Today, CPR releases a new white paper examining criminal enforcement of water pollution laws in Maryland. In Going Too Easy? Maryland’s Criminal Enforcement of Water Pollution Laws Protecting the Chesapeake Bay, CPR President Rena Steinzor and I analyze a number of key questions concerning the critical, deterrence-based enforcement mechanism of criminal prosecution and its role in the Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts:
In answering these questions, we reviewed publicly available data on criminal enforcement cases at both the state and federal level involving water pollution in Maryland, interviewed a number of past and present environmental prosecutors, and reviewed the existing policies and laws that enable criminal enforcement for certain kinds water pollution violations.
Our overall finding was that criminal enforcement was underutilized in Bay restoration efforts, by both federal and Maryland authorities. A few of the specifics:
Based on these and a number of other findings, we make several recommendations to encourage a stronger, more deterrence-based criminal enforcement program for water pollution violations in Maryland. From restoring emphasis on environmental criminal enforcement to developing and participating in a Chesapeake Bay criminal task force, the recommended actions and policy improvements will allow a critical enforcement tool to help in achieving a cleaner Chesapeake Bay.