On July 27, 2020 the US Department of Justice (DOJ) Environment and Natural Resources Division issued a memo establishing a new policy limiting federal enforcement under the Clean Water Act. Specifically, the memo states that DOJ will no longer pursue civil enforcement actions seeking penalties under the Clean Water Act where states have initiated a civil judicially penalty proceeding under analogous state laws on the same core of operative facts. DOJ’s rationale for this new policy is to avoid “piling on” accused parties and their impacts on business, employees, customers, and investors. This policy change is the latest in a series of Trump administration moves towards reducing enforcement.
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