DEQ’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement assesses civil penalties for environmental law violations. Violators sometimes may offset a portion of their monetary penalty by agreeing to pay for a supplemental environmental project. The project can represent up to 80 percent of the total penalty amount. These projects must improve Oregon’s environment in some way, and are not available in all cases. DEQ must approve all projects.
To obtain an application for a supplemental environmental project, see SEP Application or call DEQ’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement, Portland, at 503-229-5340, or call toll-free in Oregon at 1-800-452-4011, x5340.

Qualifying for a supplemental environmental project

In order to qualify for a supplement environmental project:
  • The project must primarily benefit the environment or public health in Oregon.
  • As much money must be spent on the project as is sought in the penalty reduction.
  • The project cannot be an activity or result that is already required by law or set to become a future requirement.
  • The portion of the project attributable to penalty reduction is not funded by government contracts, loans or grants.
  • The project does not create a significant market or economic advantage for the violator.
  • The project does not result in DEQ controlling the funds or implementing the project.
  • If the violator is doing the project itself, the project must be commensurate with the violator’s expertise and capabilities.
  • The violator must provide a final report on the project. 

For more information, see DEQ fact sheet, Supplemental Environmental Projects: Frequent Questions.

Types of supplemental projects

Supplemental environmental projects can include activities that improve air quality, reduce hazardous waste, encourage more efficient use of resources, improve water quality, reduce or clean up solid waste, or aid in environmental emergency preparedness.

For a complete list of types of projects available and contacts for assistance, see DEQ's fact sheet Supplemental Environmental Project Ideas and Contacts.

Recent examples of supplemental projects

  • The Clackamas County Service District No. 1, also known as the Boring Sewage Treatment Facility, contributed 80% of a $3,900 penalty to the Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) for a streamside restoration project in 2016. The project took place on a newly acquired small farm that bordered a tributary to the Clackamas River in Barton, Oregon. The streamside was overgrown with invasive weeds and had no deep rooted vegetation to stabilize the banks. In partnership with the SWCD and contributed SEP funds, weeds were removed to encourage natural regeneration of native plants and 1,000 bare root trees and shrubs were planted in two acres along the tributary. At maturity, the trees and shrubs will  increase wildlife habitat connectivity, reduce sediment, nutrients, and contaminants from entering the stream, and provide canopy protection for cooler water temperatures for aquatic organisms.
  • In 2016, ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston, Inc. contributed $1,920 of a $2,400 penalty to the Umatilla Electric Cooperative. The Cooperative used the funds to provide scholarships for 4th and 5th grade Boardman and Hermiston area students attend summer science camp which focused on water, the environment, and energy who otherwise were unable to afford to attend. The camp, Hydromania Summer Science Camp, included hands-on experiments and activities, field trips, and interaction with other students and science teachers.
  • The Estate of Robert E. Hart contributed 80% of a $11,200 penalty to NeighborImpact, the regional food bank for Central Oregon. NeighborImpact operated a food recovery program that picked up perishable food items from over a dozen stores in Bend and Redmond for distribution to a network of over 40 partner agencies to supply food for people in need.  NeighborImpact’s goal was to increase the amount of food recovered from stores from 84,000 pound per month at the start of December 2014 to 93,000 pounds per month after 16 months. At the close of their timeframe, they were able to pick up an average of 95,952 pounds of perishable food per month – increasing food availability to residents in Central Oregon and reducing waste in local landfills.

The full internal management directive is available at "Evaluating and Approving Supplemental Environmental Projects".