Pollution Prevention:

EPA Should Reexamine the Objectives and Sustainability of State Programs

PEMD-94-8: Published: Jan 25, 1994. Publicly Released: Mar 7, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed federally-aided state pollution prevention programs, focusing on: (1) the indicators that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses to evaluate program effectiveness; and (2) how well these programs are implementing federal pollution prevention policy.

GAO found that: (1) 20 percent of state pollution prevention programs are regulatory; (2) many companies do not actively participate in nonregulatory programs, since they generally require more technical assistance; (3) companies in need of pollution prevention assistance often do not receive it unless they seek it out for themselves; (4) state progress reports cannot be aggregated to form a national profile because the indicators used to monitor progress vary greatly among programs; and (5) EPA cannot effectively evaluate state pollution prevention programs because some programs have goals unrelated to pollution prevention and many companies lack staff to gather data on program effectiveness.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: EPA does not intend to implement this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should seek to substitute state prevention activities for enforcement actions.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This is a standard component of the EPA program.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should encourage state programs to promote changes in industry culture that will foster the adaptation and evaluation of pollution prevention efforts.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: EPA believes that pollution prevention presence is adequate.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should reinforce the presence of pollution prevention program efforts at the 10 EPA regional offices.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: EPA does not intend to implement this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should strengthen the evaluation requirements of the Pollution Prevention Incentives for States (PPIS) grant program.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: EPA does not intend to implement this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should improve data collection processes so that state program efforts can be evaluated.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  6. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: EPA does not intend to implement this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should encourage state programs to combine various attributes of regulatory and nonregulatory state pollution prevention programs to achieve more proactive and energetic outreach.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EPA is now advising states that the grants are solely for pollution prevention purposes.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should ensure, by strengthening the state grant program evaluation requirements, that state pollution prevention programs are in fact emphasizing source reduction, rather than the recycling, treatment, and disposal of waste.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

  8. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: EPA does not intend to implement this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should establish criteria within the PPIS grant program for measuring the success of source reduction efforts undertaken by businesses.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

 

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