In a speech made April 20, 2021, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Colangelo announced the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and EPA had jointly created “the nation’s first-of-its-kind Environmental Crime Victim Assistance Program.”

More Involvement of Victims
The goal of the program is to “help ensure that victims of federal environmental crimes are properly identified, that their rights are protected, and that they receive services from the opening of an investigation through the prosecution of the case.”  DOJ and EPA intend to develop “victim-witness coordinator positions” and “outreach to victims and victims’ rights professionals.”

This program increases the likelihood that environmental criminal matters will involve victims’ input and perhaps victims’ compensation.

Environmental Justice
The speech noted several types of environmental crime victims, including low-wage asbestos renovation workers given inadequate gear and training, workers and families exposed to improperly applied pesticides, and communities near industrial facilities that emit excessive carcinogens while other facilities follow the law.

A stated goal is to “help achieve environmental justice by ensuring crime victims in communities disproportionately burdened by environmental harm are able to equally participate in the criminal justice system.”

In a separate speech that day, Attorney General Merrick Garland noted “the voices of victims in overburdened and underserved communities were not fully heard in the course of criminal investigations and prosecutions.”

To see the text of the speeches and