1994 Pollution Prevention Report - Integration

Introduction to Prevention, Information Clearinghouse, Information Transfer, University Outreach, and Technical Assistance

VI. Integration of Pollution Prevention Into Departmental Regulatory Programs

In order to maximize the economic and environmental benefits of a pollution prevention strategy, the pollution prevention concept must become integrated fully into the regulatory programs that govern environmental protection. To accomplish this task in Virginia, OPP has initiated an effort by which opportunities to institutionalize incentives for voluntary pollution prevention are identified within the Department's regulatory programs. Areas targeted by this undertaking include the traditional regulatory functions of permitting, inspections, and enforcement. To guide this venture, the Department developed an implementation plan in early 1994. The plan is intended to identify a process for assessing current pollution prevention activities and guiding future endeavors. However, as indicated in this section, significant progress already has been made by the Department, for example in OPP's review of environmental impact reports that are submitted by state agencies for Departmental examination. OPP staff evaluates these construction proposals for environmental soundness and suggests ways by which pollution prevention options may be implemented better into state agency plans.

A. DEQ Pollution Prevention Implementation Plan

In early 1994, OPP organized the DEQ Pollution Prevention Workgroup, which consists of representatives from key program offices (including Program Support, Public Affairs, Small Business Assistance, Intergovernmental Affairs, Training, Procurement and Regional Offices). To guide the integration of pollution prevention within the agency, the workgroup developed an implementation plan, which was finalized in late March (this plan is included as Appendix E).

The implementation plan identifies the roles and responsibilities of various program offices affected within the agency. The strategy consists of the following steps:

  1. Organizational meeting of the internal DEQ Pollution Prevention Workgroup, consisting of representatives of key headquarters programs and regional offices, to discuss implementation of the plan

  2. Assessment of the current status of pollution prevention activities within the agency and other areas, conducted through a survey of program managers and other key staff

  3. Agency management statement on the importance and relevance of pollution prevention to the agency mission

  4. List of potential pollution prevention pilot projects within permitting, inspections, enforcement, administration and training operations, as identified by the Workgroup. Plans for each of the projects selected will be drafted for review by senior agency management

  5. Implementation of pilot projects

  6. Development of policies, guidance, and training modules based on the successes and difficulties identified through the pilot projects

  7. Implementation of policies, guidance, and training modules

  8. Periodic follow-up and examination of policies, guidance, and training modules to determine where revisions or further studies are needed.

The survey identified here as Step 2 of the implementation plan was developed and distributed to 80 employees in mid-1994 (the survey is included as Appendix E). One of the survey objectives was to assess the general knowledge of pollution prevention within the agency. Surveyed staff members were asked to identify potential pilot pollution prevention projects and to offer other suggestions for integrating pollution prevention within the agency.

The responses were analyzed and summarized in mid-1994 (a copy of the summary is included as Appendix E). The Department's staff expressed that the best ways to integrate pollution prevention in the agency would be:

The workgroup will reconvene in late 1994 to identify those pilot projects that should be pursued (Step 4 of the plan). As outlined in the implementation plan, lessons learned from the pilot projects will assist in the workgroup's efforts to develop policies and guidance on pollution prevention in 1995.

B. Permitting

The Department is seeking actively for opportunities to incorporate pollution prevention into the permitting process, particularly within permitting programs under development as a result of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. For instance, OPP staff is participating in a Title V operating permit workgroup with a particular industry. Prevention opportunities opportunities would seem to be presenetd with the crafting of conditions that allow for operational flexibility. Similarly, the Office has worked with air program staff, as suggested by the State Advisory Board, to develop language that would notify permit applicants of the Department's policy on pollution prevention and would identify OPP as a resource. This language would be included in air permit application forms, which are currently under development. The proposed language is as follows:

Pollution Prevention Notice

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) encourages permit applicants to explore pollution prevention options as a way to reduce liability, reduce operating costs, improve the health and safety of employees and the public, and meet environmental standards.

Pollution prevention is the reduction or elimination of environmental pollutants or losses at the source. Methods of pollution prevention include, but are not limited to, employee training through quality management programs; energy efficiency initiatives; improvements in maintenance, housekeeping, and inventory control; materials reformulation or substitution; equipment or process redesign, including closed-loop recycling; or product redesign. Unless risk is substantially reduced, the mere shifting of pollutants from one environmental medium to another (e.g., air to water) is not considered pollution prevention.

