Below is a statement, courtesy of the White House, outlining the administration's concerns over environmental crimes and the need for strong measures in dealing with those that commit these crimes.
The Vice President's comments come amid a renewed Congressional threat to enforcement measures designed to punish polluters. The Regulatory Fair Warning Act, H.R. 3307, recently introduced in the House Judiciary Committee, seeks to weaken the EPA's ability to enforce environmental protections and seek retribution from polluters.
The bill sets up several loopholes that will allow industry officials to escape penalties for violations, regardless of their severity. Included among these loopholes, are provisions that allow industry officials to side step penalities and fines if,
- they demonstrated a "good faith" effort in attempting to follow the involved guideline,
- or if a state official interprets a federal law so as to allow industry greater leniancy in following the rule. Regardless of whether the interpretation was correct or not, industry can violate federal laws and avoid any resulting penalties because a state official said they could.
Such a bill stands in stark contrast to the need, as commented by the Vice President, to fight environmental crimes and the polluters that commit them.
Contact your representative, asking that they oppose H.R. 3307, the Regulatory Fair Warning Act, if it is brought to the floor.
Any questions concerning the bill, please contact Jeff Thomas at (202) 234-8494 or [email protected]
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release
Friday, June 21, 1996
VICE PRESIDENT GORE ADDRESSES ISSUE OF ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMES
In Conference Call With Prosecutors, Says Administration Will Strengthen Enforcement
WASHINGTON -- Conferencing by phone with prosecutors meeting in California, Vice President Gore today (6/21) said the Clinton Administration will work with state and local officials to strengthen detection and prosecution of environmental crimes, saying these steps are essential to protecting public health and the environment.
"Environmental crime is real crime with real victims," Vice President Gore said to about 80 assistant and district attorneys attending the California District Attorneys' Association (CDAA) meeting in Monterey, CA. "All too often, those crimes are not detected, and those who commit them are not punished.
"President Clinton and I want to change that. We are committed to strengthening the hand of law enforcement when it comes to environmental crimes because prosecution is essential to protecting public health and the environment," Vice President Gore said.
During the conference call, Vice President Gore said the Clinton Administration will improve the federal partnership with state, local and tribal enforcement personnel working to detect and prosecute environmental crimes. He said the Administration will continue to oppose legislation pending in Congress that would tie the hands of federal prosecutors, immunize environmental violations from prosecutions, and take environmental cops off the beat.
In addition, Vice President Gore said the Administration will seek sentences to ensure that polluters pay the full costs of their enviornmental crimes and protect the public's right to know about potential environmental violations in their communities.
"We call on Congress to abandon these rollback efforts. Environmental protection, like the fight against crime generally, is a bipartisan issue," Vice President Gore said.
Source: RTK Net, Washington, DC
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