EPA and OSHA Increase Civil Penalties
Both the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") have increased civil penalty amounts. The adjustments by both agencies are required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 as amended by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015. The requirement mandates that each agency apply an initial "catch-up" adjustment and then apply annual adjustments beginning on January 15, 2017.
OSHA Penalty Increase
The increase in OSHA penalties became effective August 2, 2016. The penalties apply to citations for penalties issued after August 2, 2016 and can apply to violations that occurred after November 2, 2015.
The new maximum penalty for a non-serious, other-than-serious, or posting requirement violation has increased from $7,000 per violation to $12,471 per violation. The maximum penalty for failure to abate violations has increased from $7,000 per day beyond the abatement date to $12,471 per day beyond the abatement date. For willfull or repeated violations, the maximum penalty has increased from $70,000 per violation to $124,709 per violation.
The penalties have not been adjusted since 1990. The new adjustment is an increase of penalties by seventy-eight percent (78%) in order to adjust for inflation based on the Consumer Price Index.
OSHA has issued revisions to its Field Operations Manual in order to provide guidance to its field staff on the new penalties. Additional information about the new penalties and a copy of the revisions to the Field Operations Manual are available on the OSHA website at the following link: https://www.osha.gov/penalties/.
EPA Penalty Increase
The increase in EPA penalties became effective August 1, 2016. The penalties apply to citations for penalties issued after August 1, 2016 and can apply to violations that occurred after November 2, 2015.
The EPA adjustment is also based on the Consumer Price Index, and the amount of the penalties varies by specific environmental statute. EPA has determined a "cost-of-living multiplier" for each penalty level and then applied that multiplier to increase sixty-five (65) different penalty amounts. For example, the maximum total penalty that can be assessed under Clean Air Act Section 113(d)(1) increased from $340,000 to $356,312. The full list of penalty increases is available in Table 2 of the EPA's Interim Final Rule published on August 1, 2016. The Interim Final Rule along with a July 27, 2016 Memorandum that EPA provided to all EPA Regional Administrators and Deputy Regional Administrators as guidance for the penalty increases can be found on the EPA website at the following link:
Wendy Wilkie Parker
The articles published in this newsletter are intended only to provide general information on the subjects covered. The contents should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Readers should consult with legal counsel to obtain specific legal advice based on particular situations.