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Current Major Activities - 2010-2011

Current Major Activities - 2010-2011

November 2010

More Rules in a Time of Smaller Budgets

With the greatly reduced state budgets of 2009-2011 state environmental agencies find themselves in a tight situation. The US EPA continues to propose new rules with public and environmental health benefits, which it wants states to implement. However, budgets have not increased to make this possible. Rather, they have typically decreased. On a brighter note, ECOS supported EPA's 2011 budget proposal for the first time since FY 2004. We are waiting for Congressional approval of this budget.

Committee Work

ECOS has established six standing committees that are responsible for identifying, discussing and articulating policy in their areas. The three "media" committees, Air, Water and Waste, always have active and lively discussions during the ECOS semi-annual meetings.

-The Air Committee's recent issues have focused on retention of rights of states to regulate greenhouse gases; retention of Clean Air Act Waiver of California Emissions Standards and State Adoption of California Standards; and state implementation plan (SIP) reforms.

-The Water Committee has been looking at non-point source pollution - often the primary concern in a state, seeking better ways to reduce NPS, exploring the need for more involvement of agriculture-transportation-interior, seeking to improve the opportunity for delegation of CWA 404 programs to states, and improvements in green infrastructure.

-The Waste Committee is looking at coal combustion residuals regulation; definition of Solid Waste rule; Superfund tax, and associated rules such as CERCLA 108(b)

Integrated Cleanup Initiative; shifting PCB regulation from TOSCA to RCRA.

-The Planning Committee recently completed comments to EPA on its updates to EPA's 5-year Strategic Plan. It is also responsible for state-EPA grant interactions, budget matters, and other state-EPA federal relations issues.

-The Cross-Media Committee has focused on reduction in mercury and lead emissions, emerging contaminants, TOSCA Reform, state access to EPA's CBI Data and federal compliance and clean up (DOE, DOD). The committee hosts several other ECOS efforts: The Quicksilver Caucus, the ECOS Federal Facilities Forum, and the ECOS-U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Sustainability Work Group are all established subgroups of the ECOS Cross-Media Committee, and all of these subgroups report to the Committee directly on their efforts and policy position suggestions. In this way, the Cross-Media Committee provides a forum to help guide ECOS' policy positions on mercury pollution issues and issues involving clean-up and restoration of the nuclear weapons complex, defense bases, and other federally-owned sites and facilities.

- The Compliance Committee: Compliance and enforcement of environmental laws is matter of prime importance to ECOS, as States conduct approximately 90% of all enforcement and compliance actions. Currently ECOS is closely involved in two major efforts:

  • Clean Water Action Plan design and implementation
  • The State Review Framework: a joint project with U.S. EPA to establish a uniform, reproducible and transparent process for assuring the fair review of State enforcement efforts across EPA Regions.

Through this structure of work groups and Committees, ECOS is able to raise issues for policy discussion and debate. Often these discussions will evolve into a formal policy resolution or will support testimony for future legislation. For copies of resolutions and testimony, go to those titles on the ECOS Web page. Leadership of the various committees is found at the "Members and Committees" title on this Web page.

Environmental Information Management

States need to tell the public and USEPA about the quality of the environment in each State. In the past five years, over 40 States and USEPA have initiated projects to modernize their information systems to support their complementary roles in environmental protection. Because of outdated and inefficient information systems, the States and USEPA began to modernize -- with many leaning towards integrated systems. The One Stop Reporting Program provided a solid foundation for the development of an integrated environmental information network to improve environmental decision-making and enhance access to environmental information among States and USEPA. Since 2002, State and federal partners have expended tremendous effort to create the National Environmental Information Exchange Network (Exchange Network) -- a revolutionary way to exchange environmental information between partner organizations. The Exchange Network was developed by the State/EPA Information Management Workgroup (IMWG) and offers a modern and technologically feasible answer to many of the problems posed by incompatible and difficult-to-use information systems of the past. The development of the Exchange Network is not just another new technology initiative, but instead, represents a change in the way environmental agencies do business.

Lean Processes

ECOS members are eager to benefit from the 'lean government' techniques promised by such methodologies as six sigma, kaizen, and value stream mapping. The EPA Administrator and ECOS entered into a Memorandum of Agreement to promote these techniques in the Spring of 2010. We are currently working with the agency on State Implementation Plan reform, designed to speed these up and reduce their costs.