Enforcement Policy, Guidance & Publications
National policy, guidance and publications relating to EPA's enforcement of environmental laws.
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Media and Program-Specific Information
Temporary COVID-19 Enforcement Policy
NOTE: After August 31, 2020, the Temporary Enforcement Policy is no longer in effect.
EPA is mindful of the health and safety of the public, as well as our staff, and those of Federal Agencies, State and Local Governments, Tribes, Regulated Entities, Contractors, and Non-governmental Organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency is taking these important considerations into account as we all continue our work to protect human health and the environment. Accordingly, EPA has issued a temporary policy regarding EPA enforcement of environmental legal obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- COVID-19 Implications for EPAs Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program - 03/26/2020
- On June 29, 2020, EPA issued a memorandum on a termination addendum to the COVID-19 temporary enforcement policy. EPA has selected August 31, 2020, as the termination date for the temporary enforcement policy.
For additional information on the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus
General Civil Enforcement Penalty Policies
These policies provide guidance on the calculation of civil penalties in enforcement cases.
- A Framework for Statute-Specific Approaches to Penalty Assessments: Implementing EPA Policy on Civil Penalties - 02/16/84
- EPA Policy on Civil Penalties - (2/16/84)
- Guidance on use of Penalty Policies in Administrative Litigation - (12/15/95)
- Consolidated Rules of Practice Governing the Administrative Assessment of Civil Penalties, Issuance of Compliance or Corrective Actions Orders, and the Revocation, Termination or Suspension of Permits - (2/25/98)
- Guidance on Determining a Violators Ability to Pay a Civil Penalty - (12/16/86)
- Guidance on Evaluating a Violator's Ability to Pay a Civil Penalty in an Administrative Enforcement Action - (6/29/15)
- Financial Analysis Models Used to Calculate Economic Benefit and Ability to Pay
- Joint Collection of Penalties with State and Local Governments and Federally Recognized Indian Tribes - (03/11/05)
Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEP) and Mitigation Policies
These policies provide guidance on how and when to include a SEP or a mitigation project in an enforcement settlement.
Penalty Inflation Rules and Penalty Policy Amendments
EPA is required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 (as amended) to annually adjusting statutory civil penalties to reflect inflation, according to a prescribed formula. Prior to 2016, penalty adjustments were required every few years. However, the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 required these adjustments on an annual basis, beginning in 2016. Similarly, but separately, EPA amends its penalty policies to account for inflation. Note that only the 2020 Penalty Inflation Adjustments and a portion of the 2013 Penalty Inflation Adjustments are in effect (as explained in Part II of the 2020 guidance); all other penalty adjustments have been superseded and are retained here for reference purposes.
2021 Penalty Inflation Rule Adjustments
- Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule (12/23/2020)
2020 Penalty Inflation Rule Adjustments
- Amendments to the EPA's Civil Penalty Policies to Account for Inflation (effective January l 5, 2020) and Transmittal of the 2020 Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule (01/15/2020)
2019 Penalty Inflation Rule Adjustments
2018 Penalty Inflation Rule Adjustments
- Amendments to the EPA's Civil Penalty Policies to Account for Inflation (effective January 15, 2018) and Transmittal of the 2018 Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule - (01/11/18)
2017 Penalty Inflation Rule Adjustments
2016 Penalty Inflation Rule Adjustments
- Amendments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Civil Penalty Policies to Account for Inflation - (07/27/16)
- Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule - (07/01/16)
2013 Penalty Inflation Rule Adjustments
- Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule - (11/06/13)
- Amendments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Civil Penalty Policies to Account for Inflation (Effective December 6, 2013)
2008-2010 Penalty Inflation Rule Adjustments
- Revision to Adjusted Penalty Policy Matrices Package issued November 16, 2009 - (4/6/10)
- Technical Correction for the Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule - (1/7/09)
- Amendments to Penalty Policies to Implement Penalty Inflation Rule 2008 - (12/29/08)
- Federal Register Notice for Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule - (12/11/08)
2004 Penalty Inflation Rule Adjustments
- Modifications to EPA Penalty Policies to Implement the Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule (Pursuant to the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, Effective October 1, 2004) - (9/21/04)
- Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule (40 CFR Parts 19 and 72) (PDF)(7 pp, 183K) - (2/13/04)
1997 Penalty Inflation Rule Adjustments
- Modifications to EPA Penalty Policies to Implement the Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Rule (Pursuant to the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996) - (5/9/97)
Enforcement in Indian Country
Guidance for working with federally-recognized Indian tribes to ensure compliance at federally-regulated facilities in Indian country.
