SNL Daily Gas Report Quotes Stacey Mitchell on EPA Priorities Under Pruitt

For its article “Ex-EPA official sees less civil enforcement but hard line on crime under Pruitt,” SNL Daily Gas Report interviewed Akin Gump environment and natural resources partner Stacey Mitchell on the Environmental Protection Agency’s path in the foreseeable future.

Mitchell, who joined Akin Gump in April (learn more here) after serving as Deputy General Counsel at EPA, said that she expects to see a decline in civil enforcement cases by the agency, adding that, if matters are referred, she expects to see them resolved, as opposed to declined or dismissed, but that the manner in which they are resolved should be noted.

She said that Scott Pruitt, the new EPA Administrator, while Oklahoma attorney general, “focused largely on lawsuits against the EPA and [placed] significantly less focus on environmental matters. However, Mitchell said that Susan Bodine, the nominee to run EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, left her feeling that criminal enforcement will not be blocked. “"Enforcement at the EPA has always been non-partisan and she intends to keep it that way,” she said.

Regarding civil enforcement, Mitchell also discussed the likelihood that Pruitt will expect states to take the lead on most environmental issues, which, due to budgetary issues at the state level, might result in fewer inspections. On larger-scale matters, such as oil spills, she believes the EPA will remain tough: “I don't expect that to change as far as enforcement goes. There's a possibility to see fewer of those incidents being prosecuted criminally, but these can be also be prosecuted by the U.S. attorney. They're galvanized to take action when something happens in their district.”