Beginning October 1, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will target its enforcement efforts in seven different focused areas, including three areas designed to protect water quality, two initiatives aimed at reducing toxic air pollutants and reducing air pollution, an initiative to reduce accidental chemical releases from industrial facilities, and an enforcement initiative geared at energy extraction activities.
Every three years, EPA selects National Enforcement Initiatives to focus its time and resources. For FY 2017-2019, EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives are:
- Keeping Industrial Pollutants Out of the Nation’s Waters (new)
- Keeping Raw Sewage and Contaminated Stormwater Out of the Nation’s Waters
- Preventing Animal Waste from Contaminating Surface and Ground Water
- Cutting Hazardous Air Pollutants (expanded)
- Reducing Air Pollution from the Largest Sources
- Reducing Risks of Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilities (new)
- Ensuring Energy Extraction Activities Comply with Environmental Laws
As identified by the significant focus on water protection, the agency has reiterated its goal of protecting safe drinking water by keeping pollutants out of drinking water sources. In particular, EPA has signaled that it intends to focus on the following industrial sectors: chemical and metal manufacturing, mining, and food processing.
In addition, petrochemical plants that store and use organic chemicals and petroleum refineries and storage terminals will face additional scrutiny for excess emissions, leaks, and flares, as will chemical plants and facilities that maintain inventories of extremely hazardous substances under EPA’s Risk Management Program.