Statement of Priorities


For more than 40 years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has worked to protect people's health and the environment. By taking advantage of the best thinking, the newest technologies and the most cost-effective, sustainable solutions, EPA has fostered innovation and cleaned up pollution in the places where people live, work, play and learn.

With a renewed focus on the challenges ahead, science, law and transparency continue to guide EPA decisions. EPA will leverage resources with grant and incentive-based programs, sound scientific advice, technical and compliance assistance and tools that support states, tribes, cities, towns, rural communities and the private sector in their efforts to address our shared challenges, including:

  • making a visible difference in communities across the country;

  • addressing climate change and improving air quality;

  • taking action on toxics and chemical safety;

  • protecting water: a precious, limited resource;

  • launching a new era of state, tribal and local partnership; and

  • working toward a sustainable future.

    EPA and its federal, state, local, and community partners have made enormous progress in protecting the nation's health and environment. From reducing mercury and other toxic air pollution to doubling the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks, the Agency is working to save lives and protect the environment. In addition, while removing a billion tons of pollution from the air, the Agency has produced hundreds of billions of dollars in benefits for the American people.


    EPA's more than forty years of protecting human health and the environment demonstrates our nation's commitment to reducing pollution that can threaten the air we breathe, the water we use and the communities we live in. This Regulatory Plan contains information on some of our most important upcoming regulatory actions. As always, our Semiannual Regulatory Agenda contains information on a broader spectrum of EPA's upcoming regulatory actions.

    Six Guiding Priorities

    The EPA's success depends on supporting innovation and creativity in both what we do and how we do it. To guide the agency's efforts, the Agency has established several guiding priorities. These priorities are enumerated in the list that follows, along with recent progress and future objectives for each.

    1. Making a Visible Difference in Communities Across the Country

    Enhance Agricultural Worker Protection. Based on years of extensive stakeholder engagement and public meetings, EPA is developing a proposal to strengthen the existing agricultural worker protection regulation under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The changes under consideration aim to improve pesticide safety training and agricultural workers' ability to protect themselves and their families from potential secondary exposure to pesticides and pesticide residues. The proposed revisions will address key environmental justice concerns for a population that may be disproportionately affected by pesticide exposure. Other changes under development are intended to bring hazard communication requirements more in line with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, and seek to clarify current requirements to facilitate program implementation and enforcement.

    Environmental Justice in Rulemaking. EPA will continue to focus attention on improving the environment in communities that have been adversely or disproportionately impacted by exposure to environmental hazards and pollution. EPA is supporting innovative and sustainable solutions, integrated with community development and private investments.

    2. Addressing Climate Change and Improving Air Quality

    The Agency will continue to deploy existing regulatory tools where appropriate and warranted. Addressing climate change calls for coordinated national and global efforts to reduce emissions and develop new technologies that can be deployed. Using the Clean Air Act, EPA will continue to develop greenhouse gas standards for both mobile and stationary sources.

    Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards for Power Plants. In April of 2012, EPA proposed emission standards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from new electric power plants. A supplemental proposal was issued in September of this year. The proposed standards, if finalized, will establish achievable limits of carbon pollution per megawatt hour for all future units, moving the nation towards a cleaner and more efficient energy future. In 2014, EPA intends to propose standards of performance for greenhouse gas emissions from existing and modified power plant sources.

    Carbon Capture and Storage. EPA proposed a rule to clarify the applicability of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste regulations to certain Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) activities. The proposed rule, if finalized, will conditionally exclude CO2 streams from RCRA hazardous waste requirements when injected into a Class VI Underground Injection Control (UIC) well and meeting certain other conditions. Specifically, the rule will work in conjunction with the Safe Drinking Water Act's Class VI Underground Injection Control Rule, which governs the geological sequestration of CO2 streams by providing regulatory clarity for defining and managing these CO2 streams, and help facilitate the deployment of CCS.

    Since passage of the Clean Air Act Amendments in 1990, nationwide air quality has improved significantly for the six criteria air pollutants for which there are national ambient air quality standards, as well as many other hazardous air pollutants. Long-term exposure to air pollution can cause cancer and damage to the immune, neurological, reproductive, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems.

    Reviewing and Implementing Air Quality Standards. Despite progress, millions of Americans still live in areas that exceed one or more of the national air pollution standards. This year's regulatory plan describes efforts to review the primary National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for lead.

    Tier 3 Vehicle and Fuel Standards. In May of this year, EPA proposed vehicle emission and fuel standards to further reduce NOx, PM, and other harmful air toxics. These standards will also help states to achieve air quality standards. EPA expects to publish a final rule establishing these standards in February of 2014.

    Cleaner Air From Improved Technology. EPA continues to address hazardous air pollution under authority of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. The centerpiece of this effort is the "Maximum Achievable Control Technology" (MACT) program, which requires that all major sources of a given type use emission controls that better reflect the current state of the art. In February of this year, EPA expects to propose a rule that will review existing MACT standards for Petroleum Refineries to reduce residual risk and assure that the standards reflect current technology.

