EPA Releases Year in Review, Highlighting Its Accomplishments and Environmental Progress
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On January 28, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its Year in Review: 2018 (YIR). The YIR lists the following accomplishments:
- Issued major proposals, including the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule, and the new waters of the U.S. definition;
- Provided greater regulatory certainty to states, tribes, localities, and the regulated community;
- Streamlined the effectiveness and efficiency of EPA;
- Launched cross-agency initiatives to improve risk communication on emerging contaminants and vulnerable populations;
- Initiated multiple actions to reduce lead exposure, including releasing the Federal Lead Action Plan;
- Improved enforcement compliance and assistance;
- Held EPA’s first-ever Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) National Leadership Summit and Inaugural Recycling Day Summit;
- Led international environmental efforts, including first-ever articles to prevent and reduce marine litter; and
- Ensured comprehensive and coordinated responses to multiple natural disasters.
The YIR provides the following “by the numbers” summary:
- Regulatory Reform: EPA issued 13 final deregulatory actions in 2018. To date, under President Trump, EPA has issued 33 final major deregulatory actions, “saving Americans almost $2 billion”;
- Air: EPA reported that, during President Trump’s first year in office, greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial sources decreased by 2.7 percent;
- Water: By the end of 2018, EPA closed seven Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans totaling nearly $2 billion to help finance over $4 billion for water infrastructure projects and create up to 6,000 jobs;
- Land: EPA deleted all or part of 22 sites from Superfund’s National Priorities List in fiscal year (FY) 2018 -- “the largest number of deletions in one year since FY 2005”;
- Chemicals: After inheriting a “backlog” of 672 new chemical submissions pending review in January 2017, under President Trump, EPA “aggressively worked to improve the review of new chemical submissions and, as a result, eliminated the initial backlog and reduced the number of cases pending review to 475 submissions by August 2018.” EPA completed 99.7 percent of the 2,199 pesticide registration actions on-time, and registered 23 new active ingredients and 147 new uses of existing pesticides, “providing new tools to growers to meet their pest management needs”;
- Enforcement: In FY 2018, EPA enforcement actions required the treatment, disposal, or elimination of 809 million pounds of pollutants and waste -- almost twice as much as FY 2017. EPA also entered into the largest settlement in the history of its enforcement of the Risk Management Program with the responsible party spending $150 million on major safety improvements; and
- Grants: EPA awarded $4,451,520,905 in grants in FY 2018, including more than $63 million under the General Assistance Program, benefiting nearly all federally recognized tribes through awards to 500 tribal governments and approximately 25 intertribal consortia, $4.344 million in State and Tribal Assistance Grants, and 37 environmental education grants totaling $3,306,760 in 32 states to 13 colleges and universities, 23 stakeholder organizations, and one tribal community.
Further information on the YIR and our commentary is available in the full Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) memorandum.