Skip to main content

Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim Delivers Remarks at Volunteer Service Event in Washington, D.C., to Commemorate Earth Day


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good morning, Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), friends and family! Happy Earth Day. It is wonderful to be here with all of you.

First off, I’d like to thank Washington Parks & People for its continuing partnership with ENRD, and for all the work they do to create and revitalize greenspaces across the District of Columbia.

This year’s Earth Day theme is Planet versus Plastics. Our work here in Marvin Gaye Park today will fit right in with that theme. Over a five-year period, Washington Parks & People has organized thousands of volunteers who have collectively removed mountains of trash from this park, including a lot of harmful plastic. We are here today to continue contributing to these important cleanup efforts.

It is especially apt that ENRD is returning here for Earth Day because, as some of you know, Marvin Gaye was an advocate for the environment, raising awareness of growing environmental concerns with his memorable song lyrics. Marvin grew up nearby and would sit beside the Watts Branch stream to write songs and sing. In 1971, one year after the first Earth Day, he released, “Mercy, Mercy Me,” singing of how “things ain’t what they used to be. Oil wasted on the ocean and upon our seas. Fish full of mercury.” 

For the past two years, the U.S. has actively participated in the United Nations’ process of negotiating a treaty to end plastic pollution. This global plastics treaty is expected to be completely negotiated by the end of 2024. And with the treaty’s ambitious goal of ending plastic pollution, the result will be less plastic, less oil and a cleaner environment. 

It is my great pleasure to work with all of you who work every day to tackle the concerns that Marvin Gaye helped bring to the forefront of the public consciousness. Your work is not easy. It demands personal sacrifice. But it is important and it is valued. I hope you find it rewarding to work on behalf not only of people today, but also future generations.   

And today we get to do our work outside, upholding our now more than 20-year ENRD tradition of celebrating Earth Day by doing local community service projects like this one.  

Today we also take stock of the tremendous results of our efforts as a division this past year. I’m very pleased to announce the release of our Accomplishments Report for fiscal year 2023, which I hope you will read and share with others who are interested in learning more about our work.  

Through our enforcement efforts and defense of client agencies, we have played a key role in efforts to secure environmental justice and respond to the climate crisis, all while continuing to fulfill our division’s remarkably broad mission. We have supported our client agencies’ efforts to reduce the emissions of harmful greenhouse gases and adapt to a changing climate. We have continued to identify and prioritize for resolution cases that address public health and environmental harms faced by overburdened and underserved communities.

And we have had notable achievements this year, securing over $440 million in civil and criminal fines, penalties and costs recovered, and federal injunctive relief valued at $2.3 billion. We obtained favorable outcomes in 99% of our civil enforcement cases, 91% of our civil defensive cases, 96% of our criminal cases and 100% of our condemnation cases.

I am proud of what we have collectively accomplished. And today, I want us to take to heart how all actions to preserve and protect our planet can add up to make it a better place. I look forward to today and all that we will achieve in the coming years.

Updated April 19, 2024