- Implementing Institutional Controls in Indian Country - Handbook answers questions for Regional staff on implementing institutional controls in Indian country as part of a cleanup project (11/13)
- EPA Region 10’s Civil Penalty Guidelines for the Federal Implementation Plans under the Clean Air Act for Indian Reservations in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. 40 C.F.R. Part 49 - These guidelines are used for enforcement and compliance assistance for Federal Air Rules for Indian Reservations in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington (FARR) (02/12/08)
- Questions and Answers on the Tribal Enforcement Process - (4/17/07)
- Collection of Penalties with State and Local Governments and Federally Recognized Indian Tribes - (3/11/05)
- Guidance on the Enforcement Principles Outlined in the 1984 Indian Policy - (1/17/01)
Additional Cross-Program Policies and Guidance
- Audit Policy, Guidance and Protocols provide guidance to companies that voluntarily discover, promptly disclose, and expeditiously correct environmental violations.
- Tailored Incentives for New Owners (New Owners Audit Policy
Small Businesses and Enforcement
- Small Businesses and Enforcement - EPA has many compliance and enforcement resources specifically designed to meet the needs of the Small Business and Small Communities.
Small Business Compliance Policy, Audit Disclosures and Assistance - Information for small businesses on EPA’s compliance policy, voluntary disclosure and correction of violations, and additional compliance information.
- Revised Guidance on the Use of Expedited Settlement Agreements - (11/24/14)
- Use of Expedited Settlements to Support Appropriate Tool Selection - (12/2/03) (generally SUPERSEDED by 2014 guidance)
Case Management, Oversight and Related Issues
- Implementation of Executive Order 13924 – (11/25/2020). This memorandum implements the principles of fairness in administrative enforcement articulated in Executive Order 13924 and further described in the Office of Management and Budget’s August 31, 2020 implementation memorandum.
- Best Practices for Compliance and Enforcement-Related Information Requests - (11/21/2018). Provides guidance on issuing compliance information requests.
- The Appropriate Use of Compliance Tools in Civil Enforcement Settlements - 4/3/2018
- Use of Next Generation Compliance Tools in Civil Enforcement Settlements (PDF)(6 pp, 137 K, January 8, 2015) (SUPERSEDED by 2018 guidance on The Appropriate Use of Compliance Tools in Civil Enforcement Settlements)
- Guide to Calculating Environmental Benefits from EPA Enforcement Cases - (3/2014). The “Guide to Calculating Environmental Benefits from EPA Enforcement Cases” establishes a framework for identifying and characterizing environmental benefits that are reported on the CCDS and entered in the Integrated Information Compliance System (ICIS).
- Language Regarding Judicial Review of Certain Administrative Enforcement Orders Following the Supreme Court Decision in Sackett v. EPA (03/21/13)
- Guidance on Streamlining Oversight in Civil Settlements - (1/10/2013). Provides guidance for managing available resources for monitoring settlements.
- Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) Parallel Proceeding Policy - (9/24/07). This policy reaffirms and clarifies the earlier policies, while adding procedural mechanisms to enhance effective communications between the Agency's civil and criminal enforcement programs.
- Restrictions on Communicating with Outside Parties Regarding Enforcement Actions - (3/8/2006). This guidance reiterates restrictions on communicating with parties outside of the EPA about enforcement actions, including members of Congress, state or local officials, and the media.
- Enhancing the Effectiveness of Information Requests in Regulatory Enforcement Matters (1/3/01)