Slashing smokestack pollution from the coal-fired power plants and other large sources will rank among U.S. EPA's top enforcement priorities over the next several years, the agency said yesterday.
From 2011 to 2013, EPA said it plans to tackle air pollution from the largest sources, especially coal-fired utilities and the cement, glass and acid sectors.
The Clean Air Act requires large industrial facilities to install modern pollution controls whenever they build new plants or significantly upgrade existing facilities. But many industries have not complied with those rules, EPA said.
"In recent years EPA has made considerable progress in reducing this excessive pollution by bringing enforcement actions against large refineries, coal-fired power plants, cement manufacturing facilities, sulfuric acid and nitric acid manufacturing facilities and glass manufacturing facilities," EPA said. "However, more work remains to be done to bring these sectors into compliance with the Clean Air Act and to protect communities burdened with harmful air pollution."
EPA also plans to focus on efforts to cut toxic air pollution by focusing on facilities that fail to comply with requirements for leak detection and restrictions on flaring. The agency also pledged to address excess emissions during startup, shutdown and malfunction events. The enforcement office will partner with air regulators on this effort and plans to emphasize problems affecting communities deemed disproportionately affected by pollution from multiple sources.
The agency's four other initiatives: keeping raw sewage and stormwater out of sewers; preventing animal waste from contaminating waterways; reducing pollution from mineral processing operations; and assuring extraction industries comply with environmental laws.
The agency also outlined enforcement goals: aggressively pursue pollution problems that matter to communities; reset EPA's relationship with states by making sure the agency delivers on its joint commitment to a clean and healthy environment; and improve transparency.
"The enforcement goals clearly identify what we are doing to advance the administrator's priorities to make a real difference to people where they live and work, and will guide our work beginning now and continuing into 2011 and beyond," said Charles Lee, director of the Office of Environmental Justice.
Eddie Terrill, director of Oklahoma's air quality division, and co-chair of the enforcement committee of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, said state and local air regulators are hoping to improve their relationship with EPA's enforcement office.
"The goals EPA has identified correspond closely to those that states and localities across the country support," Terrill said. "We are especially supportive of improving our regulatory tools to protect vulnerable communities from the threats of air pollution."
Click here to read EPA's 2011-2013 enforcement initiatives.
Click here to read the agency's 2011-2013 enforcement goals.