Lessons from the Past for the Future of Environmental Criminal Enforcement

June 3, 2021 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm
Webinar Only

An ELI Member Webinar

Environmental criminal enforcement traces its beginnings largely to the passing of the Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), and Ocean Dumping Act. These acts, passed between 1970 and 1972, each include criminal enforcement provisions as an enforcement tool against the most egregious violators. While federal prosecutors did pursue some federal environmental crimes during the 1970s, prosecutors rarely leveraged criminal enforcement for environmental violations.

That changed in 1982 when the Department of Justice (DOJ) established the Environmental Crimes Section (ECS). Since its inception, ECS has prosecuted over 1,000 individuals and 400 corporations, cumulatively resulting in 800 years of incarceration and nearly $1 billion in criminal fines. Criminal enforcement, which often is accompanied by civil suits, tends to accelerate the restitution of environmental damages more so than if civil enforcement were to be pursued alone. Moreover, the revenue generated by criminal fines can be used to restore the environmental damages or as general revenue for the federal government.

Join the Environmental Law Institute and leading panelists to explore how the ECS has shifted criminal enforcement priorities as the nature and scope of environmental crimes has adapted from the 1980s to today. Expert panelists, including several former ECS Section Chiefs, will underscore the rationale for the office’s priorities, highlight lessons learned and best practices, and forecast the evolving nature of environmental crimes and criminal enforcement in the years ahead.

Steven P. Solow
, Partner, Baker Botts LLP, former Section Chief, Environmental Crimes, Department of Justice, Moderator
Nadira Clarke
, Partner, Baker Botts LLP and former Trial Attorney, Environmental Crimes, Department of Justice
Deborah L. Harris
, Section Chief, Environmental Crimes, Department of Justice
Stacey H. Mitchell, Partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and former Section Chief, Environmental Crimes, Department of Justice

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