EPA's Draft Strategic Plan Acknowledges Reduction in Enforcement Resources

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In November 2013, EPA issued its draft Strategic Plan for 2014-2018. EPA received comments on the Plan through January 3, 2014, although the comments will probably not lead to significant changes.

This Alert focuses on the Plan’s enforcement ramifications.

The Plan implicitly acknowledges that EPA will have a reduction in enforcement resources. The Plan calls for 70,000 inspections (and evaluations) in 2014-2018, or 16,000 per year, compared to EPA’s estimate that it had conducted 20,000 – 21,000 per year since 2005. The plan also projects that EPA will initiate approximately 25% fewer enforcement cases.

Despite fewer enforcement cases, the Plan projects that EPA will achieve somewhat greater air emissions reductions due to enforcement cases, compared to 2012 results. To achieve its air emissions reduction targets, EPA must bring relatively more air cases, or require relatively greater air pollution reductions for each air pollution enforcement case, or some combination of both.

The Plan calls for the percentage of criminal cases with at least one individual defendant to increase to 75%, from the 70% level of 2012. The Plan also calls for an increase in the percentage of criminal cases that lead to the filing of criminal charges. Recently, approximately 36% to 40% of criminal cases led to the filing of criminal charges. The Strategic Plan calls for that percentage to increase to 45%. While the number of criminal investigations may decrease, because the total number of investigations is decreasing, the Strategic Plan indicates that EPA will refer for criminal enforcement a higher percentage of its criminal investigations, under the Strategic Plan.

For a copy of the Strategic Plan click here.