Professor Robert Percival joined other top environmental law scholars on November 4 to discuss the future of environmental law at a symposium hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Held in the Great Hall of the Department’s Robert F. Kennedy Building, the symposium featured panels on the future of administrative law, natural resources law, and environmental enforcement.
The program opened with remarks from Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden, head of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of DOJ, and James A. Bruen, president of the American College of Environmental Lawyers. Focusing on global trends, Professor Percival argued that U.S. environmental law has become the envy of the world in large part because enforcement is taken seriously.
Percival noted that other countries are increasing penalties for environmental violations and that many countries have established “green courts” that specialize in environmental cases. Increased cooperation between NGOs and environmental officials has contributed to improved enforcement, as illustrated by the work of the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE). Percival added that the 2008 amendments to the Lacey Act that bar imports of timber harvested illegally in other countries have created a remarkable vehicle for encouraging companies to comply with foreign environmental laws. He stressed the importance of using criminal sanctions to deter intentional violations of environmental law, citing the Volkswagen emissions scandal as an important upcoming test.
From left to right: AAG John Cruden, Professors Mike Vandenbergh, Joel Mintz and Robert Percival in the Great Hall of the Justice Department flanked by the statues Majesty of Justice and Spirit of Justice