EPA criminal enforcement crumbling under Trump

February 12, 2019 by  
Filed under Green

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) criminal enforcement numbers have take a major hit over the past few years. A new study conducted by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) found that the agency had the lowest criminal case numbers since the late 1980s. Last year, the EPA only filed 166 criminal referrals. These referrals are sent to the Department of Justice for prosecution, and those numbers were adjusted to account for the latest government shutdown. As a reference point, the EPA filed close to 60 percent more referrals in 2011 and over 72 percent more in 1998. The rate of new criminal referrals for the 2019 fiscal year, which started in November, is already at a slower pace than last year. So far, the EPA has only filed 24 criminal enforcement referrals, and the government shutdown is expected to affect those numbers even more moving forward. Related: Damage to Joshua Tree during the government shutdown could take centuries to repair Even more concerning is the fact that only 62 of the referrals in 2018 ended with convictions. That is less than any year after 1992 and illustrates a dire need for greater efficiency within the EPA. PEER argues that the Trump administration is one of the biggest reasons behind the low numbers of criminal referrals. “These figures indicate that the Trump plan to cripple EPA is working,” Kyla Bennett, the director of science policy at PEER, explained. “Not enforcing our anti- pollution laws steadily transforms them into dead letters.” The decline in criminal enforcement has also led to a drop in the number of agents who are assigned to such cases. In the spring of 2018, the EPA employed 140 special agents to handle pollution cases in its Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and that number has already decreased to 130. According to the U.S. Pollution Prosecution Act of 1990, the EPA is supposed to have 200 CID agents on staff at any given time. With EPA criminal enforcement at historic lows, the main concern is that the agency lacks effective means of prosecuting polluters, which will likely lead to an increase in violations over the next few years. Via Peer.org Image via USEPA  

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EPA criminal enforcement crumbling under Trump

Triangular treetop cabins offer an unforgettable stay in the Norwegian woods

February 12, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Elevated on angled steel legs and clad in sleek black metal, the PAN Treetop Cabins tucked away in a forest two hours from Oslo are unlike your typical forest retreat. Located in the woods of Finnskogen (the Finnish Forest) in east Norway, the two cabins were designed by Oslo-based architect Espen Surnevik for Kristian Rostad and Christine Mowinckel, a couple who wanted to create an eco-friendly and sustainable tourism destination. Opened for bookings in late 2018, the pair of cabins offers all the comforts of home in a remote and wild landscape. Founders Kristian Rostad and Christine Mowinckel started the tourism project in hopes of connecting foreign tourists with “the real Norwegian wilderness.” The couple, who live on a farm in Finnskogen near the Swedish border, wants to raise awareness of the region, from its location at the beginning of Taiga — the earth’s largest land biome — to the area’s rich biodiversity and ties to mysticism. According to the project’s press release, “PAN Treetop Cabins is a visionary project that combines spectacular architecture with the stunning nature one finds in this little known part of Norway.” The pair of cabins has been carefully placed for optimal access to natural light and views. Each cabin is elevated on steel poles to minimize site impact and is designed with energy efficiency in mind. Inside, there are 40 square meters of living space outfitted with electricity, radiant floor heating, a rain shower, a fully equipped kitchen and a fireplace. The tent-shaped profiles were inspired by North American A-frame lodges and are punctuated on both ends with large windows. Related: This itsy-bitsy treehouse in Norway offers the ultimate off-grid escape “PAN is a unique possibility for tourists who want to experience the quiet of the forest, exciting activities, the mysterious culture of Finnskogen and the extraordinary animal life you have in this part of Norway,” the designers said, noting that all the materials were carefully selected to adhere to sustainable principles. The cabins are clad in black metal rather than timber to call attention to their man-made origins. + Espen Surnevik Images via Rasmus Norlander

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Triangular treetop cabins offer an unforgettable stay in the Norwegian woods

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