This article analyses centralizing trends that may be able to reduce the negative influence of local protectionism on environmental law enforcement in China. The article finds that as centralizing trends unfolded, enforcement over time has become stricter and more frequent, however with only minor effects in reducing pollution. Moreover it finds a situation of uneven enforcement with richer and more urbanized areas having much stronger and more frequent enforcement than inland areas. Centralizing trends may thus have spurred stronger enforcement, but concurrently allowed for an uneven enforcement. At the same time, the article finds a continued local influence, keeping enforcement too weak to have much effect in reducing pollution and allowing for local interests to shape enforcement into unequal outcomes.