Tuesday, December 17, 2013

EPA's proposed cuts would put pressure on states

According to the Environmental Protection Agency's draft strategic plan, EPA plans conduct fewer inspections and initiate fewer cases against industrial polluters in the next five years, Neela Banerjee reports for the Los Angeles Times. These cuts in federal funding would put significant financial pressure on the states, Bernadette M. Rappold of the McGuireWoods law and lobbying firm writes on Mondaq.

EPA proposes to decrease annual federal inspections and evaluations from 20,000—what it was in 2012—to 14,000 between 2014 and 2018. It has also figures to start 2,320 civil judicial and administrative enforcement cases against violators as opposed to 3,000 in 2012 and conclude 2,000 civil and administrative enforcement cases, down from 3,000 in 2012, Laura Sesana reports for The Washington Times.

EPA's decision was part of a new emphasis on the biggest polluters to clean the country's air and water most effectively, Sesana writes. EPA spokesperson Alisha Johnson said, "From our work on the biggest enforcement cases, such as the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, to aggressively pursuing smaller cases that can reduce harmful health impacts and have the greatest environmental benefit, our enforcement work will continue to save lives and protect our environment."

Because of these federal cuts, states will have to shoulder much more financial responsibility, Rappold writes: "While the agency appears to be counting on state, local and tribal governments to pick up the slack, it may be impossible for them to do so, given the lingering effects of the Great Recession on state and local budgets. As a result, various groups are calling on the agency to find money from elsewhere to cushion the blow." Even though the plan is still a draft, it may cause uncertainty among some companies because weak federal enforcement may cause "an uneven approach to environmental enforcement," Rappold writes.

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