Compliance, Enforcement Risks and Emerging Issues Regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s Vessel General Permit
In this article, the authors explain that, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s focus on Vessel General Permit (VGP) compliance and enforcement, it is critical for companies to closely review VGP compliance for the vessels in their fleet and implement strict oversight and quality control, including audits, to ensure VGP requirements are complied with, crew are trained, and any deficiencies are promptly corrected.
For the past couple years, there has been an increase in inspections and enforcement of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Vessel General Permit (VGP) in several EPA regions around the country.
When the trend began, one EPA attorney indicated that it was “just the beginning,” and we have continued to see more aggressive reviews of VGP compliance and penalty demands, particularly on the U.S. West Coast.
More recently, the EPA has continued demanding significant penalties for alleged violations, sometimes citing interpretations of the VGP that are not outlined in any guidance documents. Additionally, in January 2023, the EPA published an Enforcement Alert, titled the EPA Reminder About Clean Water Act Vessel General Permit Requirements,1 reminding the maritime industry of the VGP requirements and impacts of non-compliance, and citing recent enforcement examples.
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“Compliance, Enforcement Risks and Emerging Issues Regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s Vessel General Permit,” by Jeanne M. Grasso and Dana S. Merkel was published in the May 2023 edition of Pratt’s Energy Law Report (Vol. 23, No. 5), an A.S. Pratt Publication, LexisNexis. Reprinted with permission.
This article was first published in the March 2023 edition of Mainbrace, Blank Rome's maritime newsletter.