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EPA Region 8 Smart Sectors program to engage businesses in achieving better environmental outcomes

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Richard Mylott (

DENVER - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 8 office in Denver has launched a Regional Smart Sectors Program in coordination with the Agency’s Smart Sectors Program in the Office of Policy. This is an initiative to improve collaboration and dialogue with key sectors of the economy in the states of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

“When we consider American business as a partner, as opposed to an adversary, we can achieve better environmental outcomes,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt at the launch of U.S. EPA’s Smart Sectors program last fall. “The Smart Sectors program is designed to effectively engage business partners throughout the regulatory process. When industries and regulators better understand each other, the economy, public, and the environment all benefit.”

Region 8’s Smart Sectors Program will partner with leaders in the regional business community as well as with state government partners. The program will work to identify trade associations and industries that represent the engines of our state economies and offer significant opportunities for environmental impact. 

"I am encouraged that the EPA has included Outdoor Recreation and Tourism in this initiative,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. “This industry is a huge economic force contributing billions to Colorado's economy while providing hundreds of thousands of jobs. It's a natural fit for Smart Sectors to consider this industry's contributions as part of the program."

“The Smart Sector approach, I believe will produce positive results with industry,” said North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring.  “Changing behavior from confrontational to conversational and seeking first to understand industry will enable EPA to design guidance documents and rules that assist industry in understanding how to be compliant.”

“The Wyoming mining industry applauds this innovative initiative and looks forward to participating in the EPA Region 8 effort,” said Wyoming Mining Association Executive Director Travis Deti.  “By working together and building a strong relationship between the Agency and the regulated community, we can make positive improvements toward maintaining a strong industry while achieving environmental goals.”

Beginning this summer, EPA Region 8 will coordinate with the Office of Policy to develop a series of sector-specific forums to advance a better understanding of business practices and to explain environmental regulations and the regulatory process in simple terms. EPA will also be seeking information about best practices in various industries and will look for opportunities to recognize companies that are going beyond compliance or succeeding over time with little or no compliance violations.

Sectors identified for initial efforts in EPA Region 8 include: Agriculture and Food/Beverage production; Mining; and Outdoor Recreation/Tourism. Additional sectors may be added over time. 

EPA Region 8’s efforts will build upon EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s October 2017 launch of Smart Sectors, a partnership program between the Agency and regulated sectors focused on achieving better environmental outcomes. The program recognizes that a sector-based, collaborative approach with America’s businesses provides a significant opportunity for EPA to consider more forward-thinking ways to protect the environment. 

A sector-based approach can provide benefits, such as: increased long-term certainty and predictability, creative solutions based on sound data; and, more sensible policies to improve environmental protection. Program leads for each sector will serve as ombudsmen within the Agency across program and regional offices. Staff will also: conduct educational site tours, host roundtables with EPA leadership, analyze data and advise about options for environmental improvement; maintain open dialogue with business partners and their environmental committees; and, develop reports that profile the impact of each sector on the environment and the economy.

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