Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released annual data for 2017 about how it was enforcing the nation’s environmental laws. What stood out, more than anything, was the totals of criminal fines, civil penalties, and commitments from companies to clean up spills.
The grand total was almost $5 billion. Of course, the fiscal year ended September 30th, so many of those cases were initiated under the Obama administration. It remains to be see exactly how aggressively the EPA under new Administrator Scott Pruitt will enforce current environmental laws. Susan Bodine, the agency’s top enforcement official, who was confirmed by the Senate in December, said that a strong enforcement program was essential. Pruitt himself has promised to hold polluters accountable.
Here’s how the EPA criminal fines and civil penalties broke down
$3 billion of the total came from criminal fines and restitution. A big chunk of that $3 billion came from a landmark settlement with Volkswagen after the German automaker used illegal software to cheat EPA emissions tests. Volkswagen agreed to pay $1.45 billion in civil penalties, making the case the second costliest since BP paid nearly $6 billion in 2010 following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
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