EPA Final Rule Raises The Limits For Civil Penalties
In a final rule issued on January 12, 2017, EPA adjusted the level of statutory civil monetary penalty amounts under the statutes EPA administers. 82 Fed. Reg. 3633. The adjustments are mandated by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended through the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015. The latter law prescribes a formula for annually adjusting statutory civil penalties to reflect inflation, maintain the deterrent effect of statutory civil penalties, and promote compliance. The rule does not necessarily revise the penalty amounts that EPA chooses to seek pursuant to its civil penalty policies in a particular case. EPA’s civil penalty policies, which guide enforcement personnel in how to exercise EPA’s statutory penalty authorities, take into account a number of case-specific considerations, e.g., the seriousness of the violation, the violator’s good faith efforts to comply, any economic benefit gained by the violator as a result of its noncompliance, and a violator’s ability to pay. The increases are relatively small. The rule will become effective on January 15, 2017.