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Office of Strategic Environmental Management

Environmental Innovation Portfolio

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

Enhancing Regulatory Outcomes

States and EPA are developing innovative practices to facilitate improved environmental performance outcomes and regulatory compliance at lower overall cost. Market-based approaches provide flexibility that enables regulated entities to direct resources to least-cost opportunities for meeting requirements. Practices in this area are improving communication between public agencies and regulated entities, while focusing collective attention on performance results.

photo of a factory on a lakeshorePermit Flexibility

States, in partnership with EPA, are developing alternative approaches to permitting that encourage improved environmental performance and enhance business competitiveness. These innovative practices address concerns among the regulated community related to the time, cost, and certainty associated with obtaining and operating under conventional air, water, and waste permits. Innovative permitting practices typically work in the context of existing applicable requirements. For instance, innovative permitting practices: 1) focus attention on a facility's actual environmental performance results; 2) reduce the frequency of reporting where a facility is well under applicable limits; 3) allow a facility to make operational changes through a streamlined process; and 4) move away from facility-based to general permits. Agency managers can use flexible permitting practices to address industry requests for increased operational flexibility while maintaining and enhancing environmental protection.

Watershed-Based Stormwater Permits—Michigan
Establishes a voluntary watershed-based NPDES general permit for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) to encourage stormwater management on a watershed basis; includes a discharge elimination plan, public education and participation, and pollution prevention measures. (http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3313_3682_3716-24366--,00.html exit EPA)
MACT Rule for Pharmaceuticals—U.S. EPA
Provides industry the option of meeting air toxics requirements by installing new air emission control equipment or by meeting an alternative, pollution prevention, performance-based standard that shifts the focus to improving production processes. (http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/pharma/pharmpg.html)
Metropolitan Water Reclamation—Illinois
Changes pretreatment definitions; reduces oversight of inspection, monitoring, and reporting; simplifies permits; creates toxic reduction action plans and reduces reporting requirements for good performers. (http://www.epa.state.il.us/ exit EPA)
Production-Based Performance Standard—Arizona and U.S. EPA
Intel Corporation's Ocotillo facility entered into an air quality permit (with EPA, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, and local pollution control boards) using an EMS with a facility-wide air emissions cap to replace individual permits for different sources at the site. (http://www.epa.gov/ProjectXL/intel/0998.htm)
Monitoring, Recordkeeping, and Reporting Flexibility—South Carolina
Establishes a sliding scale for the frequency of record-keeping and reporting for permitted sources based on the sources' actual air emissions when compared with permitted emissions limits. (http://www.scdhec.gov/ exit EPA)

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photo of open portfolioPollutant Trading

States and EPA regions are using pollutant trading to reduce the cost of complying with permitted emission and effluent discharge levels. Pollutant trading programs create a market in which sources that reduce pollutants below required levels are allowed to sell their excess emission reduction credits to sources where it may be more expensive to reduce pollution to required levels. Trading systems create opportunities to reduce pollution at lower cost and at a more rapid pace than conventional permitting systems. Trading programs can also be designed to encourage participation (and emissions reductions) from sources that may not be required to reduce pollutant levels, such as non-point agricultural sources. Trading programs can be implemented at a range of levels, from inter-plant trading to regional trading, and for a wide variety of air and water pollutants. Agency managers can use trading systems in certain situations to lower the cost of pollutant reductions and to achieve more environmental improvement faster.

Long Island Sound Nutrient Trading—Connecticut
Reduces nitrogen loads in Long Island Sound using a watershed permit for all wastewater treatment plants. Sources discharging less than their annual limit receive credits for overcontrol and facilities that exceed their limit must purchase nitrogen discharge credits. (http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2719&q=325572&depNav_GID=1654 exit EPA)
Establishes facility-wide emissions limits for refineries, power plants, and other large stationary sources of NOx and SOx in the Los Angeles area. Each year, emissions limits are reduced and sources can buy or sell emissions credits to meet permitted levels. (http://www.aqmd.gov/reclaim/reclaim.html exit EPA)
Emissions Reduction Market System—Illinois
Establishes a cap-and-trade market system for reducing air emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) among 178 sources in the Chicago ozone nonattainment area. (http://www.epa.state.il.us/air/erms exit EPA)
ffluent Trading for Indirect Dischargers—New Jersey
Allows facilities within a POTW service area to sell excess reductions in metal discharges to facilities where it would be more expensive to reduce their metal discharges to required levels.

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Small Business Assistance Programs

States and EPA are deploying a range of innovative practices and tools to support small businesses in understanding and complying with regulatory obligations and in continually improving environmental performance. Many small businesses do not have environmental managers; in those that do, the managers wear several functional hats, limiting their ability to develop and maintain sophisticated environmental and compliance management systems. Common innovative practices and tools include: 1) guidebooks and materials that clearly and concisely articulate requirements and environmental management opportunities; 2) technical assistance and hotlines that assist small businesses in addressing environmental needs; and 3) regulatory and programmatic approaches that simplify compliance obligations for small businesses. Agency managers can use innovative practices in this area to improve small business compliance rates and environmental performance, while reducing their overall environmental management costs.

Practical Guide to Environmental Management Systems for Small Business—U.S. EPA
Provides practical information and a step-by-step guide for small businesses on how to organize their environmental management responsibilities in a simple, productive, and cost-effective way. (http://www.smallbiz-enviroweb.org/Resources/smallbizfiles/EM_Guide0902.pdf exit EPA)
Small Business Hotline and Assistance Centers—States and U.S. EPA
Provides direct assistance for small businesses on a number of environmental topics, both general and program-specific. Numerous compliance assistance documents have been developed to assist with specific environmental compliance and performance needs. (http://www.smallbiz-enviroweb.org/ exit EPA)
San Francisco Green Business Program—California
Consolidates sector specific, environmental compliance information and provides resource conservation and P2 information to small businesses through a recognition program for compliance and beyond compliance efforts. (http://www.sfgreenbusiness.org/ exit EPA)
Sustainable Business Practices—Missouri
Implements sustainable business practices with selected resource-intensive small businesses; companies receiving assistance become mentors to other companies. (http://www.dnr.mo.gov/ exit EPA)

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