The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) just lately introduced its Environmental Justice (EJ) Enforcement Strategy, which not solely offers a roadmap for the Justice Department’s civil and felony enforcement, but additionally revives supplemental environmental initiatives (SEPs), a preferred software utilized in settling federal enforcement actions.
Created pursuant to Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Local weather Disaster at Dwelling and Overseas, the Enforcement Strategy directs DOJ attorneys to: (1) prioritize circumstances that may cut back public well being and environmental harms to overburdened and underserved communities; (2) use out there instruments to deal with EJ issues; (3) have interaction with impacted communities; and (4) be clear about EJ efforts.
Relatedly, the DOJ issued an Interim Ultimate Rule that restores the usage of SEPs – environmentally useful initiatives reminiscent of restoration work, public consciousness campaigns, or air pollution prevention efforts – that corporations can volunteer to undertake as a part of their settlements for alleged violations, typically in alternate for decrease penalties.
The Trump administration severely restricted the usage of SEPs, to the dismay of many within the regulated group who favored the initiatives each as a approach of reducing their fines and to carry out initiatives that profit communities through which they conduct enterprise. Certainly, consultants favor SEPs as an efficient approach to supply tangible environmental and public well being advantages to impacted communities and to hurry up settlement negotiations.
SEPs will probably be carried out pursuant to 2022 SEP Guidelines, which understandably require a nexus between the challenge and the alleged federal legislation violation, however which additionally require the execution of any settlement earlier than an admission or discovering of legal responsibility in favor of the US.