The main goal of any enforcement action is to help facilities achieve successful compliance with state and/or federal regulations and standards and then to maintain compliance. The major functions of the Enforcement Section are to:
- Initiate appropriate and timely enforcement action to bring a facility into compliance with the state and federal air pollution regulations in response to referrals from the Asbestos Section, the Compliance Monitoring Branch, and the Permit Branch.
- Provide support and assistance on Office of Air Quality (OAQ) enforcement issues referred for formal enforcement action. This includes but is not limited to consent administrative orders and notices of violation.
- Coordinate formal administrative actions and draft all enforcement documents including penalty worksheets, consent administrative orders, and notices of violation.
- Provide technical assistance and training to OAQ staff, the regulated community, and the general public on enforcement related issues.
- Coordinate on a monthly basis with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6 on the compliance status of all high priority violators in the state.
A Guide to Our Formal Enforcement Process
A formal enforcement action, depending upon the circumstances, is provided either as a Consent Administrative Order (CAO) or as a Notice of Violation (NOV). These types of actions incorporate the assessment of a civil penalty, corrective actions for violations, and other terms of the agreement into a legally-binding document. Typically, the CAO is the primary response issued in the formal enforcement process for possible violations. The NOV is the secondary response issued in the formal enforcement process for possible violations. Both the CAO and NOV will state the areas of non-compliance and what needs to be done to return to compliance.
The first priority is to protect the air quality in Arkansas. A review of the circumstances surrounding the formal enforcement action and corrective actions/measures needed to return to an in-compliance status should be determined. This information should be submitted in writing to the Enforcement Section. Then the corrective actions/measures should be implemented.
If corrective actions/measures require additional time to implement, please communicate a timeline to the Enforcement Section for the implementation of these actions/measures. In addition, there is some assistance in understanding the regulations through the Compliance Monitoring Branch, Permits Branch, and Enforcement Section. For small businesses, the Agency’s Enterprise Services Program can help provide assistance.
Provide any and all pertinent information that will help make an appropriate final decision about the violations noted in the formal enforcement action. The Enforcement Section strives to ensure that all enforcement actions are resolved in a manner that is fair, consistent, and reasonable. Cooperation in addressing the violations and in communicating throughout the formal enforcement action process is key to any resolution.
When you receive a proposed CAO, please review the Findings of Fact and the Order and Agreement sections for accuracy. If you agree with the CAO, within 30 days sign and return the original embossed CAO to the Enforcement Section for processing. If you disagree with the CAO, contact the enforcement analyst provided on the proposed CAO cover letter within 30 days. Be prepared to provide a response that contains mitigating information and/or documentation that has not already been considered.
When a settlement agreement is reached after the proposed CAO has been received, any necessary and appropriate changes will be made, and the CAO will be re-proposed. Within 15 days, the original embossed CAO should be signed and returned to the Enforcement Section for processing.
If a settlement cannot be reached through a CAO, an NOV will be drafted and issued. Upon issuance of an NOV, any disputes should be submitted in writing within 30 days to request a hearing to the secretary of the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission. Failure to provide a written request for hearing within 30 days will deem the allegations provided in the NOV proven. Providing a written request within the 30 day timeframe will entitle you to an adjudicatory hearing pertaining to the allegations and matters provided in the NOV.
Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO)
The EPA’s ECHO website can be a very useful tool for researching the compliance and enforcement histories of regulated facilities. However, the compliance status of facilities, as listed in ECHO, can be misleading. One frequent problem is that EPA and the states have different definitions of what constitutes a formal enforcement action and when such cases are resolved. For example, if a facility has ever been subject to an enforcement action, ECHO continues to show that facility as out of compliance until the enforcement case has been formally resolved by EPA's standards, regardless of the presence or absence of current violations. As you use the ECHO searchable database, please keep in mind that the site attempts to summarize complex issues and may lead to misinterpretations. Please contact EPA for help navigating the ECHO website.