Since the 1970s, environmental protection goals have gone from general statements of political desire to highly articulated systems of environmental regulation implemented by federal, state, and local governments. Environmental statutes have been enacted giving administrative agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the responsibility for translating broad policy goals into specific regulatory requirements. Through its enforcement program, EPA seeks to assure that these general goals are achieved by individual actors. This Article examines a recent trend in EPA's practices, increased reliance on internal agency methods of enforcement. The study analyzes EPA's administrative enforcement system with particular emphasis on the imposition of civil penalties. Its central conclusion is that EPA's administrative enforcement dominates the Agency's enforcement practices, dwarfing judicially supervised enforcement. In addition, this mechanism yields outcomes emphasizing settlement, at process at variance with EPA rules that renders outcomes in a context largely invisible from public scrutiny.

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2008

Publication Information

35 Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review 175-216 (2008)