USEPA Revises Maximum Statutory Civil Penalty Amounts by Rule Promulgated November 6, 2013

The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 (28 U.S.C. 2461, as amended by the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, 31 U.S.C. 3701) requires EPA to adjust its statutory civil penalties for inflation at least once every 4 years.  Prior to today, EPA last issued a final Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule on December 11, 2008 (with a technical correction published January 7, 2009).

Today, the EPA promulgated its final rule amending the Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule.  See, 78 FR 66643, November 6, 2013, amending 40 CFR 19.  Today’s rule is effect as of December 6, 2013.  

The purpose of the required revisions to the maximum statutory civil penalty amounts is to increase the limit of the maximum allowable civil penalty in order to account for inflation during each 4 year adjustment period.  The formula provided by statute is a four step process: The first step determines the inflation adjustment factor by calculating the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index.  Step 2 multiplies the inflation adjustment factor by the current civil penalty amount to calculate the raw increase.  Step 3 rounds the raw inflation increase according to section 5(a) of the DCIA.  The DCIA rounding rules require that any increase be rounded pursuant to a formula depending on the size of the statutory civil penalty.  For example, penalties less than $100 must be rounded to the nearest multiple of $10; penalties between $10,000 and $100,000 are rounded to the nearest multiple of $5000.  The fourth and final step is to add the rounded inflation increase to the current civil penalty amount.

Because of the low rate of inflation since 2008, coupled with the application of the rounding rules, only 20 of the 88 statutory civil penalty authorizations are increased by this rule.

Click here to view the table that outlines the changes to the maximum civil penalty authority to be used by EPA as of December 6, 2013.


Richard Lewis practices in the areas of domestic and international business law with a focus on environmental and energy-related legal matters. He represents clients general business negotiations and before federal, state and appellate courts and administrative agencies in civil, criminal, and penalty proceedings.
» See more articles by Richard L. Lewis
» Read the full biography of Richard L. Lewis at Steptoe & Johnson