Environmental Criminal Law

Read need-to-know updates, commentary, and analysis on Environmental issues written by leading professionals.
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Prudence Prevails: Fifth Circuit Supports Narrow Reading of Liability under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

The U.S. Court of the Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently ruled that the criminal prohibition on killing or injuring birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (“MBTA”) “only prohibits intentional acts (not omissions) that...more

Fifth Circuit Decision in Citgo Case May Place Limits on Criminal Liability Under Migratory Bird Treaty Act

On September 4, 2015, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed convictions of CITGO Petroleum Corporation and CITGO Refining and Chemical Company, L.P. (collectively "Citgo"), and in so doing placed potentially...more

Fifth Circuit Holds that Migratory Bird Treaty Act Does Not Apply to Incidental Takes - What It Means for Energy Developers

On September 4, 2015, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the misdemeanor convictions of Citgo Petroleum Corporation and Citgo Refining and Chemicals Company, L.P. (collectively Citgo) for “taking” migratory birds in...more

RMP and General Duty Clause Enforcement Continues at EPA Region 1

As we reported last year, the U.S. EPA has stepped up its enforcement activity under the risk management provisions of the Clean Air Act (“CAA”), Section 112(r), focusing on both the Risk Management Plan (“RMP”) program rules...more

Who Can Sue Polluters? New Texas Law HB 1794 Stirs Debate

A perspective on new Texas legislation HB 1794 by Gerald Pels one of the leaders of the Texas environmental legal community for over 30 years....more

Creative Lawyering In RCRA Criminal Action Fails to Find Favor with the Ninth Circuit

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the federal law that regulates management of hazardous waste, is complicated and compliance can be tricky... but not impossible. Our experience is that good faith efforts to comply...more

A Permit System May Finally Arrive for the Migratory Bird Treaty Act - New Opportunities and Responsibilities

For years, Federal Courts have held that individuals can be held criminally liable under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) for the death of birds regardless of whether they intended to harm them. While several courts have...more

The Announcement of Criminal Charges against Lumber Liquidators Underscores the Need for Lacey Act Compliance

On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, Lumber Liquidators announced in its most recent 10Q that the United States Department of Justice plans to pursue criminal charges surrounding allegations the company illegally imported wood in...more

Strengthening of enforcement powers under the environmental permitting regime and tackling waste crime - what changes are...

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs ("Defra") and the Welsh Government are currently consulting on strengthening the powers of the regulators in respect of those facilities which operate under environmental...more

South Carolina Legislative Update

The House of Representatives was on recess this week and the South Carolina Senate had an abbreviated week and met on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Senate approved and sent to the House several measures, including...more

State Water Resources Control Board Gets New Tools to Fight Fraud on Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund

Senate Bill No. 445 ("SB 445"), signed into law by California Governor Brown late last year, makes several significant changes to the Barry Keene Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Trust Fund Act of 1989 ("The Fund Act"). The...more

Food Industry Outlook for 2015

For 2015, the food and beverage industry will experience governmental attention on a number of fronts. Given the Department of Justice’s recent success in prosecuting food manufacturing executives on criminal charges, the...more

High Court Divided: Is A Fish A Tangible Object?

Gulf fisherman John Yates was cited by a federally-deputized Florida Fish & Wildlife officer for having caught a few red grouper that were about an inch under the 20” minimum limit at the time (they’d have been legal under...more

Supreme Court Rejects the Government’s “Fishy” Interpretation of Sarbanes-Oxley Obstruction Statute

On February 25, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Yates v. United States.1 This case involved the interpretation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1519, a statute that was added as part of the...more

News from Second and State

As another relatively quiet session week comes to a close, our embattled row officers continue to make headlines. On Tuesday, two weeks after being charged, former Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord appeared in federal court...more

Enforcement undertakings may be available for environmental permitting offences as early as 6 April 2015

On 15 December 2014, the Government laid draft Regulations before Parliament which introduce enforcement undertakings in respect of environmental permitting offences. Subject to Parliamentary approval, the draft Environmental...more

Executive Branch Launches Plan to Combat Wildlife Trafficking

On February 11, 2015, one year to the day after the President issued the National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking, the Departments of Justice, State, and the Interior released an implementation plan for the...more

SHE Matters - Winter 2014/2015

In This Issue: - Fee For Intervention – Is It Set To Stay? - How To Protect Brand Reputation And Sales From The Risks Associated With A Product Recall - Review Of The Proposed Changes In The Sentencing Of Health...more

Youngstown, Ohio, Contractor Sentenced to 28 Months in Prison for Wastewater Dumping Scheme

We previously reported on the federal criminal and State of Ohio enforcement actions arising from the release of tens of thousands of gallons of hydraulic fracturing waste into a Youngstown, Ohio, area tributary by Hard Rock...more

Fracking Contractor Sentenced to 28 Months in Prison for Clean Water Act Violation

A federal court in Ohio has handed down a 28-month prison sentence and imposed a $25,000 fine for dumping fracking waste in violation of the Clean Water Act....more

The Elephant in the Room: Ivory Ban Seeks to Curb Poaching

With the June passage of New York Senate bill S7890 and Assembly bill A10143, the Empire State’s elephant and mammoth ivory and rhino horn trade may be approaching extinction. The legislation, which will take effect...more

Corporate Criminal Liability: Legal Causation and the Application of Absolute Vicarious Liability in the XTO Energy Prosecution

In this high-profile criminal prosecution of XTO Energy by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, the scope of corporate criminal liability for the actions of third parties is likely to take center stage later this year...more

Previous Environmental Convictions Considered In Jailing Of Supervisor For OHSA Offences: Court’s Reasons Now Available

A supervisor’s previous violations of the Environmental Protection Act, and failure to pay more than $50,000 in fines for those violations, were a factor in the court’s decision to send her to jail for Occupational Health and...more

What Is A Bird Worth To A Regulator?

What is a wild bird worth? Does it matter whether it is a Bald or Golden Eagle, of which here are few, or ducks and pelicans, of which there are enough (as least the ducks) so that hunters may shoot them for dinner. Does it...more

Feds’ Reliance on Environmental Activism Underscores Need for Lacey Act Compliance

The search warrant recently executed by U.S. Customs and Fish and Wildlife Service agents on a Virginia-based flooring wholesaler surrounded allegations that the company had illegally imported wood in violation of the Lacey...more

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