Orange You Glad?
The District Attorney’s office in conservative Orange County, Calif., is beefing up its environmental crime division to become one of the most rigorous eco-SWAT teams in the nation. While resources for pursuing environmental criminals have been dwindling in many other areas in the state, Orange County has tripled its budget in the last three years and now has a team that includes 10 attorneys handling nearly 100 cases. In one of the office’s highest-profile cases, prosecutors are seeking millions from six oil companies, including Shell and Amoco, for leaky storage tanks beneath gas stations that are contaminating groundwater. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who took office in January 1999 and spearheaded the aggressive pursuit of environmental crimes, said, “I didn’t want to be sitting around 10 or 15 years from now thinking ‘We could still have a real environment if the D.A. would have prosecuted some of these violations.'”