Environmental Law Violations

Environmental law violations are acts in violation of federal environmental law. Criminal acts could include the discharge of a toxic substance into the air, water, or soil which pose a significant threat of harm to people, property, or the environment, including air pollution, water pollution, and illegal dumping.

State and federal environmental laws include many statutes protecting the air, water, wildlife, endangered species, forests, climate, energy, and oceans. Statutes are aimed to curb the illegal use of pesticides and insecticides, dumping of solid and toxic wastes, and to protect established environmental resource policy.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was passed in 1970, along with the Environmental Quality Improvement Act and the Environmental Education Act.. These federal enactments protect the interests of the environment. An example is the Clean Water Act, Title 33 of the U.S. Code, Chapter 26, which provides the legal framework for both civil and criminal prosecutions of illegal dumping in public lakes, reservoirs, and other waterways. State laws reflect the same concerns, providing a framework, for example, for private property owners to seek remedies and injunctions for environmental harms near their property.

The Department of Justice, on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prosecutes cases of environmental law violations.

Where national standards are not met, the EPA can issue sanctions and take other steps to assist the states and tribes in reaching the desired levels of environmental quality. Attorneys assigned to the EPA’s various legal departments—which cover water law, air and radiation law, and pesticides and toxic substances law—provide legal support to enforce federal environmental statutes.

Individual states also maintain their own environmental protection agencies and prosecute cases of environmental law violations within their own states.

Under state and federal law, conviction of environmental law violation can result in fines, imprisonment, probation, or a combination of the three. If you or someone you know are under investigation for violation of federal environmental laws, seek the advice of an experienced federal criminal defense attorney right away.