June 13, 2001
SUBJECT: Priorities for the Administrator and OPPTS
FROM: Stephen L. Johnson /s/
Acting Assistant Administrator
TO: Eileen McGinnis
Chief of Staff
Associate Administrator and Counselor to the Administrator
Office of Policy, Economics and Innovation
I appreciate the opportunity to share our recommendations for the Administrator's
and OPPTS' priorities. As an Agency, we are moving forward with several activities
at the same time: 1) identifying key initiatives for the Administrator's agenda;
2) examining priority areas for innovation; and 3) providing input for FY 2003
budget planning. These activities are clearly interrelated. In this memorandum,
I have tried to bring these activities together by addressing:
Cross-Agency initiatives for the Administrator's agenda, some of which
are part of our recommendations for innovation and budget planning;
OPPTS priorities for the Administrator's agenda, which are related to
our efforts in updating the innovation agenda and the budget process; and
OPPTS program-specific priorities for legislation, regulatory innovation,
and non-regulatory actions.
We are planning to move forward on these initiatives within existing resources,
but as they mature and as the budget evolves, these activities may merit further
consideration in the budget planning process.
As we think about new initiatives and opportunities to make a difference in
achieving environmental protection, there are three cross-cutting areas which
I recommend be considered for the Administrator's agenda:
the Agriculture Initiative
a new 33/50 program, and
an enhanced State infrastructure.
Each of these is described further in the attachments. All involve multiple
partners with the Agency and externally, and all address key priorities and
emerging issues for the Agency. For example, the Agriculture Initiative (co-drafted
by the Office of Water and OPPTS) seeks to strengthen the Agency's relationship
with our agriculture constituency, to ensure our approach is coordinated and
unified across programs, and to promote public health and environmental protection
while maintaining the economic viability of the agriculture sector. In the area
of industrial chemicals, the 33/50 initiative seeks to voluntarily promote stewardship
of industrial chemicals and pollution prevention. For States, enhancing their
infrastructure can help to ensure that the States play an active and critical
role in protection of public health and the environment. I believe all these
initiatives are responsive to the needs of our stakeholders, focus on important
areas, and will become models for developing new and innovative ways of promoting
the mission of EPA.
OPPTS' Priorities for the Administrator's Agenda
As we move forward over the next four years, there are four other areas which
are a very high priority for OPPTS and that the Administrator should embrace
as part of her message:
FQPA: We are committed to ensuring implementation of the Food Quality
Protection Act (FQPA) on schedule and with an open, transparent process and
adequate transition to safer pest control technology for agriculture. Our decisions
will be based on sound science that requires the development and use, with the
assistance of the Office of Water (OW) and the Office of Research and Development
(ORD), of cutting-edge risk assessment methodologies.
HPV/VCCEP: The High Production Volume(HPV) Initiative and the Voluntary
Children's Chemical Evaluation Program (VCCEP) will improve the nation's knowledge
about the hazards associated with our most commonly used chemicals. This precedent-setting
partnership with Environmental Defense, American Chemistry Council, and others
will improve our chemical assessment capabilities, and, working with the Office
of Environmental Information (OEI), public understanding of the safety of over
2000 of the most widely used chemicals, as well as help guide future program
Biotechnology: As an Agency, we are committed to thoroughly reviewing,
and approving where appropriate, the pesticidal and chemical products of biotechnology.
Additionally, we are committed to improving coordination with our Federal partners
and fully participating in the NEC-level Interagency Agricultural Biotechnology
Working Group as we jointly oversee the development and safety of this new technology.
The products of biotechnology can play an important role in growth of the U.S.
economy, but, to do so, we must continue to ensure public health and environmental
Pollution Prevention: We believe that pollution prevention (P2) should
be one of the principle tools that we embrace for achieving the next generation
of health and environmental protection. For example, our partnership programs
that promote P2 (e.g., DfE, Green Chemistry, the new 33/50 program, Energy Star)
are the types of programs that have been very effective and can achieve significant
environmental results. Expansion of pollution prevention approaches and technologies
in our regulatory, permitting, enforcement and compliance activities (e.g.,
dual-track regulations, innovative permitting/licensing teams) throughout the
Agency, and strengthening our voluntary/partnership programs can generate environmental
and economic benefits.
