President Donald Trump’s EPA is provoking criticism once again, this time over a new “no surprises” policy stopping unannounced visits to power, chemical, and waste facilities.
“The Trump @EPA is just chucking aside any flimsy pretense that they care about upholding environmental laws, enforcing against big polluters, or protecting Americans,” tweeted John Walke, Clean Air Director and senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Giving a courtesy heads up to suspected *ongoing* lawbreakers is beyond the pale even for the Trump @EPA.”
Watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) publicized the development in a press statement on Thursday. It cites a memo, dated July 11, 2019, to regional administrators from Susan Bodine, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
“I fear that EPA’s ‘no surprises’ posture masks a ‘see no evil’ approach to corporate polluters.”
—Tim Whitehouse, PEERHer office, according to the EPA site, “goes after pollution problems that impact American communities through vigorous civil and criminal enforcement. Our enforcement activities target the most serious water, air, and chemical hazards. “
Bodine’s memo says “EPA aims to enhance its partnerships with its state, local, and tribal co-regulators by more effectively carrying out our shared responsibilities under environmental laws.”
The “no surprises” approach, it continues, is “the foundation of joint work planning and will minimize the misunderstandings that can be caused by the lack of regular, bilateral communication.”
“EPA regions and the states should work together to identify which inspections the EPA or a state will perform,” it says.
The memo adds that “inspection planning will avoid duplicate efforts, improve efficiency, reduce unnecessary burdens on the regulated community, and could provide EPA regions and states with more flexibility in setting and adjusting inspection targets and Compliance Monitoring Strategies.”
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