ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA)
Statement of Priorities
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers the laws enacted by Congress and signed by the President to protect people's health and the environment. In carrying out these statutory mandates, the EPA works to ensure that all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work; that national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information; that Federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively; that environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy; that all parts of society-communities, individuals, businesses, and State, local and tribal governments-have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks; that environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive; and, that the United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.
To accomplish its goals in the coming year, the EPA will use regulatory authorities, along with grant- and incentive-based programs, technical and compliance assistance and tools, and research and educational initiatives to address its statutory responsibilities. All of this work will be undertaken with a strong commitment to science, law and transparency.
HIGHLIGHTS OF EPA'S REGULATORY PLAN
The EPA's more than forty years of protecting public 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. Our nation has made great progress in making rivers and lakes safer for swimming and boating, reducing the smog that clouded city skies, cleaning up lands that were once used as hidden chemical dumps and providing Americans greater access to information on chemical safety. To achieve continued positive environmental results, we must foster and maintain a sense of shared accountability between states, tribes and the federal government. This Regulatory Plan contains information on some of our most important upcoming regulatory and deregulatory actions. As always, our Semiannual Regulatory Agenda contains information on a broader spectrum of the EPA's upcoming regulatory actions.
Improve Air Quality
As part of its mission to protect human health and the environment, the EPA is dedicated to improving the quality of the nation's air. From 1970 to 2017, aggregate national emissions of the six criteria air pollutants were reduced over 70 percent, while gross domestic product grew by over 260 percent. The EPA's work to control emissions of air pollutants is critical to continued progress in reducing public health risks and improving the quality of the environment. The Agency will continue to deploy existing regulatory tools where appropriate and warranted. Using the Clean Air Act, the EPA will work with States and tribes to accurately measure air quality and ensure that more Americans are living and working in areas that meet air quality standards. The EPA will continue to develop standards, as directed by the Clean Air Act, for both mobile and stationary sources, to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, toxics, and other pollutants.
Electric Utility Sector Greenhouse Gas Rules
The EPA will continue its review of the Clean Power Plan suite of actions issued by the previous administration affecting fossil fuel-fired electric generating units (EGUs). On October 23, 2015, the EPA issued a final rule that established first-ever standards for States to follow in developing plans to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired EGUs. On the same day, the EPA issued a final rule establishing CO2 emissions standards for newly constructed, modified, and reconstructed fossil fuel fired EGUs. The Agency has proposed an alternative approach that is appropriately grounded in the EPA's statutory authority and consistent with the rule of law. This alternative approach would appropriately promote cooperative federalism and respect the authority and powers that are reserved to the States; promote the Administration's dual goals of protecting public health and the environment, while also supporting economic growth and job creation; and appropriately maintain the diversity of reliable energy resources and encourage the production of domestic energy sources to achieve energy independence and security.
Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule
On August 1, 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to amend certain existing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and greenhouse gas emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks and establish new standards, covering model years 2021 through 2026. The proposed rule published in the Federal Register on August 24, 2018 (83 FR 42986), and the EPA docket is currently open for submittal of public comments. NHTSA and EPA will jointly hold three public hearings on this proposal, which were announced in a supplemental Federal Register notice also published on August 24, 2018 (83 FR 42817).
New Source Review and Title V Permitting Programs Reform
The CAA establishes a number of permitting programs designed to carry out the goals of the Act. The EPA directly implements some of these programs through its regional offices, but most are carried out by States, local agencies, and approved tribes. New Source Review (NSR) is a preconstruction permitting program that ensures that the addition of new and modified sources does not significantly degrade air quality. NSR permits are legal documents that the facility owners/operators must abide by. The permit specifies what construction is allowed, what emission limits must be met, and often how the emissions source may be operated. There are three types of NSR permits: (1) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) (CAA part C) permits, which are required for new major sources or a major source making a major modification in an attainment area; (2) Nonattainment NSR (NNSR) (CAA part D) permits, which are required for new major sources or major sources making a major modification in a nonattainment area; and (3) Minor source permits.
CAA title V requires major sources of air pollutants, and certain other sources, to obtain and operate in compliance with an operating permit. Sources with these "title V permits" are required by the CAA to certify compliance with the applicable requirements of their permits at least annually.
