2009 Enforcement Focused on Water, Air Problems
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released enforcement results for fiscal year 2009 and has developed a new Web-based tool and interactive map that allows the public to get detailed information by location about the enforcement actions taken at approximately 4,600 facilities.
In FY2009, EPA concluded enforcement actions requiring polluters to invest an estimated $5.4 billion on pollution controls, cleanup, and environmental projects. Civil and criminal defendants committed to installing controls and taking other measures to reduce pollution by approximately 570 million pounds annually (once all required controls are fully implemented). The agency also:
- obtained approximately 57 percent of pollution reductions and 71 percent of pollution control investments on water and air pollution priority problems.
- reduced approximately 230 million pounds of sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter per year when all the required pollution controls are in place.
- opened 387 new environmental crime cases, the largest number of criminal case initiations in five years.
- obtained $371 million from settlements with responsible parties to reimburse EPA for its past expenditures for cleaning up Superfund sites. This is the highest cost recovered ever for the Superfund program; and.
- concluded 51 enforcement actions against federal agencies and federal facility contractors for alleged violations of environmental laws.
The new mapping tool allows the public to view the locations of facilities that were the subject of those enforcement actions on interactive maps of the United States and its territories. The maps show facilities where civil enforcement actions were taken for environmental laws for air, water, and land pollution, and a separate map shows criminal enforcement actions.
Viewers can click on specific facilities to find historical information about specific enforcement actions, such as violations and monetary penalties. In addition, viewers can use the zoom function to find out which facilities are located near waterbodies that are listed as "impaired” because they do not meet federal water quality standards.
EPA mapped the locations of more than 90 percent of the facilities that were the subject of enforcement actions last year. EPA did not map the locations of drinking water treatment plants due to potential security concerns.
For the past 10 years, EPA has described annual enforcement results by focusing primarily on the estimated pounds of pollutants reduced and estimated cost of commitments made by defendants to control or reduce pollution. These measures vary significantly from year to year and depend on the number of large cases that settle in a given year.
While these large cases are a vital part of our work to protect public health and improve compliance, they do not reflect the totality of the annual environmental enforcement activities and do not capture the number and variety of enforcement actions taken to help clean up local communities. The new mapping tool will help increase transparency, improve access to data, and provide the public with the bigger picture of enforcement activity occurring in communities around the country.