Recently, EPA issued an Interim OECA Guidance on EPA and state roles on managing enforcement and compliance assistance. See, Interim OECA Guidance on Enhancing Regional—State Planning and Communication on Compliance Assurance Work in Authorized States. While EPA is seeking to emphasize cooperative federalism in modifying the emphasis of the 1986 revised policy on state/EPA enforcement agreements, as provided in the first footnote of the Guidance, the policy issued on January 22, 2018, appears to make the states the primary enforcer of environmental laws and provides a secondary role for EPA in that regard.
In January 2017, both EPA and OSHA increased civil penalties for new enforcement cases. While the increases became effective just days before the new Administration took office, the increases are a result of Congressional action in 2015 to annually adjust civil penalties for inflation by January 15 of each new calendar year.
Businesses and companies seeking to qualify for penalty mitigation and relief by submitting voluntary self-disclosures under EPA’s Audit Policy need to be aware of significant changes and modifications that took effect in December 2015.
On March 10, 2015, EPA issued a new revised 2015 Update to its Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) Policy, thereby superseding prior SEP policies.
EPA Region 4 and Family Dollar, Inc., have entered into a Consent Agreement and Final Order (CAFO) to resolve allegations that the retail store distributed two bleach products with labels that purportedly were not identical to the EPA-approved labels. The settlement, under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), requires the company to pay a $602,438 penalty.
On May 28, 2013, EPA announced that “Wal-Mart Stores Inc. pleaded guilty today in cases filed by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles and San Francisco to six counts of violating the Clean Water Act by illegally handling and disposing of hazardous materials at its retail stores across the United States. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company also pleaded guilty today in Kansas City, Mo., to violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by failing to properly handle pesticides that had been returned by customers at its stores across the country.”
On September 7, 2012, EPA announced the largest ever criminal fine and civil penalty, a combined $12.5 million enforcement action, under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which regulates the manufacture, distribution, sale, and use of pesticides in the United States.