Antagonistic to environmental regulation, the Trump Administration sought to significantly roll back federal clean air law enforcement. Yet, we know very little about the impact of the Administration on air pollution criminal enforcement. Through content analysis of all EPA criminal investigations leading to prosecution, we analyze patterns in charging and sentencing and draw out the broader themes in air pollution prosecutions during this period. Our results show a sizable drop in prosecutions compared to the Obama Administration. Although prosecutors managed to pursue serious crimes involving significant harm and criminal conduct and secure over $2.9 billion in monetary penalties, roughly 160 years of probation, and 146 years of incarceration at sentencing, many of these penalties result from a few prosecutions. Our conclusions focus on forward-facing solutions for the Biden Administration to make good on campaign promises to reduce environmental injustice through enhanced environmental criminal enforcement, community policing and engagement, and recognition of environmental justice communities as crime victims.
Joshua Ozymy & Melissa J. Ozymy,
Evaporating Into Thin Air: The Prosecution of Air Pollution Crimes During the Trump Administration,
Mich. J. Envtl. & Admin. L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjeal/vol11/iss2/2