EPA Fines: Are You In Compliance?

Posted by on Monday, February 25th, 2019 in Blog

In 1963, the United States took a major step toward controlling its overall air quality and encouraging healthy environmental practices in major industries. Called the Clean Air Act (CAA), this legislation established guidelines for air quality and air pollution, and authorized the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to administer the Act. 

Today, the CAA has been modified a number of times to keep up with changing technologies and realities, but it still remains one of the most widespread environmental laws in the world. Violations of the CAA can lead to steep fines and even jail times. Here is a look at the CAA, the EPAfines that can accompany violations, and tips for remaining in compliance. 

Clean Air Act: Introduction

The Clean Air Act is the major piece of legislation that regulates air quality and emissions in the United States. 

Administered by theEPA, it affects companies at the federal and local levels, and contains regulations for everything from stationary pollution to mobile pollution to acid rain. Due to provisions in the Act, all 50 states had implemented air pollution programs by 1970

Thanks to the amendments that have been made to the CAA, and for its generally widespread ability to address emissions, pollution, and air quality, the Clean Air Act is a comprehensive set of regulations that affects almost every business whose activities impact the quality of the air in any way. Industries affected include everything from chemical manufacturing to automobile manufacturing to construction and beyond. 

In addition to the CAA, other acts, such as the (Safe Drinking Water Act) help to minimize pollution levels in other areas.

EPA Fines: The Basics

Along with the implementation of the Clean Air Act (and other acts, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act) came the authority for the EPA to enforce the provisions of the act. In general, enforcement falls into two categories: civil and criminal. 

Civil enforcement usually takes the form of fines, which can be very steep, depending upon the type and length of the violation. The EPA may also require the violator to engage in cleaning up problem areas created by their noncompliance. The EPA may require fines, clean up, or other activities through notices served by the EPA’s own authority, or through court action. 

Criminal enforcement can take the form of jail time for those found guilty, but can also result in fines. Penalties are usually more severe for those who intentionally violated the act. Criminal enforcement is typically reserved for the most egregious and intentional offenses. 

EPA Fines: The Specifics

Fines for violating the CAA and other acts are steep. The maximum civil penalty for violations of the Act is more than $93,000 per violation per day. These penalties can quickly add up to fines in the millions of dollars for companies that do not remain in compliance and whose non-compliance runs for any length of time. 

There have been some relatively well-known cases of large fines levied against organizations that were in violation of the CAA. For example, Shell Oil in 2018 paid $350,000 in fines and $10 million in pollution control equipment. In 2017, the Wood Group PSN Inc. paid $9.5 million, and the International Petroleum Corporation of Delaware paid $1.3 million in fines.  

Fines of this size, while they can be weathered by large corporations, spell disaster for smaller companies. Even smaller fines can create financial hardship for a business that needs all possible capital to continue growing and investing in its future. As a result, avoiding steep EPA fines by remaining in compliance with the CAA is a critical component in maintaining a healthy, growing business. 

Avoiding EPA Fines: Air Dispersion Modeling

To that end, it behooves companies to remain in compliance with EPA guidelines regarding air and water quality. And that means that any business whose activity may impact the environment and the surrounding area’s air quality should engage in air dispersion modeling to determine the impact of their actions on the air. 

Air dispersion modeling software allows businesses to create a detailed look at their unique circumstances and determine how emissions, pollutants and so forth may impact their surrounding area. For example, this software can help determine if new equipment, or even a whole new building, will remain in compliance with the CAA. It can determine how a new intersection will affect pollution in the surrounding neighborhoods. It can even help companies achieve their own environmental goals by showing them which scenarios create the most environmentally friendly situations. 

In addition, businesses can avoid EPA fines by hiring an environmental consultant. This professional can help companies achieve their business goals by providing insights, information, evaluations, and solutions designed for the company’s unique needs. If you are concerned with EPA compliance, do not take the chance of getting hit with EPA fines. Instead, hire an environmental consultant like Providence Oris, and use air dispersion modeling software to ensure that your projects remain in compliance with environmental standards. By doing so, you can avoid the sticky and expensive world of fines that noncompliance can bring.