US EPA increased its maximum monetary civil penalties for violations of air, water, chemical, and hazardous waste programs on December 23, 2020. The Final Rule
increases maximum penalty amounts to keep pace with inflation.
The increased penalty amounts shown below will apply to environmental violations that occurred after November 2, 2015 and for which penalties are assessed on or after December 23, 2020.
When civil penalties rise, so does the value of environmental compliance.
While typical environmental violations
don't result in maximum penalties, these figures will guide EPA's enforcement decisions in the new year.
Updated EPA Civil Penalties
Civil penalty figures are current as of December 23, 2020.
EPA assesses civil penalties on a per day, per violation basis.
|Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
|Clean Air Act (CAA)
|Clean Water Act (CWA)
|Emergency Planning/ Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA)
|Comp. Environmental Response... Act (CERCLA)
|Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)
|Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)
|Fed Insecticide, Fungicide/Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)
To see penalty increases for other EPA programs like CASCO, MPRSA, and the Battery Act, view the Final Rule in the December 23 Federal Register.
The updated penalty amounts are in effect as of December 23, 2020.
Mitigating Factors for EPA Penalty Assessment
EPA considers a range of factors before assessing a civil penalty. These include:
- Severity of the violation
- the facility's good faith efforts to ensure compliance
- economic benefit gained from noncompliance; and
- ability to pay
To avoid civil penalties for environmental noncompliance, you must know which regulations apply to your organization and how those regulations impact your activities.
EPA maintains a self-audit policy
that enables facilities to reduce the civil penalty assessment for violations of environmental mandates.
In 2015, EPA launched an eDisclosure portal
to help regulated entities self-report violations of EPCRA requirements and other environmental mistakes.
Why Environmental Penalties Increase Every Year
Federal agencies like US EPA and US DOT increase their maximum civil penalties annually. This began with the passage of the 2015 Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act.
Before that law, agencies were required to raise penalties every four
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