EPA Sets FY 2020-2023 National Compliance Initiatives

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EPA Sets FY 2020-2023 National Compliance Initiatives

By: George Colvin, CPG, CHMM

Published in August 2019 Focus on the Environment Newsletter

Every few years, US EPA (EPA) sets national initiatives to focus enforcement and compliance resources and expertise on what the current administration feels are the most serious environmental issues or priorities facing the country. These initiatives, formerly identified as National Enforcement Initiatives (NEIs), were renamed and adjusted in August 2018 to National Compliance Initiatives (NCIs). The NCIs are in addition to the EPA’s core enforcement work.  

In June 2019, EPA announced its NCIs for the fiscal years (FY) 2020-2023.  Prior to the June 2019 announcement, EPA solicited public comment on FY 2020-2023 NCIs through a Federal Register Notice (84 Fed. Reg. 2848, Feb. 8, 2019).

Seven priority areas were identified for FY 2020-2023.  Two of them are continuations of FY 2017-2019 initiatives, which would otherwise expire on October 1, 2019.  They are:

  • Reducing Hazardous Air Emissions from Hazardous Waste Facilities; and
  • Reducing Risks of Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilities.

Two of the FY 2020-2023 NCIs are modifications of current initiatives.  They are:

  • Creating Cleaner Air for Communities by Reducing Excess Emissions of Harmful Pollutants from Stationary Sources (combination and modification of the prior initiatives “Cutting Hazardous Air Pollutants” and ‘Ensuring Energy Extraction Activities Comply with Environmental Laws”); and
  • Reducing Significant Noncompliance with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits (modification of the prior initiative “Keeping Industrial Pollutants Out of the Nations Waters”).

Three of the FY 2020-2023 NCIs are new. They are:

  • Reducing Noncompliance with Drinking Water Standards at Community Water Systems;
  • Stopping Aftermarket Defeat Devices for Vehicles and Engines; and
  • Reducing Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health impacts.

FY 2017-2019 initiatives removed from the FY 2020-2023 NCIs are:

  • Reducing Air Pollution from the Largest Sources;
  • Keeping Raw Sewage and Contaminated Stormwater Out of Our Nation’s Waters; and
  • Preventing Animal Waste from Contaminating Surface and Ground Water.

The 2017-2019 initiative of “Preventing Waste from Contaminating Surface and Ground Water” was removed as an initiative by the Administration in August 2018 with the change from NEIs to NCIs.  The FY 2017-2019 initiatives of “Reducing Air Pollution from the Largest Sources” and “Keeping Raw Sewage and Contaminated Stormwater Out of Our Nation’s Waters” will be returned to the standard “core” enforcement program “having largely achieved EPA goals for these NCIs.” 

George H. Colvin is a hydrogeologist with over 30 years of consulting experience. Much of his experience has focused on RCRA Corrective Action, RCRA closure, and groundwater investigation, monitoring, and cleanup. He holds a BS in Geology from Ohio University and MS in geology and hydrology from Vanderbilt University. He is a Certified Professional Geologist with the American Institute of Professional Geologists, a registered geologist in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, and a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager.