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FBI agents train for a hazmat event, a bear is suprised by a photographer's camera, and a Fish and Wildlife Special Agent travels by horse by a river. Courtesy of FBI and DOI.

The current environmental crimes program does not involve just ECS and EPA's special agents.  Crimes under the various federal statutes are far too numerous and wide-spread for those prosecutors and agents to handle alone.   Working independently or in partnership with ECS attorneys are Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs) in the 94 federal districts spread across the country.   On the investigative side, in addition to EPA, agents from the FBI, the USCG, various Department of Defense elements, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Homeland Security, and an array of other federal departments and agencies all have participated in environmental criminal investigations and prosecutions. 

From the beginning, a major part of ECS´s mission has been the training of others in the environmental crimes enforcement specialty.   Each year, the Section orchestrates a week-long training program for federal prosecutors; in addition, Section attorneys regularly participate as faculty in a number of training programs for agents and other personnel from an array of federal departments and agencies.   Both formally and informally, the Section serves as clearinghouse for information regarding environmental criminal prosecutions occurring across the country.   Through training and outreach, ECS has been able to steadily increase the number and variety of agency personnel around the country who are capable of assisting in or handling environmental criminal investigations and prosecutions. 

However, federal departments and agencies are not the only elements involved in the environmental crimes effort.  State and local governments also face similar violations, often in the context of regulatory programs that track their federal counterparts or that have been delegated to them by the federal government.  In many instances, the same actions may be violations of federal, state, and local laws.   In order to conserve resources and improve the efficiency of environmental enforcement efforts, ECS attorneys have frequently assisted AUSAs in the development of  environmental crimes task forces consisting of federal, state, and local personnel.   These task forces have been instrumental in the investigation and prosecution of a large number of cases across the country.

With or without task forces, though, state and/or local personnel frequently are involved in federal environmental prosecutions.  Because many of the regulatory programs authorized by federal law actually are operated by state and local governments, their inspectors and investigators are likely to be the first to detect violations.  When those offenses are handled as federal cases (as is specifically authorized by various statutes), state and local inspectors and investigators frequently become part of the teams developing the cases through trial, and often serve as key witnesses.

 

Updated May 6, 2015

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