Other OPPTS Priorities
There are also a number of program-specific priorities to which I am committed
and wanted to mention in this memorandum:
PIC/POPs Legislation: These two treaties, the Prior Informed Consent
(PIC), which informs countries about the dangers of certain pesticides and industrial
chemicals so they can make informed decisions; and the Persistent, Organic Pollutants
(POPs) treaty, which seeks to eliminate and phase-out the most toxic pesticides
and chemicals, are important legislative priorities. This year the Administration
will be proposing legislative changes to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)
and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to implement
these two treaties. Enacting these widely-supported amendments to TSCA and FIFRA
will help maintain the Administration's commitment to safeguard the health of
all Americans, and demonstrate strong international leadership in regulating
the most toxic chemicals.
Pesticide Emergency Exemptions: EPA receives about 500 FIFRA Section
18 emergency exemption requests annually from state agriculture departments
and Federal agencies seeking to control pest emergencies through the use of
products that are not registered for that particular use. OPPTS plans to undertake
a regulatory and administrative effort to make this process more efficient for
the States and EPA, while continuing to provide appropriate public health and
environmental protection. This will include addressing issues about the conditions
treated as an "emergency", as well as providing for increased public
participation in the decision-making process.
Other Innovative Actions: There are several other innovative actions
under consideration that we may be undertaking in the next few years to better
serve our customers and achieve greater efficiencies in generating results.
Specifically, we will be evaluating opportunities to streamline our licensing
process for registration of new pesticides, evaluation of Premanufacture Notices
under TSCA, and reassessment of antimicrobial products, etc.
Lastly, as we enter into budget discussions across the Agency, there are a
number of program-specific activities that we are identifying for consideration:
1) registration (inerts, new chemicals, and biotechnology) and reregistration
(inerts and antimicrobials) in the Pesticides Program; 2) the Chemical-Right-to-Know
High Production Volume Program; and 3) animal welfare. Meeting FQPA requirements
for antimicrobial registration and addressing other high priority reregistration
cases has made it a challenge to address antimicrobial reregistration actions.
Similarly, essential efforts on high priority pesticide active ingredients,
combined with limited data and methodologies for inert ingredients, have taken
precedence over efforts to approve new inert ingredients and to reassess existing
tolerances and tolerance exemptions for inerts. However, these deferred antimicrobial
and inerts actions must be begun soon in order to meet the FQPA deadline for
completing tolerance reassessment by August 2006. Third, over the next several
years, the HPV program is expected to generate an avalanche of data needing
assessment. Finally, as we move forward with the HPV program and the Endocrine
Disruptor Screen Program (EDSP), we will need to continue to give priority attention
to the identification and use of non-animal alternatives for animal test data.
I hope this adequately elaborates on my priorities and recommendations for
the Administrator's agenda. If you would like to discuss this further, please
feel free to call me.
cc: Stephanie Daigle
Draft June 13, 2001
An Initiative to Strengthen Agriculture and the Environment
Many in EPA recognize the importance of agriculture to the nation's economy
and to a healthy environment. Within EPA, however, there is limited experience
working with the agricultural community to achieve environmental goals. At the
same time, there is a growing understanding of the importance of working with
a range of voluntary and regulatory approaches and in partnerships to protect
the environment and support a healthy agricultural sector. Any misperceptions
between EPA and the agricultural community about the role each can play, and
the mission, roles and responsibilities of the respective public agencies (Federal,
State, and local) hampers EPA's ability to do its work and to carry out its
mission to protect human health and the environment.
