The enforcement division of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched an Internet database Dec. 10 of wanted eco criminals. Astonishingly, neither former Sen. Ted Stevens nor Rep. Richard Pombo made the list, nor did any of the villains from the “Captain Planet” cartoon series. We consider this an oversight—that Hoggish Greedly sure seemed like a bad mamma jamma.
Don’t go stomping off to the website looking for any Enron types either. In fact, most of the fugitives look like mechanics, warehouse lift drivers or accountants. Click on over to epa.gov/fugitives and check out the entry for Jun Wang. That’s one happy discharger.
If you’re like us, you might wonder why the EPA, ATF, CDC and every other three-lettered federal outfit can’t just outsource its law enforcement activities to the FBI. Well, for one thing, the dastardly cons featured on the EPA’s new site would be lost among the more numerous photos of killers and rapists—eco cons like David Allen Phillips of Granite County.
In 2001, Phillips violated the Clean Water Act while building a wetland-wrecking subdivision outside of Philipsburg. He also managed to foul up the Clark Fork River tributary Fred Burr Creek with sediment from the excavation, which stopped its flow and violated the water rights of farmers downstream.
Phillips served the cushy sentence handed down but strangely couldn’t stick to the terms of his probation, so U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy sent him up river for 33 months. During that stretch, in 2003, Phillips busted out of the federal pen in Oregon and went on the lam, leaving behind freshly filed indictments for perjury and lying in affidavits.
Phillips evaded the EPA for four years before the feds tracked him down in Mexico last March. After his April 4 capture, U.S. Marshals then shipped Phillips back to Oregon, where on Nov. 24 Judge Michael Mosmon slapped a year onto his sentence for escaping custody. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Fehr, Phillips will face additional charges here in Montana for falsifying information that he provided to the U.S. District Court in 2003.
The EPA is touting the capture as a success of its enforcement division—one of two in 2008. Well, nobody took the FBI seriously either until it got John Dillinger.
Citizens can help the EPA track down bad guys like Phillips by regularly checking its fugitive listings online. All and all, we give the agency’s new database a five out of ten: effective but unimpressive. If you really want to look at photographs of environmental criminals, try whitehouse.gov.