Overview of compliance & enforcement at Ecology

We strive to protect, preserve, and enhance Washington’s environment and to promote wise management for current and future generations. When a business or individual pollutes Washington’s land, air, or water we enforce federal and state laws and rules to help change behavior and deter future violations.  

We use education, technical assistance, and cooperation-based programs to achieve voluntary compliance with federal and state laws and rules. When an individual or business is not in compliance, education, and technical assistance is often enough to correct the problem.

Unfortunately, a small percentage of individuals and businesses require a more direct response to achieve compliance. In these cases, we use other enforcement tools, ranging from warning letters to enforcement actions.

Monetary penalties

We use monetary penalties, sometimes as a last resort, to correct environmental violations and deter future violations. When deciding the appropriate amount of a penalty, we consider several factors:

  • The nature of the violation.
  • The prior behavior of the violator.
  • Actions taken by the violator to correct the problem.

Ensuring compliance with federal and state laws and rules is our commitment to the citizens and businesses in Washington who depend on clean air, land, and water, and reliable water supplies.

The money we collect from a penalty* is deposited in special accounts that pay for:

  • Environmental restoration and enhancement projects.
  • Research and development.
  • Permitting and regulatory programs.
  • Education and assistance.

Quarterly summaries of penalties assessed at $1,000* or more

Learn about our recent settlements on penalties we've issued on our news page.

*The money owed from penalties may be reduced from the issued amount due to a ruling by the Pollution Control Hearings Board or a negotiated settlement.

To learn about appeals and deciding cases for all regulatory agencies across the state visit the Environmental and Land Use Hearings Office that oversees the following hearings boards: