• The EPA’s Draft Strategic Plan — Part of the Rebalance?
  • November 21, 2017 | Author: Joshua L. Milrad
  • Law Firm: Goldberg Segalla LLP - Hartford Office
  • In May, we wrote about the intentions of EPA director Scott Pruitt to rebalance the EPA. At the time, we reported on the speech Pruitt delivered at CERAWEEK, an annual conference involving leaders in industry, energy, the financial sectors, and government.

    In early October, the EPA released a Draft Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2018-2022. This draft, released for public comment and review, echoes the comments made by Pruitt during CERAWEEK, including the three goals (listed below) to support the EPA’s “core mission” to protect human health and the environment.

    According to its draft strategic plan, the EPA needs to refocus its “core mission,” restore state and tribal control of environmental programs (“cooperative federalism”), eliminate redundancy, promote transparency, and adhere to process and the rule of law.

    The Draft Strategic Plan, which is intended to discuss and outline policy for the next four years, does not specifically mention global warming, nor does it directly dedicate any resources to its study or assessment.

    The Draft Strategic Plan provides a very general and nebulous discussion of EPA’s three goals for achieving its mission: Goal 1 — deliver results with clean water, air, and land; Goal 2 — rebalance the EPA’s power and relationship with the states to achieve tangible results; and Goal 3 — apply the law as congress intended, including the EPA’s focus on “its statutory obligations under the law.”

    Along with these stated goals, the EPA Draft Strategic Plan proposes deployment of a lean management system “… maximizing customer value and return of taxpayer investment.” According to the Draft Strategic Plan, the “EPA will become a lean organization.”

    As a starting point, the Strategic Plan prioritizes goals for fiscal years 2018-19 including; (1) the reduction of “non-attainment areas”; (2) increasing water infrastructure projects with funding by either grant money or loans from the EPA or with private partnerships; (3) increase the Brownfields and Superfund Sites ready for anticipated use; (4) finalize risk evaluations, risk management activities, and pre-manufacture notices under the Toxic Substances Control Act; (5) use more non-EPA resources for projects with EPA infrastructure investments; and (6) expedite decisions that relate to permitting.

    The Draft Strategic Plan continues by setting forth a series of objectives under each of the three stated goals. The objectives under Goal 1 include: improving air quality; “clean and safe water”; land revitalization and anti-contamination; and ensuring proper chemical use for the marketplace. Under Goal 2 regarding “cooperative federalism,” the EPA wants: “enhanced shared accountability” with the states, an increase in transparency and greater participation by the public. For its Goal 3, process and the rule of law, the EPA discusses compliance, “consistency and certainty”, and employing “best science” for environmental issues.

    While global warming is not specifically identified in the Draft Strategic Plan, this draft plan includes a rebalancing of the EPA, which attempts to shift control of environmental issues to the states. This rebalancing through “cooperative federalism” could lead to broader involvement on the state level in both global warming and other initiatives.

    Finally, reducing the EPA to what Administrator Pruitt envisions as a “lean” organization will in all likelihood empower state agendas and allow for state regulatory responses to global warming and other issues that potentially threaten human health and the environment — issues that we’ve already started to see beginning to be addressed and led by several of the states in our nation.