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Environmental Crimes

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 46 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 2009 Pages: 471-554
Nathaniel D. Shafer; Emily S. Fuller; Allison L. Frumin
Date Published
83 pages
This article reviews the nine principal statutes that underlie the enforcement of Federal environmental regulations through criminal prosecutions.
The article first discusses issues common to most of these statutes, including theories of liability, defenses, and sentencing. The next section provides an overview of the provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA), which specifies requirements and penalties for violations of State and Federal law related to air pollution control. Elements of a CAA offense involve violations of emissions standards and compliance with standards for monitoring by the Environmental Protection Agency. Other issues addressed are defenses to charges under the CAA and penalties that may be imposed. The next section of the article focuses on the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (CWA), which was enacted in 1977 to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters” by minimizing the effects of water pollution. This section discusses elements of a CWA offense, defenses to charges under the CWA, and penalties. Similar issues are discussed for the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, which is intended to protect the integrity of navigable waters and the viability of commercial shipping activity by regulating deposits of refuse matter. Other statutes discussed are the Safe Drinking Water Act, which regulates harmful contaminants in public water systems and the injection of contaminants into underground sources of public drinking water; the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, which established a comprehensive response and financing mechanism to abate and control the vast problems associated with abandoned and inactive hazardous waste disposal sites, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which established a scheme for the Federal regulation of solid and hazardous waters; the Toxic Substance Control Act; the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act; and the Endangered Species Act. 631 notes