We offer two observations about EPA and agriculture:
First, nearly all offices within EPA have programs and responsibilities
that touch on agriculture in some fashion. EPA staff are often familiar with
agriculture from their particular program perspective (e.g. air, water, waste,
pesticides). When we focus on our responsibilities within each program, it can
mean that we each have limited knowledge about how EPA as a whole relates to
Second, as we work to gain more insight into the challenges faced by
agriculture, EPA staff will be able to create innovative and effective solutions
for important environmental problems. Agriculture can produce important environmental
goods like carbon storage, cleaner water, and better habitat for fish and wildlifeand
be a part of addressing some of the most important challenges we face. When
we have a better understanding about the values, economics and approaches that
resonate in the agricultural community, we can adapt our work, and focus on
In the past, EPA has recognized the need to work with the agricultural community
in a more coordinated and collaborative fashion. Many Regions and individual
programs have invested in improving their own understanding and promoting innovation
in the agricultural arena. It is time to build on that groundwork and create
a nationally focused strategy to seek common ground with agriculture. While
no strategy will eliminate all conflict and differences between us, we believe
that this investment will help build a foundation that will serve us well.
This initiative focuses on working with our staff to develop a broader appreciation
of agriculture, and build a better understanding of the cumulative impacts that
EPA's programs and activities have on the agricultural community. This initiative
is not designed to detract from current regulatory or voluntary work. The Initiative
to Strengthen Agriculture and the
Draft June 13, 2001
Environment is an effort to build on our earlier work, and to take the next
step towards improved coordination and collaboration between agriculture and
environmental protection. It is intended to achieve the following goal:
GOAL: to seek significant improvement in both the understanding of agriculture
and the role it plays in this country, and the working relationships between
EPA and the agricultural sector, including both the public agencies and the
As a first step, we would evaluate the need for additional staff training
and education about the history and contributions of agriculture, and about
the organization, roles, and responsibilities of our counterparts in Federal
and State agricultural agencies. A critical component of this phase of the initiative
would be to increase staff awareness of the many ways in which EPA programs
and activities affect agriculture.
On a parallel track, EPA would convene an Forum on Agriculture and the Environment,
which would be comprised of representatives from Federal and State agencies
involved in agriculture and environmental regulation, as well as representatives
of the agricultural and environmental communities. This forum would work across
Agency boundaries to create a broad-based understanding and a healthy, collegial
working environment. It would serve as a vehicle for Federal and State agencies
to discuss ongoing and upcoming regulatory and non-regulatory programs and activities.
The forum would agree on a specific set issues of mutual interest and concern,
and would engage in actual problem-solving to find common ground.
To get started and to provide more concrete direction to this initiative,
we hope to accomplish the following tasks quickly. For each task, the work group
should articulate a goal and set of objectives, as well as a set of near- and
long-term measures of success. In addition, the work group should identify any
key issues that the group believes the Agency should consider in moving forward.
1. Develop curriculum and/or training for EPA staff that provides a sound foundation
for understanding: (1) agriculture in this country; (2) the range of EPA programs
and activities that relate to agriculture; and (3) the public agencies who work
primarily with agricultural producers.
2. Develop a scope of work for the Forum on Agriculture and the Environment,
including a mission statement, potential membership, options for facilitation
and staffing, as well as a preliminary concept for work this group would undertake
using the problem-solving model.
3. Develop an inventory of current and planned regulatory activities that have
a potential to significantly affect the agricultural sector. This inventory
does not need to be exhaustive, but should cover the important programs and
activities and should be compiled in a way that allows EPA staff to understand
the breadth and depth of our impact on agriculture.
Draft June 13, 2001
4. Develop an inventory of EPA's voluntary programs, partnerships and/or incentive-based
programs currently underway that relate to agriculture, including lessons learned
both positive and negative. Again, this inventory does not need to be
exhaustive, but should cover the Agency's major activities, and should include
the relationship between agriculture and some of EPA's newer initiatives such
as Smart Growth and Livability. This inventory should serve as an example of
the breadth and depth of EPA's relationship with agriculture.
5. Identify potential opportunities for improving working relationships/understanding
and engaging in problem-solving to find common ground.
The workgroup should report back in 30 days with its preliminary thoughts
on all these tasks, including a time-line for achieving near- and long-term
goals and objectives. Senior management will review this initial work, and will
provide direction on next steps leading to implementation.
