The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its yearly summary of enforcement and compliance actions. It's a great resource for checking up on all sorts of actions, ranging from fines for minor infractions to big-time pollution management. In this age of increased government scrutiny, the report offers an intense paperwork-level view of what the EPA is doing.
5 things I learned from the EPA's annual enforcement report
The report offers a view of what the agency is doing around the nation.
If digging through paperwork that goes back 10 years and is categorized eight ways isn’t your cup of tea, than this report isn't for you. In that case, here's a cheat sheet of five interesting items from the report:
1. The big numbers
The EPA reports that polluters paid a bit more than $110 million in penalties during the 2010 fiscal year, while getting polluters to commit to spending an estimated $12 billion on efforts to keep pollution in check. The agency claims that $12 billion will essentially lead to removing 1.4 billion pounds of pollution.
2. Clean Air Act enforcement leads to healthcare savings
The EPA reports that civil enforcement of the Clean Air Act will net reductions of 400 million pounds of air pollution from this year forward. This is expected to result in huge healthcare savings for Americans. How big? Try between $6.2 billion and $15 billion in savings. (It will be interesting to see how this is calculated.)
3. Water law enforcement is increasing investments in cleanups
Thanks to water cases during the 2010 fiscal year, the EPA reports two interesting results: The first is that the agency estimates 1 billion pounds of water pollution will be “reduced, eliminated or properly managed,” each year for the foreseeable future. The second result of these water efforts is that $8 billion has been generated for investment in environmental improvement projects and pollution control.
4. EPA’s criminal team hands out the most fines in years
In all, the criminal enforcement arm of the EPA opened a whopping 346 environmental crime cases during the last fiscal year. The result was that 289 defendants were charged with environmental crimes. This is the highest number of charges the EPA has filed in five years. Of the 289 charges, less than 200 resulted in criminal convictions. The bottom line is that those convictions lead to $41 million in “assessed fines and restitution.”
5. There’s a map!
In case you missed this brilliant piece about the map, here’s your chance to read even less. The EPA’s yearly report isn’t just facts and figures; it also comes with a cool interactive map. Check out the map here. It provides detailed facts about enforcement actions the agency has been involved in throughout the United States. The map displays sites where alleged violations took place as well as pretty much anything else the agency is doing.
So there it is. It’s never a bad idea to be able to see what the government is up to — assuming they’re telling us everything.