The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its annual enforcement and compliance results highlighted by large cases that reduce pollution, level the playing field for responsible companies, and protect public health in communities across the country. In fiscal year 2015, EPA secured record-setting hazardous waste, Clean Air Act, and Superfund settlements, and acted swiftly to win a large criminal plea agreement following a major coal ash spill, among other accomplishments. Additionally, EPA made significant progress on cases that will benefit communities well into the future, by pursuing a final settlement that puts billions of dollars to work restoring the Gulf and helping communities affected by the BP oil spill, and by launching an investigation against Volkswagen for illegally emitting air pollution from diesel vehicles.
“The large cases we tackled in 2015 will drive compliance across industries, and protect public health in communities for years to come,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “These cases are putting cutting edge tools to work, and using innovative approaches to reduce pollution. Through another strong year in enforcement, we are implementing America’s environmental laws and delivering on EPA’s mission.”
In fiscal year 2015, EPA enforcement actions required companies to invest more than $7B in actions and equipment to control pollution and clean up contaminated sites. EPA’s cases resulted in $404M in combined federal administrative, civil judicial penalties, and criminal fines. Other results include:
- Reductions of an estimated 430 million pounds of air pollutants.
- Almost $2B in commitments from responsible parties to clean up Superfund sites.
- More than $39M invested in environmental projects that provide direct benefits to communities harmed by pollution.
EPA pursues high impact cases that drive compliance across industries:
- Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC, one of the world’s largest fertilizer manufacturers, committed to ensuring the proper treatment, storage, and disposal of an estimated 60 billion pounds of hazardous waste at eight facilities across Florida and Louisiana, the largest amount of hazardous waste ever covered by a federal or state Resource Conservation and Recovery Act settlement.
- A Clean Air Act settlement with Hyundai-Kia netted a record $100M penalty, forfeiture of emissions credits, and more than $50M invested in compliance measures to help level the playing field for responsible companies, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions fueling climate change.
- Noble Energy, Inc., a leading oil and gas producer, will use advanced monitoring technologies to detect air pollution problems in real-time, and ensure proper operation and maintenance of pollution control equipment at its facilities in Colorado.
EPA holds criminal violators accountable that threaten the health and safety of Americans, while directing funds to affected communities:
- EPA’s criminal program secured $4B in court-ordered environmental projects, generated $200 million in fines and restitution, and sentenced defendants to a combined 129 years of incarceration.
- Three subsidiaries of Duke Energy Corporation, the largest energy utility in the United States, agreed to pay a $68M criminal fine and spend $34M on environmental projects and land conservation to benefit rivers and wetlands in North Carolina and Virginia. As part of the plea, two Duke subsidiaries will ensure they can meet legal obligations to remediate coal ash impoundments within North Carolina, which will cost an estimated $3.4B.
EPA enforcement work reduces pollution in the sectors that impact American communities the most:
- Settlements with Interstate Power and Light, Duke Energy Corporation and power companies in Arizona and New Mexico are cutting coal fired power plant emissions, requiring companies to control pollution, and conduct innovative projects that promote renewable energy development and energy efficiency practices.
- EPA is working closely with local governments and utilities in places like Fort Smith, Ark., Delaware County, Pa., and across Puerto Rico, to cut discharges of raw sewage and contaminated stormwater through integrated planning, green infrastructure and other innovative approaches.
- Cal-Maine Foods, one of the nation’s largest egg producers, is implementing a series of measures to comply with laws that control pollutants, including nutrients and bacteria, from being discharged into waterways.
- XTO Energy, Inc., a subsidiary of ExxonMobil and the nation’s largest holder of natural gas reserves, will restore eight sites in West Virginia damaged when streams and wetlands were filled to build roads, and implement a plan to comply with water protection laws.
- Through settlements with three Nevada gold mining operations, Newmont, Barrick and Veris, EPA ensured that over 180 million pounds of mercury containing RCRA hazardous waste were treated, minimized, or properly disposed.
- The largest bankruptcy-related cleanup settlement in American history, with Anadarko and Kerr McGee, will put more than $4.4B into toxic pollution cleanup, improving water quality and removing dangerous materials in tribal and overburdened communities.
- EPA ensures federal agencies take responsibility and clean up toxic pollution. The Army addressed over 19 million cubic yards of contaminated groundwater at the Anniston Army Depot in Alabama, and the U.S. Navy and Defense Logistics Agency are required to implement at least $90M in upgrades and improvements to prevent potential leaks at the Red Hill Bulk Storage Facility in Hawaii.
More information about EPA’s Fiscal Year 2015 enforcement results: