September 17, 2015
On September 15, 2015, EPA solicited public comment on its upcoming cycle of National Enforcement Initiatives (NEI) for fiscal years (FY) 2017- 2019. EPA is proposing to adopt three new enforcement initiatives and is requesting input as to whether the existing six NEI should continue as enforcement priorities. Notably, the new initiatives would target a large swath of industrial sectors, including: chemical plants, refineries, bulk storage facilities, hazardous waste facilities, large quantity generators of hazardous waste, mining, food processing, primary metals manufacturing, and certain other industrial facilities. The initiatives continue to dovetail with the Agency’s programmatic interest in addressing environmental justice. The notice is also noteworthy for proposing to include surface water discharges from food processors in a national enforcement initiative. EPA has not added a new enforcement initiative in many years (since before FY 2011). Thus, it seems likely that EPA will adopt one or more of the new initiatives identified in the proposal. Comments must be received no later than October 14, 2015.
EPA has identified a number of emerging and existing environmental issues that could be subjected to heightened federal enforcement scrutiny in the next three years through the NEI paradigm. According to EPA, these environmental problems are national in scope, based largely on noncompliance with existing environmental requirements, and would benefit from federal enforcement attention.