    3. Taking Action on Toxics and Chemical Safety

    One of EPA's highest priorities is to make significant progress in assuring the safety of chemicals. Using sound science- as a compass, EPA protects individuals, families, and the environment from potential risks of pesticides and other chemicals. In its implementation of these programs, EPA uses several different statutory authorities, including the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA), as well as collaborative and voluntary activities. In FY 2014, the Agency will continue to satisfy its overall directives under these authorities, and highlights the following actions in this Regulatory Plan:

    EPA's Existing Chemicals Management Program Under TSCA. As part of EPA's ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of chemicals, EPA plans to take a range of identified regulatory actions for certain chemicals and assess other chemicals to determine if risk reduction action is needed to address potential concerns.

    Addressing Formaldehyde Used in Composite Wood Products. As directed by the

    Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act of 2010, EPA is developing final regulations to address formaldehyde emissions from hardwood plywood, particleboard and medium-density fiberboard that is sold, supplied, offered for sale, or manufactured in the United States.

    Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security. In addition to the actions noted in this Regulatory Plan, the Executive Order 13650 on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security directs federal agencies to work with stakeholders to improve chemical safety and security through agency programs, private sector initiatives, federal guidance, standards, and regulations. During the course of implementing this executive order, EPA, along with the Department of Homeland Security, including the National Protection and Programs Directorate, the Transportation Security Agency, and the United States Coast Guard; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; the United States Department of Agriculture; and the United States Department of Transportation, will assess whether its regulations should be modified or new regulations developed to improve upon chemical safety and security. EPA will initiate rulemaking if the assessment warrants it.

    4. Protecting Water: A Precious, Limited Resource

    Despite considerable progress, America's waters remain imperiled. Water quality protection programs face complex challenges, from nutrient loadings and stormwater runoff to invasive species and drinking water contaminants. These challenges demand both traditional and innovative strategies.

    Stormwater. Urban stormwater is a leading source of impairment and a fast growing water quality concern. Over 60% of regulated municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) discharge to impaired waters. Stormwater from newly developed areas is one of the nation's largest growing sources of water pollution. Approximately 800,000 acres are developed every year and projected to grow to over 1.0 million acres by 2040. Development increases the amount of impervious cover in the landscape and even small increases in impervious cover lead to big impacts in receiving waters. As more land is developed and new impervious surfaces are created, the volume, velocity, and pollutants contained in storm water increases. EPA is considering a range of regulatory and non-regulatory options to reduce the pollutant loads delivered by storm water discharges to receiving waters and improve water quality and aquatic ecosystem integrity, and to protect water quality from certain currently unregulated storm water discharges. EPA plans to work closely with state and local governments in this effort and will consider innovative approaches to address these issues.

    Improving Water Quality. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to address challenging water quality issues in several rulemakings during fiscal year 2014.

    Cooling Water Intake Structures. EPA plans to finalize standards for cooling water intakes for electric power plants and for manufacturers who use large amounts of cooling water. The goal of the final rule will be to protect aquatic organisms from being killed or injured through impingement or entrainment.

    Steam Electric Power Plants. EPA will establish national technology-based regulations, called effluent guidelines, to reduce discharges of pollutants from industries to waters of the U.S. and publicly owned treatment works. These requirements are incorporated into National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System discharge permits issued by EPA and states. The steam electric effluent guidelines apply to steam electric power plants using nuclear or fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas. Power plant discharges can have major impacts on water quality, including reduced organism abundance and species diversity, contamination of drinking water sources, and other health effects. Pollutants of concern include metals (e.g., mercury, arsenic and selenium), nutrients, and total dissolved solids.

    Definition of "Waters of the United States" Under the Clean Water Act. After U.S. Supreme Court decisions in SWANCC and Rapanos, the scope of "waters of the US" protected under Clean Water Act (CWA) programs has been an issue of considerable debate and uncertainty. The Act does not distinguish among programs as to what constitutes "waters of the United States." As a result, these decisions affect the geographic scope of all CWA programs. SWANCC and Rapanos did not invalidate the current regulatory definition of "waters of the United States." However, the decisions established important considerations for how those regulations should be interpreted. Experience implementing the regulations following the two court cases has identified several areas that could benefit from additional clarification through rulemaking.

    5. Launching a New Era of State, Tribal and Local Partnership

    EPA's success depends more than ever on working with increasingly capable and environmentally conscious partners. States have demonstrated leadership on managing environmental challenges and EPA wants to build on and complement their work. EPA supports state and tribal capacity to ensure that programs are consistently delivered nationwide. This provides EPA and its intergovernmental partners with an opportunity to further strengthen their working relationship and, thereby, more effectively pursue their shared goal of protecting the nation's environmental and public health. The history and future of environmental protection will be built on this type of collaboration.

