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Compliance & Enforcement

Definition
Overview
How can I learn more about compliance and enforcement programs?

Definition

Compliance involves actions and programs designed to ensure the environmental laws of the land are followed.  Enforcement is focused on those situations when the law is not followed to ensure a rapid return to compliance with these laws.

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AQM System Flow Chart Highlighting Enforcement
Overview

Complying with environmental regulations is important in protecting public health and the environment.  From a regulatory agency’s perspective, it is one of checks in the air quality management system.  In the U.S., the EPA is responsible for enforcing and assuring compliance with environmental regulations and may delegate its responsibility to state, local and tribal governments.  EPA’s compliance and enforcement efforts focus on assisting business and communities with compliance training and guidance. The EPA also partners with foreign governments, international organizations, and other federal agencies to help build enforcement and compliance capabilities in other countries, and to fulfill U.S. commitments under international agreements.

Compliance and enforcement programs encompass a range of actions and activities, some of which include:

  • compliance monitoring;
  • administrative, civil, and criminal enforcement;
  • compliance assistance;
  • compliance incentives and auditing;
  • planning and results;
  • data systems; and
  • environmental justice.

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How can I learn more about compliance assistance and enforcement programs?

Compliance assistance and enforcement are very complex issues, involving different aspects of a country's legal and policy framework. As such, there is no clear cut method for establishing a program. Instead of the "How do I..." portion found under the other management activities, this section will direct you to a few sources of information about these topics. The Resources section below has even more links of use.

Compliance Assistance: The U.S. EPA as well as states and local agencies have developed numerous industry specific documents available to assist in the development of a compliance program. These are accessible in the National Environmental Compliance Assistance Clearinghouse. In addition, because many compliance and enforcement documents are industry or emission specific, please be sure to access the many resources listed below.

Compliance Inspections are a key element of a compliance program. The U.S. EPA offers an on-line training course for conducting environmental compliance inspections.

Civil Enforcement encompasses the investigations and cases brought to address the most significant violations, and includes EPA administrative actions and judicial cases referred to the Department of Justice. See the U.S. EPA's civil enforcement program for more information.

Criminal Enforcement is designed to identify, apprehend, and assist prosecutors in successfully convicting those who are responsible for the most significant and egregious violations of environmental law that pose substantial risks to human health and the environment. See the U.S. EPA's criminal enforcement program for more information.

As with the other management activities related to the AQM process, it is critical to contact the regulated community and other affected parties, as the public should be consulted as part of the process.

Resources

Organizations and Agencies

Publications and Reports

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