EPA starts most-wanted list of Environmental fugitives

December 11, 2008

WASHINGTON (ChattahBox) – Assault nature and your going to be punished is the message being sent by a new campaign. In its own version of the FBI most-wanted list, the Environmental Protection Agency is unveiling a roster of 23 fugitives, complete with mug shots and descriptions of the charges on its Web site at http://www.epa.gov/fugitives.

The fugitives on the list will be individuals who allegedly smuggled chemicals that eat away the Earth’s protective ozone layer, dumped hazardous waste into oceans and rivers and trafficked in polluting cars.

A top EPA enforcement official said the people on the list represent the “brazen universe of people that are evading the law.” Many face years in prison and some charges could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

“They are charged with environmental crimes and they should be brought before the criminal justice system and have their day in court,” said Pete Rosenberg, a director in the agency’s criminal enforcement division.

The launch of the most-wanted list comes as EPA’s criminal enforcement has waned. In fiscal 2008, the EPA opened 319 criminal enforcement cases, down from 425 in fiscal 2004. And criminal prosecutors charged only 176 defendants with environmental crimes, the fewest in five years.

EPA officials defend the agency’s record, saying the agency has focused on bigger cases with larger environmental benefits.

Others accuse the EPA of being critically understaffed to investigate environmental crimes. While the budget for the division has increased by $11 million since 2000, there are still only 185 criminal investigators. Congress authorized the EPA to hire 200 investigators in 1990.


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