Missouri’s natural resources provide for our health and enjoyment. Protecting our resources will safeguard a sustainable future for our neighbors, our children and ourselves.
The primary goal of the department’s compliance and enforcement teams is to achieve regulatory compliance with environmental laws. At a minimum, our efforts protect human health and the environment. Compliance and enforcement activities also promote sustainable environmental practices, which in turn, support economic development opportunities throughout the state. The department’s actions ensure a level playing field for those dealing with pollutants and contaminants – no one should make a profit at the expense of the health and resources of Missouri citizens. Ultimately, this improves the overall quality of life for Missouri citizens.
Compliance and enforcement staff work with the regulated community and the general public to ensure compliance with environmental laws. The department offers technical assistance and compliance assistance to resolve problems when they occur. We work to provide timely and appropriate compliance and enforcement action to resolve environmental problems as swiftly and effectively as possible.
Enforcing Missouri’s Environmental Laws
The department is statutorily obligated to compel compliance with Missouri’s environmental laws, their implementing regulations and associated permits. Compliance and enforcement teams primarily achieve compliance through a process known as conference, conciliation and persuasion.
Conference, conciliation and persuasion (CC&P) is a central concept in achieving compliance and is required by several state environmental laws. Its purpose is to encourage prompt correction of violations in a productive way. CC&P consists of verbal or written communications between authorized representatives of the department and a party in non-compliance. It also provides opportunities to handle enforcement cases through informal methods and strives to resolve any finding of non-compliance with statutes, regulations, permits or other enforceable provisions.
CC&P is a focused and time limited process that typically does not exceed 180 days to correct the violation. There are certain situations that will result in formal enforcement action within that 180 day timeframe allotted for CC&P. These scenarios include, but are not limited to:
- The violation(s) represents an imminent and serious threat to human health, public welfare or the environment
- The violation(s) appear to be intentional or result from negligence or are otherwise criminal
- Departmental rule or guidance requires immediate enforcement actions for the specific violation(s)
If violations persists, the department must escalate actions to compel compliance, especially if the responsible party has gained substantial economic benefit as a result of non-compliance. Formal enforcement must be applied to address threats to human health and natural resources. Compliance and enforcement teams are authorized to use the full range of tools to compel resolution of environmental problems and deter future non-compliance with environmental laws and their implementing regulations and associated permits. These tools range from voluntary compliance agreements to civil litigation. Department staff continue to provide assistance to willing parties throughout the enforcement process.
The department will use formal enforcement actions to resolve outstanding non-compliance that could not be resolved through the informal CC&P process. Formal enforcement actions include, but are not limited to, suspending or revoking a permit, Abatement/ Administrative Orders, and Abatement/ Administrative Orders on Consent. These actions typically require the responsible party to implement a schedule for achieving compliance at the facility or site and may require payment of a penalty, cost recovery, or damage amounts assessed for the violations.
The department also has the option to refer a case to the Attorney General’s Office to represent the department in legal action against a responsible party. Examples of formal enforcement actions achieved through litigation include Settlement Agreements, Consent Judgements, and Court Orders. Referral to the Attorney General’s Office can occur when:
- The responsible party and the department are unable to reach an agreement to correct the violations
- The responsible party fails to comply with a formal enforcement action initiated by the department
- The violations are an imminent and serious threat to human health, public welfare or the environment