On January 12, 2017, EPA published a final rule adjusting for inflation the civil monetary penalty amounts for the statutes it administers. This most recent adjustment follows on the heels of a major adjustment finalized in July 2016.  These adjustments are mandated by 2015 revisions to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act.  The new law required agencies to make initial “catch-up” adjustments by July 2016, followed by annual inflation adjustments beginning January 15, 2017.  In the past, EPA only adjusted penalty levels for inflation once every several years.

The annual inflation adjustments are based on a cost-of-living multiplier determined by changes to the Consumer Price Index.  The changes impact all of the federal environmental statutes.  Under these most recent adjustments, for example, the per day, per violation maximum civil penalties under the Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) increased as follows:

CAA: from $93,750 to $95,284;
CWA: from $51,570 to $52,414; and
RCRA: from $70,117 to $71,264.
The adjusted amounts apply to penalties assessed after January 15, 2017 for violations occurring after November 2, 2015. A full list of EPA’s new penalty amounts can be accessed here. For more information regarding civil monetary penalties, please contact Randy Brogdon, Margaret Campbell, or Buck Dixon.