February 12, 2020

EPA’s 2020 Adjustment to RCRA Civil Penalties

In 2015, Congress amended the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, requiring all federal agencies to adjust maximum civil penalties for inflation on an annual basis. Starting in 2016, EPA has issued annual adjustments, and now it’s time for the 2020 increases.

The agency promulgated the yearly inflation adjustment rule on January 13, 2020. [85 FR 1751] The table below provides the maximum penalties as promulgated. Keep in mind that when pursuing penalties, enforcement personnel may consider a variety of factors, including the seriousness of the violation, the violator’s good-faith efforts to comply, any economic benefit gained by the violator as a result of noncompliance, and a violator’s ability to pay.

Comparison of Newly Adjusted and Previous Year’s RCRA Civil Penalties

RCRA statute section number

Civil penalty description

Previous year’s maximum penalty1

Newly adjust maximum penalty2


Violation of a RCRA Subtitle C compliance order

$99,681 per day

$101,439 per day


Continued violation of a RCRA Subtitle C compliance order

$60,039 per day

$61,098 per day


Violation of the RCRA Subtitle C hazardous waste program

$74,552 per day

$75,867 per day


Violation of a corrective action compliance order

$60,039 per day

$61,098 per day


Failure to comply with an order to monitor for the presence or release of a hazardous waste

$14,910 per day

$15,173 per day


Failure to comply with an imminent and substantial endangerment order

$14,910 per day

$15,173 per day


Violation of an UST compliance order

$60,039 per day

$61,098 per day


Failure to notify state/local agency of the existence of an UST subject to RCRA Subtitle I

$24,017 per day

$24,441 per day


Violation of the RCRA Subtitle I UST requirements

$24,017 per tank per day

$24,441 per tank per day

UST = underground storage tank.

1For violations that occurred after November 2, 2015, where penalties are assessed on or after February 6, 2019 but before January 13, 2020.

2For violations that occurred after November 2, 2015, where penalties are assessed on or after January 13, 2020.

Source: Adapted from 85 FR 1754–5.


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This document addresses issues of a general nature related to the federal environmental regulations. Persons evaluating specific circumstances dealing with the environmental regulations should review state and local laws and regulations, which may be more stringent than federal requirements. In addition, the assistance of a qualified professional should be enlisted to address any site-specific circumstances.