The Environmental Protection Agency has quietly claimed that it has the authority to unilaterally garnish the wages of individuals who have been accused of violating its rules.
According to The Washington Times, the agency announced the plan to enhance its purview last week in a notice in the Federal Register. The notice claimed that federal law allows the EPA to "garnish non-Federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed the United States without first obtaining a court order."
The push remains up in the air, however, as the agency says any "adverse comments" would prevent the EPA from moving forward -- and some criticism has emerged in recent days.
Absent that, the rule could take effect Sept. 2. The EPA said the rule was not subject to review because it was not a "significant regulatory action."
The EPA has claimed this new authority by citing the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, which gives all federal agencies the power to conduct administrative wage garnishment, provided that the agency allows for hearings at which debtors can challenge the amount or the terms of a repayment schedule.
In response to the report, an EPA spokeswoman also pointed to a Department of Treasury rule from 2011 outlining debt collection for various agencies, including the EPA.