Enforcement metrics declined markedly under the Trump administration. While the EPA did not acknowledge this publicly, it did in internal documents. In this document, the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assistance leadership considered various reasons for the decline in enforcement. These included: lack of resources (staff and budget); increased industry influence and pushback; intervention from leadership that is slowing work; uncertainty about regulatory changes; and a general perception among staff that enforcement, or certain types of enforcement, are not appropriate, not welcome by the leadership, or are unlikely to be successful under the new administration’s approach (a “chilling effect,” as the document put it).
EPA, “Possible Reasons for Declines in Inspection, Enforcement and Ideas for Reversing,” (Internal Deliberative Draft), June 14, 2018.