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The Latest EPA Criminal Enforcement Statistics

Graham_Robert_COLORBy Robert L. Graham


In fiscal year 2011, EPA's criminal enforcement program exceeded 2010 outcomes for new environmental crime investigations opened and the total level of incarceration, as shown by the chart below.


As the chart shows, 371 environmental crime cases were opened in 2011—a 7% increase from 2010. But there was also a decrease in the number of defendants charged (217 individuals and 32 companies)—a 14% decrease from the prior year. This resulted in a total of 89.5 years of incarceration and $35 million in fines and restitution.

Although these criminal enforcement statistics from the EPA provide a quantitative picture of criminal enforcement results, they provide little insight into perhaps the more substantive question—whether the quality of justice resulting from environmental criminal enforcement has improved. Though useful, the bean counting of cases opened and criminal sanctions imposed does not necessarily measure true environmental progress.