On June 7, 2019, EPA published its fiscal year (FY) 2020-2023 National Compliance Initiatives (NCIs). EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance will lead efforts to address the six NCIs selected for this time period. Three of these initiatives focus on improving air quality; two aim to reduce noncompliance with water quality standards; the remaining NCI is intended to reduce risks of accidental hazardous chemical releases.
The NCIs, previously known as National Enforcement Initiatives (NEIs), are designed to efficiently and effectively focus resources where they can be most impactful to enhance environmental compliance. EPA previously reviewed the NEIs every three years to determine whether each should be continued, modified, or concluded. The transition from NEIs to NCIs, which occurred in August 2018, was intended to better convey the program's goal of improving compliance as opposed to emphasizing enforcement actions. As part of this transition, important adjustments were made to the program, such as modifying the selection criteria for the FY2020-2023 cycle, improving the process for regulator and stakeholder input, enhancing the use of compliance assurance tools, and extending the NCI cycle to four years. The following list summarizes the six initiatives identified by EPA for the upcoming four-year cycle:
- Creating Cleaner Air for Communities by Reducing Excess Emissions of Harmful Pollutants from Stationary Sources. This NCI is the result of merging two initiatives from the previous cycle. It will focus on reducing Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) and Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) emissions in areas where the attainment of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) may be affected, or where these emissions may affect vulnerable populations.
- Reducing Hazardous Air Emissions from Hazardous Waste Facilities. This initiative is continued from the previous cycle. During the last cycle, inspections on hazardous waste facilities, including Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs) and Large Quantity Generators (LQGs), revealed widespread noncompliance associated with improper waste management. This NCI will focus on improving compliance by hazardous waste TSDFs and LQGs with regulations that control organic air emissions from certain hazardous waste management activities.
- Stopping Aftermarket Defeat Devices for Vehicles and Engines. This NCI represents a new initiative stemming from public comments. Emissions from mobile sources including vehicles and engines are currently regulated by EPA and emission controls are required. Manufacturing, selling, and installing devices designed to defeat the emission controls have been found. This initiative will focus on stopping the manufacture, sale, and installation of these defeat devices.
- Reducing Significant Noncompliance with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits. This is a modified initiative from the prior cycle. EPA found that, of the 40,000 NPDES-permitted facilities, over 29 percent are currently in significant noncompliance with permit requirements. As a result of this noncompliance in FY2018, NPDES-permitted facilities discharged almost four billion pounds of pollutants above their permitted limits. This modified NCI will focus on all facilities in significant noncompliance with a goal of reducing violations and improving national data accuracy.
- Reducing Noncompliance with Drinking Water Standards at Community Water Systems. This represents a new initiative. In FY2018, 40 percent of the Community Water Systems violated at least one drinking water standard. This NCI is intended to reduce the number of violations with health-based standards and will initially focus on increasing the capacity of states, tribes, and EPA to address drinking water violations.
- Reducing Risks of Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilities. This is a continued initiative from the prior cycle. EPA found that many regulated facilities are neither managing risks adequately nor are they ensuring the safety of their facilities to protect surrounding communities as required under the Risk Management Program. Historically, approximately 150 catastrophic accidents occur at these facilities each year. The goal of this NCI is to reduce the risk to human health and the environment by decreasing the likelihood of chemical accidents.
EPA regions will allocate resources and work with states and tribes to implement strategies to pursue the goals of the new NCIs. To facilitate this engagement, EPA regions will be submitting Regional Strategic Plans for FY2020 by August 1, 2019.
Trinity can help to prepare your facility for inspections, assess your current compliance status, or address noncompliance situations. If you have any questions regarding how these NCIs may affect your facility, please contact us at (800) 229-6655.