The men on the EPA’s wanted list didn’t kill anyone, but they could make a lot of people sick. They are accused of dumping mercury contaminated soil, smuggling ozone depleting freon into the US or covering up illegal cruise ship discharges.
But a story in The American Prospect magazine suggests that many states don’t have lawyers or detectives prepared to go after environmental criminals. The piece is based on an internal EPA document and was originally published for subscribers to The Capitol Forum.
Twenty states have zero dedicated criminal enforcement attorneys or investigators, according to a document maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. The Capitol Forum obtained the document through an open records request.
To effectively monitor, enforce, and deter criminal environmental conduct, states should have dedicated staff members and resources, according to interviews with former EPA staff who collaborated with state-level environmental programs during their careers.
The document was a list of “full-time employee[s] whose job is investigating and/or prosecuting pollution control crime.” Only eight states had both an inspector and an attorney. The EPA told The Capital Forum that the agency does not have minimum law enforcement staffing requirements for state programs. Sometimes they work with state police or an attorney general’s office on environmental crimes, according to the EPA’s comment. State regulators described similar partnerships.