EPA considers additions to National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives

The agency is proposing the addition of measures to mitigate climate change and reduce PFAS contamination.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it is seeking public comment on its proposal to address environmental justice, climate change and per-and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contamination in its National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives (NECIs).   

Every four years, the EPA selects serious and widespread environmental problems as national initiatives to which it devotes resources where federal enforcement can make a difference. The primary objective of these initiatives is to protect human health and the environment by holding polluters accountable through enforcement and by assisting regulated entities to return to compliance.   

The agency proposes continuing four of the six current national initiatives during the FY 2024-2027 cycle and returning two of the current national initiatives to the core enforcement and compliance program. Additionally, the EPA proposes addressing environmental justice concerns in all NECIs and to add two new NECIs on mitigating climate change and addressing PFAS pollution, for the 2024-2027 fiscal year cycle.   

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“The National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives identify serious environmental challenges where [the] EPA can make a difference through a coordinated national approach,” says Larry Starfield, acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Of particular importance, we have built environmental justice considerations firmly into every initiative to protect vulnerable and overburdened communities.”  

In selecting initiatives for the FY 2024-2027 cycle, the EPA will consider three criteria to evaluate the existing and proposed new initiatives: the need to address serious and widespread environmental issues and significant violations impacting human health and the environment, particularly in overburdened and vulnerable communities; areas where federal enforcement can help ensure national consistency, promote a level playing field and achieve compliance; and determining whether the initiative aligns with the agency’s strategic plan.  

The EPA is proposing to continue the following four current NECIs in the FY 2024-2027 cycle:  

  • creating cleaner air for communities by reducing excess emissions of harmful pollutants;  

  • reducing risks of accidental releases at industrial and chemical facilities;  

  • reducing significant noncompliance in the national pollutant discharge elimination system program; and

  • reducing noncompliance with drinking water standards at community water systems.  

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The EPA is proposing to return these two current NECIs to the core enforcement and compliance programs:  

  • reducing toxic air emissions from hazardous waste facilities; and

  • stopping aftermarket defeat devices for vehicles and engines.   

The EPA is proposing to add these two new NECIs in the FY 2024-2027 cycle:  

  • mitigating climate change; and

  • addressing PFAS contamination.  

The agency also is accepting comments on whether to add a NECI to address coal combustion residual pollution or lead contamination. 

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