Effective as of December 6, 2013, EPA has increased the civil penalties for 20 of the 88 statutory civil penalty provisions that the agency administers. The majority of civil penalties are unchanged because of the low rate of inflation since the prior adjustment, according to the preamble to EPA’s final rule, published November 6, 2013. EPA is required by statute to adjust civil penalties for inflation at least once every four years to maintain their deterrent effect. The prior adjustment went into effect on January 12, 2009; EPA anticipates that the next adjustment will not occur until 2017.
Some of the notable penalty increases are as follows:
Clean Water Act: A nearly double increase (from $1,100 to $2,100) in the “per barrel” penalty for prohibited discharges of oil or hazardous substances (33 U.S.C. § 1321(b)(7)(A)).
Clean Air Act: A $25,000 increase (from $295,000 to $320,000) in the maximum penalty for violations state implementation plans (42 U.S.C. § 7413(d)(1)).
CERCLA & EPCRA: A $10,000 increase (from $107,500 to $117,500) in the maximum penalty for violations of certain notice requirement concerning releases of hazardous and extremely hazardous substances (42 U.S.C. §§ 9609(b), (c), 42 U.S.C. §§ 11045(b)(2), (b)(3)).
The complete table of EPA’s civil monetary penalties, as revised, can be found at 78 Fed. Reg. 66643, 66647-648 (Nov. 6, 2013).