In a recent report on the Biden Administration’s environmental justice goals and how they are driving enforcement changes, Law360 quoted Pillsbury Environmental & Natural Resources partner Matthew Morrison extensively on how the EPA and DOJ are flexing their enforcement muscles to a greater degree than previous administrations.
“For the companies that fail to establish adequate environmental compliance programs, the government appears to be forcing the implementation and enhancement of such programs,” Morrison told Law360. "We’re seeing more and more cases of the government almost micromanaging companies’ compliance systems based on what the government thinks is necessary, rather than what the company or industry might think.”
Morrison added that absent more funding, he doesn't foresee many big changes in terms of the number of cases that are brought or the speed with which they're resolved. But the administration will continue to evolve and grow, as the emphasis on environmental justice isn't going away.
“I see the biggest change in EJ being an increased focus on where the agency develops cases, not on the terms of the permits. I think where it brings cases is really where the rubber hits the road and you start to see the biggest impact,” Morrison said.
“I think the agency is saying with greater clarity, ‘We will… develop our cases in disproportionately impacted areas and communities with impacts from multiple sources, and that is squarely the agency’s mission for protection of human health,” Morrison concluded. “It’s not a political calculus. It’s science.”