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Vermont Policy

EPA Policy

EPA Policy: Tailored Incentives for New Owners  > New

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Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) Policy: 

Incentives for Self-Audits and Environmental Compliance   (signed 04/14/03)

This policy seeks to encourage greater compliance with the laws and regulations which protect human health and the environment by encouraging persons to voluntarily discover, disclose, correct, and prevent violations of state environmental requirements.

This policy shall be used in conjunction with 10 V.S.A. Chapter 201 and the Environmental Administrative Penalty Rules (EAPR), which establish the basis for determining penalties for environmental violations. This policy promotes compliance self-audits by allowing lower (mitigated) penalties than provided in the EAPRs for violations which were discovered through a voluntary audit or a compliance management system that demonstrates due diligence and then are promptly disclosed and corrected. To further promote compliance, the policy also allows for reduced (mitigated) penalties for any violation voluntarily discovered and promptly disclosed and corrected, even if not found through an audit or compliance management system.

This policy applies to any person regulated under the Vermont environmental laws administered by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

This policy is not applicable to violations of Vermont’s Act 250 regulations.

This policy does not apply to non-compliance which:

  • results in substantial actual harm, or presents an immediate threat of substantial harm to the environment or an immediate threat to public health, or
  • relates to the specific terms of any judicial or administrative order or consent agreement/assurance of discontinuance.

For more detailed information on this self-audit policy please read:

VT ANR Policy: Incentives for Self-Audit and Environmental Compliance [PDF 37KB]



The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Auditing Policy:

Compliance Incentives and Auditing 

The EPA Audit Policy formally titled “Incentives for Self-Policing: Discovery, Disclosure, Correction and Prevention of Violations,” safeguards human health and the environment by providing several major incentives for regulated entities to voluntarily come into compliance with federal environmental laws and regulations.

To take advantage of these incentives, regulated entities must voluntarily discover, promptly disclose to EPA, expeditiously correct, and prevent recurrence of future environmental violations. Disclosures are often preceded by consultation between EPA and the regulated entity, so that they can discuss mutually acceptable disclosure details, compliance, and audit schedules can be discussed.

Summary of Incentives: Significant penalty reductions. Civil penalties under the environmental laws generally have two components, an amount assessed based upon the severity or “gravity” of the violation, and the amount of economic benefit a violator received from failing to comply with the law.

  • No gravity-based penalties if all nine of the Policy’s conditions are met. EPA retains its discretion to collect any economic benefit that may have been realized as a result of noncompliance.
  • Reduction of gravity-based penalties by 75% where the disclosing entity meets all of the Policy’s conditions except detection of the violation through a systematic discovery process.

No recommendation for criminal prosecution for entities that disclose criminal violations if all of the applicable conditions under the Policy are met. “Systematic discovery” is not a requirement for eligibility for this incentive, although the entity must be acting in good faith and adopt a systematic approach to preventing recurring violations. Refer to the Audit Policy for a complete discussion of issues relating to disclosure of criminal violations.

No routine requests for audit reports would be made.

Conditions for Penalty Mitigation

Entities that satisfy the following conditions are eligible for Audit Policy benefits. Even if your entity fails to meet the first condition - systematic discovery - you can still be eligible for 75% penalty mitigation, and a recommendation for no criminal prosecution of the violations against your entity.

  • Systematic discovery of the violation through an environmental audit or the implementation of a compliance management system.

  • Voluntary discovery of the violation was not detected as a result of a legally required monitoring, sampling or auditing procedure.

  • Prompt disclosure in writing to EPA within 21 days of discovery or such shorter time as may be required by law. Discovery occurs when any officer, director, employee or agent of the facility has an objectively reasonable basis for believing that a violation has or may have occurred.

  • Independent discovery and disclosure before EPA or another regulator would likely have identified the violation through its own investigation or based on information provided by a third-party.

  • Correction and remediation within 60 calendar days, in most cases, from the date of discovery.

  • Prevent recurrence of the violation.

  • Repeat violations are ineligible, that is, the specific (or closely related) violations have occurred at the same facility within the past 3 years or those that have occurred as part of a pattern at multiple facilities owned or operated by the same entity within the past 5 years; if the facility has been newly acquired, the existence of a violation prior to acquisition does not trigger the repeat violations exclusion.

  • Certain types of violations are ineligible such as those that result in serious actual harm, those that may have presented an imminent and substantial endangerment, and those that violate the specific terms of an administrative or judicial order or consent agreement.

  • Cooperation by the disclosing entity is required.

For more detailed information on this policy please go to:

www.epa.gov/compliance/incentives/auditing/auditpolicy.html  exiting VT DEC web site

and review the Federal Register at:

www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/policies/incentives/auditing/auditpolicy51100.pdf   exiting VT DEC web site


N e w  O w n e r s

Initiated in August 2008, EPA now has an incentives program for new owners, called the: “Interim Approach to Applying the Audit Policy to New Owners”

This Audit Policy comes with incentives tailored for new owners that want to make a “clean start” at their recently acquired facilities by addressing environmental noncompliance that began prior to acquisition.

For more detailed information visit:

http://www.epa.gov/compliance/incentives/auditing/newowners-incentives.html    exiting VT DEC web site


Links of Interest:

VT Agency of Natural Resources Press Releases

Report an Environmental Complaint

EPA's Small Business Ombudsman 

The Small Business Ombudsman (SBO) serves as an effective conduit for small businesses to access EPA and facilitate communications between the small business community and the Agency. The SBO reviews and resolves disputes with EPA and works with EPA personnel to increase their understanding of small businesses in the development and enforcement of environmental regulations. The SBO function was established in 1982 and is currently a part of EPA's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization located within the Office of the Administrator.  The SBO's primary customer group is the nation's small business community. Significant secondary customer groups include state and EPA regional small business ombudsmen and national trade associations serving small businesses.




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