Criminal Law

Environment - Offenses Involving the Environment

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§2Q1.2GUIDELINES MANUALNovember 1, 2005

without a permit or in violation of a permit, increase by 4 levels.

(5) If a recordkeeping offense reflected an effort to conceal a substantive environmental offense, use the offense level for the substantive offense.

(6) If the offense involved a simple recordkeeping or reporting violation only, decrease by 2 levels.

(7) If the defendant was convicted under 49 U.S.C. § 5124 or § 46312, increase by 2 levels.


Statutory Provisions: 7 U.S.C. §§ 136j-136l; 15 U.S.C. §§ 2614 and 2615; 33 U.S.C. §§ 1319(c)(1), (2), 1321(b)(5), 1517(b); 42 U.S.C. §§ 300h-2, 6928(d), 7413, 9603(b), (c), (d); 43 U.S.C. §§ 1350, 1816(a), 1822(b); 49 U.S.C. §§ 5124, 46312. For additional statutory provision(s), see Appendix A (Statutory Index).

Application Notes:

1. "Recordkeeping offense" includes both recordkeeping and reporting offenses. The term is to be broadly construed as including failure to report discharges, releases, or emissions where required; the giving of false information; failure to file other required reports or provide necessary information; and failure to prepare, maintain, or provide records as prescribed.

2. "Simple recordkeeping or reporting violation" means a recordkeeping or reporting offense in a situation where the defendant neither knew nor had reason to believe that the recordkeeping offense would significantly increase the likelihood of any substantive environmental harm.

3. This section applies to offenses involving pesticides or substances designated toxic or hazardous at the time of the offense by statute or regulation. A listing of hazardous and toxic substances in the guidelines would be impractical. Several federal statutes (or regulations promulgated thereunder) list toxics, hazardous wastes and substances, and pesticides. These lists, such as those of toxic pollutants for which effluent standards are published under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (e.g., 33 U.S.C. § 1317) as well as the designation of hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (e.g., 42 U.S.C. § 9601(14)), are revised from time to time. "Toxic" and "hazardous" are defined differently in various statutes, but the common dictionary meanings of the words are not significantly different.

4. Except when the adjustment in subsection (b)(6) for simple recordkeeping offenses applies, this section assumes knowing conduct. In cases involving negligent conduct, a downward departure may be warranted.

5. Subsection (b)(1) assumes a discharge or emission into the environment resulting in actual environmental contamination. A wide range of conduct, involving the handling of different quantities of materials with widely differing propensities, potentially is covered. Depending upon the harm resulting from the emission, release or discharge, the quantity and nature of the substance or pollutant, the duration of the offense and the risk associated with the violation,

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