Essay about The Harms And Politics Of Environmental

Submitted By galefilter
Words: 3481
Pages: 14

Enhancing enforcement through community support and technology

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"Lobbying is pretty easy. You just go to (political) fund raisers."!
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Oil Company Lobbyist!
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"It is impossible for an oil refinery to be in total compliance."!
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Blood Money: The Harms and Politics of White-Collar Environmental Crime!

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The Same Oil Company Lobbyist!

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No doubt “street crime” receives more than its fair share of media and political attention.
The media, politicians and enforcement experts have convinced us that street crime is rampant and that we are all potential victims. The fear of street crime has wormed its way into our existence, dominates our thinking and appears to be the norm. As a consequence our attention has been diverted away from the serious problem of whitecollar environmental crime.!

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White-collar environmental crime is generally ignored by the media and politicians unless the consequences of such corporate actions result in several immediate deaths, affect hundreds or even thousands of lives, and cost several hundred millions of dollars,
e.g., the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Despite overwhelming evidence that environmental crime is responsible for a great deal of harm to the environment and human health, the vast majority of the public knows little about this type of crime. The public knows even less about the politics that undermines the criminal prosecution of environmental crime. Many of the individuals who commit white-collar environmental crimes are the very same individuals who have the power, resources, and influence to shape enforcement and reduce serious environmental and health harms to the cost of doing business.!

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In 2005 I was the California District Attorneys Association's (CDAA) lobbyist on Senate
Bill 109. Senator Deborah Ortiz, a Sacramento Democrat, was the author of SB 109 and in 2005 the chair of the Senate Health Committee. SB 109 targeted a loophole in our laws that allows major air polluters such as oil companies to escape criminal prosecution. Health and Safety Code section 42400.7(a), precludes criminal prosecution of serious air violations if there has been a civil settlement: “The recovery of civil penalties… precludes prosecution…for the same offense.” Nowhere else in our

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Enhancing enforcement through community support and technology

environmental laws is there a preclusion clause, i.e., a criminal liability loophole, as there is with air quality violations. !

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Under H&S Code section 42400.7(a) egregious polluters, who receive “notice of violations” (NOVs) from an air pollution control district (APCD), are induced to run to the
APCD and settle their cases by paying an administrative penalty in order to avoid the more serious consequences of criminal prosecution. SB 109 allows for both civil fines and criminal prosecution in egregious cases. With the removal of the loophole
California prosecutors would be able to press criminal charges against the state's worst air polluters. !

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At an August 26, 2005 press conference, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, a
Republican, announced that he was teaming up with Senator Ortiz, Assemblyman
Pedro Nava (Santa Barbara Democrat), Attorney General Bill Lockyer (Democrat), the state’s elected district attorneys, and environmental groups1 to change the law that allows the worst air polluters “to merely pay a fine that can be considered a cost of doing business.” At the press conference was environmental activist Erin Brockovich, a strong supporter of SB 109.!

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Two cases discussed at the news conference included Chevron, which released a large amount of sulfur compounds into the air near Los Angeles International Airport, endangering both public employees and private citizens in the area. The pollution forced evacuation of nearby businesses and the Airport Branch Court. The District Attorney’s
Office could not prosecute, however, because Chevron had reached a civil settlement with the South Coast Air…