Maryland State Senate Introduces a Bill to Establish a Natural Resources Whistleblower Program
In a time of increasing concern about climate change and environmental destruction, one state is ramping up efforts to conserve natural resources and encourage everyday citizens to join the fight. Just last week, the Maryland State Senate introduced a bill to establish a Natural Resources Whistleblower Program to assist enforcement activities related to the protection of state parks, water, forests, and land. The bill establishes a rewards program for individuals or nonprofit organizations who report violations of natural resources or conservation laws. It also provides for special fines for violations related to commercial fishing and poaching of deer.
In crafting the legislation, the Department of Natural Resources explicitly “recognized the value of establishing a whistleblower program by entering into a partnership with a third party for the anonymous reporting of natural resources and conservation violations.” The bill is currently in committee, and a hearing is set for March 6, 2019. If the bill passes, the Department of Natural Resources is required to adopt regulations by October 1, 2019.
Maryland’s initiative coincides with renewed federal interest in environmental conservation. In late January, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the House to combat the destruction of natural resources and incentivize whistleblowers to report environmental regulation violations. Congressmen John Garamendi (D-CA) and Don Young (R-AK) introduced the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2019, reclassifies serious wildlife trafficking offenses as violations of federal racketeering and other anti-organized-crime statutes and encourages whistleblowers to report crimes, among other provisions. The bill currently awaits consideration in the House Natural Resources and Judiciary committees.
For more on recent environmental fraud victories, visit our Top Ten Environmental Fraud Settlements of 2018.
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