When Will New RCRA Rules Impact My State?

Posted on May 15,2017 by Roger Marks

As you may know by now, US EPA’s RCRA hazardous waste rules are undergoing major changes that take effect this month on May 30. Finalized in November 2016, the landmark “Generator Improvements Rule” makes historic updates to RCRA—re-organizing 40 CFR 262, adding new marking and labeling rules for containers, expanding contingency plan requirements, providing new reliefs for generators, and much more. Read more about the major changes here.

As we prepare for these major RCRA updates, hazardous waste professionals nationwide are asking themselves the same question: When will these new rules matter in my state? Today, we’ll take a look at how different states adopt or incorporate updates to the Federal hazardous waste regulations into their unique state programs.

Alaska, Iowa, and Select TerritoriesAKIA.JPG

While most states create and maintain a unique hazardous waste management regulatory program, there are two exceptions: Alaska and Iowa. Because these two states do not manage their own program, Federal RCRA is the law of the land in Alaska and Iowa (as well as certain Indian reservations and US territories).

When the new RCRA rules take effect on May 30, generators in these states and territories must be in compliance immediately

New Jersey and Pennsylvania

NJPA.JPGNew Jersey and Pennsylvania are unique in a different way. Because of the way these states structure their State programs—they adopt all Federal hazardous waste rules by reference—they instantaneously adopt changes to the Federal RCRA regulations into their State programs.

So, in NJ and PA, generators must be in compliance with the new RCRA rules immediately when they take effect on May 30.

The Other 46 States

The remaining 46 states all manage their own RCRA state programs and do not immediately adopt changes made at the Federal level. That said, State hazardous waste programs must meet two important criteria. To maintain EPA authorization to run a State hazardous waste program, the program must be:

  • Consistent with the Federal RCRA standards.
  • At least as stringent as the Federal standards. 
Therefore, states have one year to adopt changes to the Federal regulations that are more stringent than the current State rules. Changes to RCRA will not be enforceable in these 46 states until the programs are updated and approved by EPA. Many of the updates in the Generator Improvements Rule do constitute “more stringent” rules, meaning states will be required to adopt these updates.

States may choose to adopt new reliefs afforded to generators in the Generator Improvements Rule—such as relaxed standards for episodic generation events. As stated above, State regulations must be at least as stringent as the Federal RCRA rules, but they can be even more stringent.

For more information on how states adopt changing Federal RCRA rules, read How States Adopt New RCRA Hazardous Waste Rules.

Last RCRA Update Webinar Before the May 30 Deadline!

Lion will present the final Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Webinar before the deadline, LIVE on May 23.

In 90 minutes, we’ll cover the biggest changes to RCRA and what you need to do to stay in compliance. Get your questions answered during the presentation and take away a digital compliance reference you will refer to again and again as you get accustomed to the revised RCRA requirements, structure, and vocabulary.  Sign up now.

RCRA Training Workshops in May and June

Meet EPA’s initial or annual refresher training requirement at the workshop trusted by hazardous waste managers and personnel since 1977. Plus, find out how major changes in EPA's Generator Improvements Rule will impact your site, whether your facility is a large, small, or "very small" generator.  See the 2017 schedule here.

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