E&C Democratic Leaders Reiterate Demand for Information on EPA Enforcement Actions
Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko (D-NY) sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Friday reiterating their demand for documents and information on the agency’s lack of enforcement action.
In their letter, the members express concern that the agency has failed to take enforcement action aimed at addressing climate change and protecting public health. The Democrats’ request is a follow up to a letter that was sent in the 115th Congress. The letter includes some additional requests based on information that has recently come to light.
“We write again to reiterate our request for information on a series of actions by the Trump Administration regarding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance,” the Democrats wrote to Administrator Wheeler. “To date, EPA has failed to provide the information requested in our December 6, 2018 letter. We, therefore, reissue our revised request to better understand changes the Administration made to EPA’s enforcement program, and the human health and environmental impacts of these changes.”
EPA documents and press reports over the past year indicate several disturbing trends, including a decline in the number of enforcement cases initiated; a reduction in enforcement staff; an overreliance on state enforcement programs; and an increased political review of potential or pending enforcement actions. A recent Washington Post report indicated that civil penalties for polluters under the Trump Administration have plummeted to the lowest average level since 1994, and analysis by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative found pollution reduction under the Trump EPA is at a record low.
“We are deeply concerned that these actions undermine key enforcement programs and severely limit EPA’s ability to address climate change and protect public health and the environment,” Pallone, DeGette and Tonko continued in their letter.
The Committee leaders are requesting answers from EPA no later than February 15, 2019. The letter to EPA, including the specific list of information that the members are requesting, is available HERE.