Nov 16, 2007

Polluters to Spend $10.6 Billion on Environmental Controls and Cleanup

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) enforcement program achieved historic results to protect the nation's air, water and land in fiscal year 2007. Industries, government agencies and other regulated entities agreed to spend a record $10.6 billion in pollution controls and environmental projects, exceeding the previous record of $10.2 billion set in 2005.

Over the last five years, EPA's enforcement program has sustained a steady track record of pollution reductions and commitments from regulated entities to install pollution controls. Since 2003, EPA's enforcement activities have required companies to invest over $33 billion in pollution control equipment to achieve pollution reductions of nearly 4.5 billion lb.

In fiscal year 2007, EPA's civil and criminal enforcement actions produced commitments to reduce pollutants by 890 million pounds. Nearly 70% of these reductions were achieved by addressing high-priority air and water pollution challenges. Air priority efforts achieved commitments to reduce 427 million lb of pollutants, while water priority efforts achieved commitments to reduce 178 million lb.

During storms, overflows from inadequate combined sewers and sanitary sewers can discharge untreated sewage and industrial wastewaters into rivers, lakes, oceans and other waterways. Enforcement actions taken in FY 2007 led to investments of $3.6 billion in pollution controls to remove 45 million lb of pollutants in discharges from overflows of combined sewers and sanitary sewers. These investments are more than three times greater than those obtained in 2006.

As a result of Superfund enforcement and other remediation agreements, responsible parties agreed to invest $688 million last year to clean up contamination. The parties agreed to clean up a record-setting 79 million cu yd of contaminated soil or enough to cover more than 12,000 football fields with 3 ft of dirt. In addition, polluters agreed to clean up 1.4 billion cu yd of contaminated water, which is enough to fill more than 425,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.

EPA continues to take action to address environmental crimes. In FY 2007, the criminal enforcement program opened 10% more environmental crimes cases than in 2006. Criminal fines and restitution also increased from the previous year by 46%, totaling $63 million. Defendants who pleaded guilty or were found guilty of environmental crimes were ordered by courts to spend $135 million on environmental projects, an increase of 350%.