Environmental justice (EJ) has been the frequent subject of recent news articles, and we have started hearing about it in conversations with clients too. Just last month, on June 21, the EPA issued a memorandum outlining how it will work with the Department of Justice to “strengthen enforcement of violations of cornerstone environmental statutes” in communities overburdened by pollution. The memo continues the EPA’s movement towards advancing EJ goals through civil regulatory enforcement with actions such as increased facility inspections, early outreach to environmental crime victims, and a focus on remedies. The memo also emphasizes the need for the punishment for environmental crimes to be sufficient to act as a deterrent. An EPA workgroup will develop further guidance.

Other important regulation and compliance items to keep an eye on:

Ask an Expert: NPDES permit optimization
This month’s featured BC expert Kelly Moody covers long-term compliance strategy planning when it comes to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting. Learn more about how planning ahead for your NPDES permit renewal can optimize your permit and benefit your facility’s compliance risk and your bottom line. Read “Ask an Expert”

SQG deadline approaching
The first renotification submission deadline for small quantity generators (SQG) of hazardous waste is Sept. 1. This is a new reporting requirement under the Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule currently in effect in most states.

Aerosol VOC amendment
The EPA indicated it will begin to develop an amendment to the national volatile organic compound (VOC) emission standards for the aerosol coatings (aerosol spray paints) under the Clean Air Act. The proposed amendments would update emission limits, add compounds and corresponding reactivity factors, and amend reporting requirements.

OSHA updates COVID-19 guidance
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated its COVID-19 guidance for non-health care employers with a new focus on recommendations for protecting unvaccinated or otherwise at-risk workers. The new recommendations include time off for vaccinations, ventilation system maintenance, routine cleaning, and providing personal protective equipment (PPE).

Ask an Expert: How NPDES permits can help you take control of compliance risk

In this month’s feature, BC subject matter expert Kelly Moody covers the importance of a long-term NPDES compliance strategy.

Question: My facility has a NPDES permit. What should I be thinking about ahead of our next renewal? Kelly Moody

Answer: Many clients don’t realize the benefits of a long-term compliance strategy plan when it comes to NPDES permitting. Seeing the big picture of future operations, production changes, and regulatory updates before you renew or modify your permit allows you to request a permit that provides flexibility for future operations beyond your current situation, and to proactively manage your future compliance risk.

Renewal or modification

Permit renewal or major modification is an optimal time to take a closer look at your data, operations, and future plans to see where your new permit can be optimized or streamlined. Are there parameters that no longer need to be monitored? Can you reduce your monitoring frequency? Have there been regulatory revisions that might affect future permit requirements? Will data quality review or collecting a few more samples eliminate the potential for new limits in the future?

Tiered limits

Did you know that the EPA supports creation of tiered limits for NPDES permits? This means, with proper planning, you can have multiple sets of permit limits that will shift with your evolving operations over your five-year permit cycle. Building this flexibility in the permit as tiered limits allows you to obtain optimal discharge limits for each stage of your operation. Without a strategic approach, facilities will often accept permits that give them less than they are allowed by regulation, either because of schedule issues or because they think they have no other options.

18 months ahead
A good rule of thumb for planning for a renewal is 18 months ahead of the permit’s expiration date. This gives you ample time to really dig into your permit needs for current and future operations. You will have time to review your discharge data the same way the agency will, and to prepare for the anticipated future limits. If you identify a potential compliance risk, you then have time to strategize how you might address it.

Cost savings
Investing time in your NPDES permit now can lead to future cost savings. Identifying ways to reduce monitoring requirements, optimizing discharge limitations, and building flexibility into your permit for future operation – these not only save money in your operating budget, they also lower your future compliance risk.

About the experts

Meghan Krishnayya, Indianapolis, is the Compliance & Permitting Service Line Director for Brown and Caldwell, with expertise in environmental regulatory program strategy development and implementation.

Kelly Moody is a civil engineer and Compliance & Permitting Senior Manager for Brown and Caldwell. She is based in Montgomery, Alabama, and has 33 years of experience in environmental consulting in water and waste compliance and permitting, as well as site remediation and closure efforts.

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