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Guidance: Penalty Matrix for CERCLA Section 106(b)(1) Civil Penalty Policy

The Agency is required to annually adjust the maximum amounts of its civil monetary penalties in order to keep pace with inflation and maintain their deterrent effect. EPA recently made such adjustments in a January 13, 2020 Federal Register notice (85 Fed. Reg. 1751).

Over the years, EPA has exercised its discretion to make corresponding increases of the dollar amounts in the policies it uses when negotiating settlements of penalty claims.

In 1997, the Agency issued interim guidance for negotiating settlements of claims for civil penalties pursuant to Section 106(b)(1) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, commonly referred to as Superfund). See Issuance of Interim Policy on Settlement of CERCLA Section 106(b)(1) Penalty Claims and Section 107(b)(3) Punitive Damage Claims for Noncompliance with Administrative Orders (9/30/1997). The 1997 guidance included a penalty matrix to assist case teams in determining appropriate amounts for settlement negotiations.

Consistent with the increase of the statutory maximum amount, the EPA recently updated the CERCLA § 106(b)(1) penalty matrix in a memorandum dated January 23, 2020.

The Agency plans to update the penalty matrix again in the future, after the next increase of the statutory maximum.

CERCLA § 106(b)(1) Penalty Matrices  
July 17, 2009 Matrix Cases where a violation occurred on or before November 2, 2015 and a penalty has not yet been assessed
January 23, 2020 Matrix Cases where violation occurred/occurs after November 2, 2015 and a penalty has not yet been assessed

The CERCLA § 106(b)(1) penalty matrices referenced in the above table are available for download:

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