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Streamlining Permits

National Permitting Oversight Policy

National Permitting Oversight Policy Signed December 10, 2020

The permits issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as well as those issued by approved, authorized or delegated state, territorial, tribal and local authorities (hereinafter, “permitting authorities”) must meet the applicable requirements under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. In addition, both the EPA and permitting authorities should be making permitting decisions in a timely manner. To evaluate whether we are meeting these objectives, the EPA is establishing this national policy to standardize and improve over time the EPA’s process for oversight of permits and permitting authorities. This policy creates a consistent and transparent data-driven framework to guide the EPA’s oversight responsibilities, inform adjustments in oversight and identify opportunities for the EPA’s National Programs to assist permitting authorities.

States and local agencies issue the majority of environmental permits across the country, estimated at over 95%, on behalf of EPA.

In addition to guiding changes in the effectiveness and efficiency of EPA oversight activities, the policy is expected to identify emerging permitting issues and help inform national workplans for the agency’s major permitting programs. The new policy will establish core metrics on:

  • EPA oversight conducted;
  • Permit quality;
  • Permit action timelines; and
  • Integrity of permit authority programs.

The policy establishes an expectation for annual discussions where experiences over the preceding year, current priorities, and issues can be discussed to inform the workplans and level of oversight for the upcoming year. 

For additional information on the National Permitting Oversight Policy, please email

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