On Wednesday, November 6, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) published a final rule in the Federal Register amending the Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule.  This is required by the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (“DCIA”) in order to adjust civil monetary penalties for inflation.  The DCIA sets out a four-step formula that the EPA uses to adjust civil monetary penalties for inflation, and the EPA is required to review the penalties every four years.  The final rule adjusts the maximum and, in certain cases, the minimum amount of statutory civil monetary penalties for inflation in Table 1 of 40 C.F.R. § 19.4.  For example, for Clean Air Act violations under 42 U.S.C. § 7413(d)(1), the EPA increased the total penalty maximum from $295,000 to $320,000 but did not adjust the daily penalty maximum of $37,500 per violation.

In addition to adjusting penalties for inflation, the EPA is also revising Table 1 of 40 C.F.R. § 19.4 to separately list each of the three statutory penalty authorities under Section 325(b) of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

The final rule is effective December 6, 2013, and the adjusted civil monetary penalties will apply only to violations that occur after this date, as provided in the DCIA.

Co-authored by Michael N. Mills and Rebecca C. Guiao.