Federal Pollution Control Laws: How Are They Enforced?

Congressional Research Service

As a result of enforcement actions and settlements for noncompliance with federal pollution control requirements, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that, during FY2012, regulated entities committed to invest an estimated $9.0 billion for judicially mandated pollution controls and cleanup, and for implementing mutually agreed upon (supplemental) environmentally beneficial projects. EPA estimated that these efforts achieved commitments to reduce, treat, or eliminate 2.2 billion pounds of pollutants in the environment, primarily from air and water. EPA also assessed more than $208.0 million in civil penalties (administrative and judicial) and $44.0 million in criminal fines and restitution during FY2012. 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. [H/T: Full Text Reports]


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