In accordance with the President's goal to streamline permitting regulations for manufacturing facilities, the EPA has initiated an effort to issue a series of targeted improvements, including guidance memos and, as necessary, associated rulemakings, to simplify the New Source Review (NSR) process in manner consistent with the Clean Air Act.
We have recently highlighted flexibilities in the implementation of NSR regulations available to manufacturing facilities for the permitting of new projects. Two recent memos, for example, clarified that project emissions accounting can take place in the first step of the NSR applicability process for all project categories and that the EPA will not "second guess" preconstruction analysis that complies with procedural requirements. In FY19, the EPA intends to follow-up these memos with rulemaking to codify these policies. Based on the recommendations of a number of state environmental agencies as well as small businesses under the air toxics program, the EPA has also rescinded its "once-in, always-in" policy. A major source which takes enforceable limitations on its potential to emit (PTE) hazardous air pollutants (HAP) emissions below the applicable thresholds becomes an area source (strike ",") and is no longer subject to maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards, no matter when the source may choose to take measures to limit its PTE. In early 2019, EPA anticipates that it will publish a Federal Register notice to take comment on adding regulatory text to reflect EPA's plain language reading of the statute.
Oil and Gas
The EPA is reviewing the Agency's Oil and Gas New Source Performance Standards. In June 2017, the EPA granted reconsideration of some specific requirements under the 2016 New Source Performance Standards, and indicated that the Agency would also look broadly at the entire rule, including the regulation of greenhouse gases through an emission limitation on methane. The EPA is issuing a proposal for public review and comment in the fall of 2018.
Provide for Clean and Safe Water
The nation's water resources are the lifeblood of our communities, supporting our economy and way of life. Across the country we depend upon reliable sources of clean and safe water. Just a few decades ago, many of the nation's rivers, lakes, and estuaries were grossly polluted, wastewater sources received little or no treatment, and drinking water systems provided very limited treatment to water coming through the tap. Since the enactment of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), tremendous progress has been made toward ensuring that Americans have safe water to drink and generally improving the quality of the Nation's waters. While progress has been made, numerous challenges remain in such areas as nutrient loadings, storm water runoff, invasive species and drinking water contaminants. These challenges can only be addressed by working with our State and tribal partners to develop new and innovative strategies in addition to the more traditional regulatory approaches. The EPA plans to address the following challenging issues, in part, in rulemakings.
Waters of the U.S.
In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army (the agencies) published the "Clean Water Rule: Definition of 'Waters of the United States" (2015 Rule) (80 FR 37054, June 29, 2015). On October 9, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit stayed the 2015 Rule nationwide pending further action of the court. On February 28, 2017, the President signed Executive Order 13778, "Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the 'Waters of the United States' Rule" which instructed the agencies to review the 2015 Rule and rescind or replace it as appropriate and consistent with law. The agencies have determined to address the Executive Order in a comprehensive two-step process. On July 27, 2017, the agencies published a Federal Register notice proposing to repeal (Step 1) the 2015 Rule and recodify the pre-existing regulations; the initial 30-day comment period was extended an additional 30 days to September 28, 2017. The agencies signed a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking on June 29, 2018 clarifying and seeking additional comment on the Step 1 proposal.
In Step 2 (Revised Definition of 'Waters of the United States'), the agencies plan to pursue a public notice-and-comment rulemaking in which the agencies would conduct a substantive reevaluation of the definition of ''waters of the United States.'' As part of this reevaluation, the agencies are considering defining "navigable waters" in a manner consistent with the plurality opinion of Justice Scalia in the Rapanos decision, as instructed by Executive Order 13778.
On February 6, 2018, the agencies issued a final rule adding an applicability date to the 2015 Rule of February 6, 2020, to provide continuity and certainty for regulated entities, the States and Tribes, and the public while the agencies conduct Step 2 of the rulemaking. Until the new definition is finalized, the agencies will continue to implement the regulatory definition in place prior to the 2015 Rule consistent with Supreme Court decisions and practice, and as informed by applicable agency guidance documents.
Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category
On November 3, 2015, under the authority of the CWA, the EPA issued a final rule amending the Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELG) and Standards for the Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category (i.e., 2015 Steam Electric ELG). The amendments addressed and contained limitations and standards on various waste streams at steam electric power plants: fly ash transport water, bottom ash transport water, flue gas mercury control wastewater, flue gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewater, gasification wastewater, and combustion residual leachate. In early 2017, the EPA received two petitions for reconsideration of the Steam Electric ELG rule, one from the Utility Water Act Group and one from the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy. On August 11, 2017, the Administrator announced his decision to conduct a rulemaking to potentially revise the Best Available Technology Economically Achievable (BAT) effluent limitations and pretreatment standards for existing sources in the 2015 rule that apply to bottom ash transport water and FGD wastewater. In light of the reconsideration, the EPA views that it is appropriate to postpone impending deadlines as a temporary, stopgap measure to prevent the unnecessary expenditure of resources until it completes reconsideration of the 2015 rule. Thus, the Administrator signed a final rule on September 9, 2017, postponing the earliest compliance dates for the BAT effluent limitations and PSES for bottom ash transport water and FGD wastewater in the 2015 Rule, from November 1, 2018 to November 1, 2020. The EPA expects to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking for the Steam Electric reconsideration in March 2019.
National Primary Drinking Water Regulations for Lead and Copper - Long Term Revisions
The Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) reduces risks to drinking water consumers from lead and copper that can enter drinking water as a result of corrosion of plumbing materials. The LCR requires water systems to sample at taps in homes with leaded plumbing materials. Depending upon the sampling results, water systems must take actions to reduce exposure to lead and copper including corrosion control treatment, public education, and lead service line replacement. The LCR was promulgated in 1991 and, overall, has been effective in reducing the levels of lead and copper in drinking water systems across the country. However, lead crises in Washington, DC, and in Flint, Michigan, and the subsequent national attention focused on lead in drinking water in other communities, have underscored significant challenges in the implementation of the current rule, including a rule structure that, for many systems, only compels protective actions after public health threats have been identified. Key challenges include the rule's complexity; the degree of flexibility and discretion it affords systems and primacy states with regard to optimization of corrosion control treatment; compliance sampling practices, which in some cases, may not adequately protect from lead exposure; and limited specific focus on key areas of concern such as schools. There is a compelling need to modernize and clarify implementation of the rule to strengthen its public health protections and to make it more effective and more readily enforceable. The EPA is evaluating the costs and benefits of the potential revisions and assessing whether the benefits justify the costs.
National Primary Drinking Water Regulations for Perchlorate
Perchlorate is an inorganic chemical produced for use in rocket propellants, fireworks, road flares, and explosives. Perchlorate is also formed naturally in the environment, particularly in arid climates, and may be present as an impurity in hypochlorite solutions (bleach). In February 2011, the EPA announced its decision to regulate perchlorate under SDWA. The EPA determined that perchlorate meets SDWA's three criteria for regulating a contaminant: 1) perchlorate may have adverse health effects because scientific research indicates that perchlorate can disrupt the thyroid's ability to produce the hormones needed for normal growth and development; 2) there is a substantial likelihood that perchlorate occurs with frequency at levels of health concern in public water systems because monitoring data show over four percent of public water systems have detected perchlorate; and 3) there is a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction since between 5.1 and 16.6 million people may be provided with drinking water containing perchlorate. In 2013, the Science Advisory Board recommended that the EPA use models, rather than the traditional approach to establish the health based Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) for a perchlorate regulation. The EPA and FDA scientists worked collaboratively to develop biological models in accordance with SAB recommendations. The EPA will utilize the best available peer reviewed science to inform regulatory decision making for perchlorate.
Peak Flows Management
Wet weather events (e.g., rain, snowmelt) can impact publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) operations when excess water enters the wastewater collection system. The increased wet weather flows can exceed the POTW treatment plant's capacity to provide the same type of treatment for all of the incoming wastewater. The treatment plant's secondary treatment units are the most likely to be adversely affected by wet weather because the biological systems can be damaged when too much water flows through them. POTWs employ a variety of operational practices to ensure the integrity of their secondary treatment units during wet weather, and the EPA plans to propose updates to the regulations which will seek to clarify permitting procedures for POTWs with separate sanitary sewer systems under wet weather operational conditions. The goal of these updates will be to ensure a consistent national approach for permitting POTWs that provides for efficient treatment plant operation while protecting the public from potential adverse health effects of inadequately treated wastewater.
