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Environmental Justice and Enforcement

Environmental Justice at The Department of Justice

The United States Attorney’s Office enforces federal laws to protect environmental quality, human health, and wildlife throughout the State of Oregon. In coordination with multiple Department of Justice components, the United States Attorney’s Office will hold violators accountable for their actions, prioritizing cases that reduce environmental harms to the health of historically underserved, overburdened, and marginalized communities.

The district’s environmental crimes and justice coordinators lead efforts to enforce both criminal and civil environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and hazardous waste laws. Intentionally violating these laws may be a federal crime and can carry the possibility of incarceration or monetary fines.

The district’s environmental crimes and justice coordinators also lead efforts to remedy environmental violations and contaminations by pursuing actions under civil rights laws, worker safety and consumer protection statutes, and the False Claims Act. For example, a federal contractor who violates a contractual provision mandating the proper disposal of hazardous waste may be subject to liability under the False Claims Act and a landlord who leases a home without disclosing known information about lead-based paint may violate federal lead disclosure rules.

Other examples of civil or criminal environmental violations include:

  • Air emissions of toxic pollutants resulting from inadequate or nonexistent pollution control
  • Illegal asbestos removals that expose and create health risks for workers and the public
  • Illegal discharges into waters or sewer systems that threaten public safety and cause damage to our water infrastructure
  • Illegal handling, transportation, and disposal of hazardous wastes and pesticides
  • Oil spills or other incidents that compromise the fishing rights or practices of indigenous or disadvantaged communities
  • False statements to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or other regulatory agencies that threaten the integrity of environmental protection programs

In May 2022, the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, in coordination with the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, and with input from other DOJ components, federal agencies, and environmental justice advocates, issued its Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy. Deployment of the Justice Department’s strategy relies upon meaningful engagement and transparency with impacted communities regarding environmental justice issues, efforts, and results.

The United States Attorney’s Office encourages the public to report suspected environmental violations in the State of Oregon.

If you or someone you know believe you are the victim of an environmental crime or believe you have witnessed an environmental crime, please contact the EPA’s National Response Center by calling 1-800-424-8802 or by submitting a tip online at https://echo.epa.gov/report-environmental-violations.

For more information, please contact Alexis Lien at 503-727-1000.

Updated October 31, 2022

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