FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES FY 2004 RECORD YEAR IN OBTAINING OVER $4 BILLION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPROVEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Departmentís Environment and Natural Resources Division, announced today that Fiscal Year 2004 was a record breaking year in the Divisionís efforts to secure commitments by polluters to take action to remedy their violations of the nationís environmental laws. Polluters across the nation agreed to spend in excess of $4 billion-topping the previous record of just more than $3 billion in FY 2002-to take corrective measures to protect the nationís health, welfare and environment. Additionally, courts imposed more than $181 million in civil penalties for violations in environmental cases, second only to fiscal year 2003's record-setting recovery of $203 million.
ďThe Divisionís record setting year in environmental enforcement is an outstanding accomplishment, and a tribute to the tireless work of the men and women of the Environment and Natural Resources Division, as well as the federal agencies they support,Ē said Attorney General John Ashcroft.
ďThe Divisionís civil enforcement accomplishments this year provide powerful evidence of its commitment to an aggressive and robust effort to require individuals and companies to comply with the nationís environmental laws,Ē said Assistant Attorney General Sansonetti. ďWe are steadfast in our mission to require polluters to take corrective measures that will protect the public health and environment and to pay for the consequences of their non-compliance.Ē
Many of the court orders and settlements furthered the three civil environmental enforcement priorities of the Department, announced by Attorney General John Ashcroft in March 2003.
Leveling the Competitive Playing Field
In a settlement announced today, CITGO Petroleum Corporation has agreed to spend an estimated $320 million to install innovative control technologies to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, and other pollutants at refineries in five states, pay a civil penalty of $3.6 million, and spend at least $5 million on a supplemental environmental project. The settlement exemplifies the Departmentís commitment to ďleveling the playing fieldĒ for those who do business in the United States. This settlement is part of the National Petroleum Refinery Initiative under which companies representing more than 40% of the nationís refining capacity have committed to correcting their violations of the environmental laws.
A settlement lodged last week with Chevron Phillips Chemical Company underscores the Departmentís strong commitment to another environmental priority, protecting the nationís infrastructure from the serious harm that can result from violations of environmental laws. The settlement with Chevron Phillips resolves violations of the Clean Air Act committed by its predecessor Phillips Chemical Company that led to two explosions and releases of hazardous chemicals at a Texas chemical manufacturing plant, and which caused three deaths and injuries to more than 100 workers. The settlement requires Chevron Phillips to pay a $1.8 million civil penalty, the largest such penalty ever assessed for a case of this type, and take preventative measures to ensure that similar accidental releases do not occur in the future.
Conserving the Superfund
The Division secured the commitment of responsible parties to clean up hazardous waste sites, at costs estimated in excess of $285 million, and recovered more than $92 million for the Superfund to help finance future clean up work. Significant progress was achieved in efforts to secure four river cleanups that are unprecedented in scope, including significant action concerning the Fox River in northeastern Wisconsin, the Hudson River in New York, the Passaic River and Newark Bay in New Jersey, and the Sheboygan River in Wisconsin. Each of these efforts will conserve Superfund resources for other cleanups. Also, in the Divisionís largest natural resource damage settlement since the 1991 Exxon Valdez consent decree, eight companies agreed to pay nearly $60 million to restore natural resources in the Grand Calumet River and Indiana Harbor Canal which, although located in one of the most heavily industrialized areas of the country, support a variety of fish and wildlife habitat.
Working in concert with U.S. Attorneyís Offices, the Division also took enforcement action where the unlawful discharge of dredged or fill material has damaged or destroyed wetlands and waterways. In August 2004, Department attorneys lodged a consent decree resolving the unauthorized discharge of fill material at a private ski and golf resort near Yellowstone National Park and Big Sky, Montana where the violations adversely affected several tributary streams of the Gallatin River, a world-renowned Montana fishery. The settlement requires the Yellowstone Mountain Club to pay a $1.8 million civil penalty, the largest civil penalty ever in an EPA wetlands enforcement case, and to restore existing damaged wetlands as well as create new ones.
In sum, the Divisionís record in FY 2004 demonstrates the continuing fulfillment of its aggressive agenda to protect the nationís health, welfare and environment from the consequences of illegal activity under the environmental laws.