EPA Sets Enforcement Records in 1999

WASHINGTON--The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency today announced record enforcement actions and penalties for
Fiscal Year 1999, including $3.6 billion for environmental cleanup, pollution
control equipment, and improved monitoring, an 80 percent increase over 1998;
$166.7 million in civil penalties, 60 percent higher than 1998; and 3,935 civil
judicial and administrative actions, the highest in the last three years.
Criminal defendants were sentenced to a record 208 years of prison time for
committing environmental crimes.
"The Clinton/Gore Administration is
committed to ensuring that industrial polluters pay the price for disregarding
America's environmental laws and jeopardizing the public's health," said
EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner. "This year's enforcement statistics
again send a strong signal that we will unfailingly take action against those
who illegally pollute the environment of our country."
During fiscal year 1999, EPA settled the
largest Clean Air Act case in history against seven diesel engine manufacturers
whose products were alleged by the government to have caused millions of tons of
excess emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOX), a contributor to smog. Under the
settlement, the companies will spend over $800 million on producing cleaner
engines and pay an $83 million penalty. Future NOX emissions will be reduced by
more than 75 million tons over the next quarter century. During FY 1999, the
Agency also settled the largest ever civil complaint under the Resource
Conservation Recovery Act against the FMC Corporation. The settlement included
an $11.8 million civil penalty and an estimated $170 million to close
hazardous-waste containing ponds and significantly reduce toxic gas emissions.
The Agency referred 403 civil cases to the
U.S. Department of Justice - down slightly from the 411 referrals the previous
year - and issued a record 1,654 administrative complaints, as well as 1,878
administrative compliance orders and field citations. The $3.6 billion value of
enforcement settlements included $3.4 billion in injunctive relief - actions
required to correct violations and cleanup Superfund sites - and $236.8 million
in Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) - additional environmental
improvements contained in settlements.
The 208 years of criminal sentences imposed
by the courts in FY 1999 was about 12 years higher than the previous record for
incarceration. EPA last year referred 241 criminal cases for prosecution-
compared with 266 referrals the previous year - and assessed $61.6 million in
criminal fines - compared with $92.3 million the previous year. Taken together,
the combined civil and criminal referrals are the third largest in EPA history
and the combined amount of civil and criminal penalties is the second largest in
EPA history. The Agency also recovered from responsible parties an estimated
$230 million to clean up abandoned hazardous waste sites under the Superfund
program.
SOURCE: U.S. EPA

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