December 20, 2010

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the state agency charged with enforcing Minnesota’s environmental laws and regulations, collected over $710,000 in civil penalties in the third quarter of 2010 from July 1, 2010 to September 30, 2010. The penalties were paid by businesses, individuals and local units of government.

In the third quarter of 2010 the MPCA collected penalties in 64 separate enforcement actions. The largest penalty, $285,000 was for alleged violations that the MPCA says it documented at one of the State’s ethanol plants. There were six other cases where penalties in excess of $10,000 were collected for various types of environmental violations including alleged air quality, hazardous waste and stormwater violations.

The other 54 cases, in which penalties were assessed in amounts below $10,000, were resolved after the MPCA issued an Administrative Penalty Order (APO). The MPCA has the authority to issue an APO to address alleged violations discovered during the course of an inspection or document review. An APO may contain a penalty of up to $10,000 as well as specified corrective actions to address identified alleged violations. For more information on the MPCA’s enforcement actions completed in the third quarter of 2010, please see: http://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/about-mpca/mpca-news/current-news-releases/mpca-enforcement-actions-total-more-than-$700000-in-third-quarter-of-2010.html.

Typically the MPCA addresses what it deems to be more serious violations through Stipulation Agreements, which are out of court settlements of disputed matters. In these cases, penalties are proposed by the MPCA and are subject to negotiation. In most cases, Stipulation Agreements contain a “Requirements” section that specifies a schedule for certain corrective actions. Civil penalties collected through Stipulation Agreements generally exceed $10,000.

At Hessian & McKasy’s Environmental Law Attorney Practice Group we assist clients in responding to enforcement actions brought by state or federal authorities. As experienced environmental lawyers, we are very familiar with the MPCA’s processes as well as those utilized by other agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Environmental Law Attorney Joseph Maternowski began his career in the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office in 1985 where he represented the MPCA and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). Since 1991 he has been in private practice where he has been involved in all aspects of enforcement and permitting proceedings.

At Hessian & McKasy our environmental law attorneys help our clients navigate through the administrative process. Our environmental lawyers strive to mitigate civil penalties and other requirements of enforcement actions so that our clients can move on to more productive endeavors. As law firm industry leaders we offer innovative law service packages to address our clients’ needs. To learn more, please visit: http://www.enviroattorney.net/sample-price-list.php.

For more information on the MPCA and its programs, please visit:http://www.enviroattorney.net/attorneys/joseph_g_maternowski.php. If you face an enforcement action and have questions about the MPCA’s process, please contact Environmental Law Attorney Practice Group Chair Joe Maternowski at 612-877-5286 or one of the other environmental law attorneys at Hessian & McKasy. Our goal is to provide you with well-grounded advice and top notch professional service.

The views contained within this entry and on this website are my own and do not constitute those of Hessian & McKasy, a Professional Association.

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