In an earlier post, I noted that EPA was in the process of setting its enforcement priorities for the years 2011 through 2013. At the time, the Agency had fifteen areas of possible consideration. EPA has finalized its list and out of the fifteen areas under consideration, they chose five and added a sixth area not previously considered.
The areas that have been chosen for the final cut are:
- Keeping Raw Sewage and Contaminated Storm Water Out of our Nations’ Water – This enforcement initiative will focus on reducing discharges from combined sewer overflows, sanitary overflows and municipal separate storm sewer system. EPA will be requiring various commitments from cities to implement solutions to the problems caused by aging urban infrastructure. For many municipalities, this means huge and expensive construction projects will need to be undertaken in the very near future;
- Preventing Animal Waste from Contaminating Service and Ground Waters – Concentrated animal feeding operations generate a large amount of manure which can end up being discharged into surface waters or seep into ground water. EPA intends to strengthen its enforcement focus on existing large and medium sized facilities that are not in compliance with permitting regulations;
- Cutting Toxic Air Pollution that Affects Communities’ Health – Hazardous air pollutants have been determined to present significant threats to human health. This enforcement initiative will focus on industrial and commercial facilities that are allowing excess emissions;
- Reducing Widespread Air Pollution from the Largest Sources, Especially the Coal-Fired Utility, Cement, Glass and Acid Sectors –Many industries have ignored the New Source Review and Prevention of Significant Deterioration requirements when building new facilities or making significant modifications to existing facilities. This national enforcement initiative will target these emissions, particularly at coal-fired utility, cement, glass and acid plants;
- Reducing Pollution from Mineral Processing Operations – Mountaintop mining has not gone unnoticed by EPA. Mining and mineral processing facilities pose high risk to human health and the environment with many of the sites already being on the Super Fund National Priorities List. This initiative will seek to bring these facilities into compliance;
- Assuring Energy at Extraction Sector Compliance with Environmental Laws – This is a new topic for EPA. The initiative indicates that EPA understands that a push for “clean energy” sources can result in a dirty environment. A particular area of scrutiny will be oil and gas extraction as well as coal mining.
Those that got knocked off of the list include environmental justice, Indian country drinking water, marine debris, RCRA enforcement, RCRA financial assurance, pesticides at day care facilities, industrial surface impoundments, wetlands and worker safety for agricultural pesticides.
Businesses should be aware of the final priority list because EPA has, in the past, followed it when deciding where to place its emphasis (and enforcement funds). While I doubt that the mining, oil, gas, coal-fired utilities, CAFOs or industries producing hazardous air pollutants are going to be particularly shocked by the initiatives targeting them, some municipalities may be very unpleasantly surprised by their next visit from EPA.
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