Department of Justice Seal Department of Justice
(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888

Fact Sheet: Prosecution of Environmental Crimes by the Environment and Natural Resources Division

The Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) has 40 prosecutors who enforce federal environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Lacey Act, and the Endangered Species Act, among other statutes. 

The results obtained in environmental criminal cases prosecuted by ENRD in 2006 were at near-record levels for jail terms imposed on individuals (67.3 years total) and dollar amounts of criminal penalties, restitution and funding for conditions of probation ($70.5 million).  With the results obtained today, ENRD is on pace to have another strong year in 2007. 

In addition to ENRD prosecutors, U.S. Attorney’s Offices also bring environmental crimes cases.  While there was a temporary drop in the number of overall environmental defendants charged Department-wide immediately after 2001, there was a subsequent rebound and recent years have generally been consistent with pre-2001 numbers. ENRD’s criminal indictments and convictions have remained steady throughout the last decade.  

Prosecuting environmental crimes is only one aspect of the Division’s overall environmental enforcement.  Among other initiatives, the Division has an initiative to bring refineries into compliance with the Clean Air Act.  Currently, 85 percent of the refinery industry is under settlement agreements to reduce the amount of harmful emissions released each year in compliance with the law.  This will cut the amount of harmful emissions of nitrous oxide by 85,000 tons per year and sulfur dioxide by 240,000 tons per year.

The Justice Department is dedicated to environmental results—large, complex cases that obtain meaningful relief for the environment.

* * *

Today, Acting Attorney General Peter Keisler and Ronald J. Tenpas, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, announced guilty pleas and a combined $70 million in criminal fines, community service and restitution against two British Petroleum subsidiaries for environmental violations in Texas and Alaska. 

Texas City Refinery Explosion


Prudhoe Bay Alaska

This second leak led to the shut down of Prudhoe Bay oil production on the eastern side of the field.


They will also serve a three-year term of probation.  The plea agreement provides benchmarks to reduce the length of probation.  They are: 1. Making significant progress replacing lines like the ones that leaked; 2. Implementing an integrity management plan; and 3. Improving leak detection capabilities on the North Slope.