Senate Judiciary Committee Sends Leahy-Authored Environmental Crimes Enforcement Bill To Full Senate

WASHINGTON (Thursday, May 19, 2011) – The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved legislation authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to boost accountability for corporations and individuals responsible for environmental crimes. The Environmental Crimes Enforcement Act (ECEA) is aimed at deterring environmental crime while protecting and compensating victims of environmental crimes.

“Too often corporations treat fines and monetary penalties as a mere cost of doing business to be factored against profits,” said Leahy. “These measures are tough but fair. They are important steps toward deterring criminal conduct that can cause environmental and economic disaster and toward helping those who have suffered so much from the wrongdoing of big oil and other large corporations.”

The Environmental Crimes Enforcement Act will direct the Sentencing Commission to review and amend environmental crime sentencing guidelines to reflect the seriousness of the crime.  It will also amend current law to make restitution for violations of the Clean Water Act mandatory. Under current law, including those that result in the loss of human life, restitution for such violations is discretionary.

Leahy first introduced the Environmental Crimes Enforcement Act last year, after the April 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the legislation last year, but the Senate did not take final action.

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