EPA recently released the pre-publication version of its proposed National Compliance Initiatives for FY 2020-2023.  Notably, consistent with Susan Bodine’s August 21, 2018 Memorandum “Transition from National Enforcement Initiatives to National Compliance Initiatives,” EPA has extended the cycle from two years to four years, moved away from sector targeting, and updated its focus for FY 2020-2023 from enforcement to compliance initiatives.  EPA believes this adjusted focus will “better convey the overarching goal of increased compliance and the use of not only enforcement actions, but the full range of compliance assurance tools.”

EPA plans to extend three current initiatives: Cutting Hazardous Air Pollutants; Reducing Toxic Air Emissions from Hazardous Waste Facilities; and Reducing Risks of Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilities. EPA is planning to transition two existing initiatives into new initiatives for FY 2020-2023.  It is proposing to revise its current “Keeping Industrial Pollutants Out of the Nation’s Waters” initiative into “National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Significant Non-Compliance Reduction” with a goal of reducing significant noncompliance in the NPDES program by 50 percent by the end of FY 2022.  This initiative will incorporate existing industrial pollutants initiative but will also broaden the focus to all NPDES permittees.  Additionally, EPA is proposing to transition its existing “Ensuring Energy Extraction Activities Comply with Environmental Laws” initiative into a focus on significant sources of volatile organic compounds that may adversely affect vulnerable populations or an area’s Clean Air Act attainment status, regardless of industry sector.  Currently this initiative only focuses on the natural gas extraction sector.

EPA plans to return its Reducing Air Pollution from the Largest Sources and the Keeping Raw Sewage and Contaminated Stormwater Out of Our Nation’s Waters” initiatives back to the standard “core” enforcement program citing significant progress in implementing these existing initiatives. Meanwhile, it is considering the addition of two initiatives: an initiative to increase compliance with drinking water standards and an initiative to reduce children’s exposure to lead. The drinking water standards initiative would focus on EPA working jointly with states to identify collaboration opportunities to more effectively and efficiently focus efforts to increase compliance. The initiative to reduce children’s exposure to lead would focus on collaboration between many agencies to reduce lead contamination in all environmental media and may include increased consumer education to increase compliance.

Once published in the Federal Register, EPA will hold a 30-day public comment period.  EPA plans to incorporate the final initiatives into its FY 2020-2021 National Program Guidance for all EPA regional offices.

For further information regarding EPA’s National Compliance Initiatives, please contact Brooks Smith or Patrick Fanning.