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Who are Green Police?

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Answered 2010-02-08 18:59:16

The term "green police" refers to a broad range of grassroots movements and local law enforcement initiatives with respect to environmental laws. In essence, the green police is a social movement to officially or unofficially enforce local environmental regulations. In its official capacity, the green police is a nickname to a branch of local law enforcement in charge of ensuring environmental protection laws are followed. In its unofficial capacity, the term green police is a term referring to private citizens who report environmental violations to their local law enforcement agency, or enforce environmental rules at special events. The term green police has also been co-opted by companies and groups to promote environmentally-themed agendas and ad campaigns.

Police and law enforcement department around the world have launched "green police" divisions exclusively in charge of enforcing environmental laws. However, these special units are rarely officially called "green police," but rather have been given this nickname to make their mission clear to the general public. For example, New York City's Department of Environmental Conservation has commissioned a team of twenty special officers who are empowered to enforce environmental regulations, such as pulling over vehicles that are violating emission standards. This New York green police can also inspect food vendors to make sure conservation laws are being followed. In the UK, the Environment Agency has a similar special enforcement unit whose main task is enforce the provisions of the Carbon Reduction Commitment. This green police has been given wide powers to search company properties, examine energy use, and issue citations.

Vietnam and Israel have also fielded government green police units. In Israel, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has a Green Police (literally named "Green Police") to enforce green laws. The Israeli Green Police is charged with making sure water laws are followed, inspecting dairy farms, preventing hazardous waste from being dumped illegally, and ensuring asbestos is removed from buildings. In Vietnam, the Environment Police Department handles such tasks as stopping illegal wildlife trafficking and making sure companies do not violate green laws. For example, the Vietnamese green police prosecuted Vietnam Electricity for illegally selling oil from their Transformers.

The term green police also refers to anyone reporting environmental violations to local law enforcement. The green police can also refer to environmental watchdogs hired for public or private events. Like any other law enforcement agency, the official government green police rely on unofficial green police "informants" to let them know a law is being broken. At the Glastonbury Festival, festival organizers are hiring "green police" to spread environmental awareness and encourage environmentally responsible behavior. This Glastonbury Festival Green Police's duties include making sure festival goers dispose of their cigarettes properly, not urinate in the water and shrubbery, and pick up and recycle their trash. The environmental group Greenpeace is often referred to as the "Green Police" in their private, non-government sanctioned efforts to enforce whale conservation laws.

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