USEPA published on September 15 a request for public comments and recommendations on its proposed national enforcement initiatives (NEI) for fiscal years 2017–2019. USEPA selects these initiatives every three years in order to focus federal resources on what it believes are the most important environmental problems where noncompliance is a significant contributing factor and where it believes that federal enforcement attention can make a difference.
FY 2017–2019 Potential NEIs Currently Under Consideration
In addition to evaluating the current NEIs to determine which should continue and potentially be expanded and which can return to the standard enforcement program, USEPA also proposed three new initiatives for FY 2017–2019 consideration:
Toxic Air Emissions
USEPA is currently implementing an air toxics NEI and is considering expanding the initiative to include emissions from additional sources and industries. USEPA is seeking public comment on whether to significantly increase its commitment to this initiative by expanding into one or both of the following two areas: organic liquid storage tank emissions and hazardous waste air emissions.
NPDES Industrial Wastewater Discharges
This potential NEI would focus on the wastewater discharges of the industrial sectors with the highest number of violations: mining, chemical manufacturing, food processing and primary metals manufacturing. USEPA’s goal with this initiative would be to allow for a national approach for those companies that operate in more than one state and to support a consistent national strategy to achieve compliance across industry sectors.
Emergency Chemical Releases
Approximately 2,000 facilities housing hazardous chemicals are currently considered ‘‘high-risk’’ by USEPA because of their proximity to densely populated areas, the quantity and number of extremely hazardous substances they use, or their history of significant accidents. This potential NEI would be a targeted focus on the facilities and the chemicals that pose the greatest risks, with a goal of increasing industry attention to preventing accidents through training, equipment maintenance, and routine inspections.
USEPA intends to incorporate its Next Generation Compliance approaches into all of the NEIs that they ultimately select for FY17–19. Next Generation Compliance consists of five interconnected components: regulations and permits that are easier to implement, advanced emissions/pollutant detection technology, electronic reporting, public transparency, and innovative enforcement approaches.
EPA will consider public comments submitted by October 14 in determining whether and to what extent to continue or expand an initiative or to select a new one, but will not respond to the comments received. Final selection will be incorporated into the EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance FY 2017 National Program Manager Guidance Addendum that provides national program direction for all EPA regional offices. For more information or to offer comments, visit http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/national-enforcement-initiatives.