Environ-Environmental Crimes Prosecutions for 2015
Table 1: Criminal Environ-Environmental Crimes Prosecutions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during FY 2015 the government reported 157 new environ-environmental crimes prosecutions.
According to the case-by-case information
analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number
is up 3.3% over the past fiscal year when the number of prosecutions totaled
The comparisons of the number of defendants charged with environ-environmenta offenses are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the
Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States
Attorneys (see Table 1).
Compared to five years ago when there were 197, the number of FY 2015 prosecutions of this type is down 20.3 percent. Prosecutions over the past year are lower than they were
ten years ago. Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are down 27.6
percent from the level of 217 reported in 2005 but up 86.9 percent from the level of 84 reported in 1995.
The long term trend in environ-environmental crimes prosecutions for these matters going back to
FY 1995 is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1
represent the number of environ-environmental crimes prosecutions of this type recorded each
fiscal year. Each
presidential administration is distinguished by the color of the bars. To view
trends month-by-month rather than year-by-year, see TRAC's monthly report series for the latest data.
Figure 1: Criminal Environ-Environmental Crimes Prosecutions over the last 20 years
Figure 2: Prosecutions by Investigative Agency
Leading Investigative Agencies
The lead investigative agency for environ-environmental crimes prosecutions through September 2015
was "Other - Environmental Protection Agency" accounting for 49.7 percent of prosecutions referred.
As shown in Figure 2, additional agencies with substantial numbers of environ-environmental crimes referrals were:
Homeland Security - Other (16.6%), "Interior" (10.8%), "Commerce" (6.4%), "Treasury - Internal Revenue Service" (5.1%).
The "Other" category in Figure 2 is comprised of a diverse group of agencies. The agencies with substantial numbers of environ-environmental crimes within the "Other" category were: Justice - Federal Bureau of Investiga" (3.8%).
Top Ranked Lead Charges
Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of environ-environmental crimes matters
filed in U.S. District Court during FY 2015.
Table 2: Top charges filed
"Water Pollution - Enforcement" (Title 33 U.S.C Section 1319) was the most frequent recorded lead charge.
Title 33 U.S.C Section 1319 was ranked 1st a year ago, while it was the 1st most frequently invoked five years ago. It was ranked 1st ten years ago and 1st twenty years ago.
Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Prevention of Pollution from Ships - Penalties" under Title 33 U.S.C Section 1908.
Title 33 U.S.C Section 1908 was ranked 6th a year ago, while it was the 4th most frequently invoked five years ago. It was ranked 6th ten years ago and 16th twenty years ago.
Ranked 3rd was "Air Pollution Prevention and Control - Fed strd" under Title 42 U.S.C Section 7413.
Title 42 U.S.C Section 7413 was ranked 4th a year ago, while it was the 2nd most frequently invoked five years ago. It was ranked 8th ten years ago and 6th twenty years ago.
Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest
increase in prosecutions—up 500 percent—compared to one year ago was
Title 33 U.S.C Section 1321
that involves "Oil and hazardous substance liability ".
This was the same statute that had the largest increase—267%—when compared with five years ago.
Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest
decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago—down 72.7 percent—was
"Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 371 ).
This was the same statute that had the largest decrease—73.1%—when compared with five years ago.
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
Understandably, there is great variation in the number of environ-environmental crimes
prosecutions in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.
The districts registering the largest number of prosecutions of this type during
the first twelve months of FY 2015 are shown in Table 3.
Table 3: Top 10 districts
The District of Alaska—with 18 prosecutions—was the most active through September 2015.
The Eastern District of North Carolina (Raleigh) ranked 2nd.
The Central District of California (Los Angeles) now ranks 3rd.
Report Generated: April 4, 2016