Marking the ninth annual Earth Day Service Celebration today, Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West and Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno marked a day of service, commending volunteers from the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), Washington Parks & People and the DC Green Corps as they continue work on environmental restoration projects near the Community Greening Center in Marvin Gaye Park in Northeast Washington, D.C.
“As a nation, we have taken great strides since the first Earth Day more than 40 years ago, from the landmark environmental legislation of the 1970s to recent efforts to address greenhouse gas emissions,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West. “The story of Marvin Gaye Park’s renewal is an inspiration. Over the past decade, volunteers have removed countless tires and bags of garbage from this area, cleared and reopened miles of trail and streams, and planted thousands of native trees and shrubs. Earth Day provides an opportunity for us to reflect on and celebrate this progress, but it also reminds us that there is much left to be done.”
In her remarks, Assistant Attorney General Moreno said: “Today, on the second anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, we remember the 11 lives that were tragically lost. We also are reminded that our natural resources are precious and that we must continue to protect these resources and the communities across the nation who rely on them for their livelihood. The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously enforce the federal civil and criminal environmental and natural resources laws that protect our air, land and water from pollution and that preserve our natural resources for the use and enjoyment of generations to come.”
Assistant Attorney General Moreno also announced this morning the publication of ENRD’s Fiscal Year 2011 Accomplishments Report. The full report, which details the division’s work across the nation during FY2011, is posted at www.justice.gov/enrd/Current_topics.html . Among other things, the report details the civil and criminal enforcement of the nation’s environmental laws, resulting in immeasurable benefits for human health and the environment derived from significant reductions in emissions and discharges of harmful pollutants. Other results detailed in the report show:
· Over $625 million in civil and stipulated penalties, cost recoveries, natural resource damages and other civil monetary relief, including almost $420 million recovered for the Superfund.
· More than $10.9 billion in corrective measures through civil court orders and settlements – the highest injunctive relief in any fiscal year to date.
· 52 criminal cases against 77 defendants, obtaining nearly 53 years in confinement and over $31.2 million in criminal fines, restitution, community service funds and special assessments.
A core mission of the division is the strong enforcement of civil and criminal environmental laws to protect our nation’s air, land, water and natural resources. The division’s mission also includes vigorous defense of environmental, wildlife and natural resources laws and agency actions; effective stewardship of our public lands and natural resources; and careful and respectful management of the United States’ obligations to American Indian tribes and their members, including litigation to protect tribal sovereignty, rights and resources. Also in 2011, with colleagues in the Civil Division, ENRD attorneys continued to play an instrumental role in the litigation that followed the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
2012 will mark the ninth consecutive Earth Day service celebration at Marvin Gaye Park. ENRD has devoted over 5,500 hours of employee time to planting trees, removing trash, laying sod and gardening.
“It's a real honor to have ENRD staff back again this year,” said Washington Parks & People Director Steve Coleman. “Their inspiring dedication and hard work have helped these communities to create a beautiful lasting legacy of environmental reclamation, justice and opportunity for all in this stream valley.
The Community Greening Center is a neighborhood-based nursery for plants and trees as well as an environmental education resource center located near the intersection of 51st Street and Nannie Helen Burroughs Ave., N.E. ENRD volunteers broke ground on the Greening Center last year together with Washington Parks & People and volunteers from the DC Green Corps. This is the first native plant tree staging area in the city.
This year, ENRD volunteers were joined by graduates from the DC Green Corps urban forestry job training program. Tree planting will take place at a nearby public housing complex and on a hillside in the stream valley. Planting trees will provide shade for green space for residents and children who play in the area and more stormwater capture for the stream valley, which is part of the sub-watershed of the Anacostia River. Volunteers will also be adding irrigation systems to the Community Greening Center.
The DC Green Corps, based at the Marvin Gaye Community Greening Center in the Watts Branch sub-watershed of the Anacostia River, will provide a city-wide gateway to 50 different green career tracks in urban and community forestry and forest-based ecosystem and watershed restoration. Helping under-served sub-watershed communities across the city, the Green Corps job program will focus on environmental justice, sustainable native reforestation, riparian buffer planting, invasive removal and green controls of urban systems, such as storm and sewer flows. The Green Corps and Center will develop a referral system to help participants connect to jobs through a wide range of agencies, professional and trade associations, trades, professions and industries.