On January 23, 2019 and February 6, 2019, OSHA and EPA, respectively, published their annual civil monetary penalty adjustments in the Federal Register. The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015 requires federal agencies to make annual inflation adjustments to federal statutory civil penalty amounts. The annual inflation adjustments are based on a cost-of-living multiplier determined by changes to the Consumer Price Index.

In the past, EPA made such adjustments only once every several years. Since 2017, however, EPA and other federal agencies must adjust their penalty amounts every year. The changes impact all federal environmental statutes and increase the civil penalties that may be assessed in federal enforcement actions. For example, 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 $97,229 to $99,681 per day, per violation;

CWA: from $53,484 to $54,833 per day, per violation; and

RCRA: from $72,718 to $74,552 per day, per violation.

The adjusted amounts apply to penalties assessed on or after January 15, 2019 for violations that occurred after November 2, 2015, the date Congress enacted the penalty adjustment legislation. A complete listing of the new penalty amounts by statute is available here.

For OSHA, the adjusted penalty amounts apply to any penalties assessed after January 23, 2019, even where inspections may have occurred earlier. The civil penalties for key violations increased as follows:

OSHA willful and repeat violation: from $129,336 to $132,598;

OSHA serious and other-than-serious violation: from $12,934 to $13,260;

OSHA posting requirement violation: from $12,934 to $13,260;

OSHA failure to abate violation: from $12,934 to $13,260; and

OSHA willful violation minimum: from $9,239 to $9,472

A complete listing of OSHA’s updated civil penalty amounts is available here.

For more information regarding civil monetary penalties, please contact Margaret Campbell, Brooks Smith, Patrick Fanning, or Buck Dixon.