Cost of Noncompliance Creeps Up - EPA Increases Civil Penalty Amounts
By Andy Bowman, Attorney, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP
Federal law requires EPA to adjust maximum civil penalty amounts for inflation every four years. EPA published a final rule listing the revised penalties in early November. 78 Federal Register 66643 (November 6, 2013). The latest inflation adjustment has resulted in higher maximum civil penalties under 20 of the 88 federal civil penalty provisions implemented by EPA. Violations after December 6, 2013 will be subject to the higher fines. Because of a low rate of inflation since the last adjustment in 2009 and an increment rounding procedure, most of the more common violations of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act (CWA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA) and other major federal environmental statutes will remain subject to a maximum penalty of $37,500 per day. Among the penalties that increased are the maximum penalty caps for failing to report releases under CERCLA and EPCRA. These rose from $107,500 to $117,500. Certain CWA maximum penalty caps also increased to $187,500 from $177,500. This marks the fourth adjustment since 1997. The next adjustment is scheduled for 2017. At that time it is likely that the daily maximum penalties under several laws will jump from $37,500 to $42,500.
To view a complete PDF of the September/October 2013 issue of the Environmental Letter, click HERE.