Washington Report

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, in a memo released Jan. 12, outlined the agency?s priorities for 2010 and beyond. ?In my first day memo, I outlined five priorities for my time as Administrator. We have made enormous strides on all five, and our achievements reflect your hard work and dedication. By working with our senior policy team, listening to your input and learning from the experiences of the last 12 months, we have strengthened our focus and expanded the list of priorities,? she wrote.

Jackson outlined seven key themes on which the agency should focus. They are:

  • Taking Action on Climate Change.
  • Improving Air Quality
  • Assuring the Safety of Chemicals
  • Cleaning Up Our Communities
  • Protecting America?s Waters
  • Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism and Working for Environmental Justice
  • Building Strong State and Tribal Partnerships

In addition, Jackson wrote that the agency will also focus on improving internal operations, from performance measures to agency processes. ?We have a complex organization ? which is both an asset and a challenge,? she wrote. ?We will strive to ensure that EPA is a workplace worthy of our top notch workforce. Our success will depend on supporting innovation and creativity in both what we do and how we do it, and I encourage everyone to be part of constructively improving our agency.?

Regarding protecting America?s waters, Jackson wrote: ?America?s water bodies are imperiled as never before. Water quality and enforcement programs face complex challenges, from nutrient loadings and stormwater runoff, to invasive species and drinking water contaminants. These challenges demand both traditional and innovative strategies. We will continue comprehensive watershed protection programs for the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes. We will initiate measures to address post-construction runoff, water quality impairment from surface mining, and stronger drinking water protection. Recovery Act funding will expand construction of water infrastructure, and we will work with states to develop nutrient limits and launch an Urban Waters initiative. We will also revamp enforcement strategies to achieve greater compliance across the board.?

To read the full memo, visit www.epa.gov.

NACWA Calls for New Approaches in Water Enforcement Program

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), in a recently released white paper, called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a new way of thinking and a more consistent and effective approach to how it enforces the Clean Water Act (CWA). The white paper, Clean Water Enforcement: Challenges and Opportunities for the 21st Century, lays out new approaches that focus on watersheds and urges the agency takes into consideration affordability issues in order to help achieve the next generation of clean water goals.

The white paper responds to EPA?s recently released Clean Water Enforcement Action Plan. NACWA believes the plan lacks the innovative thinking needed to meet the water quality challenges of the 21st century. Rather, the plan mirrors the flawed existing enforcement model which focuses exclusively on point sources and does little to address the significant contributions of nonpoint sources to water quality degradation, according to the paper.

?The current focus on the quantity and expense of enforcement actions has created a ?one-size-fits-all? approach to dealing with CWA violations that assumes the same enforcement paradigm will work in all parts of the country,? the paper said. ?The existing enforcement model is not sustainable and will not address our nation?s continuing water quality problems.?

NACWA argues that achieving the next generation of clean water goals requires moving beyond current enforcement policies and exploring new ways of achieving water quality improvements. Central to this effort is a move toward a watershed approach to permitting and enforcement, which would allow for a more complete understanding of pollution sources within a watershed and better targeting of enforcement actions toward those dischargers who have the most significant impact on water quality. The white paper also discusses the critical role of increased federal funding for water infrastructure as a key effort to improving water quality, arguing that the federal government must return to its role as a partner with state and local governments in paying for water infrastructure improvements.

An effective enforcement program should also consider the role of affordability. EPA must revise its affordability guidelines to create a more holistic, equitable and flexible framework for determining how much cash-strapped communities can afford to spend to meet their clean water objectives, the paper said.
The white paper was distributed to key EPA offices, members of Congress, and public clean water agencies.

Source: NACWA

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