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Office of Strategic Environmental Management

Innovative Approaches
(from EPA Semiannual Regulatory Agenda, December 2003)

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

Increasingly, EPA's regulations reflect innovative approaches that go beyond traditional technology-based standards and aim to improve performance and cut costs. Some of the innovations likely to influence EPA's regulations in fiscal year (FY) 2004 include market-based incentives that harness the power of economics to drive decisionmaking, flexible implementation options that provide regulated entities with more choices in deciding how to achieve an environmental goal, and information provisions that highlight environmental performance and provide an impetus for improvement. EPA will also support environmental technology innovation by allowing use of innovative technologies in its regulations. For example, through a national environmental technology competition, EPA is conducting demonstrations of innovative technologies for removing arsenic from drinking water to enable small drinking water systems to costeffectively comply with EPA's new standards. The first twelve of over twenty planned demonstrations will begin by December 2003.

Another innovative approach for achieving environmental results is fostering voluntary action. Today EPA manages a suite of voluntary programs, such as WasteWise and ENERGY STAR®, that help organizations achieve measurable environmental improvements. While these programs are designed to support efforts to reduce pollution in ways that are not required by regulation, they often have the secondary effect of improving the quality of regulations. For example, by working closely with trade associations and other organizations, EPA has been able to develop regulations that meet environmental goals while also being responsive to special needs, interests, and circumstances surrounding a particular issue. Given the potential to improve the quality of regulations and, in some cases, to eliminate the need for regulation altogether, EPA will continue to promote and support development of voluntary programs.

Regulatory flexibility, cost reduction, information transfer, and technology development are all objectives fueling EPA's innovation investments. However, before any innovation is adopted, EPA conducts pilot tests to ensure feasibility and evaluate the results. In the coming year, EPA will explore innovative approaches in cooperation with many partners. In particular, EPA will work with States through the Joint Agreement on Regulatory Innovation, the newly established State Innovation Grant program, and other mechanisms. To realize the greatest value from each innovation, EP A will also work to expand use of proven innovations on the broadest possible scale. This includes working with States to apply Massachusetts's highly successful Environmental Results Program to improve environmental compliance and accountability among priority small business sectors.

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