Federal Environmental Enforcement in 2016

January 25, 2016
Carol F. McCabe
MGKF Special Alert - Forecast 2016

Following its fiscal year 2015 environmental enforcement efforts, during which EPA secured $404 million in civil and administrative penalties and criminal fines and $7 billion in commitments to control pollution and remediate contaminated sites,  EPA will continue in 2016 to focus its enforcement efforts on reducing air pollution from the largest sources, cutting air toxics emissions from flares and equipment leaks, and assuring that energy extraction and production activities comply with environmental laws.  Other priorities are reducing pollution from mineral processing operations, keeping raw sewage and contaminated stormwater out of our nations’ waterways, and preventing animal waste from contaminating surface and groundwater.   With limited resources, EPA is expected to focus on complex, high profile cases that will result in reduced impacts to public health.  EPA remains committed to using its Next Generation Compliance tools to enhance the impact of enforcement settlements, including the use of advanced monitoring techniques, electronic reporting and public transparency of compliance data.  These tools have the potential to significantly change the nature of regulated facilities’ compliance obligations and communications with agencies and the public.  For a fuller discussion of what EPA’s 2016 enforcement efforts may bring, see the January 8, 2016 environmental column of the Legal Intelligencer entitled, "EPA's Environmental Enforcement: What Will 2016 Bring?"