Environmental Enforcement Section
About the Section
The Environmental Enforcement Section (EES) is the largest litigating section in the Division. The Section is responsible for bringing civil judicial actions under most federal laws enacted to protect public health and the environment from the adverse effects of pollution, such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Oil Pollution Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and Superfund law (i.e., the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, or CERCLA).
The Section's practice is broad and challenging. It includes cases of national scope, such as cases against multiple members of an identified industry, to obtain broad compliance with federal environmental laws. While the size of and outcomes in EES cases vary from year to year, in a typical year the Section secures injunctive relief valued in the billions of dollars and money judgments totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.
- Protect public health and the environment from the adverse effects of pollution to air, water, and land through civil judicial enforcement of the nation’s environmental laws.
- Hold responsible parties accountable for the costs of cleaning up hazardous waste sites and restoring damaged natural resources.
- Reduce harm to public health and the environment in overburdened and underserved communities.
- Pursue federal law violations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Enforcement of the Clean Air Act reaches all types of stationary facilities and mobile sources of air pollution, reducing emissions of conventional and hazardous pollutants that contribute to adverse public health and environmental effects.
Clean Water Act enforcement addresses problems including untreated sewage discharges from municipal wastewater systems, uncontrolled stormwater runoff from municipal and commercial facilities, and discharges of harmful chemicals and other pollutants from manufacturing facilities. Safe Drinking Water Act enforcement ensures that a community’s drinking water system complies with legal requirements to safeguard water consumed by the community.
Enforcement of the Superfund law compels responsible parties to clean up hazardous waste sites or reimburse the U.S. for the cost of cleanup, ensuring that those responsible, not the public, bear the financial burden. The Section also works closely with federal agencies that serve as trustees for the nation’s natural resources to seek restoration or damages from responsible parties when those resources are injured by hazardous waste.
The Section’s enforcement work under all the pollution control statutes provides the tools to seek compliance with federal law and mitigation of harm to public health and the environment in disproportionally burdened and underserved communities.
Enforcement, principally under the Clean Air Act, provides a tool to stop or substantially reduce illegal greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. In resolving violations of pollution control laws, the Section can also seek design and construction of pollution control measures that account for the predictable impacts of climate change.