Fiscal year 2008 was a banner year for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s enforcement of pollution laws and resulted in a record $11.8 billion spent in projects to clean up the environment, the agency said on Thursday.
“After these pollution control activities are completed, EPA estimates record pollution reductions of 3.9 billion pounds per year,” said Granta Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This is nearly four times the level of pollution reduction achieved in fiscal year 2007.”
Notable accomplishments included cutting tons of air pollution from power plants, convicting environmental criminals, stopping the import of illegal engines, protecting the nation’s water from construction site runoff, and holding polluters accountable for hazardous waste cleanups.
Specific Environmental Protection Successes Include:
- In the largest settlement with a stationary source in EPA history, American Electric Power, a coal-fired electric utility company, agreed to install pollution controls and take other measures that will reduce a record 1.6 billion pounds of air pollution. The company also agreed to pay a $15 million penalty, the largest ever paid by an electric utility for violations of the Clean Air Act.
- Three American corporations agreed to pay $2 million, along with the Taiwanese manufacturer from which they imported 200,000 chainsaws that failed to meet federal air pollution requirements, the largest civil penalty ever for violations of this section of the Clean Air Act. The companies agreed to prevent future violations by implementing rigorous plans to ensure that all imports meet emissions and design standards.
- Four of the nation’s top ten home builders, Centex Homes, KB Home, Pulte Homes, and Richmond American Homes, agreed to pay civil penalties totaling $4.3 million to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act for delays or failures to obtain proper storm water permits for numerous construction sites in 34 states and the District of Columbia. The settlements also require the companies to develop improved pollution prevention plans for each site, increase site inspections and promptly correct any problems that are detected.
- Massey Energy Company, based in Richmond, VA, one of the largest coal producers, agreed to pay a $20 million penalty, the largest of its kind, for discharging pollution into local waterways, and, in a trail-blazing settlement, agreed to spend $1 million on a wind-powered energy project in addition to the penalty. Massey also pledged to take measures at all of its facilities to prevent an estimated 380 million pounds of sediment and other pollutants from entering the nation’s waters each year.
- British Petroleum Exploration (Alaska), pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a $12 million criminal fine and $4 million in restitution to the state of Alaska for two pipeline leaks, one of which was the largest spill ever on the state’s North Slope.
- Owners or operators of hazardous waste sites committed to invest $1.6 billion for investigation and cleanup of Superfund sites, the highest total in seven years.
- EPA reached a record $250 million settlement with W.R. Grace for asbestos contamination in Libby, Mont. This is largest cash payment ever made by a company to reimburse the federal government for the costs of investigating and cleaning up a Superfund site.
- EPA conducted approximately 20,000 on-site inspections and investigations nationwide to identify environmental violations of our nation’s environmental laws.
- EPA helped China develop programs and build capacity for environmental enforcement and compliance.
The report, U.S. EPA OECA Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Accomplishments Report: Protecting Public Health and the Environment, is available in a PDF on-line.
More information on EPA FY 2008 enforcement and compliance results at EPA.gov.