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Overcriminalization, continued

Apropos Walter's Jim Copland's post below about today's committee hearing on the over-criminalization of conduct and the over-federalization of criminal law, we commented in this Shopfloor.org post that this sort of prosecutorial excess seems to occur more often in areas of environmental law and regulation. In particular, we were reminded of the federal prosecution of the former W.R. Grace executives for criminal violations of the Clean Air Act related to the Libby, Mont., vermiculite mine and asbestos exposure case. (Earlier Point of Law posts.)

Coincidentally, a news release today points us to an article in the July edition of InsideCounsel, "Asbestos Acquittal: W.R. Grace Unexpectedly Wins Environmental Crimes Trial." James O'Toole, Jr., a shareholder and chair of the Environmental and Toxic Tort Practice Group in Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney's Philadelphia office, is quoted in the story, and he observes:

I don't believe you're going to see the Justice Department or the EPA shy away from criminal prosecutions in the future simply because of some of these missteps in the past. The agency's proposed budget is going to have at least a $600 million increase, with $32 million for enforcement alone. They're going to hire 30-plus additional positions just to handle enforcement and investigation: When you have a robust budget and a focused agency, and a commitment supported by the administration, you can't help but think there's going to be greater scrutiny and enforcement across all environmental programs.

That seems like a good prediction.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.