The below Dec. 16, 2022 press release* is from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) announced the FY 2022 Annual Environmental Enforcement Results report, highlighting increased inspections in the aftermath of the pandemic, reductions in significant noncompliance under the Clean Water Act, and aggressive actions to target the most serious water, air, land, and chemical violations that impact communities across the country
Taken together, OECA’s criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement cases reduced, treated or eliminated pollutants by 95 million pounds and required violators to pay over $300 million in penalties, fines and restitution. In keeping with EPA’s Strategic Plan, OECA focused on working to mitigate the effects of climate change and advance environmental justice in the enforcement program.
“In FY 2022, EPA’s enforcement and compliance program used a range of tools and best practices to hold polluters accountable and protect communities from environmental and health hazards,” said Larry Starfield, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Our FY 2022 accomplishments show that we have targeted the most serious and impactful environmental violations, and particularly violations that affect vulnerable and overburdened communities.”
The Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) worked to mitigate climate change by creating a new enforcement program under the recently enacted AIM Act to interdict illegal imports of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Those efforts resulted in the denial of entry to HFC imports in 2022 that prevented 889,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalents from entering the U.S. The HFC phaseout under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, once fully implemented, will reduce global warming by .5 degrees centigrade.
EPA’s enforcement and compliance program committed in EPA’s Strategic Plan to increase the percentage of annual on-site inspections in underserved and overburdened communities from 30 to 55 percent by FY 2026. In FY 2022, EPA surpassed this goal and achieved 56% of on-site inspections in overburdened communities. The program’s FY 22 accomplishments focused on protecting vulnerable communities using the full range of compliance monitoring and enforcement tools, including inspections, technical assistance supported by advanced technologies, and early actions and innovative remedies to ensure high levels of compliance with federal environmental laws and regulations.
EPA’s FY 2022 enforcement and compliance assurance accomplishments:
• Over 56% of on-site inspections were at facilities affecting communities with potential environmental justice concerns, exceeding the 45% goal set for this year.
• EPA’s enforcement staff concluded approximately 1,650 civil judicial and administrative cases; of these cases, over 44% addressed facilities in areas with potential environmental justice concerns, the highest percentage since FY 2014, when EPA began tracking. For example:
◦ USS Lead (East Chicago, IN): In this historically overburdened community, EPA secured commitments from multiple parties and a purchaser to clean up a large former industrial area contaminated with lead and arsenic and return it to a productive use. This complements the cleanup of 807 residential yards and ensures cleanup is completed in one of the site’s two operable units.
• EPA’s criminal program concluded important cases to protect health and the environment. For example:
◦ EPA with its federal partners demonstrated that major corporations like FCA US LLC (FCA US), formerly Chrysler Group LLC, will be held accountable for complying with vehicle emission standards. FCA US was sentenced to pay approximately $300 million in criminal penalties.
• EPA took aggressive early actions in communities to address drinking water violations, issuing 85 drinking water orders to protect 8 million people using public water systems. 13 of the orders were to address emergency conditions in overburdened communities.
• Achieved the goal of a 50% reduction of significant noncompliance among facilities permitted under the Clean Water Act. The national significant non-compliance (SNC) rate has been reduced from 20.3 percent at the start of 2018 to 9.0 percent in FY 2022.
• EPA also worked with federal agencies to reduce the significant noncompliance rate at federal facilities permitted under the Clean Water Act by 64% compared to the FY18 baseline, helping to improve water quality and to protect people’s health.
• OECA released ECHO Notify, an email service that allows communities to get email alerts when a local facility has a violation or enforcement action.
To see EPA’s FY 2022 Annual Environmental Enforcement Results, including case highlights: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/enforcement-and-compliance-annual-results-fiscal-year-2022
Members of the public can help protect our environment by identifying and reporting environmental violations. Learn more here: https://echo.epa.gov/report-environmental-violations
* “EPA Announces FY 2022 Enforcement and Compliance Accomplishments,” Dec. 16, 2022 Environmental Protection Agency press release.
Last updated on Jan. 8, 2023 at 7:49 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.