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March 16, 2017 Article

Environmental Alert: EPA and OSHA Civil Penalty Limits Increase for 2017

Environmental Alert

Earlier this year, and prior to the installation of the Trump Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”) each increased penalties applicable to new enforcement cases. Both Agencies’ penalty provisions were adjusted for inflation, as mandated by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, and follow much larger increases that took effect last year.

New civil penalties for violations of environmental statutes administered by EPA range from $9,054 to as much as $251,382. 82 Fed. Reg. 3633, 3636-37 (Jan. 12, 2017) (Table 2 of Section 19.4). OSHA’s penalties now range from $9,054 to $126,749 for willful violations, up to $126,749 for repeated violations, and up to $12,675 for serious violations, other-than-serious violations, failures to correct violations, or violations of posting requirements. 82 Fed. Reg. 5373 (Jan. 18, 2017).

Both EPA’s and OSHA’s new penalty amounts apply to all violations occurring after November 2, 2015, where penalties are assessed on or after January 15, 2017 (EPA) or after January 13, 2017 (OSHA).

Up-to-date knowledge regarding current Agency/Administration penalty policies and potential fines applicable to violations of EPA or OSHA statutes and regulations is necessary in order to accurately evaluate and respond to allegations of noncompliance. What is more challenging is accounting for uncertainty regarding the direction of, and commitment to, enforcement under current executive branch leadership.

Contact Laura Rideout at [email protected] for additional information regarding penalties that may be applicable to a particular EPA or OSHA-related violation.

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