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Doing What’s Important A Problem-Based Approach for Setting Priorities

Doing What’s Important A Problem-Based Approach for Setting Priorities

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Doing What’s Important A Problem-Based Approach for Setting Priorities

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  1. Doing What’s ImportantA Problem-Based Approach for Setting Priorities The Regulatory Craft in Nova Scotia Halifax, Nova Scotia November 20-21, 2007 Michael M. Stahl Director, Office of Compliance U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

  2. Presentation Outline • Moving from Tool-Based to Problem-Based • What Is a Priority? • EPA’s Priority-Setting Process • EPA’s National Compliance and Enforcement Priorities • Conclusion

  3. Tool-Based to Problem-Based • Challenges facing environmental compliance and enforcement (ECE) programs • Broad mission, multiple statutes, many regulations • Numerous sources and forms of pollution • Diversity of industry sectors • Vast number of regulated entities • Reduced reach due to resource limitations

  4. Tool-Based to Problem-Based • Traditional approach • Goal – Maintain enforcement presence across regulated universe • Tools serve as organizing principle • Organization structured around tools (assistance, incentives, monitoring and enforcement) and statutes (air, water, waste) • Goals, objectives, measures and budget organized by tools

  5. Tool-Based to Problem-Based • Traditional approach • Challenges • Impossible to ensure compliance in all areas due to resource constraints • Looking for opportunities to use specific tools and statutes may miss important problems • Linking activities to environmental results can be difficult

  6. Tool-Based to Problem-Based • Alternative: Use Sparrow’s “problem-solving” approach to establish priorities • Identify important problems (i.e., risk, noncompliance pattern) • Create strategies tailored to the problems • Goals, objectives and measures are framed in terms of environmental outcomes • Result • Focuses resources on the most important problems • Performance measures reflect the program’s impact on problems

  7. What Is a Priority? • Definition: “the fact or condition of being prior; precedence in time, order, importance, urgency…” • Setting priorities: • Helps make triage decisions • Improves focus on most important problems

  8. What Is a Priority? • Problem defined precisely • Analyze causes and influences • Strategy using appropriate mix of tools tailored to the problem • May require cross-functional collaboration, use of networks • Problem-specific goals, objectives, performance measures • Resource commitments

  9. EPA’s Priority-Setting Process • Identifying potential problems • Evaluating candidate problems for priority status • Selecting priorities • Implementing and managing priorities • Monitoring and adjusting

  10. EPA’s Priority-Setting Process • Identifying Potential Priorities • Consulted stakeholders about emerging problems, hazards, noncompliance patterns • Field staff • Regulatory partners • Regulated entities • Others • Reviewed data systems • Patterns in violations and enforcement actions • Compliance history of facilities and companies • Emission trends • Public health issues • Geographic “hot spots”

  11. EPA’s Priority-Setting Process • Evaluating Candidate Priorities • Is the problem national in scope? • Does it merit dedicated resources? • What would success look like? How would we measure it? • Can we create an intervention strategy that would produce success? • Are there potential partners who would join us to address the problem?

  12. EPA’s Priority-Setting Process • Selecting Priorities • Selection criteria transparent and understandable to all stakeholders • EPA’s criteria • Identifiable environmental or health problem national in scope • Significant environmental or health benefits to be gained • Appropriate for federal-level attention

  13. Implementing and Managing Priorities Develop an implementation strategy with goals, objectives, measures Establish implementation team with multi-functional representation Establish senior council to monitor and guide priorities EPA’s Priority-Setting Process

  14. EPA’s Priority-Setting Process • Implementing and Managing Priorities • Periodically review and assess priorities, individually and as a set • Evaluate progress • Refine problem statements if needed • Reevaluate goals and measures • Adjust strategies • Add/delete priorities

  15. EPA’s National Compliance and Enforcement Priorities • NSR/PSD • Failure of industrial facilities to obtain permits for plant modifications that increase air pollution emissions • Air Toxics • Toxic air pollutants are known to cause cancer or other serious health effects such as reproductive or birth defects, or adverse environmental impacts

  16. EPA’s National Compliance and Enforcement Priorities • Mineral Processing • Wastes from mineral processing can cause environmental damage to ground water and surface water when placed in piles or ponds due to corrosivity or high levels of toxic metals (e.g., lead)

  17. EPA’s National Compliance and Enforcement Priorities • Financial Assurance • Costs of clean-up and closure are borne by taxpayers when facility operators default • Requiring adequate resources for clean-up promotes proper handling of hazardous materials and waste

  18. Indian Country • Public and environmental health threats in Indian Country posed by: • Unsafe drinking water • Illegal and open dumping of solid and hazardous wastes • Facility operation and maintenance issues at schools, dormitories and campus housing, such as presence of asbestos, improperly stored chemicals, vehicle maintenance operations and fuel storage

  19. EPA’s National Compliance and Enforcement Priorities • Stormwater • Stormwater runoff from large urban areas transports contaminants directly over land and into waterways • CAFO • Water discharges and runoff from concentrated animal feeding operations (during wet weather events) transport nutrients, bacteria, pesticides, antibiotics and hormones to local waterways

  20. EPA’s National Compliance and Enforcement Priorities • CSO/SSO • Combined sewer overflows (CSO) and sanitary sewer overflows (SSO) discharge untreated sewage, industrial wastewater, and other pollutants into rivers, lakes, and oceans when wet weather events exceed the storage capacity of pipes and treatment plants

  21. Conclusion • Problem-solving and priority-setting approaches hold promise for focusing ECE programs on important problems • Problem-solving approach requires: • “Open-minded search” for problems and intervention strategies • Ability to work across functional and organizational lines • Measurement and fact-based analysis

  22. Contact Information Michael M. Stahl Director, Office of Compliance (MC-2221A) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20460 202-564-2280 (phone) 202-564-0027 (fax) stahl.michael@epa.gov