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Enforcement has long been a central component of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) administration of the nation’s environmental laws. EPA’s latest Strategic Plan identifies as one of the Agency’s five strategic goals protecting human health and the environment by enforcing laws and assuring compliance. Yet, outside observers and the Agency itself have identified a series of longstanding as well as emerging challenges to effective enforcement.

EPA has responded to these criticisms and challenges by embarking on what it terms a “transformative” enforcement initiative, which it calls Next Generation Compliance (“Next Gen”). Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for OECA, has emphasized that the Next Generation Compliance initiative is intended to complement traditional enforcement work, not displace it; inspections and initiation of enforcement cases against significant violators will continue to be “an essential part” of EPA’s enforcement work. This article takes a preliminary look at the design and implementation to date of Next Generation Compliance. It also identifies ways in which this initiative has the potential to reshape the traditional enforcement landscape in ways that will be important for all stakeholders in environmental regulatory enforcement.

GW Paper Series

GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2015-43; GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-43

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