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Partnerships Against Environmental Crime

Protecting Mother Earth
Partnerships Against Environmental Crime

04/22/04

042204earthday.jpg"In America today, you can murder land for private profit. You can leave the corpse for all to see, and nobody calls the cops."
American conservationist Paul Brooks, 1971

Back in the early 1970s, of course, no one could call the copsor the feds. No laws had been broken...because no laws had been enacted.

But today, as we celebrate the 34th anniversary of the very first Earth Day, many state and federal laws protect our natural resourcesand the public health.

And who is charged with enforcing those laws? Lots of local, state, and federal law enforcement and regulatory agenciesincluding the FBI, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Divisionall working together.

Today, because our overriding mission is to prevent acts of terrorism, we play a supporting but important role. We work with others on task forces and working groups in specific locations. And we focus on the most egregious threats to public health and natural resourcesthings like employers who knowingly put their employees in harm's way, catastrophic acts of pollution, and organized crime in the solid waste industry.

For example: Knoxvillea model of cooperation. Areas in East Tennessee have been plagued by illegal hazardous waste disposal, so we joined up with the local offices of the EPA, Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Energy, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Here are just a few results:

... A hazardous waste disposal company has been cited for demanding that its employees clean out its tanker trucks without benefit of safety equipment;

... A chemical company was caught dumping its hazardous waste into a city's water treatment plant;

... A recycling company was charged after it was discovered it had been dumping hazardous waste alongside a desolate roadway.

These investigations go to the heart of environmental crime enforcement: working together to protect people...and to protect the earth for future generations. Happy Earth Day!