Changes to Environmental Protection Agency enforcement strategies and priorities have led to a decrease in related actions by the federal environmental watchdog. This shift in strategy means a somewhat lessened possibility for sanctions by the EPA, at least in the short term. However, pushback to these changes could ultimately lead to a move in the opposite direction, eventually creating an environment of increased scrutiny of organizations and how they comply with environmental regulations.
"Nationwide, EPA inspections have dropped by more than 30%."
Indiana Dunes is one of the newest national parks in the country, covering more than 10,000 acres of varied ecosystems in close proximity to Lake Michigan. It's also located near a number of major industrial plants, as NPR explained. Pollution rules for companies operating near the Great Lakes are more strict than general regulations, but EPA enforcement is on a downturn as the agency shifts enforcement actions to equivalent state agencies. Environmentalists and supporters of Indiana Dunes fear that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's lack of staff means that state-level enforcement brings its own issues to protecting the park.
This is just one example of how a reduction in enforcement efforts can create a negative public response. The Chicago Sun-Times reported reduced staffing and a lowered emphasis on inspections are common not only around Indiana Dunes, but throughout the Midwest as well. Nationwide, inspections have dropped by more than 30%. In the area covered by the Chicago EPA staff, which includes Indiana Dunes and many other heavy industrial facilities, inspections have fallen 60%.
With inspections and subsequent enforcement actions by the federal environmental watchdog falling and state agencies potentially lacking the resources to pick up the slack, increased exposure to hazards is a distinct possibility. Negative response to this shift by everyone from environmental groups to individuals and community coalitions in areas affected by pollution could lead to more EPA action in the future. These groups are already applying pressure to move toward a more robust enforcement strategy, which was common under previous EPA leadership.
Businesses need to take the long view of potential EPA actions and changes in priorities to remain fully compliant with existing and new regulations. Having the support necessary to improve and maintain adherence with the many complicated EPA rules is critical both now and for years into the future. To learn more about how Dakota Software can empower your company to achieve a consistently high degree of compliance, get in touch with us today.