Frequent Questions

Can individuals be compensated for providing information to the government about potential violations?

Generally speaking, compensation can be given pursuant to the following statutes described below. However it must be noted that such awards by the government are entirely discretionary, rarely made, and have only been provided subsequent to the conclusion of the enforcement action.
In 1981, Congress first enacted an award provision for information concerning violations of federal environmental law, in particular for the protection of fish and wildlife, 16 U.S.C. § 1540.
In 1986, Congress extended this award authority to environmental criminal enforcement as part of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA). This award prevision is found in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act at 42 U.S.C. § 9609(d). Regulations establishing the criteria for SARA citizen awards are in place at 40 C.F.R. § 303. They include assurance procedures for reward claimant confidentiality.
In 1990, a similar award authority (likewise up to $10,000) was included in the Clean Air Act (CAA), 42 U.S.C. § 7413(f) for persons who furnish information or services which lead to a CAA criminal conviction or the imposition of a CAA civil or a administrative penalty.
In addition, regulations at 33 C.F.R. 151.04(c) provide that "in the discretion of the court (the U.S. District Court Judge overseeing the prosecution and who determines the sentence), that an amount equal to not more than one-half of the fine may be paid to the person giving information leading to conviction" for criminally violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships , 33 U.S.C. 1901 - 1911 or MARPOL.

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