Seminar May 14, 2009

Criminal Enforcement of Environmental Laws

Event Detail
Bruce Pasfield
May 14, 2009
Washington, D.C.
Bruce Pasfield spoke on the panel, "Trial Issues: Pulling Everything Together", 11:15am - 12:45pm, during this seminar hosted by the American Law Institute and American Bar Association.  Representatives from the Environmental Crimes Section at the Department of Justice and private sectors discussed current developments in enforcement, including the following.
  • Seeking out appropriate cases under the Clean Air Act, Title V permits and New Source Performance Standards for criminal investigation and prosecution
  • How to work with OSHA pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding to find the nexus between worker safety and environmental violations and how challenges by victims under The Crime Victims’ Rights Act may fundamentally change plea negotiations and sentencing in future environmental crime cases
  • Vessel Pollution Cases: A mainstay of environmental prosecutions, despite the recent instigation of a new Coast Guard voluntary disclosure policy that remains largely untested
  • Prosecuting oil spills such as the recent CITGO plea to Clean Water Act negligence charges and a $13 million fine for spills in Louisiana
  • Refocusing on the W.R. Grace & Co. case now on trial in Montana, more than four years after the multinational chemical company and six of its top executives were charged with violating the Clean Air Act by releasing asbestos-contaminated vermiculite from a mine
  • The effect of the Supreme Court’s decisions on criminal prosecutions of Clean Water Act violations, including Rapanos and its recent denial of certiorari in McWane, where the 11th Circuit reversed CWA convictions, finding that the trial judge erred in his definition of a "navigable water" during his charge to the jury
  • Under the recent changes in the Principles of Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations and the ever-controversial EPA Voluntary Disclosure policy, will fewer companies come forward to disclose environmental violations and then cooperate in the investigation of them?  Will the continued opposition by the Environmental Crimes Section of the DOJ to Deferred and Non Prosecution Agreements contribute to a more adversarial climate for the regulated community and the government?
  • After Booker (where the Supreme Court declared that the federal sentencing guidelines are no longer mandatory), are individuals convicted of environmental crimes still going to prison, and, if so, for how long?

May 14, 2009
Venable LLP / Washington, DC

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