Sector- and Geographic-Based Enforcement
Complex environmental and compliance problems often occur in a specific industrial sector or geographic region. Enforcement activities focused on sectors or geographic regions emphasize a comprehensive approach for addressing environmental issues, and provide a targeted, efficient, and cost-effective approach to achieve significant health and environmental benefits.
Energy Extraction. EPA established a national enforcement initiative to ensure that natural gas extraction and production activities comply with environmental laws. EPA is inspecting natural gas extraction and production facilities, focusing on those facilities causing air and water pollution with adverse impacts on human health.
Reducing Threats from Polyvinyl Chloride Manufacturing Plants. Vinyl chloride, an odorless gas, is an ozone precursor and known human carcinogen, which is also linked to neurological disorders. To reduce the total amount of vinyl chloride entering the environment, EPA has targeted enforcement activities on the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) manufacturing industry, which is responsible for the majority of our nation’s vinyl chloride emissions. EPA’s enforcement actions focus on reducing the total amount of vinyl chloride entering the air, water, and land. To date, EPA’s enforcement actions against PVC manufacturers have reduced vinyl chloride air emissions by over 167,000 pounds per year. Learn more about vinyl chloride cases at Enforcement Cases and Settlements.
Improving the Telecommunications Sectors Compliance. Telecommunications companies use of lead-acid batteries and diesel-powered backup generators to provide uninterrupted power must comply with a variety of environmental laws. EPA has found widespread compliance problems associated with telecommunications facilities use of these backup power sources. Since 1998, nearly 5,400 telecommunications facilities have come into compliance with environmental laws through 37 settlements as part of EPA’s effort to improve the telecommunications sector environmental compliance.
Targeting Sources of Pollution Impairing the Chesapeake Bay. North America’s largest and most biologically diverse estuary is home to more than 3,700 species of plants and animals and is fed by 100,000 creeks, streams and rivers. Approximately 17 million people live within the watershed, which spreads over 64,000 square miles and includes parts of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and all of Washington, D.C.
Sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorous pollution is threatening the Bay and its tidal tributaries. Too much nitrogen and phosphorous has led to harmful algal blooms that rob the water of oxygen. Too much sediment blocks sunlight from reaching underwater grasses. This pollution is coming primarily from agriculture, but also from urban runoff, wastewater, and airborne contaminants.
EPA has developed a Chesapeake Bay Compliance and Enforcement Strategy (PDF) (13 pp, 404K, About PDF) to help target sources of pollution impairing the Bay. Lean more about enforcement actions in the Bay’s watershed and airshed.
Addressing Animal Feeding Operations Air Emissions. Animal feeding operations (AFOs) house large numbers of animals for meat, dairy, and egg production. In the late 1990s, EPA concluded that it did not have sufficient air emissions data for AFOs, which made it difficult to determine AFOs compliance with certain environmental requirements.
Following stakeholder discussions with the AFO industry, state and local governments, and environmental groups, EPA announced the voluntary Air Compliance Agreement in 2005, with goals of reducing air pollution, monitoring AFO emissions, promoting a national consensus on emissions estimating methodologies, and ensuring compliance with environmental requirements related to AFO air emissions.
Approximately 2,600 AFOs in the swine, broiler chicken, egg-laying, and dairy sectors, representing nearly 14,000 facilities, are participating in the agreement. Under the agreement, participating AFOs paid a civil penalty based on the size and number of facilities in their operation and contributed to a fund to cover the cost of the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study. The monitoring study is an EPA-approved study designed to gather AFO emissions data and inform the development of emissions estimating methodologies for swine, broiler chicken, egg-laying, and dairy AFOs. Monitoring occurred between 2007 and 2010, and EPA is currently reviewing the data and developing emissions estimating methodologies. Once EPA publishes the final emissions estimating methodologies, AFOs must apply the methodologies to determine what actions, if any, they must take to comply with all applicable requirements related to their air emissions. EPA is also taking enforcement action for violations of the Clean Water Act to reduce animal waste pollution.