, EPA Administrator Pruitt does not seem to challenge the statistics that show lessened enforcement; rather, he points to individual cases as evidence of his personal commitment to environmental enforcement. In essence, he wants to show his commitment with stories, not statistics. One case that he has specifically mentioned is the San Jacinto Waste Pits Superfund Site. Mr. Pruitt points to his insistence on a removal remedy, over the objection of the companies who will be paying for the removal, as showing his commitment.
Anecdotal evidence indicates many local environmental authorities are trying to increase environmental enforcement in this context. For example, I have heard of local environmental enforcement professionals being asked to show increased action, and of them needing to remind their supervisors that environmental cases are often difficult and time consuming to prepare. I see no indication that the pressure in local communities to increase environmental enforcement will lessen. Indeed, I sense that this pressure is ongoing even in some “red” state communities.
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