July 12, 2021

Chairs DeFazio and Napolitano Statements on GAO Report Finding EPA’s Actions Led to Declining Enforcement of Clean Water Protections

Washington, DC - Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Chair of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA) issued the following statements after the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) reliance on flawed or incomplete data resulted in declining enforcement of Clean Water Act protections, specifically for approved state programs. To read the full GAO report, click here.

DeFazio and Napolitano requested this report in an October 2018 letter to GAO Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro. In their letter, DeFazio and Napolitano urged GAO to investigate EPA’s enforcement of clean water protections in response to reports that Clean Water Act enforcement efforts had significantly declined under the Trump administration.

“The EPA is the primary agency responsible for protecting public health and the environment; however, GAO’s new report demonstrates how the actions of the Trump administration failed that responsibility, including pulling back on two successful efforts to limit the discharge of animal waste and raw sewage into the nation’s waters, as well as other EPA actions that resulted in declining enforcement of clean water protections,” Chair DeFazio said. “I hope the EPA will take these suggestions to heart and push the reset button on fulfilling its responsibility to the American people. I look forward to working with President Biden and Administrator Regan to ensure cleaner water for all.”

“The Trump administration significantly weakened enforcement actions against polluters and allowed them to get away with harming our nation’s rivers, lakes and seas. This report also finds that the alternative compliance programs the Trump EPA created were ineffective due to their reliance on incomplete and inaccurate data,” Chair Napolitano said. “We are thankful that the Biden administration is working to bring back sound data and strong enforcement so that the American people are not left footing the bill for treatment of contaminated waters caused by polluters.”