Image via EPA
The EPA has released a new interactive map that lays out the locations of facilities across the US that have violated environmental laws, been caught by the EPA, and subjected to enforcement actions. As facilities are caught for polluting air, water and land, the information about the actions taken against them by the EPA, the monies gathered from them as law suits are settled, and other criminal enforcement actions are recorded and the information made available via plots on the map. We can hop on this map to check out what is going on nearby, and have access to information about the polluters in our local areas. Cleantechies reports, "In the past, this information was difficult for the public to access, and in some cases either was not made available to the public, or required a Freedom of Information Act filing to obtain. This is changing as more states and the federal government is making this information available on line."
In other words, the information we need to have to understand the health impacts of the buildings and sites where we live is finally getting more accessible, as it should be. The web-based tool from the EPA and the interactive map that visualizes the data shows detailed information by location about the enforcement actions taken at approximately 4,600 facilities - and it's all available to the public eye.
With $5.4 billion invested in 2009 alone in pollution controls, clean-up for land and water, and environmental projects, it's only appropriate that the public know what's happening with those funds, let alone with the polluters in their area.
From the EPA, "This interactive map shows information on enforcement actions and cases from 2009. They include civil enforcement actions taken at facilities, criminal cases prosecuted under federal statutes and the U.S. Criminal Code, and cases in which EPA provided significant support to cases prosecuted under state criminal laws."
You can search by air, water, land, criminal, cross-media, and federal facilities. Zooming in on a facility will show you if the facility is compliant with regulations, and if not, why not.
The map illustrates the work the EPA is doing to track and enforce environmental violations at facilities, and shows their hope to gain more trust from the public in the work the EPA is doing with the increased level of transparency. Many people aren't aware of important issues like if they have a superfund site in their neighborhood. Maps like go a long way in increasing awareness about the environmental issues in our own backyards...as long as the information makes it onto the map.
According to the EPA, 387 new environmental crime cases were opened during fiscal year 2009 - the highest in 5 years. The organization concluded 51 enforcement actions against federal agencies and federal facility contractors for violations against environmental laws. All of the efforts go towards cutting down the amount of pollutants entering our air and water ways.
Other EPA maps that have proven helpful are their Fugitive Map that tracks wanted eco-fugitives, and their map that displays just how "green" your city is with information on water quality, air quality and so on. The more information, the better when it comes to public awareness about local environmental issues.
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