||For the past four years, NEWMOA's Deputy Director has been a participant in the Compliance Assistance Advisory Committee (CAAC), which was established under the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT) in 2000 to provide recommendations to the U.S. EPA on compliance assistance and its use and benefit in protecting the environment. There have been two different Advisory Committees, the first from 2000 - 2001 and the second from 2002 - 2004. NEWMOA has been a representative on both of these Committees and co-chaired a Measurement Subcommittee over its entire tenure in the group. Both of the CAACs involved a wide variety of stakeholders, including representatives of various state, federal, tribal, and local governments; trade associations; small businesses; and community-based groups.
The final report of the first CAAC, "Maximizing Compliance Assistance: Recommendations for Enhancing Compliance Assistance Opportunities at EPA and Through Other Providers," was submitted to Administrator Whitman in August 2001.
In 2002, the second CAAC began building on the previous CAAC's work to produce further recommendations and insights for EPA regarding compliance assistance. The second report entitled: "Recommendations for Enhancing EPA's Compliance Assistance Program," June 2004, was recently presented to Administrator Leavitt. It focuses on the implementation aspects of three areas critical to compliance assistance: (1) integration of compliance assistance into the Agency's mission, goals, and activities; (2) development of parameters that will successfully measure the results of compliance assistance activities; and (3) optimization of the compliance assistance network across EPA and other environmental assistance providers.
In its letter of transmittal to Administrator Leavitt, the NACEPT asked that EPA contemplate the following as it considers the CAAC's recommendations:
-All forms of environmental assistance generally, and compliance assistance in particular, are essential complements to the enforcement tools that form the traditional core of EPA's regulatory programs. Assistance and enforcement should not be viewed as mutually exclusive. Rather, EPA should continue to strive to find and employ the most effective mix of these tools to achieve the Agency's goal of protecting human health and the environment. The potential for EPA's assistance programs to prevent violations of environmental laws cannot be overstated.
-The CAAC's report emphasizes performance outcomes and environmental impacts of EPA's compliance assistance activities. While work has been done in this arena, more work needs to be done, and the NACEPT encourages EPA to fully explore this arena with the goal of establishing credible measures of success, beyond enforcement actions and fines, for all of its compliance assurance-related activities. At a minimum, these measures should reflect the compliance rates and trends for regulated entities with regard to environmental regulations.
-EPA has invested substantially in developing goals and performance measures for all of its activities, as reflected in the Agency's new Strategic Plan. To the extent attainable, these goals and measures need to speak to actual environmental endpoints.
Ideally, the regulated community would be in full compliance with environmental regulations, and enforcement would not be necessary. Even then, the need for compliance assistance would not disappear. EPA's own definition of compliance assistance properly includes assistance activities that can move entities beyond compliance. The Agency needs to keep this in mind, and to plan for and support compliance assistance as a fundamental component of its mission to protect human health and the environment.