How to Respond to an EPA or State Enforcement Action

InBusiness Magazine
By Henry Darwin

G&K attorney Henry Darwin authored this article for the January 2023 issue of InBusiness Magazine. Click here to download a PDF of his article and read the January issue online.

Environmental laws and regulations are numerous and complicated. They include the Clean Air Act; the Clean Water Act; the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (aka Superfund) — to name just a few. These laws and associated regulations are enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency and the state agency equivalents acting on behalf of EPA. While the states typically handle most enforcement actions, EPA usually initiates enforcement for only the most significant of violations.

Given the volume and complexity of environmental laws and regulations, it should be no surprise that even the most well-run, well-intentioned companies at times find themselves in trouble with the state or EPA. When that happens, there’s a right way and wrong way to react. While responding to an EPA or state enforcement action is unpleasant, taking these three steps will greatly improve the experience — and a company’s bottom line.