    New Native American Affairs Council. By Executive Order, President Obama established the White House Council on Native American Affairs in 2013. The policy behind the formation of this council is to recognize the government-to-government relationship, as well as the unique legal and political relationship that exists between the federal government and tribes. Greater EPA engagement and consultation is critical to policies that advance tribal self-determination and prosperity.

    6. Working Toward a Sustainable Future

    Allowing the Use of Electronic Manifests. The e-Manifest Final rule will codify certain provisions of the "Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act," which direct EPA to adopt a regulation by October 5, 2013 that authorizes the use of electronic manifests to track hazardous waste shipments nationwide. The Act also instructs EPA to develop a user-fee funded e-Manifest system by October 2015. Pursuant to the Act, EPA will soon issue a regulation that will allow hazardous waste handlers to use electronic manifest documents to track hazardous waste from the time the waste leaves the generator facility where it was produced, until it reaches the off-site waste management facility that will store, treat, or dispose of the hazardous waste. EPA will issue a subsequent rulemaking that will establish the schedule of user fees for the system and announce the date on which the system will be implemented and available to users.

    Once the e-Manifest regulation is adopted and the national e-Manifest system becomes available, hazardous waste handlers will be able to complete, sign, transmit, and store electronic manifests through the national IT system, or they can elect to continue tracking the hazardous waste under the paper manifest system. Further, waste handlers that currently submit manifests to the states will no longer be required to do so, as EPA will collect both the remaining paper manifest copies and electronic manifests in the national system, and will disseminate the manifest data to those states that want it. The adoption of e-Manifest will eliminate the current impediments to automation in the current manifest regulations, such as the requirements to physically carry paper forms with hazardous waste shipments; sign manifest copies "by-hand;" manually file copies; and mail copies to waste handlers and authorized states. EPA will clarify which electronic signature methods may be used when executing electronic manifests in the first generation of the national e-Manifest system, as well as to specify how issues of public access to manifest information will be addressed when manifest data are submitted and processed electronically.

    The priorities described above will guide EPA's work in the years ahead. They are built around the challenges and opportunities inherent in our mission to protect health and the environment for all Americans. This mission is carried out by respecting EPA's core values of science, transparency and the rule of law. Within these parameters, EPA carefully considers the impacts its regulatory actions will have on society.

    Retrospective Review of Existing Regulations

    Just as today's economy is vastly different from that of 40 years before, EPA's regulatory program is evolving to recognize the progress that has already been made in environmental protection and to incorporate new technologies and approaches that allow us to accomplish our mission more efficiently and effectively.

    Pursuant to section 6 of Executive Order 13563 "Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review" (Jan. 18, 2011), the following Regulatory Identifier Numbers (RINs) have been identified as associated with retrospective review and analysis in the Agency's final retrospective review of regulations plan. Some of these entries on this list may be completed actions, which do not appear in The Regulatory Plan. However, more information can be found about these completed rulemakings in past publications of the Unified Agenda on Reginfo.gov in the Completed Actions section for that agency. These rulemakings can also be found on Regulations.gov. EPA's final agency plan can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/regdarrt/retrospective/.

    Regulatory Identifier Number (RIN)

    Rulemaking Title


    Control of Air Pollution From Motor Vehicles: Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards


    New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) Review under CAA -111(b)(1)(B)


    New Source Performance Standards for Grain Elevators - Amendments


    Electronic Reporting under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)


    National Primary Drinking Water Regulations for Lead and Copper: Regulatory Revisions


    Water Quality Standards Regulatory Clarifications


    National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Application and Program Updates Rule


    National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Group Regulation of Carcinogenic Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs)


    Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals


    Hazardous Waste Requirements for Retail Products; Clarifying and Making the Program More Effective


    Hazardous Waste Manifest Revisions - Standards and Procedures for Electronic Manifests

    Burden Reduction

    As described above, EPA continues to review its existing regulations in an effort to achieve its mission in the most efficient means possible. To this end, the Agency is committed to identifying areas in its regulatory program where significant savings or quantifiable reductions in paperwork burdens might be achieved, as outlined in Executive Order 13610, while protecting public health and our environment.

    Rules Expected to Affect Small Entities - By better coordinating small business activities, EPA aims to improve its technical assistance and outreach efforts, minimize burdens to small businesses in its regulations, and simplify small businesses' participation in its voluntary programs. Actions that may affect small entities can be tracked on EPA's Regulatory Development and Retrospective Review Tracker (http://www.epa.gov/regdarrt/) at any time. This Plan includes a number of rules that may be of particular interest to small entities:

    Regulatory Identifier Number (RIN)

    Rulemaking Title


    Control of Air Pollution From Motor Vehicles: Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards


    Standard of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Modified Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units


    Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products

    International Regulatory Cooperation Activities

    EPA has considered international regulatory cooperation activities as described in Executive Order 13609 and has identified two international activities that are anticipated to lead to significant regulations in the following year:

    Regulatory Identifier Number (RIN)

    Rulemaking Title


    Formaldehyde; Third-Party Certification Framework for the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products


    Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products