EPA enforcement falling sharply from Obama era

WASHINGTON (AP) — New enforcement figures from the Environmental Protection Agency show some sharp declines in action against polluters.

The EPA released enforcement totals for fiscal year 2018 Friday, amid criticism from environmental groups that the Trump administration is easing up on environmental protections.

The agency carried out 22 civil investigations last year. That’s down from 40 in 2017 and from 125 in 2016.

Criminal fines and restitution tumbled, from $207 million in 2016 and $3 billion in 2017 to $86 million last year. Other key categories also showed enforcement decline.

The EPA says regulators often work “informally” with polluters instead of immediately resorting to enforcement.

But Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility says the figures show environmental enforcement “entering a near dark age.”

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