Increase in EPA Fines Means Noncompliance Is a Dangerous Game to Play

Increase in EPA Fines Means Noncompliance Is a Dangerous Game to Play

Stormwater SamplingSince 2015, the EPA annually increased their fine amounts.  The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Improvements Act allows agencies the chance to increase fine amounts every year due to inflation.   This means the EPA can implement higher fines for clean air, water, waste and chemical violations.

Smaller businesses better make sure they are in compliance because just two violations easily adds up to over $100K.   Also, smaller companies are at risk if the EPA already issued a notice of violation or are being watched by citizen watchdog groups.

Here is brief overview of the fine amounts by act.

  • Clean Air Act – Maximum fine now $97,229.
  • Clean Water Act – Fine now $53,484.
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) – Fines now between $58,562 and $72,718.
  • CERCLA and Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act – Fines up to $55,907
  • Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodetnticide Act (FIFRA) – Fine now $19,446, up from $5,000
  • Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – $38,892
  • Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act – Fine now $17,395, up from $10,000.

Keep in mind that the EPA takes into account the seriousness of the violation and the violator’s attempt to comply  before determining a fine amount.

How Does the EPA Decide On the Amended Fine Amounts?

The EPA multiplies the previous penalty amount by a multiplier as determined by the Consumer Price Index.  The statutory cost-of-living adjustment multiplier is the percentage by which the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the month of October 2017 exceeds the CPI-U for the month and year the penalty amount was last changed.

Source: Environmental Compliance Alert, February 14, 2018, Vol. 25 No.575

Source: Amendments to the EPA’s Civil Penalty Policies to Account for Inflation

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