Michael Regan, the former secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, was confirmed as US EPA’s new Administrator on March 10, 2021. As a regulator in North Carolina, Regan initiated major hazardous chemical and coal ash cleanup actions.
At the Spring Meeting of the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), Regan described his environmental experience:
“I got my start at EPA more than 20 years ago. I spent 10 years under presidents of both parties. As a national program manager back then, I worked with state leaders, industry, and local communities to design practical solutions to some of our most pressing environmental challenges.”
Read Administrator Regan’s full remarks.
What’s Ahead for the EPA?
President Biden’s fiscal year 2022 discretionary request of $11.2 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency represents the largest ever for the Agency. In an April 9, 2021 press release, Administrator Regan listed the following among EPA's goals for the near future
Protecting Communities from Hazardous Waste and Environmental Damage
“Preventing and cleaning up environmental damage that harms communities and poses a risk to public health and safety is both an economic and moral imperative. The discretionary request provides $882 million for the Superfund Remedial program to clean up some of the nation’s most contaminated land, reduce emissions of toxic substances and greenhouse gases from existing and abandoned infrastructure, and respond to environmental emergencies, oil spills, and natural disasters.
Restoring Critical Capacity to Carry Out EPA’s Core Mission
“EPA has lost nearly 1,000 staff over the past four years, impacting the Agency’s ability to effectively carry out its core duties and functions to protect public health and the environment. The discretionary request invests in restoring EPA’s critical staff capacity and programmatic capabilities that focus on protecting clean air, land, and water.
The priorities outlined in today’s discretionary request ensure the Environmental Protection Agency has the resources it needs to deliver on its mission to protect human health and the environment for all people.”
“Today's announcement," the new EPA Administrator declared, "says loud and clear that the EPA is back and ready to work."
Read the full statement.
Hazardous Waste Pros: Are You Ready?
The EPA acts as an enforcement agency, and it is a legal requirement for your site to follow the RCRA regulations for managing your hazardous waste. Perhaps the new EPA administration will focus more on collaboration, information, and instruction rather than on “fines & penalties.”
Nevertheless, a good “as-the-world-returns-to normal” management practice would be to get your RCRA program in order and to be ready for an inspection at a moment’s notice.
RCRA gives the EPA the authority to enter and inspect an establishment “at a reasonable time” where hazardous wastes are or have been generated, stored, treated, disposed of, or transported. The inspector may review any records the facility might be required to prepare, provide, or maintain; observe areas in the facility where wastes are being managed (e.g., satellite and central accumulation areas or on-site treatment activities); observe areas where waste are being produced; and collect samples of wastes.
Now that EPA staffing is being restored, it may be prudent to expect a knock on the door.
Know what to expect when you're inspected: Check out Lion’s White Paper 4 Tips to Master RCRA Inspections.
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