The Oklahoma Environmental, Health and Safety Audit Privilege Act is now effective as of November 1, 2019, and available to manufacturers and industrial businesses in Oklahoma that undertake voluntary environmental audits, such as those companies involved in aircraft manufacturing, chemicals, oil and gas processing, plastics, cement, food and meat processing, and paper products . Oklahoma is the 30th state, by EPA’s count, to enact an audit program, providing privilege and enforcement benefits to parties that voluntarily undertake an environmental audit, disclose the findings and conduct corrective actions.
A proposed rule issued August 9th appears to move in a different direction from the approach to cooperative federalism promoted by recent EPA initiatives. EPA’s new Water Quality Certification rule seeks to restrict the authority of states and authorized tribal agencies – at least with respect to certain actions under the Clean Water Act. This is a rule to watch for utilities and businesses seeking licenses from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and for developers who need Clean Water Act Section 404 permits from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Continuing its focus on cooperative federalism under the current Administration, EPA issued its final policy on Enhancing Effective Partnerships Between the EPA and the States in Civil Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Work on July 11, 2019. EPA’s guidance memorandum follows review of comments from the draft policy published in May 2019 and replaces the January 2018 interim guidance on enhancing partnerships. EPA’s final policy expands and clarifies earlier direction on communication planning between EPA and its state counterparts with authorized or delegated programs under various federal statutes such as the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and RCRA.
Facilities that own and operate air emissions sources in the State of Missouri, such as manufacturing plants, chemical plants, and similar industrial air sources, will want to take note of recent proposed changes to the notification obligations involving certain excess emission events.
Mitigation bank credits may become more readily available to builders, developers and other permittees following new guidance issued in late February. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued Regulatory Guidance Letter 19-01, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, on February 22, 2019. (Available here)