Running on Fumes: The Development of New EPA Regulations in an Era of Scarcity
10 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2016
Date Written: May 2016
This article focuses on two topics: the extent and consequences of EPA’s current staffing levels as they impact the day-to-day enforcement of federal pollution control requirements, and the ways in which the standard set of procedures that EPA follows to compose and finalize new Agency regulations allows the promulgation of regulatory requirements that are difficult or impossible to enforce. EPA’s operating budgets and staff size are at historically low levels, and the volume of its facility inspections and civil enforcement actions has dropped. The enforcement resources available to state environmental agencies have also declined considerably. At the same time the regulatory and enforcement responsibilities of both EPA and state agencies have expanded significantly. More resources are clearly needed - at both the federal and state levels - if environmental regulatory enforcement is to be restored to levels necessary to protect public health and the environment. In addition, as the article illustrates, too many EPA regulations have been rejected by reviewing courts on the ground that they fail to provide regulated parties “fair notice” of what is required of them. To correct these problems, EPA’s top managers must promote an agency culture in which enforcement and regulatory enforceability are given added importance. The Agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance should cultivate allies in EPA’s ten regional offices and the Department of Justice, fight for more resources, and train new members of the Agency’s enforcement staff in regulatory development.
Keywords: EPA, staffing, enforcement, pollution control, regulatory requirements, budget, resources, environmental agencies, state, federal, public health, environment, regulations, fair notice, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
JEL Classification: K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation