WASHINGTON – Marking the eighth annual Earth Day Service Celebration today, Deputy Attorney General James Cole and Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno commended volunteers from the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) as they began work on a future Community Greening Center near Marvin Gaye Park in Northeast Washington, D.C.
The Community Greening Center will be a neighborhood-based nursery for plants and trees as well as an environmental education resource center to be located near the intersection of 51st Street and Nannie Helen Burroughs Ave., N.E. The Justice Department volunteers are breaking ground on this project together with Washington Parks & People and the DC Green Corps.
2011 will mark the eighth consecutive Earth Day service celebration at Marvin Gaye Park. In those seven years, ENRD has devoted over 5,000 hours of employee time to planting trees, removing trash, laying sod and gardening. The event Thursday featured brief remarks by Deputy Attorney General Cole; Assistant Attorney General Moreno; Steve Coleman, Director and President of Washington Parks and People; and Lisa A. Hayes, Director of Development and Senior Counsel at the American Constitution Society of Law and Policy. Ms. Hayes is also the daughter of Earth Day Network founder Denis Hayes, who coordinated the first Earth Day in 1970.
“Earth Day is a reminder to all of us at the Department that we serve not only to protect the people of our country, but also its natural resources such as our lands, waters, air and wildlife, and the tremendous work of the Environment Division is essential to that mission,” said Deputy Attorney General Cole. “The Division has contributed its expertise and hard work in a number of key areas, including the government’s response to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and oil spill, important tribal matters and our overall efforts in advancing environmental justice, and I am grateful for their continued dedication.”
Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno also announced the publication of ENRD’s Fiscal Year 2010 Accomplishments Report. The full report, which details the division’s work across the nation during FY2010, is posted at www.justice.gov/enrd/Current_topics.html . Among other things, the report details the civil and criminal enforcement of the nation’s environmental laws, resulting in immeasurable benefits for human health and the environment derived from significant reductions in emissions and discharges of harmful pollutants. Other results detailed in the report show:
$1.3 billion in civil and stipulated penalties, cost recoveries, natural resource damages, and other civil monetary reliefm, including $922 million recovered for the Superfund to support the cleanup of toxic waste;
$7.5 billion in corrective measures through court orders and settlements; and
50 criminal cases against 79 defendants, resulting in $104 million in fines.
A core mission of the division is the strong enforcement of civil and criminal environmental laws to protect our nation’s air, land, water and natural resources. The division’s mission also includes vigorous defense of environmental, wildlife and natural resources laws and agency actions; effective stewardship of our public lands and natural resources; and careful and respectful management of the United States’ obligations to American Indian tribes and their members, including litigation to protect tribal sovereignty, rights and resources. Also in 2010, with colleagues in the Civil Division, ENRD played an instrumental role in supporting the federal response to, and investigation of, the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the filing of a civil enforcement action on Dec. 15, 2010 in Louisiana.
In her remarks, Assistant Attorney General Moreno underscored the achievements of the past year and the Division’s commitment to environmental justice:
“I am proud of the meaningful results that we have achieved for the benefit of the American people over the past year. In our work, we have not forgotten vulnerable communities and have taken concrete steps to make environmental justice a reality.”
The D.C. Green Corps, based at the Marvin Gaye Community Greening Center in the Watts Branch sub-watershed of the Anacostia River, will provide a city-wide gateway to 50 different green career tracks in urban and community forestry and forest-based ecosystem and watershed restoration. Helping under-served sub-watershed communities across the city, the Green Corps job program will focus on environmental justice, sustainable native reforestation, riparian buffer planting, invasive removal and green controls of urban systems, such as storm and sewer flows. The Green Corps and Center will develop a referral system to help participants connect to jobs through a wide range of agencies, professional and trade associations, trades, professions and industries.
The Green Corps is a pilot job training program funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, the D.C. Urban Forest Administration and the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation.