Seven Projects Selected Under 2006 State Innovation Grant Competition
Twenty-six States responded to this year’s State Innovation Grant Competition representing nine EPA Regions. We received 25 pre-proposals, including 21 individual and four team proposals. Collectively, the pre-proposals amounted to $4.6 M worth of funding requests and covered a wide variety of ideas related to this year’s topic area of innovation in environmental permitting.
The seven pre-proposals recommended to continue in this year’s competition represent a diversity of project types from a variety of geographic areas. These projects cover seven EPA Regions (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9) and include three Environmental Results Program (ERP) projects, one Environmental Management Systems (EMS) projects, and three Performance Track projects. The projects will total nearly $ 1.4 million when the awards are finalized.
The seven pre-proposals selected for this year’s competition are:
- The Arizona (Region 9) Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) received a State Innovation Grant to improve its existing Performance Track Program (PT). ADEQ continues to evaluate and improve the program with a great deal of input from the regulated community and EPA. In this project, ADEQ has identified opportunities to involve a broader range of participants from the regulated community through both existing and new initiatives designed specifically for small businesses, small communities and agricultural enterprises. The state has also discovered opportunities to expand membership by improving the incentives in Arizona’s current program. In implementing this project, ADEQ will adapt guidance and off-the-shelf templates being developed by other ADEQ programs (specifically, EMS Development Guidance and Performance; and Improvements to Permitting Flexibility and Reduced Reporting Incentives). Many organizations believe Performance Track membership is a worthy goal, but lack the technical, managerial or financial resources to qualify for membership. By modifying these guidance and templates to meet the standards set by EPA in Performance Track, ADEQ can significantly reduce some of the costs and efforts associated with applying for membership, while expanding and maintaining the integrity of the program. Arizona Fact Sheet (PDF) (2 pp, 77K)
- The Georgia (Region 4) The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ (GADNR) is integrating Environmental Management Systems (EMS) into environmental permitting for the carpet manufacturing industry. Eighty percent of all U.S. carpet manufacturing occurs within a 65-mile radius within Georgia. GADNR anticipates that carpet manufacturing facilities that adopt the “plan-do-check” approach of EMS will achieve better efficiency and waste reduction. Other expected outcomes include better collaboration and cooperation among regulated entities, regulators, and the communities where carpet facilities are located, and an economically effective means of ensuring compliance and achieving better environmental results than the traditional regulatory approach. Longer term, GADNR expects use of EMS will lead to reduced environmental impact by manufacturing facilities involved in this project, and help strengthen the financial competitiveness of this Georgia-based industry.
- The Indiana (Region 5) Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is implementing an environmental stewardship program that encourages businesses and industry to go beyond compliance activities to better protect the environment. Designed to parallel the EPA National Performance Track Program, the IDEM Environmental Stewardship Program will challenge businesses to improve environmental performance by offering them incentives. These incentives will to go beyond simple recognition, including opportunities for companies to allocate resources towards continuous improvement of their environmental management system and pollution prevention program. IDEM is also providing incentives in the form of regulatory flexibility to stimulate innovation that will result in performance that is better than what is usually provided by traditional environmental programs. The Indiana Environmental Stewardship Program is being designed to achieve better environmental results, while focusing more on outcomes such as reduced emissions and higher compliance rates. Indiana Fact Sheet (PDF) (2 pp, 56K)
The Louisiana (Region 6) Department of Environmental Quality (LADEQ) is implementing an Environmental Results Program (ERP) for the oil and gas production industry to address discharges regulated under the State’s Air and Water programs. Through the ERP project, the LDEQ will replace the traditional permitting process and consolidate all permitting and regulatory requirements into a multi-media, self-certification compliance assistance program. Facilities will also benefit from some regulatory flexibility. LDEQ’s goal is to improve environmental stewardship while reducing the cost and effort associated with permitting for the nearly 30,000 oil and gas production facilities in the State. The program was conceived after the State recognized that there was a need to work more closely with Louisiana’s oil and gas industry, because it appeared that many of the facilities were not permitted and potentially operating without proper monitoring, record keeping and best management practices. There is also a strong industry interest in having LDEQ adopt a comprehensive, multimedia approach to environmental regulation, and a strong residential community interest in improving facility performance, compliance tracking and regulation. LDEQ is collaborating with the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LADNR), which regulates many of the same facilities in this sector and maintains similar as well as supporting data. This program will serve as a model for oil and gas production environmental permit programs in other states as well as a model for regulating other small business sectors in Louisiana. Louisiana Fact Sheet (PDF) (2 pp, 74K)
- The New Jersey (Region 2) Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) is implementing an Environmental Results Program (ERP) for dental facilities to curtail the release of mercury-bearing amalgam from dental filling material into the environment. The ERP will require dental facilities to employ best management practices (BMPs) for the collection and recycling of mercury-containing wastes including the installation and operation of amalgam separators. New Jersey will promulgate a rule that will require approximately 3,400 facilities that generate amalgam waste to participate. The New Jersey Dental Association estimates that approximately 3,400 facilities will be covered by the regulation and this could result in a reduction of nearly one ton of mercury annually that would be discharged to surface waters in the State (Note - in early 2007, New Jersey DEP withdrew its workplan and asked EPA to cancel the assistance agreement.)
- The Rhode Island (Region 1) Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) received a State Innovation Grant to implement a project that would assess whether or not the Environmental Results Program (ERP) approach can be as effective, or more effective than traditional regulatory approaches in improving compliance for the Underground Storage Tank (UST) sector. RIDEM is conducting this project in collaboration with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) which maintains a traditional compliance assistance and enforcement program for this sector. By working with FDEP, RIDEM will be able to compare the relative costs and benefits of a traditional program to ERP. RIDEM will also develop a data base that will lead to the identification of key ERP performance indicators to assist measurement of program effectiveness. The project results will inform decisions by other states in determining if ERP for USTs is a suitable alternative inspection/compliance program, The project will also help inform EPA’s assessment for its Report to Congress in 2009 on alternatives to full inspection programs. Rhode Island Fact Sheet (PDF) (2 pp, 56K)
- The Virginia (Region 3) Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ) received a State Innovation Grant to further align its environmental leadership program, the Virginia Environmental Excellence Program (VEEP), with EPA’s National Environmental Performance Track (PT) Program. This project will further integrate VEEP policies, procedures and delivery of incentives with those of the Performance Track Program. The project includes organizing a forum for relevant financial sector institutions to investigate how rewarding strong environmental performance aligns with their interests in insurance, bond ratings, and other business activities. The project also will help to integrate performance based leadership approaches into VADEP operations by involving three of the agency’s media offices as well as the seven regional offices to produce a more “innovation-friendly” organizational culture and system. Through this comprehensive and strategic approach, VADEQ seeks to integrate the concepts and day to day operations of a voluntary performance-based leadership program into its environmental programs and operations. Virginia Fact Sheet (PDF) (2 pp, 61K)