This initiative will involve all the media programs (OW, OAR, OSWER, and OPPTS),
OECA, the Regions, the State agriculture and environmental agencies, and our
stakeholders. It is suggested that this initiative be co-lead by OPPTS, OW,
and a Region.Reducing TRI Wastes at the Source Through Voluntary Partnerships
(The Next 33/50 Program)
The 33/50 Program, established in 1990, aimed to cut emissions of 17 high
priority chemicals in the nation's industrial facilities by 33% by 1992 and
50% by 1995. The program, which set broad reduction targets but allowed corporate
flexibility on how they could be achieved, was extremely successfulexceeding
its interim and final reduction goals and reducing 850 million pounds of high-priority
Since the end of the 33/50 Program in 1995, however, the subsequent rate of
reductions for TRI emissions and wastes has slowed. In addition, substances
and facilities that were not subject to TRI reporting during the time of the
original program have been added to the TRI. Finally, the end of the 33/50 Program
also inadvertently created a "gap" in EPA's suite of voluntary partnership
programs. A new voluntary program aimed at toxics reduction is needed to complement
the Agency's voluntary programs already in place for energy and water conservation
and solid waste reduction, and would also help EPA meet its GPRA commitment
to substantially reduce non-recycled TRI wastes.
It is time for a new partnership program aimed at reducing TRI wastes at the
source that will help America's firms permanently eliminate the sources of their
major pollution problems, as well as reduce the regulatory burdens and costs
associated with pollution control, treatment, disposal and clean up. This initiative
would create such a new partnership program building on the spirit and success
of the 33/50 program and subsequent voluntary partnership efforts that have
reduced priority toxic pollutants in emissions and wastes and have encouraged
prevention of toxic wastes through adoption of cleaner pollution prevention
processes and technologies. Specifically, it will build on the lessons learned
from 33/50, the Michigan Source Reduction Initiative, and other partnership
The new program will improve upon the original by focusing on reducing the
worst pollutants first (such as persistent and bioaccumulative toxics
PBTs) through source reduction; by involving the community in reduction efforts;
and by institutionalizing emissions and waste reductions in firms through environmental
management systems (EMS) and other mechanisms. An advantage for a new toxics
reduction program is the availability today of new prevention opportunity assessment
tools and techniques and broader access to P2 expertise, so that reduction of
toxic wastes at the source is now possible and practical for most firms.
Although additional program scoping is necessary, the program could contain
the following elements:
1. Set Challenges for Facility Goals and Commitments
Adopt the revised Strategic Plan goal (Objective 4.5) for a 20% reduction
in non-recycled TRI wastes by 2005. EPA would then identify a core group of
TRI chemicals, such as PBTs, that are produced or used in high volumes, for
Focus on the major emitters at the facility level, as defined by TRI,
but encourage participation by all TRI reporters. The Regional role could be
to target facilities in specific geographic "hot spots" for membership
in the program.
Facilities publicly set their emissions and waste reduction targets by
specific dates under program guidelines, and pledge to emphasize source reduction
and avoidance of cross-media pollutant transfers.
- EPA regions or states could work with facilities and communities to address
region-specific pollutants to be targeted in addition to, or in place of, national
- Require a written corporate commitment at the CEO level to achieving the facility-specific
pollution reduction goals and avoiding cross-media pollutant transfers.
Even though TRI releases are the initial focal point, encourage more
comprehensive waste mapping and product stewardship by the facility to address
all wastes and emissions.
2. Utilize Prevention Opportunities and Assistance
Apply state-of-the-art P2 opportunity assessment methods and tools.
Encourage the use of independent assessors, such as private consultants
or contractors, or state government technical assistance programs.
Develop the EPA assistance component.
- Examples of assistance activities include environmental management systems
pilots, Design for the Environment, environmental accounting, life-cycle assessment
and risk screening methods.
Provide communities technical assistance to help projects which enlist
public participation and promote community "transparency".
3. Publicize Results and Recognize Accomplishment
Report annually on the national picture from participants' already-required
and available TRI reporting records.
