In Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continued to strengthen its collaborative partnership with state and tribal programs to assure compliance with federal environmental laws. EPA continued to focus its resources in areas that will have a major environmental or human health impact, support the integrity of our environmental regulatory programs, create a deterrent effect, or promote cleanups. In FY 2019, EPA also continued to encourage entities to self-disclose and correct violations, resulting in an increase of entities that used this option to return to compliance.
“EPA’s enforcement program is focused on achieving compliance with environmental laws using all tools available,” said EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine. “Our goal is to eliminate inefficient duplication with state programs, and to direct federal resources to help achieve the Agency’s core mission of improving air quality, providing for clean and safe water, revitalizing land and preventing contamination, and ensuring the safety of chemicals in the marketplace.”
Highlights of EPA’s FY 2019 enforcement and compliance achievements include:
- Voluntary self-disclosed violations at over 1,900 facilities expediting return to compliance, an estimated 20% increase compared to FY 2018.
- Investment of over $4.4 billion in actions and equipment that achieve compliance with the law and control pollution, an increase of over $400 million from FY 2018.
- $471.8 million in combined Federal administrative and judicial civil penalties and criminal fines, the highest total of all but four of the past ten years.
- Commitments to reduce, treat, or eliminate 347.2 million pounds of pollution (air, toxics, and water), the highest value in the past four years.
- 7.56 million pounds of emissions prevented from mobile sources, an increase of nearly 6.9 million pounds from FY 2018.
- 170 criminal cases opened, an increase from 128 in FY 2018, continuing to reverse the downward trend that began after 2011.
- A total of 137 criminal defendants charged, an increase from 107 in FY 2018, reversing a downward trend that began after 2013.
- Commitments for $570.4 million in new site cleanup work, $283 million in reimbursement of EPA’s costs, and more than $108 million in oversight billed, totaling $961 million, an increase of over $349 million from FY 2018.
- Cleanups and redevelopment at over 160 sites through use of Superfund enforcement tools, an increase of 6 sites from 2018.
EPA focuses its enforcement and compliance resources on the most serious environmental violations by developing and implementing national program priorities, called National Compliance Initiatives (NCIs). EPA’s NCIs focus federal enforcement and compliance resources to advance the Agency Strategic Plan’s objectives to improve air quality, provide for clean and safe water, ensure chemical safety, and improve compliance with our nation’s environmental laws while enhancing shared accountability between the EPA and states and tribes with authorized environmental programs. Those initiatives are:
- Creating Cleaner Air for Communities by Reducing Excess Emissions of Harmful Pollutants
- Stopping Aftermarket Defeat Devices for Vehicles and Engines
- Reducing Hazardous Air Emissions from Hazardous Waste Facilities
- Reducing Risks of Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilities
- Reducing Significant Non-Compliance with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits
- Reducing Non-Compliance with Drinking Water Standards at Community Water Systems
In addition to the NCIs, EPA has made reduction of children’s exposure to lead a priority. EPA’s lead paint enforcement activities in FY 2019 are summarized here. EPA completed 117 federal enforcement actions in FY 2019 to ensure that entities such as renovation contractors, landlords, realtors and others comply with rules that protect the public from exposure to lead from lead-based paint. More information on the Agency’s enforcement activities related to lead.