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The Future of Environmental Criminal Enforcement

October 2021

Citation: 51 ELR 10823

Issue: 10

Author: Steven P. Solow, Deborah L. Harris, Nadira Clarke, and Stacey H. Mitchell

Since its inception in 1982, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section (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 tends to accelerate restitution of environmental damages more than if civil enforcement were pursued alone, and the money generated by criminal fines can be used to restore environmental damages or as general revenue for the federal government. On June 3, 2021, the Environmental Law Institute hosted a panel of experts that explored how the ECS has shifted its enforcement priorities as the nature and scope of environmental crimes have evolved. This Dialogue presents a transcript of that discussion, which has been edited for style, clarity, and space considerations.

Steven P. Solow (moderator) is a Partner at Baker Botts LLP and former Section Chief of Environmental Crimes at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Deborah L. Harris is Section Chief of Environmental Crimes at DOJ. Nadira Clarke is a Partner at Baker Botts LLP and a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and Trial Attorney with Environmental Crimes at DOJ. Stacey H. Mitchell is a Partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and former Section Chief of Environmental Crimes at DOJ.

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