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Compliance and Enforcement Annual Results 2011 Fiscal Year

Enforcement Results

Clean Air
National Enforcement Initiatives

The National Enforcement Initiatives address more complex pollution problems, especially those confined to a particular sector or source type.

  • reducing air pollution from the largest sources of emissions
  • cutting hazardous toxics in air

Learn more about the National Enforcement Initiatives

EPA’s vigorous air enforcement program works to cut toxic air pollution in communities. EPA also targets the largest sources of air pollution, including coal-fired power plants, cement, acid, and glass manufacturers, and mobile sources.

Air pollution threatens human health and damages the environment. While often invisible, pollutants in the air create smog and acid rain and cause cancer or other serious health effects.

EPA’s criminal enforcement program helped prosecute a number of cases involving fraudulent vehicle emissions testing which indicated that the vehicles passed state inspections when they had not. Emissions from motor vehicle exhaust are one of the major sources of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air. It can create ground-level (“bad”) ozone that can trigger a variety of health problems including asthma attacks and other respiratory problems -- chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. (See more criminal program highlights.)

In 2011, air enforcement actions achieved estimated:

  • $7.2 billion invested to improve environmental performance
  • $75.0 million, includes $5 million in State penalties from joint Federal enforcement actions
  • $6.7 million in additional investments for supplemental environmental projects that benefit communities
  • 1.1 billion pounds of pollution reduced, treated or eliminated

Health Benefits from Air Enforcement Actions

EPA’s top 15 Clean Air Act enforcement actions of FY 2011 reduced emissions of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and VOCs, resulting in health benefits and other environmental improvements valued at $15 - $36 billion, including:

    1,800 to 4,500 avoided premature deaths
    1,100 avoided emergency room visits or hospital admissions
    1,200 avoided cases of chronic bronchitis
    2,800 avoided nonfatal heart attacks
  30,000 avoided asthma attacks
    2,700 avoided cases of acute bronchitis
  57,000 avoided cases of upper and lower respiratory symptoms
230,000 avoided days when people would miss work
1.3 million days when people must restrict their activities.

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