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Accession Number PB2012-114333
Title Federal Pollution Control Laws: How Are They Enforced.
Publication Date Jul 2012
Media Count 53p
Personal Author R. Esworthy
Abstract As a result of enforcement actions and settlements for noncompliance with federal pollution control requirements, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that, for FY2011, regulated entities committed to invest an estimated $19.0 billion for judicially mandated pollution controls and cleanup, and for implementing mutually agreed upon (supplemental) environmentally beneficial projects. EPA estimates that these efforts achieved commitments to reduce, treat, or eliminate 1.8 billion pounds of pollutants in the environment, primarily from air and water. EPA also assessed more than $152.0 million in civil penalties (administrative and judicial) and $35.0 million in criminal fines and restitution during FY2011. Nevertheless, noncompliance with federal pollution control laws remains a continuing concern. The overall effectiveness of the enforcement organizational framework, the balance between state autonomy and federal oversight, and the adequacy of funding are long-standing congressional concerns. This report provides an overview of the statutory framework, key players, infrastructure, resources, tools, and operations associated with enforcement and compliance of the major pollution control laws and regulations administered by EPA. It also outlines the roles of federal (including regional offices) and state regulators, as well as the regulated community. Understanding the many facets of how all federal pollution control laws are enforced, and the responsible parties involved, can be challenging. Enforcement of the considerable body of these laws involves a complex framework and organizational setting. The array of enforcement/compliance tools employed to achieve and maintain compliance includes monitoring, investigation, administrative and judicial (civil and criminal) actions and penalties, and compliance assistance and incentive approaches. Most compliance violations are resolved administratively by the states and EPA. EPA concluded 1,735 final administrative penalty orders in FY2010. Civil judicial actions, which may be filed by states or EPA, are the next most frequent enforcement action. EPA may refer civil cases to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), referring 222 civil cases in FY2011. The U.S. Attorney General's Office and DOJ's Environmental Crimes Section, or the state attorneys general, in coordination with EPA criminal investigators and general counsel, may prosecute criminal violations against individuals or entities who knowingly disregard environmental laws or are criminally negligent.
Keywords Administrative procedures
Air pollution
Criminal investigations
Federal agencies
Judicial decisions
Law enforcement
Pollution control
United States government
Water pollution

Source Agency Congressional Research Service
NTIS Subject Category 68 - Environmental Pollution & Control
92D - Education, Law, & Humanities
70F - Public Administration & Government
Corporate Author Congressional Research Service, Washington, DC.
Document Type Technical report
Title Note N/A
NTIS Issue Number 1226
Contract Number N/A

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