The US Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have published annual civil monetary penalty adjustments. The adjustments are mandated by 2015 revisions to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act, which requires federal agencies to make annual inflation adjustments to federal statutory civil penalty amounts. Before the revisions to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act, the EPA and other agencies only adjusted penalty levels for inflation once every several years. Starting in 2017, however, the federal agencies must adjust their penalty amounts annually.
For the EPA, this will be the second civil penalty increase in six months. In July, the agency published a Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule, which served as a catch-up Rule that substantially raised the fines under EPA programs like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, RCRA, EPCRA, CERCLA, and more.
While the new penalty adjustments are not as significant as the original catch-up adjustments, it is important to know the potential amount of fines in order to accurately evaluate compliance risks.
Below are some examples of the new civil penalty adjustments:
The EPA's civil penalty adjustments apply to violations that occurred after November 2, 2015 and for which penalties are assessed on or after January 15, 2017.