What is Mother Earth made of? Her composition comes from the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. These four elements reflect recent EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) initiatives as well. The EPA introduced both the EPA’s Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act in 2016. With new regulatory rules, comes a greater need for environmental management and compliance. Particularly major powerhouses, like power plants and hydraulic fracturing companies, that need to be aware of these changes. Let us look at the four elements of environmental sustainability and environmental regulatory compliance: air, water, management, and risk reduction.
Managing Environmental Regulatory Compliance
The Clean Air Act
The EPA’s Clean Air Act regulates air emissions from stationary and mobile sources. Among other things, this law authorizes the EPA to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to protect public health and welfare and to regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants.
- Aims to cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 30 percent from 2005 levels.
- The proposal will also cut pollution that leads to soot and smog by over 25 percent by 2030.
- The Clean Power Plan will lead to climate and health benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion by 2030.
- States can implement emission goals through two types of plans: emission standards or state measures.
- An emission standards plan would be any plan that covers affected Electric Generating Units (EGU) or other specific types of activities identified by EPA as being eligible to receive credit (e.g., renewables, energy efficiency, nuclear).
- A state measures plan would demonstrate equivalent reductions via programs outside of affected EGUs (electricity generating units) (e.g., carbon tax, renewable portfolio standards, or economy-wide cap-and-trade programs).
- If a state chooses to implement a statewide plan, all affected EGUs in the state will be complying if they meet a specific emission rate.
- If an EGU has an emission rate higher than the EPA performance goal, it can lower the rate by either investing in on-site technologies to reduce emissions or procuring emission rate credits.
- The plan became a finalized rule in August 2015; however, Supreme Court froze the rule. Now it awaits trial at the Court of Appeals in September 2016.
Ozone Standards Implementation Act
- The legislation would delay the requirement for states to submit ozone pollution reduction plans until 2026.
- The bill would extend the review cycle for certain pollutants from 5 to 10 years and would allow the EPA to consider technological feasibility when setting standards for safe levels of those pollutants.
- The NAAQS (that the bill aims to delay), published in the Federal Register on October 26, 2015, requires states to determine whether different geographical areas in the states are in compliance with federal limits on ozone pollution.
- The bill would delay the implementation of the final EPA rule in 2015 related to NAAQS for ozone emissions as stated above.
The Clean Water Act
The EPA’s Clean Water Act establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters. As with the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act also saw several big regulatory movements in 2016.
- Clarifying NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) definitions and application requirements
- Improving permit decision documentation in fact sheets
- Allowing permitting authorities to issue public notice of certain permit actions online rather than in a newspaper
- Ensuring issuance of environmentally significant permits in a timely manner
- A person may not discharge pollutants from a point source into surface waters except when authorized under an NPDES permit.
- Specific treatment requirements and effluent limitations for each discharge must be established.
States that do not comply, like Massachusetts, will receive EPA-issued permits.
- The comment period for the proposed rule has been extended from July 18, 2016, to August 2, 2016. Submit your comments on the NPDES Application and Updates rule to Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2016-0145.
Managing Risk & Operational Excellence for Environmental Sustainability
How do you manage the EPA’s ever-evolving environmental rules and regulations? Integrating a functional environmental compliance software system makes managing new rules a breeze. Whether your organization aims to improve product stewardship, overall sustainability, or simply reduce risks, a management plan must exist — a fundamental component in compliance.
At Benchmark ESG, we know that compliance management can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. This is why we believe every company deserves a great system to manage environmental operations. Our Management Systems Software and Environmental Compliance Software provide just that.
- Streamline management of key environmental aspects, with a focus on air, water, and waste regulatory compliance program requirements
- Establish a framework for managing business risk through standard programs/processes
- Engage stakeholders to own and integrate the management system
The above programs reduce environmental and business-related risks in several ways.
- Utilize pre-built reports to meet local, state, and federal reporting formats
Implement the Benchmark ESG Compliance Calendar, Air Log, ODS Sentinel, Permit Manager, Water
- Watch and Waste Tracker applications
- Meet permitting requirements with a variety of data input methods (desktop, mobile, xls, integrated solutions, etc.)
- Allows sites to audit their programs against company standards to reduce or make audit failures non-existent
- Compile ongoing operational performance metrics for reporting and goal-setting for ongoing improvement
- Customized reporting and dashboards to compare performance on varying levels and subject areas
How do you manage the EPA’s ever-evolving environmental rules and regulations? Integrate a functional environmental compliance software system. At Benchmark ESG, we know that compliance management can be complicated, but it does not have to be. This is why we believe every company deserves a great system to manage environmental operations. Our Management Systems Software and Environmental Regulatory Compliance Software provide just that. Be able to streamline management of key environmental aspects, with a focus on air, water, and waste regulatory compliance program requirements as well as engage stakeholders to own and integrate the management system.
Perhaps Mother Earth is not made of earth, air, fire, and water. To sustain these elements, we must first adhere to EPA environmental regulations that aim to preserve them. EHS (Environmental Health and Safety) professionals (like you) and their businesses must remember the importance of the four fundamental elements of environmental sustainability and compliance to continually adhere to air and water regulations while improving management and reducing risks. Isn’t that what Mother Earth is made of?