DOJ, EPA Team Receive Top Honors for Public Service
Today members of the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will receive one of the most prestigious awards for their achievements in public service.
Senior Trial Attorney Josh Van Eaton of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), Director Phillip Brooks of the EPA’s Air Enforcement Division, and Director Byron Bunker of the EPA’s Compliance Division will be honored with the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal (Sammies) as the Federal Employees of the Year.
“The investigation and trial team in the Volkswagen case, from both the Justice Department and EPA, put forth exemplary efforts and achieved results that are worthy of this prestigious award,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We are particularly proud that ENRD attorney Josh Van Eaton is being recognized at the ceremony with this well deserved honor.”
Van Eaton, Brooks, and Bunker headed an interagency and intergovernmental team made up of scientists, engineers, and attorneys that investigated and built the landmark civil case against German automaker Volkswagen for violations of U.S. environmental laws. Volkswagen’s violations included the installation of software used to fool federal and state regulators, and selling diesel vehicles that did not meet U.S. pollution standards.
“Volkswagen’s prolonged deception and subsequent cover-up really offend the moral compass,” Van Eaton said. “This was an opportunity to do something historic and also achieve a just result for the environment and our country and I am proud to say our team did just that.”
With Van Eaton leading civil litigation, Bunker directing EPA’s office that conducts tests for compliance with clean air regulations, and Brooks leading the EPA office of air quality enforcement, their teams were able to develop comprehensive, long term, and environmentally meaningful terms of settlement.
Through their coordination and persistent negotiations, Volkswagen agreed to the largest legal settlement ever secured against a car manufacturer. The settlement includes the largest ever civil penalty under the Clean Air Act and programs to remediate environmental harm, buy back offending cars, and compensate car owners.