EPA Proposes Adding PFAS to National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives

The agency also proposes addressing environmental justice and climate change

EPA Proposes Adding PFAS to National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives

The main entrance of the U.S. EPA Headquarters at the William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building in Washington, D.C.

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

Every four years, EPA selects national initiatives to focus resources on serious and widespread environmental problems 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 assisting regulated entities to return to compliance. 

EPA proposes to continue four of the six current national initiatives during the fiscal year 2024-2027 cycle and return two of the current national initiatives to the core enforcement and compliance program. In addition, EPA proposes to address environmental justice concerns in all NECIs, and to add two new NECIs on mitigating climate change and addressing PFAS pollution, for the 2024-2027 cycle. 

“The National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives identify serious environmental challenges where EPA can make a difference through a coordinated national approach,” says Larry Starfield, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “We look forward to receiving public comment on our proposals for fiscal year 2024-2027, which include both familiar and emerging issues. Of particular importance, we have built environmental justice considerations firmly into every initiative in order to protect vulnerable and overburdened communities.”

In selecting initiatives for the fiscal year 2024-2027 cycle, EPA will consider the following 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

• Alignment with the agency’s Strategic Plan.

Proposed initiatives

EPA is proposing to continue the following four current NECIs:

  1. Creating cleaner air for communities by reducing excess emissions of harmful pollutants.
  2. Reducing risks of accidental releases at industrial and chemical facilities.
  3. Reducing significant non-compliance in the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Program.
  4. Reducing non-compliance with drinking water standards at community water systems.

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

  1. Reducing toxic air emissions from hazardous waste facilities.
  2. Stopping aftermarket defeat devices for vehicles and engines. 

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

  1. Mitigating climate change.
  2. Addressing PFAS contamination.

EPA is also taking comment on whether to add an NECI to address coal combustion residuals pollution and/or lead contamination. The agency is also accepting additional suggestions from the public. 

Name change for initiatives

While formal enforcement remains the key tool to address serious environmental problems and significant violations, as well as create general deterrence, EPA also uses a variety of compliance assurance tools to achieve this objective. To reflect this comprehensive approach, EPA has changed the name of its priority initiatives from National Compliance Initiatives to National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives. 

Read EPA’s Federal Register Notice and learn how to submit comments.


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