EPA Announces New National Compliance Initiative

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EPA’s Enforcement Chief, Susan Bodine, issued new guidance this week, announcing movement away from “enforcement” to “compliance” initiatives.   The initiative underscores the approach the agency is taking to lighten its civil enforcement footprint, encourage states and tribes to take the lead where they can, and promote compliance over enforcement as a matter of policy.  

National Enforcement Intiatives (NEIs), used by the EPA historically to address industry-sector noncompliance, will instead now be called National Compliance Initiatives (NCIs).  The agency currently has eight NCIs, including, for example, keeping industrial pollutants out of the nation’s waters and ensuring energy extraction activities comply with environmental laws.   New NCIs being considered for 2020-2023 include improving drinking water compliance and reducing children’s exposure to lead.  

According to the guidance, the agency “will continue to pursue and publicize NCI enforcement actions [which] will continue to be a critical tool for addressing serious violators and deterring violations.”