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Pollution Reduction Enforcement Numbers More Than Double; Agency Using Better Data to Guide Enforcement Initiatives
Release Date: 12/11/2003
Contact: Cynthia Bergman, 202-564-9828 / firstname.lastname@example.org
(12/11/03) - The compliance assurance and enforcement results for Fiscal Year 2003 were released today showing that environmental benefits increased an estimated 131 percent over FY2002. Estimated pollutants reduced, treated or properly managed totaled approximately 600 million pounds, compared to 260 million in the previous year.
“Our accomplishments this past year clearly demonstrate the Administration’s commitment to a vigorous enforcement and compliance assurance program – those numbers are impressive,” said John Peter Suarez, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Through collaboration with states, tribes local governments and private citizens, we’ve been able to build a program that maximizes environmental and public health results.”
In addition to the approximately 600 million pounds of pollutants to be reduced, treated or properly managed, EPA enforcement resulted in the treatment of over 3.7 million tons (7.5 billion pounds) of contaminated soil. Last year, EPA began estimating as well the gallons of contaminated groundwater to be treated (6.5 billion), acres of wetlands that will be restored (1,050), and the number of people served by drinking water systems that will be brought into compliance (2 million) as a result of EPA enforcement activity.
As a result of enforcement settlements, almost $2.9 billion in injunctive relief will go toward the cleanup of polluted sites and protection against further environmental harm. A settlement in another case, with Virginia Electric and Power Company, filed three days after the fiscal year deadline of Sept. 30, includes a commitment to spend $1.2 billion to install new pollution control equipment and upgrade existing controls. Had that settlement been added to EPA’s 2003 total, the cleanup numbers would be more than $4 billion. In addition, the value of Supplemental Environmental Projects, which are undertaken voluntarily as a result of an enforcement settlement action, were up 12 percent to $65 million this year.
In the Superfund Program, EPA secured private party commitments for cleanup and cost recovery that exceeded $1.1 billion. More than 87 percent of new remedial action starts at non-federal Superfund sites were initiated by private parties.
When Caterpillar failed to conform to a settlement it had agreed to in 1999 by selling diesel engines that exceeded one or more of the set emission limits. In 2003, they were ordered to pay $128 million in stipulated penalties for the engines that didn’t meet the test.
The number of businesses provided with compliance assistance increased 22 percent in 2003; more than 700,000 entities were assisted. The Web-based Compliance Assistance Centers registered more than 800,000 visits last year. “This assistance activity heads off pollution before it starts,” Suarez said, “and helps business run their environmental programs more efficiently and effectively.”
EPA’s FY2003 enforcement and compliance results also include:
- Over 98 million pounds of sulfur dioxide to be removed from the air;
- Nearly $2.9 billion committed by violators to correct violations, restore the environment and prevent future damage;
- A combined total of 146 sentence years for criminals who willfully or knowingly broke the law;
- Almost 19,000 compliance inspections conducted by EPA across the nation; and
- $167 million in administrative, criminal and civil judicial penalties.
“EPA’s going after what really counts – reducing pollution and protecting public health,” said Suarez. “We don’t count our success in the number of notices of violation we write, as some would suggest.”
This year, EPA changed the way it tallies enforcement cases, switching to a simpler, more logical system. In the past, the agency awarded extra credit for cases that involved multiple facilities or multiple environmental statutes. This year, EPA began counting cases on a one-for-one basis. The FY2003 numbers reflect the actual number of case initiations and the number of facilities impacted by those cases. This information will correspond more clearly to the data available to the public on ECHO, EPA’s web-based Enforcement and Compliance History Online research tool. ECHO, which was launched one year ago, has hosted one million public database searches.
“This is important information and we are finding better ways to make it directly available to the public in keeping with the Administration’s emphasis on greater transparency,” said Suarez. “We feel the information is a powerful tool to achieve compliance and deter environmental harm.”
More information about EPA’s enforcement and compliance programs, its accomplishments and ECHO can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/planning/results/press/2003eoy/index.html
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