EPA Identifies 16 Areas for Review In Effort to Streamline or Repeal Regulations

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The Environmental Protection Agency plans quick and significant action on 16 regulatory initiatives as it tries to determine whether specific rules are duplicative or could be streamlined, according to a final EPA plan released Aug. 23.

The agency's “look-back” examination of its rules, required under Executive Order 13,563 issued by President Obama in January, identified 16 areas that are priorities for review—all in 2011, according to EPA's Final Plan for Periodic Retrospective Reviews of Existing Regulations.

Those areas include reporting requirements for chemicals and certain air and water permitting programs.

Several other agencies also issued their final plans for regulatory reviews Aug. 23, including the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy.

“These reviews are expected to lead to 16 early actions in 2011, with many more in subsequent years” of review, according to the report.

Issued Jan. 18, Obama's executive order required federal agencies and departments to review and revise existing rules “so as to make the agency's regulatory program more effective or less burdensome in achieving the regulatory objectives” (12 DEN A-9, 1/19/11).

The initial 16 planned regulatory changes include:

• reduced reporting and recordkeeping for gasoline and diesel regulations;

• more regulatory certainty for farmers by better coordination between EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture;

• modernizing scientific methods for chemical regulation;

• allowing online electronic reporting of health and safety data under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act; and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act;

• changes to some TSCA reporting requirements;

• better coordination of permit requirements under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program;

• evaluation of alternative approaches to meeting drinking water regulations;

• more flexibility for combined sewer overflows;

• harmonization of greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards;

• better coordination of emission reduction regulations for multiple air pollutants;

• revisions of new source performance standards; and

• simplification of Clean Air Act Title V permitting requirements.

Part of Broader Review

The agency noted in a preliminary version of the plan released in May that it is actually conducting many more reviews than outlined in its look-back plan.

Of the approximately 200 active regulatory actions detailed in EPA's spring semiannual regulatory agenda, roughly 60 percent involved reviews of existing regulations, according to the agency (103 DEN A-13, 5/27/11).

Aside from the 16 priority actions, EPA also plans “longer term actions” in reviewing 19 other regulations, EPA said in the report. The agency noted that the president's January executive order was not meant as a “single exercise” but rather called for a “periodic” review.

EPA plans to conduct its reviews of burdensome rules “on a predictable, transparent, five-year cycle,” in which it will seek public input on additional regulations that should be reviewed in the future.

CEQ Pilot Efforts Detailed

The Council on Environmental Quality, which ensures federal agency compliance with environmental reviews required under the National Environmental Policy Act, is reviewing whether its implementation of NEPA is “outmoded, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome,” according to its final plan released Aug. 23.

CEQ, which also coordinates White House environmental policy, requested public input in March on pilot projects that could help streamline those environmental reviews.

The council received 37 nominations from the public and federal agencies for possible pilot project and expects to publish an announcement soon on its selections, according to the Council on Environmental Quality Plan for Retrospective Review of Existing Regulations.

CEQ also has also issued several guidance documents to clarify various NEPA requirements in hopes of alleviating burdens, according to its final plan.

By Dean Scott

EPA's final regulatory review plan is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/other/2011-regulatory-action-plans/environmentalprotectionagencyregulatoryreformplanaugust2011.pdf .

CEQ's final regulatory plan is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/other/2011-regulatory-action-plans/councilonenvironmentalqualityregulatoryreformplanaugust2011.pdf .

A full list of all agency regulatory reforms plan is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/21stcenturygov/actions/21st-century-regulatory-system .