Civil penalties for polluters under the Trump administration plummeted during the past fiscal year to the lowest average level since 1994, according to a new analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data.
In the two decades before President Trump took office, EPA civil fines averaged more than $500 million a year, when adjusted for inflation. Last year’s total was 85 percent below that amount — $72 million, according to the agency’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online database.
Cynthia Giles, who headed the EPA’s enforcement office in the Obama administration and conducted the analysis, said the inflation-adjusted figures were the lowest since the agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance was established.
The decline in civil penalties could undermine the EPA’s ability to deter wrongdoing, some former agency officials said, because they help ensure it is more expensive to violate the law than to comply with it. [Continue reading…]