EPA Enforcement in 2012 Protects Communities From Harmful Pollution
ATLANTA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its fiscal year (FY) 2012 enforcement results. The results highlight EPA’s civil and criminal enforcement efforts to address pollution problems that have the greatest impact on communities and public health, including a reduction of 1.7 billion pounds of pollution to the nation’s air, water and land, 191,645 pounds of hazardous waste, and $34,876,733 million in civil/judicial and criminal penalties to deter violations of the law. In addition to achieving progress seen by such traditional measures, EPA has also made gains to reduce relatively smaller amounts of pollution that have substantial health impacts on communities, such as improvements in compliance with drinking water standards and efforts to reduce high toxic sources of air pollution.
“We are committed in Region 4 to ensuring that pollution problems that impact our communities and neighborhoods are addressed through vigorous civil and criminal enforcement,” said Gwen Keyes-Fleming, EPA Region 4 Administrator.
Respondents in the Region 4 states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, and on tribal lands will invest more than $1.11 billion in pollution control and cleanup and will implement more than $10,872,264 million in Supplemental Environmental Projects. States received $16,196,392 million settlement paid out to the states as co-plaintiffs.
“Enforcement plays a vital role in protecting communities from harmful pollution,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “We are using vigorous enforcement, as well as innovations in monitoring and transparency, to reduce pollution violations, protect and empower communities and focus on the environmental problems that matter most.”
FY 2012 results include:
• Sustained and focused enforcement attention on serious violators of clean drinking water standards has resulted in improvements in compliance. The number of systems with serious violations has declined by more than 60 percent nationwide in the past three years as a result of combined federal and state enforcement work, protecting people’s health through safer drinking water.
• More than 67 percent of large combined sewer systems serving people across the country are implementing clean water solutions to reduce raw sewage and contaminated stormwater and more are underway. EPA is working with communities to design integrated solutions to these water quality problems, and incorporating innovative and cost effective green infrastructure to save money and achieve multiple community benefits.
• EPA is bringing criminal prosecutions where criminal activity threatens public health, like sending untreated and contaminated wastewater to municipal wastewater treatment plants. In the region, there were 54 cases initiated, 40 defendants charged, 178 months and 62 days of incarceration, 576 months of probation, $1,370,162 paid in restitution, and $2,901,500 paid in fines. See Criminal Crimes Cases in the Southeast for information on this case and others.
• EPA is taking enforcement actions against violators of environmental regulations in environmental justice communities. See utility case example. Additionally, EPA is incorporating fenceline monitoring, which requires companies to monitor their air emissions and make that data available public, into settlements, ensuring that local residents have access to critical information about pollution that may be affecting their community. See an oil refinery case example.
• EPA is increasing transparency to use the power of public accountability to help improve environmental compliance. EPA’s 2012 enforcement actions map provides information about violators in communities. EPA’s state dashboards and Clean Water Act pollutant loading tool provides the public with information about local pollution that may affect them and allows the public to take a closer look at how government is responding to pollution problems.
• EPA continues its efforts to protect the environment by redeveloping, revitalizing, and reusing areas that were previously complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Over $8 million was spent in 2012 to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse Brownsfields in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida and Kentucky.
More information about EPA’s FY 2012 enforcement results:
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