USEPA FY2022 Enforcement and Compliance Results Highlight Environmental Justice | King & Spalding

The annual results of the agency’s enforcement and compliance efforts repeatedly discussed Environmental Justice (EJ), touting general trends and specific enforcement actions related to potential communities of concern. The EPA concluded approximately 1,650 civil judicial and administrative cases during the year, with over 44% targeting facilities in potential EJ areas. During FY2022, 56% of on-site inspections were conducted in potential EJ areas. The EPA also tracks the estimated value of the administrative and injunctive relief; the administrative and civil judicial penalties assessed; and the estimated pollutants reduced, treated, or eliminated in potential EJ areas of concern.

Last year’s EJ-related civil enforcement actions included the first-of-its-kind settlement under the Coal Combustions Residuals Program with a power station in Pueblo, Colorado; Clean Water Act settlements in two overburdened communities; a monetary settlement and agreement with an oil and gas company to cut flaring in fence-line communities in Texas; and, the largest Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act penalty following Toxic Release Inventory violations in vulnerable or overburdened communities.

Additionally, the criminal enforcement program recorded multiple sentences for actions in communities with potential environmental justice concerns. They included sentences against two individuals and their company, including prison terms, for crimes including knowing violations of RCRA following an explosion that killed two; an individual sentenced to prison for tampering with monitoring equipment, unlawful discharge of industrial waters, and conspiracy; and two individuals sentenced to prison for conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act.

EPA’s reporting on their actions during FY2022 indicates Environmental Justice will remain a major focus in the coming years.