Collaboration in Civil Cases
As a result of the partnership efforts listed below, ENRD has brought joint civil enforcement cases with nearly every state. We have found that these joint cases are particularly effective in achieving record-setting results for the environment as well as obtaining record-setting financial awards:
Since 2001, ENRD has partnered with the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) to increase federal-state cooperation on environmental enforcement cases. These efforts have helped ensure that federal and state enforcement efforts complement, rather than compete with, each other. It is ENRD policy to normally give notice to a state Attorney General’s office in advance of filing a civil environmental enforcement action in that state. In appropriate cases, we discuss with the state whether joint enforcement action should be undertaken.
ENRD and NAAG have jointly developed Joint State/Federal Environmental Enforcement Guidelines. These guidelines include best practices for coordinating joint litigation.
ENRD regularly provides faculty for environmental enforcement training events held by states. For example, with other federal agencies, we have participated in joint state/federal wetlands enforcement conferences each year since 2002.
Senior ENRD and state managers meet approximately biannually. Most recently, in spring 2009, ENRD hosted a conference of senior state and federal environmental litigation managers.
Collaboration in Criminal Cases
ENRD routinely cooperates with state and local law enforcement officials in prosecuting pollution and wildlife crimes cases. ENRD regularly provides faculty for state environmental criminal enforcement training, frequently working with the four regional environmental enforcement associations: the Northeast Environmental Project, the Southeast Environmental Enforcement Network, the Midwest Environmental Enforcement Association, and the Western States Project. Working with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and state and local law enforcement agencies, ENRD has promoted the formation of regional environmental crimes task forces. There are now more than 50 such task forces.
Collaboration with Tribes
ENRD’s Indian Resources Section represents the United States in its trust capacity for Indian tribes and their members, and routinely files and defends cases for the benefit of tribes. ENRD commonly collaborates with particular tribes as part of this work.
For non-litigation policy matters that might affect tribes, ENRD consults with tribes as required by Executive Order 13175. For example, in 2005, working with the Office of Tribal Justice and the Criminal Division, ENRD conducted extensive nation-wide tribal consultation on development of proposed legislation on Indian gaming.
I need a lawyer. Can the Environment and Natural Resources Division represent me?
The Department of Justice is part of the Executive Branch of the Government and is charged with representing the United States, its agencies and personnel of the Executive Branch in legal matters. The Department is prevented by law from offering legal advice to private citizens. However, your local chapter of the Bar Association or Legal Aid Society may be able to assist you in locating a lawyer. Many bar associations can also provide references for free legal assistance.
Someone has been polluting in my neighborhood. Who can investigate this for me?
You have many choices. The most efficient route is generally to contact the Environmental Protection Agency office for your region which may be able to investigate directly. ENRD does not typically investigate alleged violations of federal environmental laws until a federal agency, like the Environmental Protection Agency, refers a matter to it.
If you suspect that a violation of a pollution-control law is occurring and presents an emergency situation, you may contact the Environmental Enforcement Section (one of the sections within ENRD). You may also wish to contact your local fire or health department.
If you have direct evidence of criminal activity, you should contact your local United States Attorneys Office, or the Environmental Crimes Section of ENRD.
You may also wish to contact your State Attorney General's office.
I suspect that a federal wildlife or marine law has been broken. What should I do?
If you suspect that a violation of a wildlife law is occurring, you should contact the Fish and Wildlife Service office for your region. The National Marine Fisheries Service office for your region should be contacted regarding marine violations. You may also wish to contact your State Attorney General or your State fish and game department.
My neighbor has been filling wetlands, and I think he's breaking the law. Who should I contact?
If you suspect that a wetlands violation has occurred, you should contact the United States Army Corps of Engineers district for your region and the Environmental Protection Agency office for your region.
I think a state law has been violated. What should I do?
You may wish to contact your State Attorney General's office in this situation.