The institutionalization of criminal investigation and prosecution of companies and individuals that violate federal clean air laws has been ongoing for almost four decades. Yet our empirical understanding of how defendants are criminally prosecuted and sanctioned under the U.S. Clean Air Act is mostly unknown. Our goal is to analyze historical charging and sentencing patterns in Clean Air Act criminal prosecutions and show the broader themes that emerge over time. Through content analysis of all 2,588 criminal prosecutions resulting from U.S. EPA criminal investigations, 1983-2019, we select all 377 prosecutions focusing on Clean Air Act violations. Findings suggest that prosecutions focus on six primary themes: asbestos related crimes, vehicle emissions fraud, false reporting, renewable fuel credit fraud, negligent operations, and trade in restricted refrigerants. Defendants were cumulatively sentenced to roughly $3.6 billion in fines, 16,000 months of probation, and 7,600 months of incarceration.

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