Eight large corporations have each been penalized more than $1 billion in environmental, health and safety cases brought by federal regulatory agencies since 2010, according to a new database called Violation Tracker. Forty firms have paid $100 million or more.
BP tops the list with its $25 billion total — coming mostly from cases relating to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster — that far exceeds that of any other company. “Penalty” as used here includes not only federal fines but also related state fines and the cost of supplementary environmental projects companies are often compelled to undertake as part of settlements.
The Violation Tracker database and its accompanying report, BP and Its Brethren, were both produced by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First. The database includes 100,000 cases with penalties of $5,000 or more initiated by the EPA, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration and 11 other agencies, including cases referred to the Justice Department.
The organization says additional violation categories will be added later.
Other findings include:
- Corporations with the most penalties: BP ($25.4 billion), Anadarko Petroleum ($5.2 billion) and GlaxoSmithKline ($3.8 billion).
- Fortune 500 and Global 500 companies account for 81 percent of penalties.
- Foreign companies represent a larger share of penalties than domestic firms: $34 billion vs. $21 billion.
- Some penalized parent companies have reincorporated abroad to dodge taxes. The tax runaway with the most penalties: Transocean, which leased the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig to BP and was fined $1.4 billion.
- Of the 100 largest federal contractors, 10 are among the 100 most penalized firms.
EPA enforcement actions in fiscal year 2014 required companies to invest more than $9.7 billion to curb pollution and clean up contaminated sites, according to the agency’s annual enforcement and compliance results. This included the largest cleanup settlement in American history, with Anadarko and Kerr McGee, paying more than $4.4 billion for toxic pollution cleanup, improving water quality and removing dangerous materials in tribal and overburdened communities.