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What are you facing from an EPA civil investigation?

Even as some environmental regulations relax due to changes in the Environmental Protection Agency, it continues to enforce other regulations and laws. If you get wind of the fact that the EPA is going to conduct an investigation against your company for what agents believe to be violations of environmental law, then you may want to understand what you could face.

First, you need to know whether it's a civil or criminal investigation. Civil investigations are probably more common, which means you could face either an administrative or a judicial action from the Agency. Depending on the findings, you could face certain civil enforcement actions.

EPA enforcement options in civil investigations

Should the EPA make accusations against your company that you violated environmental laws, you could face the following enforcement options:

  • You may be required to perform or not perform some action if the EPA receives injunctive relief against you. This could include mitigation efforts to offset any harm the alleged violation caused.
  • The agency uses monetary incentives in the form of financial penalties to spur companies into compliance. Any penalties assessed against your company are supposed to provide reparations for the violation and any economic benefits it gained by failing to comply with environmental regulations and statutes.
  • You may agree to a supplemental environmental project to correct any problems and improve upon current processes.
  • You could enter into an administrative order on consent, a final order or a consent agreement if the EPA investigation is an administrative action.
  • In a judicial action, you could enter into a consent decree, which is filed with the court.

Of course, before any of these actions occur, the agency must prove that you violated an environmental statute or regulation. More than likely, the investigation will begin with some form of notice to your company. That notice will outline what the EPA believes your company has done and what it feels you must do to correct it. Ignoring this notice could prove costly. It would be a better idea to attack it head on by preparing yourself to respond to the agency.

In order to make sure that you put your best foot forward, as it were, it may be a good idea to understand the law that applies to your circumstances. You may also want to gain an understanding of your rights and legal options. It may be possible to come to a quick and efficient resolution to the issue without putting the future of your Georgia company in jeopardy.

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