The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking comments on how a policy that offers reduced penalties to companies for self-disclosing environmental violations should apply to the new owners of recently acquired facilities. The audit policy offers reduced penalties to companies that self-police their programs, promptly disclose and correct any violations discovered, and take steps to prevent future violations.
“Our top priority is to protect the environment and public health,” says Granta Nakayama, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “We have a variety of tools and options to do that. New owners of recently acquired facilities that come forward to make a ‘clean start’ can address their environmental issues and make changes to ensure they stay in compliance and reduce pollutants going forward.”
Companies with newly acquired facilities can use the audit policy to examine their performance and work with EPA to come into compliance with environmental laws. Since 1995, more than 3,000 companies have disclosed and resolved violations at more than 9,000 facilities under this policy.
EPA is seeking input from the public on how best to encourage new owners to use the audit policy. EPA will accept written comments until July 13, and also invites the public to offer comment at two public meetings to be held on June 12 in Washington, D.C., and June 20 in San Francisco.
In addition to encouraging new owners to participate, EPA also is considering ways to make it easier for companies to disclose violations. In the near future, the EPA will be developing a system that would allow companies to disclose certain violations through an EPA website.
For more information on EPA’s audit policy, click here. For more information on new owner disclosure incentives, click here.