Under EPA’s Audit Policy, those who discover, promptly disclose and correct environmental violations may have penalties reduced or eliminated. 60 Fed Reg 66, 705 et seq. (1995); 65 Fed Reg 19, 617, et seq. (2000)
EPA recently hosted a webinar on its proposed “eDisclosure” portal for reporting Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and non-EPCRA violations under EPA’s Audit Policy.
It plans to activate the portal in the Fall of 2015. Although it would not change any of the Audit Policy criteria, it would alter how it is used.
A regulated entity will be required to first register on the portal, and then disclose violations and, when corrected, certify correction and compliance online. If the time limits are met for certain EPCRA violations, the system will automatically generate an electronic Notice of Determination, or “eNOD”, conditionally confirming that the violations are resolved without civil penalties. For other EPCRA and all non-EPCRA violations, there is an opportunity for an extension of the correction deadlines and only an Acknowledgement Letter confirming EPA’s receipt of the report is issued automatically. EPA will then determine eligibility for penalty reductions if and when it decides to take enforcement action. Obviously, the entities reporting will not receive quick feedback or assurances regarding penalties. Also, information disclosed on the portal will be more easily available to the public.