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EPA Increases Civil Monetary Penalty Amounts for 2009

Beveridge & Diamond, PC, December 11, 2008

On December 11, 2008, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a final rule increasing the civil monetary penalty amounts that can be assessed for violations of the various environmental statutes the agency administers.  See Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule, 73 Fed. Reg. 75,340 (Dec. 11, 2008) (to be codified at 40 C.F.R. pts. 19, 27). 

The EPA issued the rule pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended by the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA), which requires each federal agency to publish regulations at least once every four years adjusting for inflation the civil penalties potentially assessed by that agency.  The previous inflation adjustment regulations went into effect on March 15, 2004.

The adjustments are fairly uniform across the EPA-administered statutes and represent an approximately 15% increase over the present limits, which have been in effect since 2004.  Current penalty limits of $6,500, $11,000, and $32,500 will be increased to $7,500, $16,000, and $37,500, respectively.  For example, under the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), and the Clean Air Act (CAA), the civil judicial penalties that can be sought for most violations will increase from $32,500 per day per violation to $37,500 per day per violation.  Administrative penalties for violations under these statutes will also increase.  For example, the $11,000 per day per violation limit (up to a total of $157,500) that can be assessed for certain violations of the CWA and SDWA will increase to $16,000 per day per violation (up to a total of $177,500).  The $270,000 limit on total administrative penalties that can be assessed for certain violations of the CAA will increase to $290,000. The inflation-adjusted penalty amounts will be codified in Table 1 of 40 C.F.R. ยง 19.4. 

The new inflation adjusted civil monetary penalties apply to violations of the applicable statutes and regulations that occur after January 12, 2009.

For more information, please contact Steven Herman at (202) 789-6060 (sherman@bdlaw.com).