Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Compliance and Enforcement Annual Results 2011 Fiscal Year

Program Highlights

EPA's Criminal Enforcement Program

EPA’s criminal enforcement authorities provide EPA’s strongest sanctions against polluters. Criminal penalties, with potential prison time as well as monetary fines, are critical to deter potential violators, eliminate the temptation for companies to “pay to pollute” and implement the felony provisions of our nation’s environmental laws.

From more than 40 locations nationwide, more than 200 EPA criminal investigators (“special agents”) work closely with 150 scientists, attorneys, technicians, engineers and other specialists to uncover and develop cases for prosecution by Federal, state, tribal and local prosecutors. EPA’s special agents have full law enforcement authority to carry firearms, make arrests, execute search warrants and investigate violations of all the environmental statutes as well as associated statutes of the U.S. Criminal Code (such as conspiracy or false statements). Learn more about the differences between criminal enforcement and civil enforcement.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, the criminal enforcement program significantly exceeded its 2010 outcomes for new environmental crime investigations opened and the total level of incarceration. The annual results in any given fiscal year will, however, fluctuate based on specific characteristics of the cases investigated, as well as by the prosecutorial and sentencing decisions made by the Department of Justice and the federal courts.

FY 2011 Criminal Enforcement Results
2011 criminal enforcement results

* 249 Criminal Defendants Charged: Eighty-seven percent of the charged cases included at least one individual defendant, as opposed to a company. The charging of individuals, where warranted by the evidence, is important, because the possibility of being incarcerated for an environmental crime provides significant deterrent effect.
** 93% Conviction Rate: The conviction rate was in line with EPA’s historical average of approximately 90 percent. Defendants can be acquitted for a variety of reasons, e.g., found not guilty at trial or have convictions overturned on appeal, or charges can be dropped after exculpatory evidence in their favor was entered into the record.
*** The total level of incarceration in FY 2011 was reduced by 43 years as a consequence of prior Supreme Court decisions which made the U.S. federal sentencing guidelines discretionary rather than mandatory for use by federal district court judges.

Top of Page

Strategic Program Management: Criminal Enforcement Case Selection Methodology

In 2010, the Criminal Enforcement program developed a methodology to enhance case selection in order to ensure that its overall case docket identifies, investigates and helps prosecute cases with the most significant environmental, human health, and deterrence impact while maintaining its enforcement presence across all pollution statutes.

The new methodology “tiers” potential cases based upon categories including:

  • release and discharge characteristics (e.g., hazardous or toxic pollutants, continuing violations);
  • health and environmental impacts (e.g., death, serious injury, human exposure, remediation); and
  • subject characteristics (e.g., national corporation, recidivist violator)

The “tiering” methodology is the basis for the criminal enforcement program’s new “Key Performance Indicator measure in FY 2011, which is defined as the percentage of cases in the total criminal enforcement docket that are in the top two tiers (tier 1 and tier 2). Employing the “tiering” methodology, the criminal enforcement program exceeded its FY 2011 target for tier 1 and tier 2 cases (Target: 40%; Actual: 45%).

The criminal enforcement program has set its target to increase annually between FY 2012-2015. As a result, the “case tiering” innovation will drive the docket for the future and enhance the criminal enforcement program's capacity to support the most complex environmental cases and the Agency’s enforcement priorities.

Top of Page

Engaging the Public: Fugitive Website

Since FY 2009, EPA’s Fugitive Website has identified defendants charged with environmental crimes or violations of the U.S. Federal Criminal Code that fled rather than face prosecution or serve a sentence. During FY 2011, two fugitives were added to the website (Kumar, Kuhn) and two former fugitives who were captured in prior years were sentenced (Deleon, DeMatteo).

Top of Page

Working with Other U.S. Law Enforcement Organizations

Marcellus Shale Law Enforcement Conference

EPA’s Criminal Enforcement program, along with the federal and Pennsylvania law enforcement organizations participated in the Marcellus Shale Law Enforcement Conference in State College, Pennsylvania (Read more on the Marcellus Shale Law Enforcement Conference)

International Criminal Enforcement Training

During FY 2011, EPA’s criminal enforcement program provided training to enhance the environmental enforcement capabilities of countries worldwide. It co-hosted the INTERPOL Pollution Crime Forensics Conference at the National Enforcement Investigations Center’s state of the art forensics laboratory in Lakewood, Colorado. which brought together for the first time 50 representatives from 17 countries worldwide, providing a key forum for investigators, forensic experts and prosecutors from around the world to exchange innovative approaches in pollution crime forensics.

photograph of a presentation at the Interpol Conference

Simultaneous translation of environmental crimes training in Budapest

Two EPA special agents and a criminal enforcement attorney taught principles of environmental criminal enforcement to 35 police officers, prosecutors, and environmental inspectors from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, and Serbia at the. U.S. Department of State’s International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest. Funding for the instructors’ travel was provided by the U.S. Department of State.

As part of a cooperative program with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the criminal enforcement program has been providing environmental criminal investigative training to the Government of Jordan’s Ministry of the Environment and its environmental police force. In FY 2011 it gave the last of three train-the-trainer courses in Jordan.

Top of Page

Jump to main content.