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State fines for pollution violations may be unconstitutional

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2023 | Environmental Law

Being sanctioned for a pollution violation in California is a serious offense. This kind of charge can entail a huge expenditure of time and money. If you are convicted of this type of violation, you can expect to face large fines. While the principle of punishment for pollution is sound, the application may be less solid.

Are There Differences Between State and Federal Fines?

One of the most telling differences between state and federal fines is the amount offenders can expect to pay. It is true that the exact extent of the disparity will depend on the state in which a violation of environmental law is committed. However, the average amount of difference can be summed up as follows:

  • The amount of the average state penalty is $35,000
  • The average federal EPA penalty is $186,000
  • The median state penalty is $4,000
  • The median federal penalty is $30,000

Are State Fines Constitutionally Sound?

Pollution is a serious issue that can lead to all manner of negative repercussions, including contributing to global warming. For this reason, the state has taken measures to crack down on companies suspected of committing this crime.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is empowered to act on both the state and federal levels. However, there is a disparity between the type of fines the agency can enact in each sphere. As a result, its judgments have come under increasing scrutiny and protest.

Many environmental experts are calling for increased uniformity in state laws regarding pollution violations. Meanwhile, many company owners prefer to let the laws be enforced how the individual states see fit. This is a disagreement that shows no signs of ending soon.