Effective August 1, 2016, EPA implemented significant civil penalty increases. These changes will apply to all pending and future cases relating to violations occurring after November 2, 2015. In addition, EPA said it intends to do additional inflation adjustments annually, beginning on or shortly before January 15, 2018.
For example, the maximum RCRA (solid and hazardous waste) penalty increased from $37,500 to $40,779 per violation. EPCRA Section 313 (Form R) maximum penalties increased roughly 63% from 2001 levels.
My takeaway from this is that it is more important than ever to have a solid environmental management program in place and conduct periodic audits to ensure the program is effective. EPA’s e-disclosure policy provides various levels of penalty relief for self-discovered, self-reported, and self-corrected violations. Contrary to recent rumors, the program is alive and well and not being discontinued.