Criminal Law

Environment - Offenses Involving the Environment

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§2Q1.3GUIDELINES MANUALNovember 1, 2005

§2Q1.3. Mishandling of Other Environmental Pollutants; Recordkeeping, Tampering, and Falsification

(a) Base Offense Level: 6

(b) Specific Offense Characteristics

(1) (A) If the offense resulted in an ongoing, continuous, or repetitive discharge, release, or emission of a pollutant into the environment, increase by 6 levels; or

(B) if the offense otherwise involved a discharge, release, or emission of a pollutant, increase by 4 levels.

(2) If the offense resulted in a substantial likelihood of death or serious bodily injury, increase by 11 levels.

(3) If the offense resulted in disruption of public utilities or evacuation of a community, or if cleanup required a substantial expenditure, increase by 4 levels.

(4) If the offense involved a discharge 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.


Statutory Provisions: 33 U.S.C. §§ 403, 406, 407, 411, 1319(c)(1), (c)(2), 1415(b), 1907, 1908; 42 U.S.C. § 7413. 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. If the offense involved mishandling of nuclear material, apply §2M6.2 (Violation of Other Federal Atomic Energy Agency Statutes, Rules, and Regulations) rather than this guideline.

3. The specific offense characteristics in this section assume knowing conduct. In cases involving negligent conduct, a downward departure may be warranted.

4. 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

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