July 4, 2022

Volume XII, Number 185

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July 01, 2022

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Calling All Whistleblowers: Department of Justice Launches Office of Environmental Justice

Last week, the United States Attorney General announced the creation of the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) within the Department of Justice. The OEJ will manage DOJ’s environmental justice projects and “serve as the central hub for our efforts to advance our comprehensive environmental justice enforcement strategy” and address the “harm caused by environmental crime, pollution, and climate change.”

In his speech, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland remarked that OEJ will “prioritize the cases that will have the greatest impact on the communities most overburdened by environmental harm” in partnership with the Civil Rights Division, Office for Access to Justice, Office of Tribal Justice, and United States Attorneys’ Offices.
Whistleblowers take note: violations of environmental laws (Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act) can be a basis for a False Claims Act case.

In 2019, the DOJ settled a case against a domestic producer of Omega-3 fish oil supplements, fishmeal, and fish solubles for livestock and aquaculture feed. The producer allegedly falsely certified compliance with federal environmental laws on a loan application. Under the terms of the settlement, the fish oil producer paid $1 million. A former employee blew the whistle on their employer’s fishy business and was rewarded $200,000 as part of a qui tam lawsuit.

False certification of environmental law compliance harms taxpayers, workers, residents, and the environment for generations. The Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s Civil Division said about the case, “Companies will face appropriate consequences if they misrepresent their eligibility to participate in federal programs and divert resources from those who should receive federal support.” It’s up to employees of manufacturers, contractors, construction companies, power plants, and others who receive government funds to report environmentally hazardous misconduct, so that, as the U.S. Attorney said, “Businessmen and companies that lie to get their hands on taxpayer money will be held accountable for their actions.”

© 2022 by Tycko & Zavareei LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 130
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About this Author

Eva Gunasekera WHistleblower and Government Fraud  Attorney Tycko & Zavareei LLP Law Firm
Partner

FORMER DOJ SENIOR COUNSEL FOR HEALTH CARE FRAUD, NOW REPRESENTING WHISTLEBLOWERS

(202) 973-0900
Renée Brooker Whistleblower Lawyer Tycko & Zavareei Law Firm
Partner

FORMER PROSECUTOR IN SENIOR LEADERSHIP POSITION AT DOJ, RESPONSIBLE FOR BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN RECOVERIES UNDER WHISTLEBLOWER LAWS, NOW REPRESENTING WHISTLEBLOWERS

(202) 417-3664‬
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