Supplemental Environmental Projects
Supplemental Environmental Projects (“SEP” or “community projects”) offer real, on-the-ground improvements and restoration for areas that have suffered from illegal pollution. SEPs are often used to improve local and/or community conditions in the locality or area most affected by illegal pollution that has been remedied through enforcement actions, and where SEPs are recommended in addition to penalties provided under federal or state law.
In the waning days of the Trump administration, on January 12, 2021, the DOJ issued a lame-duck memorandum claiming that SEPs exceed a court’s authority, and become de facto penalties, and is therefore unauthorized by Congress. However, only two weeks later, on February 4, 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order 13,990, explicitly rescinding the prohibition on SEPs. This decision was reinforced in May 2022 when the DOJ announced its support of SEPs. We encourage EPA’s Regions, state administrations, and department heads to re-embrace SEPs (or “community projects”) to provide the greatest benefits to the localities and communities most impacted by pollution.
We encourage Bay state administrations and EPA Region 3 to move on from these Trump-era edicts and follow the lead of President Biden to reinstitute the use of SEPs.