America’s most wanted list has gone green. Last year, the once docile Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “formed its own teams of inspectors, chemists, and street cops, and trained them in law enforcement,” writes Amy Roe in Bear Deluxe Magazine (Winter 2010–2011).
Some 200 gun-wielding special agents pursue business owners and con artists on the lam from charges such as tossing concrete and metal scrap into the ocean and selling bogus auto emissions tests to unsuspecting consumers. The eco-crime-fighting agents “possess full Title 18 law enforcement authority—the same as the FBI,” explains Roe. The feds won’t go after a home owner who trashcans his lawnmower oil, but they will pursue a chemical company owner like Larkin Baggett who funnels Chemical Consultants Inc.’s hazardous chemical waste into the sewer—and then compounds his crimes by assaulting law enforcement officers. A former EPA fugitive, Baggett is now serving a 20-year prison sentence.
EPA agents work within a five-year statute of limitations on environmental regulations, which is why concerned citizens should visit www.epa.gov/fugitives and make an effort to get involved. “It may not be the stuff of shoot-’em-up movies,” Roe says, “but to those who pursue them, the charges are no less pressing.
Have something to say? Send a letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. This article first appeared in the September-October 2011 issue of Utne Reader.