Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno announced today the publication of the Environment and Natural Resources Division’s (ENRD) Fiscal Year 2012 Accomplishments Report. The full report, which details the division’s work across the nation during FY2012, is posted at www.justice.gov/enrd/Current_topics.html.
Outstanding Enforcement Results
Through its civil and criminal environmental enforcement actions, ENRD achieved dramatic reductions in emissions and discharges of harmful pollutants to America’s air, water and land. In 2012, the division secured more than $397 million in civil and stipulated penalties, cost recoveries, natural resource damages and other civil monetary relief, including almost $133 million recovered for the Superfund. The division obtained over $6.9 billion in corrective measures through court orders and settlements and concluded 47 criminal cases against 83 defendants, resulting in nearly 21 years in confinement and over $38 million in criminal fines, restitution, community service funds and special assessments. These outstanding results continue the division’s success in obtaining record-setting results over the past four years. During this time, the division has also advanced environmental justice, incorporating this important priority in a meaningful and enduring way into the work of the division.
“The extraordinary work reflected in this report is due to the dedication, expertise and professionalism of the division staff,” said Assistant Attorney General Moreno. “I am extremely proud of our achievements over the past year. They have resulted in immeasurable benefits for human health and the environment for all of the American people, who should all enjoy the benefits of a fair and even-handed application of environmental and natural resources laws. Together with our colleagues at client agencies and state, local and tribal governments, the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously enforce the federal civil and criminal environmental and natural resources laws that protect our air, land and water from pollution and that preserve our natural resources for the use and enjoyment of generations to come.”
Holding Those Responsible for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Accountable
ENRD’s top civil and criminal enforcement priority is to bring to justice those responsible for the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, fire and oil spill. Under a consent decree lodged on Jan. 3, 2013, Transocean pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act and agreed to pay $1.4 billion in civil and criminal fines and penalties, including a record-setting $1 billion to resolve Clean Water Act civil claims. On Feb. 17, 2012, the Department of Justice announced an agreement with MOEX, which will pay $70 million in civil penalties to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and will spend at least $20 million to facilitate land acquisition projects in several Gulf States that will preserve and protect in perpetuity habitat and resources important to water quality.
Landmark Decisions Reducing Greenhouse Gases
ENRD’s responsibilities include defending lawsuits brought against the federal government challenging agency actions and programs. In a landmark example of its defensive work, the division, with agency counsel, successfully defended rulemakings under the Clean Air Act that reduce the emission of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. In June 2012, in one of the most significant environmental regulatory decisions of the past decade, a unanimous panel of the D.C. Circuit in Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA upheld EPA’s greenhouse gas-related regulatory actions against all challenges.
Successfully Defending the Country’s Energy Agenda
The Obama Administration’s energy policy includes the responsible development of additional fossil fuels and renewable energy sources. In 2012, the division successfully defended challenges to permits and rights-of-way put in place to promote the development of renewable energy projects on western public lands. ENRD is defending more than 20 cases involving solar, wind and transmission projects located in California, Oregon, Tennessee, Delaware, Massachusetts and Vermont, and has successfully defeated motions for injunctive relief in California, Tennessee and Delaware to allow responsible energy development to proceed consistent with the permitting requirements of the issuing agencies.
Promoting National Security and Military Preparedness
Increasingly, the division is responsible for defending agency actions that support the national security of the United States. For example, in fiscal year 2012, the division successfully defended against challenges to critical Department of Defense training programs that ensure military preparedness, various agency projects to secure the nation’s borders and waters, and U.S. development of all forms of domestic energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
Historic Results Protecting Tribal Rights and Resources and Addressing Tribal Claims
In 2012, the division achieved historic results for Indian tribes and resolved decades-long and costly litigation over tribal claims regarding the government’s management of trust funds and trust resources. In the past year, the United States settled cases with 62 tribes, agreeing to pay about $1.25 billion in total to resolve the tribes’ claims. The division will continue, through its cases, to vigilantly protect tribal sovereignty, safeguard tribal lands and resources, and honor tribal treaty rights.
One of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government
At the same time that the division has achieved outstanding results in its cases, in each of the last three years, the Partnership for the Public Service (PPS) has ranked ENRD as one of the “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government.” ENRD’s overall ranking has been in the top five for each of the past three years, including two #1 rankings. The division has also continued to make great strides in promoting diversity and a better quality of life for all its employees.