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June 13, 2001

MEMORANDUM

SUBJECT: Priorities for the Administrator and OPPTS

FROM: Stephen L. Johnson /s/
Acting Assistant Administrator

TO: Eileen McGinnis
Chief of Staff

Tom Gibson
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.

Agency-wide Priorities

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 directions.
• 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 protection.
• 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
Mike Ryan
Susan Hazen
Marylou Uhlig
William Sanders
Marcia Mulkey
Vanessa Vu
Draft June 13, 2001

An Initiative to Strengthen Agriculture and the Environment

Background

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 agriculture.

• 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 wildlife–and 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 environmental results.

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.

Approach

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 agricultural producers.

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.

Key Participants

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)

Background

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 successful–exceeding its interim and final reduction goals and reducing 850 million pounds of high-priority chemical emissions.

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.

Approach

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 programs.

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 particular attention.
• 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 priorities.
- 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 and health.
• Provide awards and public recognition for companies that meet or exceed targets.

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.


Key Participants

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

Background

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.

Approach

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 with FQPA.

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.

Key Participants

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.

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