U.S. Attorney Shier Announces Environmental Justice Coordinators, Welcomes Reporting from Concerned Citizens

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FILE PHOTO: American flag waves outside the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington

LEXINGTON, Ky.—Carlton S. Shier, IV, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, announced on Tuesday a new initiative to address environmental justice and public health concerns. U.S. Attorney Shier has designated two Assistant United States Attorneys, Emily Greenfield and Carrie Pond, as Environmental Justice Coordinators to coordinate the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s efforts to address those concerns. Members of the public may visit the website at https://www.justice.gov/usao-edky/environmental-justice for information on where to report environmental violations or public health issues, and how to report such concerns to the Environmental Justice Coordinators.

The Office’s reporting procedures are part of the Department of Justice’s Comprehensive Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy, which seeks to advance environmental justice through timely and effective remedies for environmental violations and injuries to natural resources in “underserved communities that have been historically marginalized and overburdened, including low-income communities, communities of color, and Tribal and Indigenous communities.” 

The Department of Justice enforces the Nation’s civil and criminal environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and hazardous waste laws.  An intentional decision to violate these laws may be a federal crime. For example, intentionally discharging pollutants into a river without a permit, or bypassing a required pollution control device, is a criminal act that carries the possibility of incarceration and monetary fines. The Department also protects natural resources and handles cases relating to tribal rights and resources. 

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The district’s Environmental Justice Coordinators also will lead efforts to remedy environmental violations and contaminations by pursuing actions under the civil rights laws, worker safety and consumer protection statutes, and the False Claims Act. For example, a federal contractor who violates a contractual provision mandating the proper disposal of hazardous waste may be subject to liability under the False Claims Act; a landlord who leases a home without disclosing known information about lead-based paint may violate federal lead disclosure rules.

The Office will continue to partner and coordinate with the Environmental Protection Agency, law enforcement partners, local communities, and agencies across federal, state, and local governments to better serve the needs of disadvantaged communities and the mission of environmental justice throughout the Eastern District of Kentucky. To find out more information about Environmental Justice, learn about additional points of contact for federal agencies, or to contact our Coordinators, visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-edky/environmental-justice.

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