On September 15, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed updates to the National Enforcement Initiatives for 2017-2019. The EPA is soliciting public comments and recommendations on the proposed NEIs no later than Wednesday, October 14, 2015 (the deadline will not be extended). EPA is collecting comments about current NEIs to determine whether the current initiatives should be continued, expanded, or returned to standard enforcement. Comments on the current initiatives will aid in determining 2017-2019 initiatives. These initiatives focus on the most important environmental issues where noncompliance is a significant contributor.
Current 2014-2016 National Enforcement Initiatives:
For the current initiatives, EPA is seeking public comment on whether the current NEIs should continue into 2017-2019, return to standard enforcement programs, or whether EPA should add new areas of focus within those NEIS. The current NEIs are:
- Reducing air pollution from the largest sources. This NEI focused on ensuring that large industrial facilities comply with the Clean Air Act when building new facilities or making modifications to existing facilities. This NEI is centered on industrial sectors that are under enforceable commitments to reduce pollution.
- Cutting toxic air pollution from industrial facilities. This NEI focuses on the substantial illegal emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from leaks, flares, and excess emissions at industrial facilities.
- Assuring energy extraction and production activities comply with environmental laws. EPA has been working with states to assure that domestic land-based natural gas extraction and production is done in an environmentally protective manner.
- Reducing pollution from mineral processing operations. This NEI focuses on high risk mineral processing operations to ensure that wastes are being managed properly.
- Keeping raw sewage and contaminated storm water out of our Nation’s waters. Under this NEI, EPA focuses on water pollution problems within communities in order to comply with the Clean Water Act.
- Preventing animal waste from contaminating surface and ground water. The focus of this NEI is to reduce animal waste pollution that impacts water quality and can result in environmental and human health risks.
Proposed 2017-2019 National Enforcement Initiatives:
In addition to evaluating the current NEIs, EPA is also considering new initiatives for the next three-year cycle. EPA’s proposed NEIs for 2017-2019 are:
- Protecting Communities from Exposure to Toxic Air Emissions. EPA is currently implementing an air toxics NEI and is considering expanding the initiative to include emissions from additional sources and industries. EPA is looking for comments on whether to significantly increase commitment to include:
- Organic Liquid Storage Tanks which can be a source of excess air emissions at many sites
- Hazardous Waste Air Emissions which can result in toxic air emissions if improperly handled resulting in public health risks and potential for fire or explosion risks.
- Keeping Industrial Pollutants out of the nation’s water sources. This potential NEI focuses on the top sectors that have responsibility for contributing to surface water pollution and putting driving water at risk.
- Reducing the Risks and Impacts of Industrial Accidents and Releases. This potential NEI would target on facilities and the chemicals that pose the greatest risk, with a goal of increasing industry attention to prevent accidents.
For all the NEIs that EPA ultimately selects for 2017-2019, Next Generation Compliance approaches will be incorporated by using most current monitoring technologies, data analytics and transparency, and latest thinking in order to drive better compliance and better results even in a time of resource constraints.