EPA exterior stop sign
Washington CNN  — 

There has been a drastic drop in the enforcement of environmental regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Trump administration, an advocacy group will say in a report issued to Congress on Tuesday.

The Environmental Integrity Project said it had analyzed years of federal data and found declines in inspections, polluters charged with crimes, civil penalties, pollution reductions and EPA enforcement staffing.

The group said in its new report that it had “compared the federal data from last year to two decades of past EPA reports as well as federal court records and other documents, to reach several conclusions.”

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EPA conducted fewer inspections for environmental violations last year (10,612 inspections), “less than 60% of the annual average since 2001,” the report states.

The report also said that while the agency sends the worst environmental polluters to the US Justice Department for civil prosecution, President Donald Trump’s EPA does so less frequently than previous years: “EPA sent 123 such cases to the Justice Department in fiscal year 2018, up slightly from 2017, but far below the annual average of 304 cases during the George W. Bush Administration and 211 during the Obama years.”

Likewise, the report says there has been a decrease in criminal prosecution referrals. According to the environmental watchdog’s analysis, EPA opened 129 criminal cases in 2018, about one-third of the levels reported between 2008 and 2013.

The number of new criminal cases has declined sharply since 2013, the start of the second term of the Obama administration, the report states.