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Compliance and Enforcement

DEQ enforces the law to protect and restore Oregon's environment

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality enforces the law and focuses its compliance resources on the most serious environmental violations to ensure that people in Oregon may enjoy a healthy environment. DEQ achieves compliance through a number of tools including, technical assistance, inspections, complaint investigations, and orders to pay fines and perform corrective actions. Fines, also known as civil penalties, deter noncompliance by putting a price on illegal pollution. Fines are necessary to “level the playing field," so that noncompliance does not generate a competitive advantage against those that invest in compliance.

When DEQ issues a penalty, violators may pay the penalty amount, fund a Supplemental Environmental Project in combination with a reduced penalty payment, or appeal the order. The vast majority of penalties are not deposited directly to DEQ and must be deposited to Oregon State General Fund. An appeal may be resolved through negotiation or a contested case hearing. DEQ encourages violators to consider Supplemental Environmental Projects, which provide Oregon with direct environmental benefits. These projects cover a wide range of environmental improvements, including habitat restoration, household hazardous waste collection events, wood stove change out grants, or funding to help school districts retrofit older school buses to use clean-diesel technology.

“The health of the environment is good if the salmon and steelhead are around. It is that simple." Governor Tom McCall

Calculation of civil penalties and regulations

DEQ’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement issues civil penalties and Department Orders on behalf of DEQ’s director, who has been delegated to do so by the Environmental Quality Commission. When DEQ assesses a civil penalty, it calculates the amount of the penalty using criteria set forth in Oregon Administrative Rules Chapter 340, Division 12. Base penalties range from $100 per day for each Class III violation with a minor magnitude, to $12,000 per day for each class I violation with a major magnitude. Base penalties may be increased or decreased depending on specific factors according to Division 12.

For more information, see the full rule in the Oregon secretary of State Archives:
Division 12 - Enforcement Procedure and Civil Penalties

Tools and resources

DEQ provides a variety of tools and resources to help permit holders and the general public understand more about the enforcement process. Use the following links to:


Becka Puskas
Office of Compliance and Enforcement