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Compliance and Enforcement Annual Results 2011 Fiscal Year

Program Highlights

EPA routinely collaborates with states and other federal agencies to apply environmental regulations. Read more on:

National Clean Water Act (CWA) Trends Map

Percent of facilities reviewed with violations: Non Majors

For more information go to ECHO’S National CWA Trends Maps

Shared Accountability for EPA and States

National Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program Trends Map

In 2011 EPA launched a new interactive website the National Clean Water Act (CWA) Trends Maps, within the Enforcement Compliance History Online (ECHO) website, on CWA NPDES enforcement data. The CWA Trends Map show a variety of summary facility statistics by state such as: number of violations, amount of penalties assessed, number of enforcement actions, and number of inspections.

In addition to the CWA Trends Map, a new EPA and State enforcement action map was launched in 2011. The combined EPA and State Annual Enforcement Actions Map is part of the White House initiative to improve the transparency of regulatory compliance information. The map presents facilities with enforcement actions under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, or Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

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EPA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Collaboration

Within the last several years, there has been a steady flow of illegal imported motorcycles, equipment containing small gasoline-powered engines (e.g. generators, mowers, chainsaws, etc.), and recreational vehicles, which are all regulated by EPA. Uncertified vehicles and engines can emit harmful air pollutants at 30% or more above allowable standards.

EPA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) collaborate to ensure that all imported vehicles and engines comply with the Clean Air Act requirements. CBP officers identify shipments, with particular focus on companies that have previously violated the Clean Air Act, and put them on hold for inspection. EPA investigators, working closely with a special team of CBP officers, inspect the vehicles and engines. Vehicles and engines found to be in violation of the Clean Air Act are seized by CBP.

Since October 1, 2010, more than $24 million worth of vehicles including motorcycles, dirt bikes, tractors, and generators were imported into the U.S. and found to be in violation of the Clean Air Act, for which EPA collected penalties totaling $2.7 million, according to EPA records. In addition to these EPA-led cases, EPA collaborated with CBP on an additional 9 cases, involving $350,000 worth of goods. CBP forfeited goods in four of these cases, and collected penalties in excess of $40,000 in lieu of forfeiture in five of these cases. EPA is a participating federal partner in CBP’s Customs Targeting and Analysis Center.

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Marcellus Shale Law Enforcement Conference

Marcellus Shale Law Enforcement Conference

EPA’s criminal enforcement program, along with the FBI, U.S. Departments of Transportation and the Interior, and Pennsylvania state and local governmental organizations participated in the Marcellus Shale Law Enforcement Conference in State College, Pennsylvania. The conference was hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice and the United States Attorneys for the Eastern, Western and Middle Districts of Pennsylvania. The Conference’s objective was to educate the Pennsylvania law enforcement community on the process of natural gas extraction from the Marcellus Shale formation and the effects on the communities involved. The conference focused on potential environmental crimes (focusing on the illegal dumping of waste), and other relevant local/state/federal crimes specific to Marcellus Shale. The conference strengthened communication and coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement.

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Rear Adm. Kevin Cook, Coast Guard Director of Prevention Policy, and Cynthia Giles, EPA Assistant Administrator, Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, sign the Vessel General Permit MOU

EPA and Coast Guard Step Up Efforts to Protect U.S. Waters

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to protect U.S. waters. The MOU will enhance coordination efforts to prevent and enforce against illegal discharges of pollutants from vessels, such as cruise ships and oil tankers.

Under the MOU, USCG has agreed to incorporate components of EPA’s vessel general permit program into its existing inspection protocols and procedures to help the United States address vessel pollution in U.S. waters. The MOU creates a framework for improving EPA and USCG cooperation on data tracking, training, monitoring, enforcement and industry outreach.

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EPA, Coast Guard and the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration Oil Spill Coordination

The EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard both enforce Section 311 of the Clean Water Act (CWA), which includes actions against oil spills in violation of the Act.  EPA’s enforcement efforts address oil spills on large transportation pipelines that are subject to regulations issued by the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The EPA works closely with PHMSA to ensure that investments to improve environmental performance (injunctive relief) sought in an enforcement action to prevent future oil spills does not conflict with PHMSA’s regulatory requirements.  

In May 2011, EPA, PHMSA and DOJ announced a settlement with BP Exploration and Production to address violations of the CWA and the Pipeline Safety Act.  The settlement required BP to pay $25 million in civil penalties and implement a system-wide pipeline integrity management program for spilling more than 5,000 barrels of crude oil from the company’s pipelines on the North Slope of Alaska.  EPA and PHMSA’s collaboration was integral to achieving this result.

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serious violotars vs systems returned to compliance chart

The chart compares the number of public water systems (PWS) identified as serious violators with the number of systems that have been fully returned to compliance as a result of assistance, enforcement, or on their own.

Find drinking water enforcement data on Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO).

EPA and States Working Together for Safer Drinking Water

States and EPA in 2011 began implementing a new, more effective approach to resolving noncompliance at public drinking water systems.  The result is that the number of systems with serious, unresolved noncompliance, termed "serious violators ", is decreasing nationwide, while the number of systems that have been returned to compliance is increasing.  In addition, the rate at which systems are returning to compliance is also increasing.  This means safer drinking water for consumers.

A serious violator is defined as a public water system with unresolved serious, multiple, and/or continuing violations, as identified US EPA's Drinking Water Enforcement Response Policy (PDF) (16pp, 951K, About PDF) , that must either return to compliance or be addressed by a formal enforcement action within six months of becoming a priority. 

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Keystone XL Pipeline

EPA worked successfully to improve the Department of State’s National Enforonmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline.  The NEPA process continues to play a critical role in informing and advancing the national debate over the potential environmental impacts of the proposed pipeline which would transport oil sands from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.  Read more on the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project.

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Air Quality Impacts for Federal Oil and Gas Decisions

EPA worked collaboratively with the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the USDA Forest Service to develop an new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that sets forth expectations and agreements for addressing air quality analyses and mitigation measures through the NEPA process related to Federal oil and gas planning, leasing, and field development decisions.

The MOU establishes a common process for the agencies to follow in analyzing the potential air quality impacts for these projects that encourages the use of best practices and clear communication.  The collaborative approach established in the MOU will reduce delays and increase certainty and transparency – benefitting industry, federal agencies, states, and Tribes.  The MOU will align federal agencies to support responsible domestic energy production on federal lands while ensuring environmental protection.  Read more on the Memorandum of Understanding (PDF) (27pp, 2MB, About PDF).

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Collaboration with North American Enforcement Partners

In 2011 officials from Canadian, Mexican and U.S. environmental enforcement agencies formally initiated a pilot project to incorporate the targeting tool of intelligence-led enforcement into certain trilateral projects. The goal is to strengthen environmental enforcement cooperation in North America through capacity building, establishment of networks and joint operations. Based on the enforcement priorities of the three countries, activities have focused on the import and export of electronic waste, ozone depleting substances, non-compliant engines and hazardous waste. Initial sharing of information and intelligence has already enhanced the ability to detect, interdict and deter illegal shipments of environmentally regulated materials moving in and out of North America.

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