Federal Environmental Prosecutions Continue to Decline


The number of federal prosecutions for environment-related offenses continues to fall, reports the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Justice Department data show that during the first nine months of fiscal 2014, the government reported 271 new prosecutions in this category, on pace to decrease about 20 percent from the 449 reported in 2013, which was already a marked drop from the 612 defendants prosecuted in 2012.

Over the past 20 years, environmental crime prosecutions peaked at 927 in 2007, near the end President George W. Bush’s second term. The sharpest drop for the period was seen in prosecutions aimed at protecting wildlife, down by 36.7 percent from five years ago. Less affected were prosecutions aimed at environment crimes such as water and air pollution and hazardous waste management, which fell by 8.6 percent. The three districts with the largest number of these prosecutions in 2014, with 19 each, were the Los Angeles area, the Miami area and South Dakota.

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