Environmental Crimes

News & Analysis as of

Feds Renew Focus on Worker Safety and Individual Accountability

Massey Energy CEO Donald Blankenship reported to a California prison on May 12 to begin serving a one-year sentence for willfully violating mine safety standards. His conviction was related to the deadliest United States...more

Environmental Notes - May 2016

The news has been full of stories and articles concerning Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR), also referred to as coal ash. CCR became a hot topic in 2008 when a coal ash pond at a utility plant in Tennessee spilled more than 5...more

Changing Culture: the Exxon Valdez in Safety and 1MDB in Compliance

Before there was the BP oil well blow out in the gulf, the greatest US environmental disaster was the Exxon Valdez, which ran aground on a reef in Prince William Sound in southern Alaska, some 27 years ago on this date....more

Article: Dismissal of Charges in the British-Petroleum (BP) Deepwater Horizon Indictment … or the Over-Criminalization of the BP...

On April 20, 2010, just before 10 p.m., the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig suddenly exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, 48 miles off the Louisiana coast. Tragically, eleven men on the vessel died. Oil ultimately flowed from the...more

DOJ shifts enforcement of worker safety violations to Environmental Crimes Section

Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates announced in a December 17 memo that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Labor (DOL) are making a renewed commitment “to utilize criminal prosecution as an...more

The US Departments of Justice and Labor Announce Expansion of Worker Endangerment Initiative

Just in time for the holidays, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Labor (DOL) announced a new plan to prosecute crimes that put workers’ health and lives at risk. As explained in the December 17, 2015 press...more

DOJ Redoubles Efforts to Prosecute Workplace Violations as Environmental Crimes

Reporting that 13 workers in America die each day on the job due to injuries and 150 workers succumb to exposure to carcinogens and other toxic and hazardous substances while working, the United States Department of Justice...more

U.S. Department of Justice Expands Worker Endangerment Initiative

On December 17, 2015, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates issued a memorandum to all 93 U.S. Attorneys urging federal prosecutors to work with the Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resource Division (ENRD) to...more

New DOJ Prosecutorial Initiative Blends Environmental and Worker Safety

Companies with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) citations may face criminal charges going beyond those allowed under the OSHA statute, under a new Worker Endangerment Initiative and Memorandum of...more

DOJ Signals More Aggressive Stance On Environmental Crimes

The Department of Justice announced on December 17, 2015, that it would intensify enforcement of environmental and safety laws by adding in environmental criminal counts to worker safety prosecutions. The worker safety issues...more

SHE Matters: Swingeing Fines for Large organisations: Can they be avoided? - The Court of Appeal Decision in the Thames Water Case

In early June, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in an appeal against sentence brought by Thames Water Utilities Ltd. The company had been fined £250,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Environmental...more

UK courts get tough on environmental crime: sentencing of environmental offences committed by large companies

There is a widely held belief that environmental laws in the UK are toothless in practice because enforcement authorities are under resourced and typical levels of fines and penalties imposed are far too low. This view...more

Corporate Wrongdoing: More Civil and Criminal Liability for Individuals?

The US Department of Justice has issued a memorandum to all of its prosecuting Divisions, directing changes to the principles applied by DOJ in prosecuting civilly or criminally individuals who engage in corporate misconduct....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

Texas Jury Awards $3 Million in Hydraulic Fracturing Lawsuit

A jury in Dallas County, Texas, awarded nearly $3 million on April 22, 2014, in a suit contending that Aruba Petroleum, Inc., as well as other operators and service providers, had caused “environmental contamination and...more

Is there a statute of limitation in government Clean Water Act Cases?

A Minnesota federal trial court recently ruled that the government can sue Clean Water Act violators even if the statute of limitations has expired. The decision opens the door for the Eighth Circuit to issue a definitive...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

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

Adapting to a New Era of Strict Criminal Liability Enforcement under Pennsylvania’s Environmental Laws

Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s recent actions concerning the application of strict liability criminal offenses under Pennsylvania’s environmental laws present a new challenge for the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania....more

Environmental Crimes and Punishment

A few years ago the president of a well-known food brand was convicted and sentenced to serve nine months in federal prison for failing to stop his plant from engaging in a practice that he knew was a violation of...more

White Collar Watch - January 2013

In This Issue: - Death and Taxes? Recent Supreme Court Arguments in Gabelli v. SEC Concerning a General Statute of Limitations for Civil Fines May Also Affect How Long the IRS Has to Assess Penalties - Avoiding...more

EPA Releases 2012 Enforcement Results

Under the headline “EPA Enforcement in 2012 Protects Communities from Harmful Pollution,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on December 17, 2012, released its annual report of enforcement activities for the 2012...more

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