Environmental Crime GUESTS: STEVE SOLOW Chief, Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice. JERRY TAYLOR Director, Natural Resource Studies, CATO Institute The owner of a chemical plant was recently sentenced to 17 years in prison for knowingly exposing a worker to hazardous waste. The prison sentence was the harshest in history for an environmental crime in the United States; just a few years ago such a lengthy prison term would have been unheard of. Punishing polluters by sending them to jail, rather than just imposing fines is becoming more common. Referrals to the Justice Department by the EPA have increased dramatically over the last 10 years, as have the prosecutions and the length of sentences for these types of crimes.