If you are facing an enforcement action from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or a state environmental agency, whether you are responsible for the violation or not, you need an experienced environmental defense attorney to represent you. Goldman Law, PC, represents defendants in non-judicial, judicial, and criminal cases and has developed key strategies for the defense.
What Is an Environmental Enforcement Matter?
Enforcing environmental laws is a central part of the EPA’s or a state environmental agencies’ (TCEQ or RRC) role to protect human health and the environment. To ensure compliance, EPA and state agencies will sometimes take civil or criminal enforcement actions against violators of environmental laws.
A civil non-judicial enforcement action does not involve a judicial court process and may be in the form of:
- A notice of violation or a Superfund notice letter
- An order (either with or without penalties) directing an individual, a business, or other entity to take action to come into compliance, or to clean up a site.
The EPA or state agency can also institute a formal judicial action for failing to:
- Comply with statutory or regulatory requirements
- Comply with an administrative order
- Pay EPA the costs for cleaning up a Superfund site or commit to doing the cleanup work.
Finally, the EPA or a state can enforce against a company or person through a criminal action. Criminal actions are usually reserved for the most serious violations, those that are willful, or knowingly committed. A court conviction can result in fines or imprisonment.
How Are Enforcement Matters Resolved?
Settlements in administrative actions are often in the form of consent agreements/final orders (CA/FOs) or administrative orders on consent (AOCs). Settlements in judicial actions are in the form of consent decrees signed by all parties to the action and filed in the appropriate court. A party typically negotiates civil penalties which are monetary assessments paid by a person or regulated entity due to a violation or noncompliance. Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) and Mitigation can also be part of an enforcement settlement. In criminal matters, defendants pay fines imposed by a judge at the sentencing. In addition to criminal penalties, the defendant may be ordered to pay restitution to those affected by the violation.
Can One Defend Against These Claims?
Goldman Law, PC has represented several defendants in both civil and criminal environmental enforcement matters initiated by the EPA or state agencies across the United States. Through those cases I have developed key strategies which have fundamentally changed the discussion and led to favorable resolutions for my clients.
Do you have questions? You can get our FREE ebook, Environmental Litigation: What Every Attorney and Environmental Professional Needs to Know, just by providing your name and email address. We promise your information won’t be shared with third persons. And if you’d like to speak with me about your case, I welcome your phone call at 972-850-8490. I look forward to speaking with you.