EPA’s National Priorities List 2008-2010

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published its National Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Priorities for fiscal years 2008 – 2010. The EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) sets these priorities to focus compliance and enforcement efforts on significant environmental risks in areas that have displayed consistent patterns of noncompliance and where the magnitude of the problem makes EPA the entity best positioned to bring about compliance.  
Enforcement Priorities 
The priorities and strategies identified by EPA for FY 2008 – 2010 include:

  • Clean Water Act – Storm Water. To reduce the volume and improve the quality of storm water through the installation of on-site controls, EPA has announced it will focus on storm water releases from homebuilding and big box store construction sites, and from sand and gravel, crushed stone, and ready-mix concrete facilities. To this end, EPA will use compliance assistance and monitoring as well as enforcement tools. EPA will also consider municipal separate storm sewer systems, ports, road building, and federal facility construction for focus in future years.
  • Clean Air Act – New Source Review (NSR)/Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD). EPA will conduct compliance investigations and evaluations to identify facilities that have increased their emissions, in violation of NSR. This happens when new facilities are built or existing facilities are modified without obtaining appropriate preconstruction NSR or PSD permits and installing the requisite control technologies. In particular, EPA will target coal-fired electric utilities and manufacturing facilities for cement, sulfuric acid, nitric acid and glass.
  • Clean Air Act – Air Toxics. EPA seeks to improve compliance in several key areas, including (1) leak detection and repair (LDAR) programs, which control emissions of volatile organic compounds and volatile hazardous pollutants; (2) the use of industrial flares to control hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions, with a focus on enforcing the use of proper operating requirements, including engineering control practices and manufacturer’s design specifications; and (3) controlling emissions from petroleum refineries and chemical manufacturing facilities.
  • Financial Responsibility Under Environmental Laws. EPA has already begun to investigate compliance with financial responsibility provisions for Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subtitle C closure/post-closure and corrective actions, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, and Toxic Substances Control Act. From that investigation, EPA identified a particular concern about cost estimates, especially for RCRA corrective actions, and the agency intends to use this information to prioritize enforcement actions. EPA will also begin evaluating financial responsibility requirements under Safe Drinking Water Act and RCRA Subtitle I to determine if these programs should also be considered within this priority area.
  • RCRA – Mineral Processing. EPA seeks to protect against existing and potential human health and environmental risks caused by leaking surface impoundments at mineral processing and mining facilities. To this end, EPA has announced that it will target for investigation mineral processing facilities that dispose of hazardous waste in surface impoundments. In addition, EPA will expand its future inspections of mining operations to incorporate regulatory tools besides RCRA. EPA also plans to consider using injunctive relief as an enforcement method in this sector.
  • Indian Country. EPA has made it a priority to improve compliance with environmental laws in Indian Country. One of EPA’s priorities is public drinking water, where EPA seeks to improve monitoring and reporting requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act. A second area of priority is schools, where EPA seeks to protect the “children and staff … where they may potentially be exposed to health risks from asbestos, improper storage of chemicals used in school laboratories, vehicle maintenance operations, fuel storage and on athletic fields.” EPA also will focus on the unregulated dumping of wastes in Indian Country, pursuing enforcement to require cleanup where responsible parties can be identified.

EPA has also identified Sanitary Sewer Overflows, Combined Sewer Overflows, and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) as enforcement priorities for FY 2007–2010. EPA intends to focus on CAFOs that should have NPDES permits and will prioritize facilities for inspection based on “size and type of operation, proximity to waters of the U.S., proximity to impaired waters or priority watersheds, citizen complaints and manure spill data, environmental harm, compliance history, and environmental justice.” EPA will also target states with lower levels of CAFO permit coverage.  
Additional Information 
More information about EPA’s enforcement priorities is available at
National Priorities for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. The Federal Register notice announcing EPA’s policy is available at the Federal Register. The priority areas for FY 2008–2010 have also been incorporated into the OECA’s National Program Managers’ Guidance, available at Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 National Program Guidance


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