Enforcing America’s Environmental Laws
By Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
Our nation’s environmental laws are the envy of the world. Whether it’s the Clean Water Act or the Clean Air Act, we have set the standard for environmental and human health protection.
It is EPA’s responsibility to carry out and enforce those laws, and our enforcement program is essential to protecting the health of millions of Americans. It also ensures that companies are playing by the same rules, so that no business is put at a disadvantage because they are complying with the law and their competitors are not.
As we enforce our nation’s laws, a fundamental value is fairness. Vigorously following science and the law is what the American public expects.
It is deeply unfortunate that in a 2010 video an EPA official inaccurately suggests we are seeking to “make examples” out of certain companies in the oil and gas industry. We, and the official involved, regret the statement, for which he has apologized. It does not reflect our record over the last three years. Inevitably, some will try to imply that the unfortunate and inaccurate words of one regional official represent this Agency’s policy. Rest assured that they do not – and no honest examination of our record could equate our commonsense approach with such an exaggerated claim. Any notion that the oil and gas industries have been unfairly targeted simply doesn’t conform to the fact that oil production under this administration is higher than it has been at any time in the last eight years, and that natural gas production has experienced an historic expansion as well.
Our approach to enforcing the laws that govern this sector is evident in a recent innovative settlement with Marathon Petroleum Company that will slash thousands of tons of pollution that threatens nearby communities – while delivering cost savings to the company by improving efficiency and capturing more product that is currently wasted.
I strongly encourage any American who has concerns about our approach to enforcement to take a look at the work we have actually done. As head of the national enforcement program, I am confident you will find that a misguided statement by a regional official does not in any way reflect the three-year record of commonsense actions we have taken to reduce harmful pollution while EPA encourages the development of our domestic energy resources.