EPA Raises Civil Penalties for Environmental Noncompliance

Posted on July 5,2016 by Roger Marks

In the Federal Register today, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted an Interim Final Rule to raise civil penalties for violations of environmental law and EPA regulations. Penalties are being raised to match inflation as mandated under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990.

In Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR), US EPA maintains a broad range of regulations, covering everything from air emissions and chemical management to pesticides and the storage, handling, treatment, and disposal of hazardous waste. Penalties differ by program, and today’s Federal Register lays out a five-step process for how EPA determined the new amounts. 

New RCRA Maximum Civil Penalty Level

For sites subject to the EPA’s Resource and Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste rules, the maximum civil penalty will rise from $37,500 per day, per violation to $70,117 per day, per violation, a jump of over 50%.

Hazardous waste spill penalty

Other Air, Water, and Chemical Civil Penalties 

The maximum civil penalty for violations of the Clean Air Act will rise from $37,500 to $93,750.
The maximum penalties under the Clean Water Act will rise from $37,500 to $51,570.
In addition, the max fine for violations of the following environmental requirements will rise from $37,500 to $53,907:
  • Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)
  • Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA)
  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)
Lastly, penalties for violations of the EPA’s chemical management, reporting, and recordkeeping rules under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) will stay the same, at $37,500. Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) penalties will rise from $7,000 to $18,750.
See the full list in the Federal Register here.

New penalties are set to take effect on August 1, 2016, but may be applied to violations that occurred any time after November 2, 2015.

Hazmat and OSHA Safety Penalties Also on the Rise

US DOT PHMSA also raised its penalties for hazmat shipping violations this week, including the minimum penalty for failure to train hazmat personnel. And, for the first time since 1990, OSHA raised the fines for violations for 29 CFR work safety standards. OSHA fines went up by 78%.

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