What To Do If You Get A Notice For An Environmental Violation

Posted on: 9 June 2020


Receiving a notice about an environmental violation can leave you scrambling for answers. There are, however, a few things you can do to ensure the situation will be handled as competently and fairly as possible.

Take the Notice Seriously

No matter what your feelings are about environmental regulations, disregarding a notice mailed to you by the government is not a winning play. Contact an environmental law practice and tell them what the notice says. Follow the advice of counsel in responding to the notice. Make every effort to reply to the notice within whatever time frame appears on it.

Stay Calm

In many cases, a notice is just that. The government might have questions about the situation on your property, and they may require additional information to deal with it. For example, someone downstream from a creek on your property may have told a state or federal agency that they believed contaminating run-off was coming from your site.

Rarely do notices take recipients straight to any sort of penalty phase. Instead, the agency likely needs a response from you. With the help of an environmental law practice, you can provide a response that addresses all of the areas of concern in the notice.

Make Lots of Copies

Every bit of correspondence you get from any government agency needs to be copied and stored in a safe place. These copies will provide the basis for a legal defense if one proves to be necessary. Also, make sure you create copies for every consultation you take with an environmental law practice. You don't want to run out of copies while you're looking for counsel.

Cooperation Is Usually the Right Choice

Unless the contents of the notice are egregiously wrong, your best move is to play nice with the government. If there is a risk of penalties, take note of what the amounts are. You may be able to have the penalties removed once compliance has been achieved, and that's worth discussing with an administrator. In some cases, property owners may even be able to apply for government grants to handle the work that needs to be done to achieve compliance.

Few cases are considered so bad the government's first move is to impose massive fines or criminal penalties. The government's goal is to get the problem fixed. Fines and jail time are usually reserved for parties that repeatedly refuse to comply, eventually leading to defiance of court orders. Don't be that person or business.

For any more questions about your environmental violation, contact an environmental law practice.