1997 News Releases
PR EPA SETS RECORDS FOR ENFORCEMENT WHILE EXPANDING PROGRAM FOR INDUSTRY TO DISCLOSE AND CORRECT VIOLATIONS
Release Date: 12/22/97
FOR RELEASE: MONDAY, DEC. 22, 1997
EPA SETS RECORDS FOR ENFORCEMENT WHILE EXPANDING
PROGRAM FOR INDUSTRY TO DISCLOSE AND CORRECT VIOLATIONS
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that in fiscal year 1997 it
referred the largest number of civil and criminal enforcement cases in its history to the U.S.
Department of Justice and assessed the largest total amount of civil and criminal penalties in any
one-year period in its history. During fiscal year 1997, the Agency also significantly expanded
the use of a new policy which encourages industry to disclose and correct environmental
Two hundred and seventy eight criminal cases were referred and $169.3 million in fines were assessed in fiscal year 1997, both records for the criminal enforcement program. EPA also referred another 426 civil cases -- the second highest one-year total in history -- and assessed $95.1 million in civil penalties. The combined 704 referrals and $264.4 million in fines and penalties were both the highest one-year totals in the Agency’s history.
“The record level of environmental enforcement by the Clinton Administration is essential to ensure the protection of the health of the American people," said Steve Herman, EPA's Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “At the same time, we also have made an unprecedented effort to provide assistance to industry and to encourage self-disclosure of violations to further ensure compliance with health and environmental standards.”
For the second year, the Agency also reported data on the impact of its enforcement actions in protecting the public health and environment. As a result of EPA enforcement, polluters spent a total of $1.98 billion to correct violations and take additional steps to protect the environment and to clean up Superfund sites. According to the data, PCB pollution was reduced by 576.5 million lbs.; VOC (volatile organic compounds) pollution by 62.5 million lbs.; particulate matter pollution by 24.5 million lbs.; lead pollution by 10.2 million lbs.; benzene pollution by 7.6 million lbs.; and asbestos pollution by 1 million lbs., among others. The Agency also reduced CFCs by more than 427,000 lbs., most of which resulted from the coordinated work of EPA and other federal law enforcement agencies to seize contraband ozone-depleting CFCs smuggled into the United States.
EPA also greatly expanded its use of incentives to achieve industry compliance with environmental laws while promoting the public’s right to know and to negotiate Superfund settlements. At least 185 companies disclosed violations at more than 457 facilities under the auspices of the Agency's self-disclosure (audit) policy in fiscal year 1997. EPA reached settlements with 45 companies at 71 facilities, waiving penalties in most cases. To date, 234 companies have disclosed environmental violations under the policy at more than 750 facilities nationally, and EPA has settled with 78 companies at 423 facilities. The Agency also continued to implement its reforms to speed up the pace of Superfund cleanups by making the process fairer and more efficient. It negotiated 103 "de minimis" settlements with 1,800 small waste generators to limit their potential exposure to third-party suits and offered over $53 million in orphan share compensation to potential settlers at 20 sites to cover the costs of cleanup for insolvent or defunct responsible parties.
In fiscal year 1997, EPA funded four new national compliance assistance centers for the transportation, chemical, and printed wiring board manufacturing industries and for local governments. The Agency also added nine new notebooks to the Sector Notebooks series, which provides comprehensive regulatory and technical information to help industry sectors comply with the law in the most efficient way.
Besides reporting on fiscal year 1997 enforcement and compliance activity, the Agency also issued its “Report on the National Performance Measures Strategy.” The strategy, which the Agency developed jointly with stakeholders from industry, environmental groups and states, creates new measures for which the Agency will collect data to publicly assess the impact of its enforcement and compliance assurance activities. The Agency will begin implementing the new measures in fiscal year 1998.