Environmental lawsuits resulting from EPA and Interior Ministry investigations continue to decline – YubaNet


The latest data available from the Justice Department shows that in the first ten months of fiscal 2021, the government reported 182 new environmental lawsuits. If this activity continues at the same pace, the annual total of lawsuits will be down 7.6 percent in the last fiscal year and 44.5 percent from just five years ago. The declines are even greater compared to federal environmental lawsuits ten and twenty years ago.

The two main investigative bodies responsible for referring most of these cases are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Home Office. Lawsuits returned by both agencies are declining in the long run. The EPA’s investigative efforts typically focus on water and air pollution as well as the management of hazardous waste. The Home Office, including its Fish and Wildlife Service, plays a vital role in federal efforts to protect our fish and wildlife, including endangered species.

The most common federal environmental offense prosecuted is criminal prosecution resulting from investigations by the Interior Fisheries and Wildlife Service for illegal capture of fish and wildlife. [16 USC 3372]. This is followed by the killing or possession of migratory birds. [18 USC 703].

Comparisons of the number of defendants charged with environmental offenses are based on an analysis of case-by-case information obtained by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) after lengthy and successful litigation against the US Department of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act.

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In addition to these most recent figures, TRAC continues to offer free monthly reports on certain government agencies such as the FBI, ATF, DHS, and IRS. TRAC reports also monitor categories of programs such as immigration, drugs, weapons and terrorism. Even more detailed information on the application of criminal laws for the period 1986 to July 2021 is available to TRACFed subscribers via the Express and Going Deeper tools. Go to https://tracfed.syr.edu for more information.

Custom reports for a specific agency, district, program, principal load or judge are available through the TRAC Data Interpreter, either as part of a TRACFed subscription or on a report basis. Go to


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The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse is a joint non-partisan research center of the Whitman School of Management (https://whitman.syr.edu) and the Newhouse School of Public Communications (https://newhouse.syr.edu) of Syracuse University. If you know someone who would like to sign up to receive occasional email announcements and press releases, they can go to https://trac.syr.edu and click on the Email Alerts link at the end of the page.

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