LD 436 – LD 436 An Act Regarding the Authority of the Department of Environmental Protection Regarding Applications, Permits and Fines

Senator Brennen-Cumberland-D This bill makes the following changes to the laws governing the Department of Environmental Protection.
1.  It provides that fees or any portion of fees not paid within 90 days of their due date and accruing interest are a lien against real estate of a license holder.
2.  It provides the department discretion to accept or refuse to accept an application submitted to the department after the activity requiring a permit has begun and lists factors the department may consider in exercising this discretion.
3.  It provides that a notice of violation does not represent a final agency decision and is not appealable.
4.  It provides that after a hearing an order of the Commissioner of Environmental Protection may include required corrective action and a civil penalty.
5.  It specifies that an owner, lessee, manager, easement holder or occupant of premises is subject to criminal sanction or civil penalties or forfeiture for failure to remediate or abate a violation of environmental laws or an environmental hazard or damage or to reimburse the department for the cost of such remediation or abatement.
6.  It clarifies the circumstances under which employees and agents of the department may enter property and buildings.
7.  It increases the cap on civil penalties from $10,000 to $25,000 for each day of a violation or if a violation relates to hazardous waste from $25,000 to $65,000 for each day of a violation.  It provides that civil penalties may be assessed in an enforcement hearing.
8.  It specifies additional factors a court may consider in setting a penalty.
9.  It provides that the maximum civil penalty may exceed $25,000 for each day of a violation but may not exceed $65,000 for each day of a violation when it can be shown that there has been a previous violation of the same law administered by the department, including, without limitation, a violation of the terms or conditions of an order, rule, license, permit, approval or decision of the board or commissioner, by the same party within the 5 preceding years.  It increases the maximum criminal penalty from $25,000 to $65,000 for each day of violation in cases involving subsequent violations.
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