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Senators shop bill to give AG more environmental authority

May 29, 2019


State Sens. Steve Santarsiero and Maria Collett want to give the state attorney general the ability to prosecute environmental crimes, without waiting for a referral from another agency. But detractors say authority should remain with the state DEP.

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Timothy Bergère, an environmental attorney with Philadelphia’s Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads law firm, expressed similar confidence in the DEP, where he served as assistant counsel in the 1980s and also was designated a special deputy attorney general for environmental crimes.

Bergère said he believes the attorney general’s office is less equipped, both in the number of employees and their expertise, to handle environmental issues. He said just about any environmental violator could be prosecuted civilly or criminally, requiring discretion.

“Having referrals originate at the (DEP), where experienced environmental compliance staff can evaluate suspect conduct for compliance with often nuanced and complicated regulatory programs, allows for the exercise of that discretion,” Bergère said.

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