WASHINGTON (January 20, 2022) — In Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency worked with state and local partners to achieve greater compliance with federal environmental laws and to address violations with major environmental or human health impacts.
Consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad (Executive Order 14008), EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) strengthened enforcement of environmental violations with disproportionate impact on communities with environmental justice (EJ) concerns. EPA continues to pursue a comprehensive strategy that leverages its enforcement authorities as well as additional actions to bring facilities back into compliance to prevent future violations, remediate past harm, and provide tangible benefits for these overburdened and underserved communities. In communities that faced acute threats to human health from environmental pollutants or contaminated drinking water, such as St. Croix, VI; Cahokia Heights, IL; and Jackson, MS, EPA used its enforcement authority to take swift action to protect residents.
Since the beginning of the Biden-Harris Administration, EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance also took actions to combat climate change. OECA partnered with the Office of Air and Radiation to establish a comprehensive program to cap and phase down the production and consumption of climate-damaging hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in the United States. The two offices launched an HFC interagency task force to prevent the illegal trade, production, use or sale of HFCs, as well as other measures related to supporting the transition to HFC alternatives, reclamation, and recycling. A global phasedown of HFCs is expected to avoid up to 0.5 °C of global warming by 2100.
“Administrator Regan has put EPA’s enforcement and compliance program at the core of the Agency’s commitment to protecting and securing environmental benefits for the most overburdened communities in America,” said Larry Starfield, EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “To deliver on this commitment, we’ve focused on actions with the highest potential to improve compliance and protect communities. Coming off a challenging few years, these 2021 results make clear that rigorous enforcement is back at EPA.”
- Commitments of more than $8.5 billion to return facilities to compliance, the highest amount in four years; 28% of those commitments were to address non-compliance in communities with environmental justice concerns.
- Proper treatment, minimization, or disposal of 7.6 billion pounds of hazardous and non-hazardous waste, more than in all but one of the past eight years.
- Private and federal party cleanup commitments of $1.9 billion, as well as more than $106.1 million for recovery of past costs the Agency spent cleaning up Superfund sites. The cleanup commitment was the fifth largest amount in the history of the program, and $279 million more than in FY 2020.
- Assessment of over $1.06 billion in penalties, the highest amount in four years.
- Twenty-eight years of incarceration for defendants sentenced in criminal enforcement investigations.
To see EPA’s FY 2021 Annual Environmental Enforcement Results, including case highlights:
Members of the public can help protect our environment by identifying and reporting environmental violations. Learn more here.
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