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Correcting the Record: EPA’s Role in Homeland Security; Enforcement and Personal Protection
Release Date: 04/26/2003
(04/26/03) EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, J.P. Suarez, is making the following statement in response to recent media stories about EPA’s involvement in homeland security, personal protection, and enforcement issues:
“Since September 11, 2001 our government has experienced an enormous increase in the need to protect its citizens from acts of terrorism. Agencies across the government came together and established an effective, strong homeland security presence. EPA responded immediately and continues to play a critical role in homeland protection. EPA’s strategic plan for homeland security was held up as a model for other Agencies and Departments. Every EPA program and region has reallocated some of its resources to address important and essential homeland security functions.
"EPA’s focus since September 11 has been to support our nation’s effort at combating domestic threats while at the same time ensuring that enforcement of environmental crimes continues. Homeland security is a critical new aspect of EPA’s mission, and we have dedicated resources to support this essential effort. At the same time we continue to achieve significant success in prosecuting environmental crimes – in fact, EPA’s enforcement numbers in several categories are at an all time high.
'Some of EPA’s Criminal Investigations Division agents participate on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Department of Justice’s Anti-Terrorism Task Force. Participation on the task forces allows these EPA agents to respond to any domestic incident that may involve a threat to the nation’s infrastructure, including drinking water supplies, chemical storage and manufacturing facilities, illegal importation of dangerous or hazardous substances, or other incidents that may require the expertise of an environmental enforcement agent. In addition to homeland security investigations, agents assigned to the Terrorism Task Force also carry traditional environmental crime caseloads.
'EPA’s enforcement record is outstanding as we continue to aggressively enforce those who pollute. In 2001 and 2002, EPA’s Office of Criminal Enforcement referred 506 cases to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution. In 1999 and 2000, 477 cases were referred. In 2002 enforcement cases resulted in criminal sentences totaling 215 years and in 2001 the total was 256. These two years represent the two highest years in the last five in EPA’s criminal enforcement program. The 674 enforcement cases initiated in 2002 was the highest ever in the program.
'EPA’s Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics & Training was delegated the authority to provide protection to the Administrator and Deputy Administrator on September 27, 2001. Prior to this date, protection services were provided by the Inspector General pursuant to the Inspector General Act of 1978. The Criminal Investigations Division staffs Administrator Whitman’s protection detail to the extent necessary after an evaluation of both specific and general threats is made. These professional law enforcement agents are the only officers within EPA with the training to carry out the level of security protection (including carrying firearms and having the authorization to make arrests) required to protect all Cabinet-level officials and to address homeland security incidents.
"The level of protection is appropriate in light of the Administrator’s significant responsibilities related to environmental threats and her status as a Cabinet Officer within the Administration. Issues raised regarding personal services are simply not accurate – at no time have agents assigned to the protection detail been required to provide personal services for the Administrator. EPA welcomes the opportunity for any employee to raise concerns about the management and direction of any office within the Agency.
'The “dos and don’ts list” mentioned in media stories was prepared by EPA’s Criminal Investigations Division management. This list was apparently prepared as a checklist to help agents who normally do not provide personal security protection. Neither I nor Administrator Whitman asked for, or were aware of such a list. The Enforcement Office has recently compiled a confidential protective services manual for protection service agents. This manual fully defines the functions performed by these agents while they are assigned to protective services detail.
"EPA continues to produce significant environmental results for the American people through its enforcement program, as is evidenced by the 674 cases initiated last year alone. At the same time, EPA is proud to have the many professional enforcement officials who could, did, and are stepping in to fulfill the counter-terrorism protection role for the nation following September 11, 2001.”