EPA memo calls for strengthened enforcement in polluted communities

May 10, 2021

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has moved to boost inspections and enforcement in environmental justice areas, according to a memo.

Acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Lawrence Starfield issued a memo directing EPA offices to strengthen enforcement in communities “overburdened by pollution.”

The memo, issued April 30, orders EPA offices to “strengthen enforcement of violations of cornerstone environmental statutes,” a directive issued by new EPA administrator Michael Regan.

The memo instructs staff to increase the number of facility inspections and pursue options for “obtaining early relief for affected communities.”

“In addition to addressing ongoing noncompliance, a critical goal of the civil enforcement program is to obtain injunctive relief that remediates the pollution and addresses past harms to communities. I would challenge each of our case teams to think creatively, and use all available tools and settlement provisions, to craft settlement agreements that fulfill these goals,” Starfield wrote.

President Joe Biden promised to make environmental justice and climate change issues a key part of his administration and has taken executive action to involve all of the federal government in those efforts.

In April, Biden pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by the year 2030.

Critics of the administration have said the president’s goals could have a negative effect on Americans currently employed by the fossil fuel industry, which currently fuels most of the nation in various industries but emits the most heat-trapping gases that cause climate change.

EPA memo calls for strengthened enforcement in polluted communities