On July 1, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) launched the Natural State Environmental Program. The program, known as Arkansas NStEP, is a voluntary environmental stewardship program that recognizes and rewards organizations for their commitment to environmental leadership. Membership is open to all Arkansas organizations with a minimum of 20 full-time employees, including manufacturers, institutions of higher education, municipalities, government agencies, and nonprofits.
Mandated by Arkansas Act 858, NStEP has four membership levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The member organizations commit to complete one to three environmental improvement projects, depending on their membership level. The projects can range from internal improvements use to the restoration of wildlife habit or serving as an environmental mentor for another organization.
In return for the members’ commitment to the protection of Arkansas’s environment, they will receive recognition and incentives from ADEQ. Recognition includes the use of the NStEP logo on their website and documents, a window decal indicating membership level, a press release announcing their membership, a certificate to display, and listing on ADEQ’s website. Regulatory incentives include a dedicated ombudsman at ADEQ for regulatory questions, inspection notice for non-complaint-based inspections, priority status for permit modifications to the extent possible under statutory limitations, reduced inspection frequency for routine, non-complaint-based inspections for programs without a frequency specified in statute rule, and inclusion in a meeting with ADEQ executive leadership to discuss agency priorities and initiatives.
More information is available here.