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Demand that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) keep polluters in check. Tell Administrator Gina McCarthy that you support a fully-staffed EPA enforcement plan.
Reducing enforcement is equivalent to leaving communities overburdened by toxic air and water pollution out in the cold to fend for themselves. Cutting enforcement resources will disproportionately injure communities of color and low-income communities who are more likely to live near polluting industrial facilities. That's why we have a BIG problem if the EPA is deciding to reduce resources for their enforcement team while the stakes remain high.
Ask Administrator McCarthy to review this Agency report to make sure that the 2014 plan includes more — not less — resources for holding big polluters accountable.
To: Gina McCarthy, Environmental Protection Agency
I write to express concern about the allotment of enforcement resources in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Draft Strategic Plan for FY 2014-2018. This plan indicates cuts to enforcement measures that are at odds with the EPA's stated goal of "protecting human health and the environment by enforcing laws and assuring compliance." The EPA should reconsider these proposed divestments in enforcement resources to both fulfill its mission and reaffirm its commitment to protect the most vulnerable citizens and ecosystems.
The Draft Strategic Plan indicates reductions in inspections and civil complaints ranging from 30 to 50 percent of FY 2005-2009 baseline levels. Specifically, EPA indicates federal inspections will decline from the FY 2005-2009 baseline of 21,000 annually to 14,000 annually and the initiation of civil judicial and administrative actions will decline from the FY 2005-2009 baseline of 3,900 annually to 2,000 annually.
Reducing enforcement is equivalent to leaving communities overburdened by toxic air and water pollution out in the cold to fend for themselves. Cutting enforcement resources will disproportionately injure communities of color and low-income communities who are more likely to live near polluting industrial facilities.
Federal inspections are critical to fulfilling the Agency's commitment to meaningful enforcement and deterring violations. These inspections provide critical data and compliance oversight. Current inspection levels already fall below the need and additional reductions would only further erode the Agency's impact and credibility with communities desperate for relief from dangerous pollution. Coupling this reduction in inspections with fewer civil judicial and administrative actions means that citizens will be deprived of some of the most effective mechanisms for securing relief from environmental injustice and exploitation.
The EPA's commitment to adequately fund and prioritize enforcement sends a powerful signal to industry and impacted communities that bedrock environmental provisions are more than mere policy aspirations but legally binding obligations. I strongly request that the EPA abandon its proposed reductions in inspections and processing of civil claims and instead plan to increase these and other enforcement resources.