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Jan 19 -- EPA Proposes to Add Environmental Justice, Climate Change, and PFAS to National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives for FY 2024-2027 [press release]

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is seeking public comment on its proposal to address environmental justice, climate change, and PFAS contamination in its National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives (NECIs).  Every four years, EPA selects national initiatives to focus resources on serious and widespread environmental problems where federal enforcement can make a difference. The primary objective of these initiatives is to protect human health and the environment by holding polluters accountable through enforcement and assisting regulated entities to return to compliance.

EPA proposes to continue four of the six current national initiatives during the FY 2024-2027 cycle and return two of the current national initiatives to the core enforcement and compliance program. In addition, EPA proposes to address environmental justice concerns in all NECIs, and to add two new NECIs on mitigating climate change and addressing PFAS pollution, for the FY 2024-2027 cycle. . . .

In selecting initiatives for the FY 2024-2027 cycle, EPA will consider the following three criteria to evaluate the existing and proposed new initiatives: 1) the need to address serious and widespread environmental issues and significant violations impacting human health and the environment, particularly in overburdened and vulnerable communities; 2) areas where federal enforcement can help ensure national consistency, promote a level playing field, and achieve compliance; and 3) alignment with the Agency’s Strategic Plan.

EPA is proposing to continue the following four current NECIs in the FY 2024-2027 cycle:

1. Creating Cleaner Air for Communities by Reducing Excess Emissions of Harmful Pollutants.
2. Reducing Risks of Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilities.
3. Reducing Significant Non-Compliance in the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program.
4. Reducing Non-Compliance with Drinking Water Standards at Community Water Systems.

EPA is proposing to return these two current NECIs to the core enforcement and compliance programs:

1. Reducing Toxic Air Emissions from Hazardous Waste Facilities.
2. Stopping Aftermarket Defeat Devices for Vehicles and Engines.

EPA is proposing to add these two new NECIs in the FY 2024-2027 cycle:

1. Mitigating Climate Change.
2. Addressing PFAS Contamination.

EPA is also taking comment on whether to add an NECI to address Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) pollution and/or lead contamination. The Agency is also accepting additional suggestions from the public.

While formal enforcement remains the key tool to address serious environmental problems and significant violations, as well as create general deterrence, EPA also uses a variety of compliance assurance tools to achieve this objective. To reflect this comprehensive approach, EPA has changed the name of its priority initiatives from “National Compliance Initiatives” (NCIs) to “National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives” (NECIs).

EPA is soliciting comments on the proposed changes to the NECIs during a 60 public comment period.
 
https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-proposes-add-environmental-justice-climate-change-and-pfas-national-enforcement

2)  Jan 12 -- FRN: Public Comment on EPA's National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives for Fiscal Years 2024-2027

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting public comment and recommendations on the National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives (NECIs) for fiscal years 2024-2027 (formerly called “National Compliance Initiatives”). The EPA focuses enforcement and compliance resources on the most serious and widespread environmental problems by developing and implementing national program initiatives. Comments must be received on or before March 13, 2023.
 
EPA selects national initiatives every four years to focus resources on serious and widespread environmental problems where federal enforcement can make a difference. The primary objective of these initiatives is to protect human health and the environment by holding polluters accountable and compelling regulated entities to return to compliance. While formal enforcement remains the key tool to address serious environmental problems and significant violations, as well as create general deterrence, EPA also uses a variety of compliance assurance tools to achieve this objective. To reflect this comprehensive approach, EPA has changed the name from National Compliance Initiatives to National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives (NECIs).

In selecting initiatives for the FY 2024-2027 cycle, EPA will use the following three criteria to evaluate the existing and proposed new initiatives: (1) the need to address serious and widespread environmental issues and significant violations impacting human health and the environment, particularly in overburdened and vulnerable communities; (2) areas where federal enforcement can help ensure national consistency, promote a level playing field, and achieve compliance; and (3) alignment with the Agency's Strategic Plan.

EPA aims to align all existing and proposed NECIs with two overarching Strategic Plan goals: Goal 1: Tackle the Climate Crisis and Goal 2: Take Decisive Action to Advance Environmental Justice. Specifically, EPA has incorporated climate resiliency considerations where appropriate in the current initiatives, and as discussed below, we are proposing a new NECI that would focus specifically on mitigating climate change by reducing non-compliance with applicable requirements, such as the Clean Air Act and American Innovation and Manufacturing Act. Promoting environmental justice, on the other hand, is not specific to any one program or statute; it is a core principle of all of our enforcement and compliance work. Therefore, rather than proposing a separate Environmental Justice NECI, we have fully incorporated environmental justice considerations into every existing and proposed NECI as we seek to reduce environmental harm in vulnerable and overburdened communities.

The EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance is soliciting public comment and recommendations on the NECIs to be undertaken by EPA over the four-year period of fiscal years 2024-2027. Specifically, EPA is collecting comment on which of the current national initiatives should continue into the FY 2024-2027 cycle, as is or modified, or be returned to the standard or “core” enforcement program at the end of FY 2023. Initiatives returned to the core program will continue to be addressed by enforcement and compliance assurance measures as appropriate. In addition, the EPA specifically invites comment on two potential new NECIs and two other areas under consideration for further evaluation as potential NECIs. The public also is invited to propose other areas for consideration as a NECI.  
 
NECIs: http://www.epa.gov/​enforcement/​national-compliance-initiatives.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-00500

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