This past year saw record fines levied against environmental polluters, totalling 11.8 billion dollars for the EPA’s fiscal year ending September 30th. We don’t like to use the stick to encourage compliance; but, understanding, following and respecting environmental law can clearly save you a lot of headaches and money down the road. It is likely, in my humble opinion, that fines and prosecution will continue their steady rise.
The highlights for the American cases include:
- In one of the largest settlements in EPA history, American Electric Power, a coal-fired electric utility company, agreed to install pollution controls and take other measures that will reduce a record 1.6 billion pounds of air pollution. The company also agreed to pay a $15 million penalty, the largest ever paid by an electric utility for New Source Review violations of the Clean Air Act.
- Jenn Feng Industrial Company, a Taiwanese manufacturer, and three American corporations agreed to pay $2 million, the largest civil penalty ever for violations of Clean Air Act non-road engine regulations, for importing 200,000 chainsaws that failed to meet federal air pollution requirements.
- Four of the top 10 U.S. home builders, Centex Homes, KB Home, Pulte Homes, and Richmond American Homes, agreed to pay civil penalties totaling $4.3 million to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act for delays or failures to obtain proper storm water permits for numerous construction sites.
- Massey Energy Company, Inc., Central Appalachia’s largest coal producer, agreed to pay a $20 million penalty, the largest of its kind, for discharging pollution into local waterways.
- British Petroleum Exploration (Alaska), Inc., pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a $12 million criminal fine and $4 million in restitution to the state of Alaska for two pipeline leaks, one of which was the largest spill ever on the state’s North Slope.