c. There are two ways to violate environmental laws and regulations--through negligence and
through purposeful acts. Violations can subject military installations to fines and civil suits. Personnel
should consult the local JAG office for the latest changes or interpretations to laws and regulations.
Violations of environmental laws, whether intentional or not, are treated the same by regulators and
inspectors. Unintentional violations due to negligence can be prevented through training and education.
Purposeful violations must be prevented by the chain of command and individuals' moral sense.
(1) Negligence. These are careless, delinquent actions, and commanders, leaders, or
supervisors should know about them. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that soldiers perform their
duties correctly. Therefore, if soldiers are negligent or careless, a supervisor is guilty of negligence even
if unaware of the act. For example, assume the chain of command failed to ensure that all concertina or
communications wire was collected and stored following a field exercise. The chain of command is
responsible for damage or injury to personnel or wildlife that becomes entangled in or injured by the wire.
Failing to ensure that HM, such as solvents, are stored and accounted for properly is another example.
The chain of command is responsible if the containers leak and contaminate soil, groundwater, or nearby
(2) Purposeful Acts. These environmentally damaging actions are deliberately directed or
performed by a commander, leader, or supervisor who has full knowledge of the action's illegality. If
someone deliberately performs or directs an action knowing that it is illegal, that individual is culpable.
For example, if a supervisor directs a soldier to dispose of used parts in a pond located in a secluded part
of the post, the supervisor has deliberately broken the law. Claiming ignorance is no excuse. Common
sense dictates that this action was improper and reflected poor judgment on the part of the supervisor.
The petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) and the corrosion from the parts will contaminate the pond and
eliminate its value as a source of drinking water, habitat, and recreation. The chain of command should
prevent intentional violations to every extent possible.
d. Environmental legislation may contain procedural or substantive requirements or both.
(1) Procedural requirements describe a procedure or method that must be followed to
achieve a specified goal or policy. The NEPA, for instance, specifically requires that federal decision
makers follow certain procedures to document their consideration of environmental effects of actions. If
a procedural requirement is violated, the penalty may be an order to halt the proposed action or project
until the prescribed procedure has been followed to the satisfaction of the court. There is no direct fine or
prison term imposed; however, there may be an indirect monetary cost associated with delays to the
project and efforts to quickly comply with the procedural requirement.
(2) Substantive requirements define rights and restrictions. A typical substantive
requirement would be limiting allowable discharges of air or water pollutants under the terms of a permit.
For example, the permit required under the CWA for discharging pollutants into surface waters limits the
quantities of various pollutants in water on a daily, monthly, or annual basis.
(3) If a military installation is found guilty of violating a substantive requirement, the
installation may be fined or issued a directive from the regulatory agency to halt the polluting action
immediately. If a knowing and willful violation of any criminal prohibition within the law can be proven,
larger fines and permanent shutdown can be imposed. If an individual commits such a criminal violation,
a personal fine and/or prison sentence can be imposed, just as with any other type of criminal case.
(4) Several military installations have received fines or stop-action directives for
substantive violations, primarily from state authorities. Such directives were levied, by name, to the
individual who signed the permit (usually the installation commander). Fines were normally paid from