Is it as safe to drink tap water in Paterson as it is in more affluent, whiter communities nearby, such as Wayne? EDGI’s new tool, available at sdwa-eew.streamlit.app, is designed for college students to answer questions such as this and explore the intersection of drinking water safety with social justice in New Jersey.
Michael Regan was nominated to be US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator by then-President-elect Biden in December 2020 and will face Senate confirmation in the upcoming weeks. The enforcement of the US’s most important environmental and public health protection laws, like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, plummeted under Trump. What might we expect from the EPA if Regan is confirmed? Regan’s time as Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) may provide some clues.
Seventy-six congressional report cards released by Environmental Data & Governance Initiative’s Environmental Enforcement Watch on October 22, 2020, show a decline in compliance and enforcement for key U.S. environmental laws under the Trump administration. The report cards are summarized in the new report, Democratizing Data: Environmental Enforcement Watch’s Report Cards for Congressional Oversight of the EPA, which provides for the first time an analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data on compliance and enforcement in the districts and states of the representatives and senators serving on the two congressional committees tasked with overseeing the Environmental Protection Agency.
Last Thursday 20+ organizers, students, activists and academics gathered for the second of four online workshops to practice our right to know about environmental hazards together by making congressional district report cards on industry compliance with and EPA enforcement of environmental laws. Building on EDGI’s findings that enforcement of environmental laws dropped precipitously under the Trump administration, we are developing report cards for each member of Congress involved in the House and Senate Committees responsible for EPA oversight (the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee). These Environmental Enforcement Watch or “EEW” Report Cards provide members of Congress and their constituents with data on violations of environmental laws, facility inspections, and enforcement actions in their districts since 2001. As the EPA is mandated by Congress to enforce environmental laws, we aim to provide legislators with an informative analysis based on EPA’s own data of compliance with and enforcement of environmental laws in the districts they serve.
On March 26, 2020, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a policy memo suspending pollution monitoring requirements for industries that claim to have been impacted by COVID-19. Since then, as part of EDGI’s ongoing Environmental Enforcement Watch (EEW) project, we have conducted original data science research using EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online ECHO database to investigate the effects of this policy on facility reporting of environmental data and compliance with environmental protection laws.
Results show that although few facilities have claimed the COVID exemption, a significant proportion of facilities are still failing to report. This reflects longer-term trends in and issues with both industry non-compliance and EPA non-enforcement. We cannot afford a return to “normal”. Non-compliance with the nations environmental protection laws is already rampant – as high as 70% of facilities under some regulatory programs.