Office of Pollution Prevention, a technical assistance program within DEQ, has a library of journals, books, videos, and other publications on industrial pollution prevention. Free, customized research is available to industries and their consultants. Staff is also available to provide on-site assistance.

Process design and permit pre-application are ideal stages to consider pollution prevention options. DEQ encourages applicants to discuss such options with DEQ regional staff and to contact the Office of Pollution Prevention at (804) 762-4384 for additional information.

In addition to permitting requirements under development in the air program, the Department also is investigating ways of incorporating pollution prevention into existing air, water and waste permits. As an initial step toward this goal, six permit writers from the Department (two from each of the media offices) attended a seminar entitled, "Pollution Prevention Training for Permit Writers," funded by EPA Region III in Annapolis, Maryland in July, 1994. Representatives from all states within Region III and the District of Columbia also attended. Permit writers from states outside the region made presentations and detailed their successes and difficulties in integrating pollution prevention into the permitting process. In addition, exercises on drafting pollution prevention permit language were included. EPA Region III expects to follow this effort with the development of a more formal training program for permit writers.

C. Supplemental Environmental Projects

EPA has established a policy that strongly encourages the incorporation of pollution prevention conditions in enforcement settlements whenever feasible. As outlined in the policy, pollution prevention projects may be included in an enforcement settlement either to correct an existing violation or as the focus of a "supplemental environmental project" (SEP). EPA requires that a nexus, or connection, exist between the violation and the SEP. Rather than merely punishing a violator, the use of an SEP theoretically results in a greater environmental benefit because the source of the violation is eliminated or is reduced significantly by the pollution prevention project. EPA considers the use of SEPs to be appropriate for the following situations:

Because the Department has been delegated authority to enforce many federal environmental laws, the use of SEPs is available to Department staff as an enforcement tool. SEPs that promote pollution prevention have been incorporated into several compliance orders issued by the Department during 1993 and 1994. For instance, to meet the requirements of an order, a company in Farmville designed and installed a closed-loop solvent recycling system as an alternative to installing conventional air pollution control equipment. In another case, a steel fabricator in Salem converted its painting operation to high-solids paints (high-solids paints contain less solvent than conventional coatings), which significantly reduced VOC emissions.

OPP staff members work with the Department's enforcement staff in the design of these pollution prevention projects. In the amended pollution prevention legislation, the General Assembly authorized the Department to encourage the use of such projects. In response, the Department is expected to expand their utilization in the future.

D. Pollution Prevention Activities in Media Grants

The Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 directs EPA to pursue the environmental and economic advantages of source reduction by promoting pollution prevention throughout the agency's programs. To integrate pollution prevention principles into the media grant programs (e.g., air, water and waste), which are the primary sources of funding that states receive from the federal government for environmental program implementation, EPA issued guidance in late 1992. This guidance has four goals: (1) to promote pollution prevention in state programs that are supported through federal grants, by establishing National Principles to guide workplans negotiated between regional offices and states; (2) to ensure that grant requirements as interpreted by EPA/state workplans are flexible enough to support innovative state pollution prevention activities; (3) to establish a simple accounting process to share information on successful state projects and to identify statutory or other barriers in funding state proposals; and (4) to build sustained state capacity in pollution prevention to the extent consistent with statutory grant requirements. The guidance states that beginning with federal fiscal year 1994, which began on October 1, 1993, EPA grant programs should promote pollution prevention explicitly in state workplans.

The Department has been able to take advantage of this new flexibility on several occasions. For instance, the 1994 workplan for the hazardous waste program includes financial support (approximately $150,000) for OPP staff, who will be responsible for developing materials for hazardous waste inspectors, including training and manuals. Since 1993, EPA has required that the air program designate a pollution prevention point of contact to coordinate with OPP. The air program also received $30,000 for federal fiscal year 1994 specifically to support pollution prevention activities that will involve staff from both the air program and OPP. The Department expects the proportion of funding available under the media grants for pollution prevention to grow in future years because of the increased emphasis placed on pollution prevention within EPA.

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Last Updated: October 11, 1995