New Environmental Crimes Project Data Shows That Pollution Prosecutions Plummeted During the First Two Years of the Trump Administration
Environmental Crimes Project Report, 2020
17 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2020
Date Written: October 1, 2020
The latest data from the Environmental Crimes Project at the University of Michigan Law School shows a dramatic drop in pollution prosecutions during the first two years under President Donald J. Trump. The data, which now includes 14 years of cases from 2005–2018, shows a 70 percent decrease in Clean Water Act prosecutions under President Trump, as well as a more than 50 percent decrease in Clean Air Act prosecutions. The data again shows that most defendants charged with pollution crime commit misconduct involving one or more of the aggravating factors identified in my previous scholarship, so prosecutors continue to reserve criminal prosecution for conduct involving those aggravating factors and rarely prosecute when none of those factors is present. The significant drop in the number of defendants prosecuted, however, raises questions about the extent to which broader changes at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department may be having a negative impact on the federal environmental crimes program, which historically received support under Democratic and Republican presidents, regardless of their environmental policies.
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