The Environmental Defense Section (EDS) traces its roots to 1971. In that year, in response to an increasing awareness of the adverse effects of environmental degradation on the public health and welfare, the Pollution Control Section was added to the Land and Natural Resources Division with the special mission of handling all civil and criminal litigation under environmental regulatory statutes such as the Clean Air Act. In October 1979, the Division created the Hazardous Waste Section to begin enforcement with respect to hazardous wastes under the 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and other authorities.
In March 1980, the Hazardous Waste Section’s mandate was expanded to include cost-recovery litigation pursuant to the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act. In that same year, the Division decided to separate enforcement and defense litigation responsibility, which led to the division of the Pollution Control Section into the Environmental Enforcement Section and the Pollution Control Section, respectively. In 1981, the original Pollution Control Section was renamed the Environmental Defense Section. The Hazardous Waste Section’s affirmative and defensive components were merged into the Environmental Enforcement Section and the Environmental Defense Section, respectively.
Today, the Environmental Defense Section has over 80 employees, over 60 of whom are attorneys.