January 15, 2021

EPA’s 2021 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 annually. Starting in 2016, EPA has issued annual adjustments, and now it’s time for the 2021 increases.

The agency promulgated the yearly inflation adjustment rule on December 23, 2020. [85 FR 83818] The table below provides the maximum penalties as promulgated. When pursuing penalties, enforcement personnel may consider various 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 adjusted maximum penalty2


Violation of a RCRA Subtitle C compliance order

$101,439 per day

$102,638 per day


Continued violation of a RCRA Subtitle C compliance order

$61,098 per day

$61,820 per day


Violation of the RCRA Subtitle C hazardous waste program

$75,867 per day

$76,764 per day


Violation of a corrective action compliance order

$61,098 per day

$61,820 per day


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

$15,173 per day

$15,352 per day


Failure to comply with an imminent and substantial endangerment order

$15,173 per day

$15,352 per day


Violation of an UST compliance order

$61,098 per day

$61,820 per day


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

$24,441 per day

$24,730 per day


Violation of the RCRA Subtitle I UST requirements

$24,441 per tank per day

$24,730 per tank per day

UST = underground storage tank.

1For violations that occurred after November 2, 2015, where penalties are assessed on or after January 13, 2020 but before December 23, 2020.

2For violations that occurred after November 2, 2015, where penalties are assessed on or after December 23, 2020.

Source: Adapted from 85 FR 83821.


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This document addresses issues of a general nature related to the federal RCRA regulations. Persons evaluating specific circumstances dealing with the RCRA 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.