Politics and environmental issues have always been joined at the hip. After all, environmental laws, regulations, enforcement, etc. are a matter of federal and state policy.
Under the current administration in Washington, D.C., this political-environmental connection has been more pronounced than any time in recent history. For example, last fall, a memo from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made it official: as for the EPA, they will focus on compliance over enforcement.
Less Federal Environmental Enforcement
According to an article in the Washington Post, the EPA’s workforce has shrunk by 8% under the Trump Administration. One of the EPA offices that has taken the “biggest hit” is the Office of Enforcement and Compliance whose workforce is down nearly 16%.
Since President Donald Trump took office, his administration has focused on “cooperative federalism.” This approach to environmental protection appears to be relying on states to take the lead on issues such as enforcement.
States Doing More Enforcement
With the EPA taking a less-traditional approach to enforcement, some states are stepping up their inspection and enforcement efforts. We saw several instances of state-led initiatives in the final months of 2018. We think this trend will continue in 2019.
Environmental Groups Active
On the socio-political-environmental front, environmental groups are still energized and “litigating” at a frenzied pace.
As we previously shared, Natural Resource Defense Counsel’s (NRDC) Aaron Colanelo said, “All told, we’ve engaged in a new legal action or new lawsuit against the Trump administration about every eight days since the inauguration. It started right away. It started at midnight, or shortly before midnight, on the night of the inauguration” (emphasis added).
Practical Environmental Compliance
While politicians and environmental groups deal with 30,000-foot issues – most in the regulated community are addressing issues at arm’s length. This includes making sure you have all the required permits and plans, you are implementing those plans, and you’re avoiding violations.
These practical considerations are where Dragun Corporation helps. Last summer, we provided some compliance updates and tips (see Four Environmental Compliance Developments and Five Compliance Considerations). And as states have, at least in some cases, stepped up enforcement, we have been assisting with negotiations and working with legal counsel to find practical solutions when a violation occurs.
Our annual 2019 Michigan Compliance Calendar is provided to help you meet deadlines and avoid violations. If you need assistance with a permit, plan, or negotiating a violation, we can help (we can also provide references to legal counsel with which we have worked).
If you have questions about environmental compliance, permitting, or addressing a violation, please contact me. Our experienced staff can help you with environmental compliance issues – from basic permitting to more challenging regulatory negotiations.