Clean Water Act Section 404(c) Regulatory Revision
Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act authorizes the Administrator "to prohibit the specification (including withdrawal of the specification) of any defined area as a disposal site" as well as to "deny or restrict the use of any defined area for specification (including the withdrawal of specification) as a disposal site . . . whenever he determines, after notice and opportunity for public hearings, that the discharge of such materials into such area will have an unacceptable adverse effect on municipal water supplies, shellfish beds and fishery areas (including spawning and breeding areas), wildlife, or recreational areas." In June 2018, the EPA announced that it would initiate an update to the regulations governing the EPA's role in permitting discharges of dredged or fill material under section 404 of the CWA. The EPA's current regulations on the implementation of section 404(c) of the CWA allow the Agency to veto - at any time -a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) or an approved state that allows for the discharge of dredged or fill material at specified disposal sites. The goal of this effort would be to increase predictability and regulatory certainty for landowners, investors, businesses, and other stakeholders. This rulemaking will consider, at minimum, changes to the EPA's 404(c) review process that would govern the future use of the EPA's section 404(c) authority.
Revitalize Land and Prevent Contamination
The EPA works to improve the health and livelihood of all Americans by cleaning up and returning land to productive use, preventing contamination, and responding to emergencies. The EPA collaborates with other federal agencies, industry, states, tribes, and local communities to enhance the livability and economic vitality of neighborhoods. Challenging and complex environmental problems persist at many contaminated properties, including contaminated soil, sediment, surface water, and groundwater that can cause human health concerns. The EPA's regulatory program recognizes the progress made in cleaning up and returning land to productive use, preventing contamination, and responding to emergencies, and works to incorporate new technologies and approaches that allow us to provide for an environmentally sustainable future more efficiently and effectively.
Reconsideration of the Accidental Release Prevention Regulations under Clean Air Act
Both the EPA and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) issued regulations, as required by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, in response to a number of catastrophic chemical accidents occurring worldwide that had resulted in public and worker fatalities and injuries, environmental damage, and other community impacts. OSHA published the Process Safety Management standard in 1992, and the EPA modeled the Risk Management Program (RMP) regulation after it. The EPA published the RMP rule in two stages: (1) a list of regulated substances and threshold quantities in 1994, and (2) the RMP final regulation with risk management requirements in 1996. Both the OSHA standard and the EPA RMP regulation aim to prevent, or minimize the consequences of, accidental chemical releases to workers and the community.
On January 13, 2017, the EPA amended the RMP regulations in order to (1) reduce the likelihood and severity of accidental releases, (2) improve emergency response when those releases occur, and (3) enhance state and local emergency preparedness and response in an effort to mitigate the effects of accidents.
Prior to the effective date of the RMP Amendments rule, the EPA received petitions for reconsideration under Clean Air Act Section 307(d) (7) (B). Petitioners sought reconsideration of the RMP Amendments based on what they view as either EPA's failure to coordinate with OSHA and DOT as required by paragraph (D) of CAA section 112(r)(7) or at least inadequate coordination. Furthermore, petitioners indicated that the arson findings from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives regarding the West Fertilizer 2013 explosion undercut EPA's basis for the proposed rule. Petitioners also raised security concerns related to sharing information with local emergency planning and response organizations and concerns about EPA's economic analysis and the economic burden associated with certain rule provisions. Having considered the concerns regarding the RMP Amendments rule raised in these petitions, the EPA subsequently delayed the effective date of the RMP Amendments rule to February 19, 2019, in order to give the EPA time to reconsider it. On May 30, 2018, the EPA published proposed changes to the rule and sought public comment on the proposed revisions and other related issues.
Hazardous and Solid Waste Management System: Disposal of Coal Combustion Residues from Electric Utilities: Remand Rules
The EPA is planning to modify the final rule on the disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) as solid waste under subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act issued in 2015. As a result of a settlement agreement on this final rule, the EPA is addressing specific technical issues remanded by the court. Further, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016 established new statutory provisions applicable to CCR units, including authorizing states to implement the CCR rule through an EPA-approved permit program and authorizing the EPA to enforce the rule. Therefore the EPA is proposing to amend certain performance standards in the CCR rule through several rulemaking efforts to offer additional flexibility to state permitting authorities with an approved program. The EPA proposed the first of these rulemaking efforts, the Phase One rule, in March 2018. The EPA then finalized a small number of the proposed Phase one rule provisions in the July 2018 Phase One Part One rule.
