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Defense of Criminal Enforcement Actions

David G. Palmer, Natural Resources and Environmental Litigation (1989)

The emphasis on criminal enforcement of federal environmental laws has exploded during the past few years and is expected to continue, especially in Colorado. Creation of the Department of Justice Environmental Enforcement Section in 1982, the maturing case law under these statutes, and the additional resources and sophistication of the investigative agents of the government, are likely to continue this trend. Increasingly, such criminal actions are being brought against both corporations and their officers, managers and employees.

II. Applicable Environmental Statutes

A. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 6901-6987. (RCRA)

1. 42 U.S.C. § 6928(d)(1)-(5).

Knowingly transporting, treating, storing, or disposing of hazardous waste without a permit, omitting material information, making any false material statement, or concealing, destroying, or altering any RCRA-required records or reports.

Daily fines up to $50,000, imprisonment up to five years, or both (repeat offenders are subject to doubled sanctions).

2. 42 U.S.C. § 6928(d)(6).

Knowingly exporting a hazardous waste without the consent of the receiving country, or in violation of an international agreement between the United States and the receiving country.

Daily fines up to $50,000, imprisonment up to two years, or both.

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