The State of Environmental Crime Enforcement: A Survey of Developments in 2010


It will soon be one year since the April 20, 2010, explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting oil spill (the Gulf spill) has been the subject of multiple investigations and analyses. According to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, created on May 20, 2010, the ‘‘immediate cause’’ of the spill was a ‘‘series of identifiable mistakes’’ by the companies in charge of the rig.

A hundred spills could be similarly described. The significance of the Gulf spill, given its size and the tragic human losses that occurred, will be analyzed in many different ways. For the purposes of this article, we look at the spill in terms of what it may mean for the criminal prosecution of environmental violations.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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