Inspection Expectations During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
This week EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Assistant Administrator, Susan Bodine, sent a letter to states, tribes, territories, and local agencies to confirm EPA’s willingness to adjust inspection commitments due to COVID-19. Click here for a copy of letter.
EPA recommends states “perform inspections, when it is safe to do so, consistent with their priorities and applicable OECA program priorities.” And when planned on-site inspections cannot be performed due to COVID-19, EPA encourages “the use of off-site compliance monitoring activities.” The letter also indicates EPA will count off-site compliance monitoring activities towards a state’s inspection/grant commitments and that states should document these activities similar to onsite inspections. Included with the letter is OECA’s recommended processes for adjusting commitment due to COVID-19. These processes will remain in effect through March 2021. Finally, Bodine’s letter reiterates EPA’s commitment to being flexible and the desire to work together consistent with OECA’s July 2019 Partnership Policy “to get the best possible outcome to ensure compliance with the law while ensuring the safety of our respective workforces, regulated entities and the public.”
Final Rule: Streamlining Procedures for Permit Appeals
EPA issued a final rule this week aimed at streamlining procedures for permit appeals before the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB). The final rule, clarifies the EAB’s scope of review and makes permits effective more quickly by expediting administrative appeals through the following measures:
- Establishes a 60-day deadline for the EAB to issue final decisions once an appeal has been fully briefed and argued, with a one-time 60 day extension;
- Limits the availability of filing extensions to one request per party, with a maximum extension of 30 days; and
- Streamlines the amicus process.
On November 6, 2019, EPA proposed changes to the EAB to facilitate speedy resolution of permit disputes and additional reforms to streamline the current administrative appeal process. The finalized rule incorporates extensive input received during the public comment period. A pre-publication version of the final rule is available on EPA’s website, and the rule will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
ITRC Risk Communication Toolkit Available Online
The ITRC Risk Communication Toolkit is now live online. This resource was developed by three current ITRC teams: Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), 1,4-Dioxane, and Harmful Cyanobacterial Blooms (HCBs). The Risk Communication Toolkit contains:
- An overview of risk communication concepts;
- Steps to develop a risk communication plan and stakeholder outreach activities;
- Guidance for drafting press releases and analytical result summary letters, case studies, and a risk communication plan template; and
- Additional tools and case studies added and updated by ITRC teams as they are developed
The resource is designed to aid state personnel, other lead organizations, and stakeholders in understanding and communicating risk associated with emerging environmental issues and concerns. Access the Toolkit by clicking here.
National Environmental Justice Meetings Open for Registration
Registration has opened for two Environmental Justice public meetings.
The first is a webcast titled “Meaningful Engagement for Environmental Justice Without Public Meetings,” hosted by the Environmental Justice Interagency Working Group’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Committee. Panelists from EPA, FHA, and DOE will explore:
- How Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and NEPA processes are being impacted today;
- Best practices for public engagement for planning, EIS, and NEPA scoping;
- Case study examples of effective online EJ engagement;
- Alternatives to public meetings for reaching underrepresented groups; and
- Insights from the FHWA’s Virtual Public Involvement toolkit
The webcast will occur August 5th, 2020 at 2 PM Eastern Time. Registration is available here.
The second is a National Environmental Justice Public Teleconference Meeting. It will address issues identified in the February 2020 meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, to allow for further comment on issues under consideration by the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. The teleconference will occur August 19 and August 20, 3-6pm Eastern. Registration is available here.
ACWA’s FY2020 Annual Report is Now Available
The Association’s FY2020 Annual Report has just been released! Please click here to read more about our activities, accomplishments, and more from the past year.
2020 National CAFO Roundtable – Virtual Meeting
This year, the 2020 National CAFO Roundtable will be held virtually in the afternoons of September 22 – September 24 from 12:30-5:00 PM Eastern Time. ACWA invites states and interstates to share this meeting information with other state agencies. A draft agenda and meeting registration link are available on ACWA’s website. This meeting is not open to the public, but there will be several non-regulatory guests invited to present. To ensure the meeting is as accessible as possible, there will be no registration fee. If you have any questions about this meeting visit the website or contact Sean Rolland directly.
ECHO Dashboard of the Week
To assist EPA and states with implementing the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Electronic Reporting Rule (“NPDES eRule”), EPA has created several dashboards within the Enforcement Compliance History Online (ECHO) website related to the conversion to electronic reporting and the related data sharing requirements. The data used in populating these dashboards are updated each weekend from ICIS-NPDES. To help promote these dashboards, ACWA will be highlighting a new one each week.
NPDES Single Event Violations
Summary: The 2015 NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule (“NPDES eRule”) requires authorized NPDES programs to electronically share the required minimum set of NPDES data (see Appendix A, 40 CFR part 127) with EPA in a timely, accurate, complete, and nationally-consistent manner fully compatible with EPA’s national NPDES data system, ICIS-NPDES (see 40 CFR 127.1(b) and 127.23). EPA created this dashboard to monitor how well EPA Regions and states are doing in sharing manually detected violations (a.k.a. “Single Event Violations” or “SEVs”).
The NPDES Electronic Reporting rule requires authorized NPDES programs to share SEV data on all facilities (major and non-major). However, this requirement does not include SEV data generated from construction stormwater inspections where the regulatory authority did not take a formal enforcement action. As noted in preamble to the final rule, EPA made this distinction based on the large number of facilities in this segment of the NPDES universe, which amounts to approximately 200,000 new construction sites each year (see 22 October 2015; 80 FR 64079). Prior to the final rule, states only had to share data on SEVs from majors with EPA’s ICIS-NPDES.
This dashboard displays information about SEVs and NPDES inspections to help illustrate trends in the NPDES program and illustrate gaps in data input. The dashboard also shows trends in the number of SEVs per inspection.
NPDES eRule Implementation: Phase 1 (States: Facility, Permit Info, Manually detected violations)
Status: This dashboard is currently posted to ECHO Gov.
Scope of Dashboard: This dashboard covers all NPDES-regulated entities (all permit types, majors and non-majors).