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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

Clean Water Act Enforcement Press Conference

01/13/2000
Carol M. Browner, Administrator Environmental Protection Agency Remarks Prepared for Delivery
Clean Water Act Enforcement Press Conference

                        Washington, D.C.
                         January 13, 2000

     Good afternoon.
     From Day One, this Administration has been dedicated to the principle that corporations
must be held accountable for damage they cause to the environment.  It's this simple:  You pollute, you pay.
     We will not allow companies to profit at the expense of the environment and public health
     With that in mind, today, EPA and the Justice Department are announcing the largest civil fine ever imposed against a single company for violations of environmental law -- a $30- million civil penalty against Koch Industries of Wichita, Kansas.
     I want to thank Texas State Attorney General John Cornyn for joining EPA in the suit that brought this settlement about.  I also want to thank Attorney General Reno and the Justice Department for all their help with today's action and all my colleagues at EPA.
     This has been one of our most difficult and contentious environmental actions ever. It wasn't until the consent decree was even signed that we got a map.    It wasn't until we got a judge to rule the company was liable that serious discussions began.
     Koch Industries owns and operates 35,000 miles of pipeline in the Midwest and South that carry crude oil and other related products, making it the largest pipeline company in the country.
     An EPA investigation found that over a seven-year period   from 1990 to 1997   Koch illegally discharged more than three million gallons of crude oil from its pipelines and into the ponds, lakes, rivers and shorelines of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Alabama.
     These spills occurred in more than 300 separate locations. EPA charged that this pollution could have been -- and should have been -- prevented by Koch Industries through the proper operation and maintenance of their pipelines.
     In Payne County Oklahoma   home of Oklahoma State University   over 221,000 gallons were released resulting in an oil spill that traveled 25 miles to Keystone Lake, a popular recreational facility.
     In Corpus Christi Bay, 90,300 gallons spilled, resulting in the oiling of migratory birds and the killing of thousands of fish.
     In a rural community northeast of Wichita, Kansas,  part of a public water supply system was forced to shut down as a result of over 78,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline spilling into a nearby creek.
     In Grayson County, Texas   just north of Dallas-Fort. Worth   nearly 63,000 gallons spilled into a creek that flows into the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge.  This Refuge is a popular birding area where several endangered species can be seen.
     With today's settlement, Koch Industries commits to take actions that should prevent this from happening again.
     Their failure to invest in appropriate pollution prevention mechanisms led to this fine and the millions of dollars they will now have to spend to bring their systems into compliance.
     
     Besides the $30-million civil penalty   which will be split between the federal government and the state of Texas   Koch also has agreed to spend $5 million on environmental projects in the states it polluted.
     $1.5 million will go to buy and preserve wetlands or wildlife habitats in Kansas and Oklahoma. $2.5 million will go to Texas for environmental projects to be carried out under the direction of the state. And finally, $1 million will be used to pay for a pipeline safety study in Texas and Oklahoma.
     The company will also hire an independent auditor who for a minimum of three years will inspect and report on whether the company is meeting the requirements of this settlement.
     This Administration has pledged to protect public health and preserve the environment by making sure there is no profit in pollution.
     You pollute. You pay. It's that simple.