The Environmental Enforcement Section (EES) is responsible for district court civil judicial enforcement of most of the Nation’s environmental laws. These statutes are designed to address:
- the cleanup of hazardous substance disposal/treatment sites;
- the pollution of the nation’s surface waters;
- the pollution of the air we breathe;
- the integrity of our drinking water;
- the ongoing management of hazardous wastes and used oil;
- the regulation of chemical substances and mixtures which present a risk to human health and the environment;
- the disclosure of lead-based paint hazards;
- emergency planning for, and notification of, releases of extremely hazardous substances;
- the protection of natural resources in national parks and marine sanctuaries.
EES also represents other federal agencies under a variety of statutes acting in a variety of roles:
Trustee of Injured Natural Resources
For any site where natural resources managed or otherwise under the jurisdiction of a federal agency have been injured or destroyed by releases of hazardous substances or oil, the agency, acting as “trustee” of the injured resources, may ask the Section to pursue a claim under CERCLA or the Oil Pollution Act/Clean Water Act for “natural resource damages” against the parties responsible for the contamination. The principal federal natural resource trustees are the Department of the Interior, the Department of Commerce (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA), and the U.S. Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture.
Contribution Actions Against Private Parties
When a federal agency (e.g., the Departments of the Interior (DOI), Defense, Energy, or Agriculture’s Forest Service) has identified contamination on land or facilities under its jurisdiction to which private parties may have contributed, EES may be called upon to pursue a contribution action against these private parties to share in the costs of cleanup.
Representation of Varied Federal Agencies
The Section represents the:
- Department of Housing and Urban Development in enforcing the disclosure rules concerning residential lead-based paint hazards;
- U.S. Coast Guard in actions for civil penalties under Section 311 of the Clean Water Act for on-shore or off-shore oil spills and actions under the Oil Pollution Act to recover costs incurred in responding to such spills;
- DOI’s Office of Surface Mining in enforcing the environmental protection standards under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act; and
- Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to enforce the Pipeline Safety Act.