On January 10, 2018, USEPA published the “Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule” (83 Fed. Reg. 1190) (“the 2018 Rule”) to adjust the statutory civil penalties under various environmental statutes administered by the agency. The 2018 Rule accounts for inflation since the last adjustment and is effective on January 15, 2018.
The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (Pub. L. 114-74, title VII, sec. 701(b)) (“the 2015 Act”) was signed into law on November 2, 2015. The stated purpose of the 2015 Act was to improve the effectiveness of statutory maximum and minimum civil penalties and to maintain their deterrent effect in order to promote compliance with the law. The 2015 Act required USEPA and other federal agencies to make annual adjustments for inflation beginning in January 2017. To make the first annual adjustment, USEPA promulgated the 2017 Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule (83 Fed. Reg. 3633) (“the 2017 Rule”), which went into effect on January 15, 2017. The 2018 Rule makes the second annual adjustment.
Pursuant to the 2018 Rule, USEPA updated civil penalty amounts by multiplying the cost-of-living multiplier by the previous statutory penalty amount as adjusted by the 2017 Rule. The last column of the table below sets forth the new civil penalties under the CWA, RCRA, CAA, and CERCLA. A complete list of the updated civil penalties for all environmental statutes administered by USEPA is available at 83 Fed. Reg. 1193-94 and 40 CFR § 19.4. The new penalties apply to all violations occurring after November 2, 2015, where penalties are assessed on or after January 15, 2018.