The latest data from the Environmental Crimes Project at the University of Michigan Law School shows a dramatic drop in pollution prosecutions during the first two years under President Donald Trump.
The data, which includes 14 years of cases from 2005–2018, shows a 70 percent decrease in Clean Water Act prosecutions under President Trump, as well as a more than 50 percent decrease in Clean Air Act prosecutions.
The significant drop in the number of defendants prosecuted raises questions about how the changes at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department may be having a negative impact on the federal environmental crimes program. The program historically has received support under Democratic and Republican presidents, regardless of their environmental policies.
Under President Donald J. Trump the bottom fell out, with just 90 defendants prosecuted during 2017 and 75 defendants prosecuted during 2018, said David Uhlmann, author of the study.
“The record low numbers from the first two years of the Trump administration may come as no surprise after President Trump campaigned on a promise to reduce EPA to ‘teeny tiny tidbits’ and after his EPA pursued more than 100 rollbacks of environmental and public health protections,” Uhlmann said in his report.
During the first half of the Trump administration, pollution prosecutions dropped in alarming fashion, unlike any decline that occurred across the 14 years of data analyzed by the Environmental Crimes Project, he said.