Robert W. Vinal


The Exxon Valdez incident in Alaska has greatly increased public awareness of the amount of environmental damage which can result from a large discharge of pollutants. This disaster has lead Congress to consider toughening penalties for a variety of environmental violations. The author discusses proposed "environmental catastrophe" legislation which would empower federal judges to impose criminal sentences of up to thirty years for certain environmental crimes. Aside from the severity of the proposed penalties, the most controversial aspect of the bill is that it focuses on the resulting environmental damage rather than the polluting act itself.