On January 13, 2021, EPA released its annual summary of environmental enforcement activity
for fiscal year 2020. Although EPA was on track earlier in 2020 to exceed many of its initial enforcement goals, COVID-19 reshaped the ways in which the agency monitors environmental compliance.
In 2020, EPA saw an unprecedented number of environmental court cases get postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions in certain states. This affects how many cases are resolved prior to publishing this report and certain monetary penalty totals and criminal statistics.
Below, we take a closer look at EPA’s enforcement numbers from 2020 and compare them to FY 2019.
See the full EPA Annual Enforcement Data here.
EPA Inspections and Civil Penalties
The number of environmental compliance inspections performed by EPA inspectors.
Year-over-year change: -60.7% (8,167 inspections in FY 2019).
The value of injunctive relief spent to resolve alleged violations of EPA regulations.
Year-over-year change: -43% ($4.4 billion in injunctive relief in FY 2019).
The total number of Administrative Civil Penalty Orders issued by EPA.
Year-over-year change: -2% (920 Orders in FY 2019).
Amount committed to clean up Superfund sites around the US.
Year-over-year change: +12% ($570 million committed in FY 2019).
EPA Activity Related to COVID-19
The number of new pesticide establishments registered with EPA to meet demand for hand sanitizer and disinfecting products since April 1, 2020.
Civil enforcement actions related to suspected or confirmed unlawful sales or distributions of unregistered or misbranded pesticides or devices that have made claims of efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).
The percent increase in new pesticide establishment registrations between April and October 2020.
Judicial Action and Environmental Crime
Total amount of administrative and judicial penalties assessed by EPA.
Year-over-year change: -56% ($361 million in FY 2019).
* At least one high-penalty settlement from 2020 has yet to be accepted by the court as of 1/13/2021.
Criminal cases opened.
Year-over-year change: +45% (170 in FY 2019).
Criminals charged for environmental crimes.
Year-over-year change: -34% (137 criminals sentenced in FY 2019).
Defendants convicted of an environmental crime.
Years in jail for environmental criminals.
Year-over-year change: -42% (76 years of prison time in FY 2019).
*Many criminal court cases have not been finalized/sentenced yet due to COVID-19 restrictions.
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