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EPA Enforcement Cuts Total Pollution by Record 3 Billion Pounds Over Last Three Years - Air Pollution Reductions Alone Result in Health Benefits of $3.5 Billion Yearly

Release Date: 11/15/2006
Contact Information: Dave Ryan, (202) 564-4355 / ryan.dave@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C. - Nov. 15, 2006) The Environmental Protection Agency has obtained commitments from industry, governments and other regulated entities to reduce pollution by nearly 900 million pounds in fiscal year 2006. Today's report reflects a sustained three-year record of pollution reduction, totaling almost 3 billion pounds, and requiring companies to invest almost $20 billion in pollution control equipment. More than 70 percent of these reductions were achieved by addressing high-priority air and water pollution challenges.

"Today's results show that we are making significant progress in protecting the environment and public health," said Granta Y. Nakayama, EPA's assistant administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "EPA is encouraging environmental stewardship and vigorously enforcing our laws in order to deliver current and future generations a cleaner, healthier America."

As a result of criminal enforcement actions completed this year, defendants will serve 154 years in jail and pay almost $43 million in fines, as well as another $29 million for environmental projects imposed as part of the sentences. EPA's civil enforcement program also demonstrated strong results this year by concluding a total of 173 judicial cases, 4,624 final administrative penalty order settlements, and resolving self-disclosed violations for 1,475 facilities. EPA referred 286 civil cases to the U.S. Department of Justice, the highest total in five years.

As a result of EPA's Superfund enforcement actions, parties held responsible for pollution will invest $391 million to clean up 15 million cubic yards of contaminated soil and approximately 1.3 billion cubic yards of contaminated groundwater at waste sites. On top of paying penalties in 2006, regulated entities will also be required to invest $4.9 billion to reduce pollution and achieve compliance with environmental laws.

EPA's enforcement program targeted significant environmental problems facing the country, including harmful air emissions, noncompliance at petroleum refineries and water pollution. EPA's top air enforcement actions will result in reductions in harmful air emissions totaling 379 million pounds of sulfur dioxide and 92 million pounds of nitrogen oxides annually. When fully implemented, the annual human health benefits from these air emission reductions are valued at $3.5 billion. These health benefits include reducing about 500 premature deaths in people with heart or lung disease, prevention of hundreds of cases of bronchitis and nonfatal heart attacks, as well as thousands of cases of respiratory ailments, including aggravated asthma.

As a result of EPA's work to reduce pollution from petroleum refineries, 85 refineries, representing 77 percent of domestic refining capacity, are now subject to enforceable orders and consent decrees, and negotiations are ongoing with refiners representing an additional 11 percent of capacity. EPA's priority efforts to control overflows from sewers and runoff from storm water and concentrated animal feeding operations resulted in a more than 230 million pound decrease in water pollution, including sediment, bacteria, raw sewage, untreated industrial wastes and animal wastes.

More information on EPA's FY 2006 enforcement and compliance program, including details of significant enforcement and compliance activities and data, is available on EPA's fiscal year 2006 enforcement and compliance results: epa.gov/compliance/data/results/annual/fy2006.html

Help EPA protect our nation's land, air and water by reporting violations: epa.gov/tips