NOAA to use EPA administrative law judges for newly docketed enforcement cases

September 8, 2011

Beginning today, NOAA will refer new law enforcement cases to administrative law judges (ALJs) from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Over the last several months, NOAA has worked with the Office of Personnel Management to find a new source for ALJs. OPM conducted a government-wide search for replacements.

In putting in place a new arrangement for ALJs, NOAA looked at a number of factors, including experience in hearing enforcement cases, experience in handling complex natural resource issues and a full support infrastructure, among other criteria. ALJs from the EPA have extensive experience handling enforcement cases involving complex federal natural resource statutes, including the Clean Water Act and the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, among many others. The EPA ALJs also have a full support infrastructure, and are able to fully handle NOAA’s caseload.

Today’s announcement builds on NOAA’s previous actions to reform every aspect of its enforcement program. In response to reviews of the program by the Inspector General that were requested by NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the agency has implemented a number of sweeping changes since January 21, 2010, including:

Any cases docketed with the Coast Guard ALJs prior to today are expected to remain with the Coast Guard ALJs.

To get more information on the reforms to NOAA’s enforcement program, visit NOAA’s Timeline of Enforcement Program Improvements.

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