On August 1, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched an interim policy that offers incentives to new owners who correct environmental violations at recently acquired regulated facilities. Under the interim policy, new owners may receive lower penalties than long-time owners. “This is an opportunity for new owners to make a ‘clean start’ by correcting environmental problems that began under the previous owner’s watch,” said Granta Y. Nakayama, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This can lead to big gains for the public and the environment.” Under the current EPA Audit Policy, the Agency offers reduced penalties to companies that self-audit their facilities, promptly disclose and correct any violations discovered, and take steps to prevent future violations. Under the interim policy announced today, an owner who acquires a new facility may get additional penalty reductions from disclosing an even greater range of violations. EPA encourages companies with newly acquired facilities to examine compliance of their new facilities, correct environmental problems that began before acquisition, make changes to ensure they stay in compliance, and reduce pollutants going forward. The EPA states that since 1995, more than 3,500 companies at nearly 10,000 facilities have used the audit policy to disclose and resolve violations, most of which involved recordkeeping and reporting. With these most recent incentives, EPA hopes to encourage new owners to disclose violations that, once corrected, will yield significant environmental benefit and direct pollution reductions. The new interim policy will be in effect immediately and EPA will accept public comment until October 30, 2008. The policy may change in light of these comments. For a copy of the August 1, 2008 Federal Register Notice, visit: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E8-17715.pdf
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