With the emphasis on compliance over enforcement during the Trump Administration, the enforcement news has looked different over the past few years.
With that said, there was a hefty fine just shy of seven million dollars under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) against a home products company.
From the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), “The United States Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement with Electrolux Home Products, Inc., to resolve alleged violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). As part of the settlement, Electrolux will pay a civil penalty in the amount of $6,991,400.”
“The settlement resolves claims that Electrolux imported unregistered pesticides in violation of section 12(a)(1)(A) of FIFRA and failed to file the required Notice of Arrival in violation of section 12(a)(2)(N) of FIFRA.”
According to the USEPA, Electrolux imported about 420,000 Frigidaire brand dehumidifiers and air conditioners that contained filters with an unregistered nanosilver labeled and marketed with “pesticidal claims.” The claims included “antibacterial filter,” and “helps eliminate bacteria in the air that can make breathing difficult.” The imports occurred between January 11 and May 12, 2020.”
This enforcement action is not what we (or at least me) are used to seeing under the Trump Administration. So what can we expect over the next four years?
Biden Campaign Environmental Positions
As we wrote in our November 13, 2020, blog, we fully expect environmental policies, including enforcement policies, to look very different under the new administration. Will we see a more enforcement-based policy (over compliance)? If so, where will this enforcement focus?
We already know that there will be a renewed emphasis on climate-related policies (see “The Biden Plan to Tackle The Climate Emergency”). We also know that Environmental Justice will be on the new administration’s radar. From the Biden/Harris website, “Any sound energy and environmental policy must advance public health and economic opportunity for all Americans, in rural, urban, and suburban communities, and recognize that communities of color and low-income communities have faced disproportionate harm from climate change and environmental contaminants for decades.”
Making political promises during a campaign does not always square with reality (to no one’s surprise).
Long Decline in Cases and Inspections
In fact, as we shared in our October 10, 2019 blog, civil case initiatives and enforcement have shown a steady decline since 2008, as have Federal inspections by the USEPA. This decline, obviously, includes the tenure of the Obama/Biden Administration.
More Voluntary Disclosures
In the same blog, we wrote, “In FY 2015, there were 289 (at 666 facilities) voluntary disclosures.” In 2018, that number had risen to 532 (at 1,561 facilities). Will the Biden Administration look favorably on voluntary disclosure successes of recent years, or will they focus more on enforcement efforts? As the Roman Statesman, Seneca, said, “time discovers truth.”
Environmental Compliance in Michigan
Finally, if you have operations in Michigan, we are again providing our annual compliance calendar to help you stay on top of your reporting obligations: 2021 Michigan Compliance Calendar.
Whether we will see more seven-figure fines, an emphasis on enforcement over compliance, or a general uptick in inspections in general is not within our control. With that said, we can control what happens within our own four walls. If you need assistance with an environmental issue (compliance, assessment/remediation, litigation support), we can help.
If you have any questions or need assistance, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call our US Office at 248-932-0228.
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