A “patchwork of systems” means little uniformity in how environmental laws are enforced

March 29, 2021

Image of top 10 polluting companies, as detailed by enforcement actions taken by states.

Over the past two decades, state regulatory agencies and attorneys general have brought more than 50,000 enforcement actions against private sector entities for violations of clean air, clean water and other environmental laws–collecting more than $20 billion in fines, settlements and other payments.

That information was detailed in “The Other Environmental Regulators How States Unevenly Enforce Pollution Laws.”

The report, just released by Good Jobs First, highlights a “fragmented U.S. environmental compliance system,” The Desert Sun environmental reporter Mark Olalde wrote.

Good Jobs First Research Director and the report’s lead author Philip Mattera told Olalde “the vast majority of the violations that state agencies issued citations for related to what’s traditionally thought of as pollution — asbestos contamination, pesticide pollution and oil spills, for example. But, he said, regulators could harness the same system that oversees air and water pollution to address climate-warming emissions such as carbon dioxide and methane.

“There’s a need to better enforce the law in these areas, but there’s also a need to have better enforcement of greenhouse gas emissions,” Mattera said. “If that’s going to happen, then the entire enforcement system has to be more rigorous.”

Read the full article: California took more than 3,500 actions against alleged polluters since 2020, report finds

Read the full report: The Other Environmental Regulators How States Unevenly Enforce Pollution Laws