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Environmental Justice And Projects Increase Environmental Fines

Concerning additional public health protections regarding alleged environmental violations, and, in connection therewith, raising the maximum fines for air quality and water quality violations.
2020 Regular Session
Natural Resources & Environment
Bill Summary

Current state law sets the maximum civil fine for most air quality violations at $15,000 per day and most water quality violations at $10,000 per day, but federal law allows the federal environmental protection agency to assess higher maximum daily fines per violation. Sections 1 and 2 of the act raise the maximum fine to $47,357 per day for air quality violations and $54,833 per day for water quality violations and direct the air quality control commission and the water quality control commission in the department of public health and environment to annually adjust the maximum fine based on changes in the consumer price index. Section 2 also extends the repeal date for the water quality improvement fund to September 1, 2025.

Current law specifies that a person who commits criminal pollution of state waters that is committed:

  • With criminal negligence or recklessly is subject to a maximum daily fine of $12,500; and
  • Knowingly or intentionally is subject to a maximum daily fine of $25,000.

Section 3 makes a:

  • Criminally negligent or reckless violation a misdemeanor and increases the maximum daily penalty to $25,000, imprisonment of up to 364 days, or both; and
  • Knowing or intentional violation a class 5 felony and increases the maximum daily penalty to $50,000, imprisonment of up to 3 years, or both.

Current law specifies that a person who knowingly makes any false representation in a required record or who knowingly renders inaccurate any required water quality monitoring device or method is guilty of a misdemeanor and is subject to a fine of not more than $10,000, imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 6 months, or both. Section 4 makes these violations a class 5 felony and specifies that if 2 separate offenses occur in 2 separate occurrences during a period of 2 years, the maximum fine and term of imprisonment for the second offense are double the default amounts.

(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)


Became Law


Bill Text

The effective date for bills enacted without a safety clause is August 7, 2024, if the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8, 2024, unless otherwise specified. Details