The Environmental Protection Unit of the Attorney General’s Office litigates environmental cases of statewide importance. The Unit files civil and criminal actions to enforce Vermont’s environmental laws, defends the State of Vermont and its agencies when they are sued over environmental matters and handles appeals of decisions from the Environmental Court and the Superior Courts involving environmental issues. Unit attorneys provide legal services to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. The Unit also assists with legal advice and counsel on environmental matters in anticipation of litigation to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, the Vermont Natural Resources Board and other state agencies. Examples of past and current litigation handled by the Unit include:
- Defending Vermont’s greenhouse gas vehicle emissions regulations in federal district court;
- Defending the Vermont Agency of Natural Resource’s decision to deny permit and close major landfill;
- Protecting Vermont’s interests at Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on post-closure activities at Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant;
- Seeking civil recovery and restoration for MTBE groundwater contamination;
- Resolving enforcement actions with civil penalties for hazardous waste, storm water, Act 250, agriculture water quality, and heavy cut timber violations;
- Prosecuting criminal actions for releases of hazardous waste, illegal transportation and disposal of solid waste and false claims; and
- Representing the State before the Vermont Supreme Court on environmental appeals.
The Unit is staffed by nine attorneys, who appear in state and federal courts, and a paralegal. In cooperation with the Vermont Law School and other law schools, the Unit hosts legal interns.
Proposed Settlements of Civil Environmental Enforcement Cases
To facilitate possible public participation in proposed settlements of civil environmental enforcement cases filed by the Attorney General’s Office, the Unit posts notice of these proposed settlement agreements at the time of filing with the Court. The postings are on the Unit website (below) and include a link to the proposed settlement pleadings. To further facilitate public participation, the Unit requests in its filings that the Court hold the proposed settlement for 21 days before considering and acting on the submitted settlement. Potential public participation is pursuant to Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 24 regarding intervention.
Environmental Protection Links
The Office of the Vermont Attorney General enforces environmental laws along with other state and federal agencies, including:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Region One
Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
Vermont Natural Resources Board
Vermont Department of Labor
Department of Housing and Community Development
Vermont Department of Health
Dial 911 in a life-threatening emergency
802-828-1138 7:45 am-4:30 pm weekdays, ANR Waste Management Division After-Hours Emergency: 1-800-641-5005 24-hour, State Police Dispatch
1-800-823-6500 or 802-241-3400 7:45 am-4:30 pm weekdays, ANR Water Supply Division
After-Hour Emergency: Dial 741-5311 then enter your number for 24-hour pager for ANR Water Supply Division
Reporting Suspected Violations of Environmental Laws
The Attorney General’s Office does not take referrals from individual citizens regarding suspected violations of environmental laws. If you would like to report a possible violation of Vermont’s environmental laws, please contact one or more of the following:
ANR’s Enforcement Division handles a variety of complaints including but not limited to: illegal transportation of hazardous waste, storage and disposal of solid and hazardous waste, illegal open burning of prohibited materials, wetlands violations, and various water quality complaints relating to permitted and non-permitted discharges to State waters.
To report possible fish and wildlife violations, contact Operation Game Thief 1-800-75ALERT
The Vermont Natural Resources Board oversees Act 250, the state-wide land use planning statute. To report a violation of Act 250, contact a permit compliance officer or the District Coordinator for the specific district.
The Environmental Assistance Unit provides permit assistance through regional and satellite offices, and will assist applicants in identifying necessary state permits or approvals for any given project.
Unit Contact Information
Office of Attorney General
Environmental Protection Unit
109 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05609-1001
Tel.: (802) 828-3186