Environmental Prosecutions Decline Under President Obama

Published November 7, 2016

According to an October 24 report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) the number of criminal prosecutions pursued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have fallen by half during the last five years under the Obama administration.

TRAC, a project of Syracuse University, monitors the criminal workload of U.S. attorney offices nationwide. Using Justice Department data, TRAC found EPA referred 81 new criminal cases for prosecution during the first 11 months of fiscal 2016. If EPA referrals continue at that pace for the remainder of the year, there will be just 88 prosecutions in total for 2016 compared to 182 prosecutions resulting from EPA investigations in 2011.

The number of criminal cases referred for prosecution in 2016 is the lowest since 1994, representing a 20 percent decline from 2015, and a 41 percent decline from 2007 during the Bush administration.

According to TRAC criminal prosecutions based on EPA referrals peaked in 1998 at 198 during Clinton administration. During George W. Bush’s first year in office, his administration pursed 196 prosecutions based on EPA referrals.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. ([email protected])┬áis the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.