Designation of Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances as Hazardous Substances
On May 22, 2018, the EPA held a two-day National Leadership Summit on per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The Administrator announced that the EPA will begin the process to propose designating perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as "hazardous substances" through one of the available statutory mechanisms, including section 102 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. The EPA is currently evaluating the various statutory mechanisms, such as the. Clean Water Act Section 307(a) and Section 311. However, the Agency has not yet made a final decision on which mechanism is most appropriate.
Ensure Safety of Chemicals in the Marketplace
Chemicals and pesticides released into the environment as a result of their manufacture, processing, use, or disposal can threaten human health and the environment. The EPA gathers and assesses information about the risks associated with chemicals and pesticides and acts to minimize risks and prevent unreasonable risks to individuals, families, and the environment. The EPA acts under 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), the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know-Act (EPCRA), and the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA). Using best available science, the Agency will continue to satisfy its overall directives under these authorities and highlights the following efforts underway in FY 2019:
Implementing TSCA amendments to enhance public health and chemical safety
The amendments to TSCA that were enacted in June 2016 now require the EPA to evaluate existing chemicals on the basis of the health risks they pose-including risks to vulnerable groups and to workers who may use chemicals daily as part of their jobs. If unreasonable risks are found, the EPA must then take steps to eliminate these risks. However, during the risk management phase, EPA must balance the risk management decision with potential disruption based on compliance to the national economy, national security, or critical infrastructure.
The 2016 amendments to TSCA also require the EPA to take expedited regulatory action without a risk evaluation for persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals from the 2014 update of the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments that meet a specific set of criteria. Under the conditions of use for each PBT chemical, the EPA will characterize likely exposures to humans and the environment; this information is undergoing peer review and public comment. The exposure assessments will then be used to develop regulatory actions that address the risks of injury to health or the environment that the EPA determines are presented by the chemical substances and that reduce exposure to the chemical substances to the extent practicable. TSCA requires the EPA to issue proposed rules no later than June 22, 2019, and final rules no more than 18 months later.
The 2016 amendments to TSCA also authorize the EPA to cover a portion of its annual costs for the TSCA program by collecting user fees from chemical manufacturers and processors when they submit test data for the EPA review; submit a premanufacture notice for a new chemical or a notice of new use; manufacture or process a chemical substance that is the subject of a risk evaluation; or request that the EPA conduct a chemical risk evaluation. In Fiscal Year 2019, the EPA expects to take final action on the 2018 proposed fees rule.
Review of Lead Dust Hazard Standards under TSCA
In June 2018, EPA proposed strengthening the dust-lead hazard standards on floors and window sills. These standards apply to most pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities, such as day care centers and kindergarten facilities. Per a court order deadline, EPA intends on taking final action in June 2019.
Reconsideration of Pesticide Safety Requirements
In Fiscal Year 2019, the EPA expects to take a final action on amendments to pesticide safety regulations that address requirements for the certification of pesticide applicators and established agricultural worker protection standards, which EPA intends on proposing in 2018. Specifically, the EPA is considering amending changes to the Certification of Pesticide Applicators regulations that EPA issued in 2017, and changes to the agricultural Worker Protection Standard regulations that EPA issued in 2015.
Annual Regulatory Costs
Section 3 of Executive Order 13771 (82 FR 9339, February 3, 2017) calls on agencies to "identify for each regulation that increases incremental cost, the offsetting regulations...and provide the agency's best approximation of the total costs or savings associated with each new regulation or repealed regulation." Each action in the EPA's fall 2017 Regulatory Plan and Semiannual Regulatory Agenda contains information about whether an action is anticipated to be "regulatory" or "deregulatory" in fulfilling this executive directive. Based on current schedules and expectations regarding whether or not regulatory actions are subject to Executive Order 12866 and hence Executive Order 13771, in fiscal year 2019, the EPA is planning on finalizing approximately 30 deregulatory actions and fewer than ten regulatory actions.
Rules Expected to Affect Small Entities
By better coordinating small business activities, the 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 the EPA's Regulatory Flexibility Web site (https://www.epa.gov/reg-flex) at any time.