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Photo: Vitaliy Holovin/Corbis via Getty images

The Environmental Protection Agency hit a 30-year low last year in the number of pollution cases it referred for criminal prosecution, Justice Department data shows.

Details: The 166 cases referred for prosecution in the last fiscal year is the lowest number since 1988, when Ronald Reagan was president, according to the AP. The data was obtained by the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

  • Compare: In 2011, the EPA assessed that "typically" the criminal investigative division "carries approximately 800 open criminal investigations on its national docket."
  • Criminal referrals have been on a downward trend since Bill Clinton’s administration, and even more so under President Trump.

Between the lines: Congress requires the Criminal Investigative Division at the EPA to employ at least 200 special agents, but there are only about 140 agents currently active at the agency, PEER learned through a federal records request.

What’s next: Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who was acting head of the EPA for most of the last fiscal year, faces a confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Criminal referrals have already slowed in fiscal year 2019 under Wheeler, according to DOJ figures.

Go deeper

DOJ pressed to enforce Al Jazeera foreign agent ruling

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.

Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.

Poll: Immigration is America's most-polarizing issue

Data: The American Aspirations Index/Populace; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Immigration was found to be the most polarizing issue in America based on new polling from Populace.

Why it matters: Americans have surprisingly similar priorities for the U.S., but immigration stands out as one of the few issues with clear partisan differences. It underscores the challenge for advocates and lawmakers hoping to pass immigration reform in the coming weeks amid narrow margins in Congress.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Lawmakers hide behind AG's investigation as Cuomo lingers

A billboard outside Albany, N.Y. Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is politically wounded but not yet dead, several state lawmakers tell Axios.

The state of play: Most are holding their fire and punting to state Attorney General Letitia James' investigation into sexual harassment allegations. They expect the inquiry to be credible and thorough — and buy Cuomo badly needed breathing room.