The federal government regulates activities that have an impact on the environment through a complex scheme of statutes and agency regulations. Congress possesses this power to legislate because environmental protection is a matter of national security.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bears the responsibility of carrying out the regulations but also has the authority to promulgate additional regulations of its own. These regulations manage plant life, wildlife habitats, animals, soil quality, air quality, water quality, hazardous waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and recreational locations.
Compliance with environmental regulations usually requires the expenditure of significant overhead for businesses. In an attempt to avoid these additional costs, some businesses refuse to comply with the regulations. Sometimes, businesses openly refuse to comply and will pay governmental fines rather than pay the compliance costs, which surpass the cost of the fines. Other businesses will try to hide their noncompliance by dumping hazardous waste into rivers, streams, oceans, or otherwise-secluded areas rather than paying to have it taken to a chemical treatment plant.
Other common types of environmental law violations are littering, using illegal pesticides in agriculture, spilling oil, destructing wetlands, burning garbage, improperly removing, disposing of asbestos, falsifying lab data pertaining to environmental regulations, smuggling illegal chemicals into the country, and committing fraud relating to environmental regulations.
Environmental law violations are a form of white-collar crime. If convicted, violators face fines, probation, jail time, or some combination thereof. Typically, a sentence of jail time is used when dealing with individuals, while corporations face fines.
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