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A Case for Criminal Enforcement of Federal Environmental Laws

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Master's thesis

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It is the purpose of this paper to provide appropriate legal and logical foundations to support the increase in the number of environmental cases resolved by criminal enforcement of federal statutes and to illustrate that because of its inherent simplicity and retributivedeterrent value, criminal enforcement, particularly against responsible individuals is an essential tool of environmental enforcement which should always be considered early in the enforcement process. We will - with the benefit of a brief consideration of the philosophy of environmental enforcement and a brief discussion of problems recently encountered in civil enforcement actions - examine the historical development and the present judicial climate surrounding the criminal enforcement provisions of the principle federal environmental statutes. We will then evaluate potential affirmative defenses and procedural and evidentiary concerns in an effort to demonstrate, through comparison to civil enforcement and analogy to enforcement under other general welfare statutes, that the perceptions and legal conclusions upon which the preferences for civil remedies have been based are largely illusionary. This conclusion will be supported by illustrations of three specific situations, those involving the midnight dumper, the unrepentant permit holder and federally owned or operated facilities, in which enforcement of federal criminal statutes is not merely the sanction of choice but the only effective sanction. Theses.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law
  • Air Pollution and Control
  • Noise Pollution and Control
  • Solid Wastes and Pollution and Control
  • Water Pollution and Control
  • Pesticides Pollution and Control
  • Radiation Pollution and Control
  • Environmental Health and Safety

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