This year marks the third annual post from this Blog highlighting EPA’s enforcement and compliance figures. And while this year’s data tells a number of interesting stories, no story is larger than the potential impact of the incoming Trump Administration on EPA’s enforcement figures in 2017. With that as our backdrop—and fully admitting that this time next year, EPA’s data may look very different giving us even more to talk about—here are just some of the interesting facts and trends spotted in last year's data.
As it does each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA” or “Agency”) recently released its annual enforcement statistics for the past year. As the Agency has been saying throughout Administrator McCarthy’s tenure, it is focusing on high visibility enforcement with greater environmental (and financial) bang for its buck. The data is living proof—fewer actions, but larger penalty figures.
And as has been highlighted on this Blog in the past, EPA’s year-end enforcement website is a treasure-trove of information. Statistics are broken down by region, state, and statute, making it even more useful. For those of us in Region 1, it’s interesting to note that the Agency initiated just 104 cases in the past year; the lowest number in the country. Contrast that with Region 6 which topped the list by initiating 362 enforcement cases in 2015.
My personal favorite is the interactive “Case Map” because large enforcement trends are easy to spot. For example, within Region 1, Connecticut was the only state where enforcement actions increased (24 in 2014 v. 32 in 2015). It also seems as if the large majority of water violations across the country are clustered in the northeast corridor and the majority of air violations occur in the upper Midwest states with heavy concentrations around Chicago and Detroit.
Since everyone loves a table, here is a data compilation for four New England states, complete with a handy juxtaposition against 2014 data. Enjoy the numbers and check back again next year for new trends and a hearty three-year comparison!
|Total Enforcement Actions||Water||Air||Waste||CERCLA||Chemical||Criminal||Federal Facilities|
nnual enforcement numbers for 2014. As the Agency had been saying all year, the data reflects its focus on high-visibility enforcement complete with stiffer penalties and greater environmental benefits. In sum: Bigger Fish with smaller budgets.
The website is truly a treasure-trove of information. Statistics are broken down by region and state, making it even more helpful. For those of us in Region 1, it’s interesting to note that the Agency initiated only 101 cases in the past year, trailing only Region 9 with 90. Region 4 topped the list with 360 cases initiated last year.
As the sun sets on another summer in the Ocean State, a Superior Court judge has ruled that next summers’ beach won’t be quite as wide. The case involved a scenario all too familiar—and generally all too confusing for beachgoers in New England—signs pounded into open stretches of beach reading, “Private Beach – No Trespassing”.
“Measure twice, cut once.” It’s an age old adage that can be worth its weight in gold. The Rhode Island Supreme Court seems to have subscribed to the adage in a recent decision.
The Court ruled that a $1.8 million dollar home must be moved or demolished. The home was constructed entirely on private land dedicated to use as a public park.
The ocean-front parcel at issue was purchased in 1984. Shortly after, an engineering firm was hired to subdivide the parcel. Nearly thirty years later, Warwick Developer Robert C. Lamoureax’s construction company, Four Twenty, completed the luxurious 3-story structure adorned with a rooftop cabana in 2011. A prospective buyer for the abode entered into a purchase and sale agreement and began putting the home through its paces. That’s when the deal went sideways. The buyer’s survey reveled the footprint of the home was situated entirely on the adjacent parcel – legally speaking, a permanent trespasser. Lamoureaux immediately contacted the trustees of the park, but the two parties failed to reach an amicable solution and the Foundation filed suit.
The developer’s attorney argued the court could reach a decision short of removal. The court disagreed. It found that allowing the structure to remain within Rose Nulman Park would constitute “an unjust result” and constitute “a judicial taking of private property for private benefit.” The full decision can be read here.