Offer facilities the opportunity to collaborate with EPA and others in
producing case studies documenting how reductions were achieved and any collateral
benefits obtained, such as cost savings, market share gains or worker productivity
Provide awards and public recognition for companies that meet or exceed
Next steps include working with other interested Agency offices and Regional
programs to develop a coordinated proposal. OPPTS would also solicit comments
on the partnership program idea from our stakeholders and others to refine the
proposal, including clarifying EPA's and some of our partners' resource needs
for the program.
One good partner in this effort would be the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency
Response (OSWER) Waste Minimization Program, which has a goal to reduce PBTs
in hazardous waste by 50% by 2005. Other potential partners include all the
Regions, the Office of Environmental Information (OEI), and the Office of Policy,
Economics and Innovation (OPEI).
Strengthening State Infrastructure - OPPTS Programs in the States
The work of EPA's state partners in implementing OPPTS' environmental programs
is increasingly complicated. While states have carried out these programs for
years under cooperative agreements with EPA, funding has either remained steady
or, in terms of its impact, declined due to increased costs and responsibilities.
State Lead Agencies for pesticides are usually housed in state Agriculture
departments and have not received the attention allocated to environmental agencies
in the last several years. They are seriously underfunded for the job to be
done, especially given the new requirements of FQPA. Unlike the pesticides programs,
with single State Lead Agencies and consolidated grants, state toxics programs
are currently run by a variety of agencies within each state. Toxics continue
to pose significant public health and environmental threats yet it has not been
possible to develop and maintain adequate state infrastructure to address them.
Additionally, linkages to multi-media efforts like pollution prevention often
get lost due to the multitude of TSCA grants to multiple agencies.
New, innovative approaches should be pursued to build stronger state pesticide
and toxics programs and to help maximize the effectiveness of state agencies
responsible for implementing OPPTS' programs. Further, as the budget planning
process evolves, consideration should be given to combining the needs of OPPTS'
state partners with other State program activities (e.g., water infrastructure).
To assist us, an analysis of the most significant needs was developed in conjunction
with our state partners, and identified the following for priority consideration:
1. State Pesticides Programs
Investing in state pesticide labs and creating equipment-sharing arrangements
among labs, will allow labs to upgrade equipment, develop new analytical methods,
and hire new, or provide additional training for existing, lab personnel, greatly
enhancing state capacity. This is particularly important as new pesticides come
on the market in response to FQPA, and as new tolerances are set. Older equipment
and methods often cannot detect the new pesticides' residues to confirm compliance
Investing in state Certification and Training programs will ensure that pesticide
applicators have the knowledge and ability to apply restricted-use pesticides
safely. As older pesticides are reregistered, more pesticides will likely become
restricted to use by certified applicators, leaving our State Lead Agencies,
along with USDA, with the need to implement new approaches and better, more
sophisticated training programs for certified applicators.
Investing in programs that bring public and private stakeholders together
to identify community concerns, set priorities, and forge comprehensive solutions
will eventually lessen the burden on state regulatory staff.
Investing in Clean Sweep programs will save money by preventing old pesticides
from becoming hazardous waste problems.
Supporting IPM programs in schools will facilitate the transition for schools
to less toxic approaches to pest management, and reduce regulatory burden on
states and localities.
Developing unified data systems on compliance, field incidents, and pesticide
use will allow states to better target their resources.
2. State Toxics Programs
Advocating statutory changes in TSCA, if implemented, would provide the ability
to grant regulatory authorities to designated (by Governors) single State Lead
Agencies. This would likely take several years to implement.
Providing incentives, through direct appeals to states, building industry,
public and other stakeholder support, and creating recognition programs, would
help multiple state agencies coalesce around a de facto State Lead Agency. The
first step could be to work with a state to define an integrated state toxics
program striving to encompass as many multi-program chemicals and tools (enforcement/compliance
assistance, public education/outreach and voluntary partnerships) as possible.
This initiative could be combined with other activities addressing state and
local infrastructure needs, and would involve, at a minimum, the Regions, and
State agriculture and environmental agencies.