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Compliance and Enforcement Annual Results 2011 Fiscal Year

Program Highlights

Environmental justice has been a consideration in how EPA enforces environmental laws for many years – in 2011, through Plan EJ 2014, EPA focused and accelerated our efforts to identify, assess, and address EJ concerns when developing and implementing our enforcement and compliance strategies and activities. We also accelerated our ongoing efforts to communicate more effectively with overburdened communities about our enforcement actions and program activities. As illustrated by the cases highlighted here, EPA is advancing our environmental justice goals, achieving results through the strategies outlined in Plan EJ 2014 "Advancing EJ through Compliance and Enforcement":

We considered EJ in the selection and implementation of our National Enforcement Initiatives:

  • Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) resolved alleged Clean Air Act violations at 11 of its coal-fired plants in Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The settlement will require TVA to invest an estimated $3 to $5 billion on new and upgraded state-of-the-art pollution controls that will prevent approximately 1,200 to 3,000 premature deaths, 2,000 heart attacks and 21,000 cases of asthma attacks each year, resulting in up to $27 billion in annual health benefits. TVA will also invest $350 million on clean energy projects that will reduce pollution, save energy and protect public health and the environment. These investments will advance environmental justice by reducing energy costs for low-income communities and by reducing pollution in overburdened communities.
  • The Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) Clean Air Act Settlement will cover all of NIPSCO’s coal-fired power plants, located in Chesterton, Michigan City, Wheatfield and Gary, Indiana. NIPSCO has agreed to invest approximately $600 million in pollution control technology that will protect public health and resolve violations of the Clean Air Act. The settlement also calls for NIPSCO to spend $9.5 million on projects that will benefit the environment and human health in communities located near the NIPSCO facilities. The projects include a clean diesel retrofit project for public vehicles, woodstove and outdoor boiler change-out projects, and land restoration projects.

As we target and develop our compliance and enforcement actions, EPA has been paying particular attention to minority, low-income, and tribal communities because these communities frequently bear a disproportionate burden of environmental harms and have been historically under-represented in environmental decision-making:

  • EPA announced a comprehensive settlement with the Department of the Interior (DOI) to address alleged violations of waste, water, air, toxics and community right-to-know laws at schools and public water systems in Indian Country owned, operated, or the legal responsibility of DOI’s Indian Affairs Office. The settlement will advance environmental justice by protecting students’ health, including children, and the health of communities in Indian Country by reducing potential exposure to environmental hazards.

Where pollution is concentrated in a geographic area, EPA’s enforcement program is enhancing its use of enforcement and compliance tools in regional geographic initiatives to address the needs of overburdened communities – in these instances, enforcement resources are part of integrated strategies that seek to comprehensively address disproportionate environmental and public health burdens.

EPA’s Region 9 is using enforcement and compliance in Los Angeles County’s densely populated communities closest to the California Interstate 710 Corridor.

  • The corridor includes the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. One million people live in communities along the corridor and are severely impacted by pollution from industrial activities in the area.
  • 70% of the population are low-income and minority.
  • The region has persistently exceeded national ambient air quality standards for carbon monoxide, 1-hour and 8-hour ozone, and particulate matter 2.5 and 10.
  • EPA is collaborating with state and local regulators to increase the enforcement presence and to reduce the disproportionate environmental impacts in the area.
  • EPA has inspected over 70 facilities, including metal plating and petroleum facilities and is taking action, to date, against 13 of them.
  • As a result of these actions, required improvements will keep more than 15,000 pounds of pollution a year out of the local environment and prevent the potential release of 80,000 gallons of oil into local water sources.

We are increasing efforts to address environmental justice through use of injunctive relief including pollution controls and mitigation, and Supplemental Environmental Projects, where appropriate:

  • The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District Clean Water Act settlement will address the flow of untreated sewage into Cleveland area waterways and Lake Erie. Among other requirements, the District is required to take several specific steps to address concerns in overburdened communities. For example, the District must reduce pollutant discharges much more quickly in these areas. In addition, several vacant lands will be transformed into green space and recreational areas to help capture storm water discharges, perhaps leading to increased property values and employment opportunities. Also, the District will operate a household hazardous waste collection center each month as a supplemental environmental project, providing local citizens with a place to properly dispose of used motor oil, paints, batteries, and other items that could otherwise end up in storm water discharges.
  • Motors Liquidation Corporation (f/k/a General Motors Corporation) Bankruptcy Settlement agreed to set up a $773 million Environmental Response Trust to conduct, manage, and fund cleanup at 89 sites across 14 states. The bankruptcy settlement envisions the redevelopment and revitalization of appropriate sites. The Trust directs over $450 million to address cleanup of contaminated properties, many of which are located in overburdened communities.

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