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News Releases from HeadquartersEnforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA)

EPA announces FY 2020-2023 Priorities for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance

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EPA Press Office ( )

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced seven enforcement and compliance assurance priority areas for fiscal years 2020-2023. Six of the seven priorities are National Compliance Initiatives (NCIs), which will be led by EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA). For the seventh priority area, OECA will contribute to the agency’s implementation of the Lead Action Plan, which was issued by the President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children in December 2018.

The NCIs selected today advance the agency’s strategic plan objectives to improve air quality, provide for clean and safe water, ensure chemical safety, and improve compliance with our nation’s environmental laws, while enhancing shared accountability between the EPA and states and tribes with authorized environmental programs.

“EPA’s enforcement and compliance assurance program focuses on achieving environmental outcomes, not targeting specific industry sectors,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Bodine. “With these National Compliance Initiatives, we will focus our resources on addressing significant environmental problems and risks to human health.”

EPA will be developing implementation frameworks for each NCI and working with states and tribes with authorized programs that want to participate. These implementation frameworks will include approaches to using the full range of EPA compliance assurance tools, including compliance assistance, self-audits, and informal and formal enforcement actions to achieve the goals of each NCI. While compliance assistance will be a component of each implementation framework, formal enforcement will remain an important tool in the NCIs to address serious noncompliance and create general deterrence.

The selection of the NCIs was informed by outreach to states and tribes. EPA also solicited public input through a Federal Register notice (PDF). EPA modified several of the proposed NCIs based on stakeholder comments.

The newly announced National Compliance Initiatives are:

Improving Air Quality

  • Creating Cleaner Air for Communities by Reducing Excess Emissions of Harmful Pollutants from Stationary Sources – This NCI will focus on reducing emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs).  For VOC emissions, the NCI will focus on significant sources of VOCs that have a substantial impact on air quality and (1) may adversely affect an area’s attainment of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) or (2) may adversely affect vulnerable populations. For HAPs, this NCI will focus on sources that have a significant impact on air quality and health in communities, consistent with the existing NCI on Cutting Hazardous Air Pollutants.
  • Reducing Hazardous Air Emissions from Hazardous Waste Facilities – This existing NCI will continue to focus on improving compliance by hazardous waste Treatment Storage and Disposal Facilities and Large Quantity Generators with regulations that require effective control and monitoring of organic air emissions from certain hazardous waste management activities. Releases from hazardous waste facilities can include constituents known or suspected to cause cancer or birth defects. In addition, leaks from these facilities can contribute to non-attainment with the NAAQS.
  • Stopping Aftermarket Defeat Devices for Vehicles and Engines – This NCI will focus on stopping the manufacture, sale, and installation of aftermarket defeat devices on vehicles and engines used on public roads as well as on nonroad vehicles and engines. Illegally-modified vehicles and engines contribute substantial excess pollution that harms public health and impedes efforts by the EPA, tribes, states and local agencies to plan for and attain air quality standards.

Ensuring Clean and Safe Water

  • Reducing Significant Noncompliance with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits – This NCI will focus on increasing the percentage of all NPDES permittees in compliance with their permit (as measured by reducing the rate of permittees in significant noncompliance).  Compliance with NPDES permits is critical to protecting our nation’s waters.
  • Reducing Noncompliance with Drinking Water Standards at Community Water Systems (CWSs) –An initial focus of this NCI is to work with the EPA’s Office of Water to increase capacity in states, tribes and the EPA to address drinking water violations. The objective is to support the FY 2018–FY 2022 Agency Strategic Plan goal of reducing by 25% by the end of FY 2022 the number of CWSs that are out of compliance with health-based standards. In FY 2018, 7% of the nation’s CWSs had at least one health-based violation.

Reducing Risk from Hazardous Chemicals

  • Reducing Risks of Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilities – This existing NCI will continue to focus on reducing risk to human health and the environment by decreasing the likelihood of chemical accidents. EPA has found that many regulated facilities are neither managing adequately the risks they pose nor ensuring the safety of their facilities to protect surrounding communities as required under Clean Air Act Section 112(r).

Lead Action Plan

Rather than develop a NCI to address lead exposure, EPA’s enforcement and compliance assurance program will contribute to the agency’s goal of reducing childhood lead exposures and associated health impacts as outlined in the Federal Lead Action Plan. These agency-wide efforts may include:
  1. increasing compliance with—and awareness of the importance of—lead-safe renovations under the Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule;
  2. developing a mapping tool to identify communities with elevated lead exposures;
  3. conducting targeted geographic initiatives; and
  4. undertaking public awareness campaigns on lead issues.

For more information on EPA’s National Compliance Initiatives: