Energy & Environment

Even For Deaths Of Rare Birds, Criminal Charges Extraordinary

·By Michael Levine

Civil lawsuits may be a dime a dozen, but with criminal indictments — especially of corporations — it’s another story.

The recent decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to file criminal charges against the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative for alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act is a step rarely taken in enforcing those laws.

The 22-page indictment [pdf] handed down May 19 includes 19 different counts for knowingly taking — a term that includes harassing, harming, wounding and killing — dozens of Newell’s shearwaters,

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