60 Percent Drop in Fines Shows Corporate Polluters Have Little to Fear From Trump
An environmental watchdog group said Thursday that the Trump administration has so far shown little interest in holding companies accountable for polluting the environment, compared with President Donald Trump’s recent predecessors.
In keeping with a pattern of lax enforcement Trump took office in January, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Justice Department have collected just $12 million in fines from violators of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and other anti-pollution laws, according to a new study released by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). The previous three presidents handed out fines totaling between $25 and $36 million in their first six months in office.
The findings of the report mirror a similar decline in government fines levied against Wall Street firms, as Common Dreams reported earlier this week.
“If this drop-off in environmental enforcement continues, it will leave more people breathing more air pollution or swimming in waterways with more waste.”—Eric Schaeffer, EIP
While pollution has still certainly been taking place, Trump, who received more in donations from the oil and gas industries than any other candidate during the 2016 campign, has reduced fines by about 60 percent for big polluters. The EPA’s largest fine since January amounted to just $2.5 million, issued a Texas chemical storage facility for its emissions of the chemical benzene—a carcinogen that contributes to air pollution and can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and the nervous system.
Comparatively, President George W. Bush’s administration fined three petroleum refinery companies a total of $15 million for similar emissions, in the first six months of Bush’s first term.
The head of the EIP, Eric Schaeffer, who was formerly the Director of Civil Enforcement at the EPA, noted that the “tough talk” Trump is known for apparently doesn’t extend to large corporations guilty of pollution.
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