Earlier this month, the EPA and Army announced opportunities for the public to provide their experiences and views to help revise the definition of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Through the end of this month, the EPA will be holding public meetings for interested stakeholders and will be accepting written recommendations through Sept. 3. Through this interactive process, the agency hopes to create a revised definition of WOTUS that reflects the experiences of all communities.

This month also brought newly proposed greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks. These new standards would help set the course towards long-term reductions of GHG and other harmful pollutant emissions from highway transportation.

Other compliance news to keep an eye on:

Ask an Expert: Environmental planning and permitting

Environmental planning and permitting (EPP) is more than considering protected species and habitats or simply checking off the box for a permit. In this month’s feature, BC subject matter expert Aylin Lewallen discusses how a strategic approach to EPP can reduce unwanted surprises and benefit the overall project. Read “Ask an Expert”

NPDES compliance in the spotlight

In an effort to help the EPA reach its goal of reducing by half National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) noncompliance by the end of fiscal year 2022, the Government Accountability Office recently provided recommendations that would help better assess and disclose the quality of NPDES compliance and enforcement data. The EPA also initiated its Smart Sectors Program to collaborate with industry sectors and develop creative solutions.

PFAS persistent topic among potential regulations

EPA’s latest list of 66 drinking water contaminants considered for potential regulations includes PFAS, which are identified as agency priorities and contaminants of concern for drinking water. This action is in keeping with the agency’s commitment to better understand and ultimately reduce the potential risks caused by PFAS. The agency is seeking comments on the draft list and process used to select the contaminants.

Ask an Expert: How strategic environmental planning and permitting can bolster a project, reduce risk, and protect the environment

In this month’s feature, BC subject matter expert Aylin Lewallen talks about how a strategic and proactive approach to environmental planning and permitting (EPP) can help maximize project schedules and budgets while minimizing risk and protecting the environment.

Question: What is EPP and how do I know if my project needs it?

Answer: Aylin LewallenEnvironmental planning and permitting, or EPP, is a mindset of doing the right thing for the natural environment while also complying with regulations. It’s more a balance between the natural elements and how they fit within the overall project delivery and overarching regulatory framework than simply checking off the box for a permit.

Which projects and when

Typically, EPP is a part of projects involving involving large infrastructure and associated linear facilities related to water supply, water treatment, and industrial needs ꟷ especially when these elements are paired with federal funding, cross public land, cross or are near key natural or cultural resources, or are required to follow laws or regulations.

Mitigating risks

It is also important to understand where permitting fits in at the beginning. Failing to plan ahead could stall a project or affect the design or selected alternative, resulting in additional costs. Early and proactive planning with the environment and permitting in mind helps our clients manage the process with more control, sets expectations, and reduces unwanted surprises.

Community benefits

For many companies and municipalities, an EPP strategy can help a project meet community expectations surrounding sustainability goals or satisfy environmental, social and governance metrics. With sustainability and environmental stewardship gaining momentum, the public perception component of EPP should not be discounted.

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.

Aylin Lewallen the National Environmental Planning and Permitting Lead for Brown and Caldwell. She is based in Denver and has over 23 years of experience providing consulting services for local government, federal agencies and the private sector related to water and natural resource sciences. Aylin has provided permitting and assessment services local government, federal agencies, and the private sector related to water and natural resource sciences across the United States.

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