One of the Environmental Protection Agency’s main jobs is to go after and fine businesses that are polluting our air and waterways by not following the bare minimum in federal and state regulations. Meanwhile, Trump and the GOP’s version of government involves working as a corrupt bureaucracy that allows big businesses to squeeze as much money as possible out of the American people, before they are finally reeled in by a more liberal governing body. The Washington Post reports on Obama-era EPA enforcement office head Cynthia Giles’ analysis of the EPA’s efficacy the last two years. What she has found, while not surprising, is profoundly disturbing.
While the EPA has handed out an average of around $500 million in civil penalty fines per year (adjusted for inflation), the Trump administration only handed out $72 million in fines last year. That is an 85 percent drop in punitive fines handed out for environmental protections violations. As Giles points out, the point of fining businesses for violations is to create a clear financial deterrent, and send the message that it is more affordable for big business to follow the rules than it is to break them.
On top of this staggering number, Giles found that the amount of money that big business needed to pay in order to be in compliance of federal laws dropped from $7.8 billion (on average) to $5.6 billion. “That represents the lowest amount of injunctive relief since 2003.” An EPA spokesman told the Post that they were looking into Giles’ analysis and would get back to everybody on that.