Regulations

 

The Enforcement Guidance for Field Staff

The Enforcement Guidance for Field Staff directs staff on the appropriate enforcement response for each classification of violation, focusing DEQ’s resources on the most important violations and violators and promoting agency-wide consistency. Each of the following types of enforcement actions described below are included in the guidance. 

 

Warning Letter

DEQ will issue a Warning Letter or a Warning Letter with Opportunity to Correct for noncompliance as a means of avoiding formal enforcement. Generally, the warning letter will identify the alleged violation, what corrective actions need to be done to comply and the consequences of further noncompliance. If the recipient of the warning letter fails to take the corrective actions necessary to achieve compliance DEQ may issue a Pre-Enforcement Notice. A warning letter is not a final agency action and is not appealable.


Pre-Enforcement Notice

Similar to a Warning Letter, a Pre-Enforcement Notice, or PEN, identifies the alleged violation, what corrective actions need to be done to comply, and the consequences of further noncompliance. However, unlike a Warning Letter, a PEN begins the process of formal enforcement through DEQ’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement. A PEN is not a final agency action and is not appealable. 


Expedited Enforcement Offer

An Expedited Enforcement Offer (EEO) is a written offer by DEQ to settle an alleged violation for a reduced civil penalty. The offer allows DEQ to resolve less serious violations more quickly, using fewer resources. However, there are limitations on when DEQ may make an offer and an offer is a final agency action and not appealable. If the recipient fails to accept the EEO, DEQ will issue a Notice of Civil Penalty Assessment and Order that will include a fine that will be significantly larger than the fine in the initial offer. Only select DEQ programs issue EEOs for alleged violations.


Field Penalty (or Field Citation)

DEQ may offer a Field Penalty or Field Citation for certain alleged violations of the Underground Storage Tank program. A Field Citation is similar to an Expedited Enforcement Offer in that it is a written offer to settle an alleged violation for a reduced civil penalty and it is a final agency action and not appealable. Also, the failure to accept a filed citation may result in DEQ assessing a greater fine for the alleged violation.

Notice of Civil Penalty Assessment and Order

A Notice of Civil Penalty Assessment and Order (NCPO) is considered a formal enforcement action that assesses a fine and may also order specific actions to correct a violation or prevent future violations from occurring. DEQ calculates the amount of the fine using criteria and a formula set forth in Oregon Administrative Rules Chapter 340, Division 12. Generally, DEQ may assess up to $25,000 per violation, per day.

The recipient of a NCPO may appeal and request a contested case hearing. The appeal must be submitted to DEQ in writing within 20 days of being served. A contested case hearing is similar to a trial and is presided over by an Administrative Law Judge from the Office of Administrative Hearings. Prior to a contested case hearing, DEQ will offer to meet with the recipient of the order to negotiate settlement. 

 

Criminal Enforcement

Environmental violations committed with criminal intent are subject to criminal prosecution. DEQ consults with law enforcement agencies, including the Oregon State Police and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division, in identifying potential environmental crimes. Criminal sanctions can be more effective at creating deterrence.

Contact

Kieran O’Donnell, OCE Manager
503-229-5012


 

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: