The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just launched a “most wanted” campaign for environmental outlaws at large. Usually lists of most wanted are kept for the purpose of criminal investigation of serious crimes like murder, child abduction or robbery, but the new EPA list is aimed at drawing the public’s attention to a group of perpetrators who so far have evaded responsibility for causing serious harm to the environment. For instance, one entry on the list is John Karayannides, charged with dumping of oil illegally into the South China Sea (he is currently thought to be in Greece) and Omran Alghazouli, charged with illegal smuggling of ozone depleting substances.
While rates of criminal enforcement of environmental offences tend to be low in many countries, including the UK and the US, the list seems a good idea from the point of view that it may generate some much needed publicity to the cause of securing that environmental criminals are punished. On the other hand, it is doubtful whether the list will lead to any significant improvement in environmental conditions or have any deterring effect, as noted in this article in today’s NY Times. Similarly, it is not yet clear whether the EPA will be successful in pursuing extradition proceedings of alleged perpetrators residing outside the US, as it cannot be ruled out that other countries will be reluctant to extradite citizens based on environmental charges, which by some will be seen as minor. Unfortunately, criminal activities harming the environment are still by many still considered mala prohibita rather than mala in se.
Check out the EPA list here.