EPA Publishes 2017 Enforcement Data

FEBRUARY 12, 2018

EPA published its Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 enforcement statistics last week, highlighting its criminal and civil enforcement actions under the environmental statutes:

  • An increase in the value of commitments by private parties to clean up sites to more than $1.2 billion.
  • An increase in the environmental benefits of EPA Superfund and RCRA Corrective Action enforcement, with commitments to address an estimated 20.5 million cubic yards of contaminated soil and 412 million cubic yards of contaminated water.
  • An increase in the total of criminal fines, restitution, and mitigation to $2.98 billion.
  • An increase in the years of incarceration resulting from EPA’s criminal enforcement actions to 150 years.
  • An increase in the value of actions taken to improve compliance with the law and reduce pollution, to nearly $20 billion.
  • $1.6 billion in administrative and civil judicial penalties, higher than any of the previous 10 years other than FY 2016, which included the $5.7 billion BP action.
“A strong enforcement program is essential to achieving positive health and environmental outcomes,” said Susan Bodine, head of the agency’s compliance office. “In fiscal year 2017, we focused on expediting site cleanup, deterring noncompliance, and returning facilities to compliance with the law, while respecting the cooperative federalism structure of our nation’s environmental laws.”

However, critics of the Trump Administration argue that the statistics show that EPA initiated 20 percent fewer civil cases and 30 percent fewer criminal cases compared to the final year of the Obama Administration.

“The drop-off in actions is very worrying,” said Andrew Rosenberg of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It shows across the board a lack of desire to hold polluters accountable and that means the public health risks are greater.”

EPA noted in its press release announcing publication of the data that it was going to be developing a new enforcement metric moving forward “to help focus the enforcement program on returning facilities to compliance” and to “fully capture all enforcement and compliance assistance work the Agency undertakes.”