Today I sat in on a guilty plea hearing for a fellow from Malta who was caught on a boat in American waters dumping oil canisters without keeping a record of his oil supplies (begging the question: would he be in trouble if he had kept records of his pollution?). As I sat behind this man with long, stringy, almost green hair speaking through an interpreter, I could not help but feel the ridiculousness of the moment.
I am all for punishing environmental crimes. Still, it seems a little hard to justify sitting in this court room before a magistrate judge as another polluter has pumped countless gallons of oil into the gulf over the past few months, dramatically overshadowing this man’s wrongdoing. Indeed, I would guess that this fellow polluted less throughout the entire course of his operation than that other polluter did in the period of a minute.
As for that other entity which I won’t take the time to name–no charges yet. Should intent matter that much? Maybe, but I certainly have a hard time justifying the disparate results.