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State Compliance Monitoring Expectations
For the three programs shown in this website (Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act), EPA sets national goals for how frequently facilities should be evaluated by the authorized enforcement agency (which is typically the state or local agency, but in some cases is EPA). EPA develops Compliance Monitoring Strategies (CMSs) to ensure that the regulated facilities across the country are evaluated for compliance on a regular basis.
Evaluations (such as on-site inspections) are defined by each program and states and local agencies should conduct the appropriate evaluation to meet the national goals discussed below. Typically, each program has an inspection frequency schedule that recommends more frequent inspections for the larger facilities and less frequent for smaller facilities. EPA offers flexibility to the states for many of the inspection frequency goals. Under the CAA and RCRA CMSs, some states take advantage of this flexibility by submitting "alternative plans" that provide for inspection frequencies that are aligned with other priorities within the specific state. EPA reviews and approves these alternative plans, which form the basis for compliance monitoring plans within these states. The ECHO dashboards provide both national averages and national goals on some reports. There are some variations across each program on how EPA tracks alternative plans and commitments, as noted below, and EPA is working to improve the tracking of this information. This information will be included on future enhancements of these state dashboards.
Also, please note that the State Dashboards are set up only to show one year of data at a time. Some compliance monitoring goals are intended to be met over more than one year. For example, EPA may expect 100% of a certain type of facility to be inspected over five years. States may choose to spread these inspections evenly over the five years, or may decide to unevenly plan their inspections across the years. To provide a meaningful display in the State Dashboards, EPA, in the example above, would show the goal as a straight line indicating 20% per year, but it is important to understand that the actual goal is 100% over five years and not 20% per year. More details are available below.
The focus of the CAA Stationary Source Compliance Monitoring Strategy (CMS) is major facilities within the title V program and synthetic minor facilities that emit or have the potential to emit any pollutant or pollutants at or above 80% of the title V major facility threshold (SM-80). The CMS establishes national goals of conducting a full CAA compliance evaluation at title V major facilities once every two federal fiscal years; at mega-sites, which are the largest title V major facilities, once every three federal fiscal years; and at SM-80s once every five federal fiscal years. In addition, states and locals are afforded flexibility under the CAA CMS that accommodates alternative frequencies and other types of sources. For example, with EPA approval, a state agency may put some minor facilities on a compliance evaluation schedule effectively adding them to their CMS; or a title V major facility, based , in part, on its compliance history, may be evaluated every three fiscal years as opposed to every two fiscal years. When state and local agencies take advantage of these flexibilities, their CMS is identified as an alternative CMS. EPA's national database for CAA compliance and enforcement provides the functionality for EPA, states, and local agencies to indicate the frequency of compliance evaluations for each individual facility, thereby allowing us to evaluate the completion of both traditional and alternative CMS plans.
The CAA maps and graphs show data that is reflective of all state and local agency CMS plans including any alternative plans. Where it appears no data is available, the state or local agency does not include those facility types in their CMS. For example, the graph for % of Minor Facilities Evaluated on Schedule will most likely appear as if no minor facilities were evaluated on schedule. But, in reality, very few state and local agencies include minor facilities within their CMS. Where they are included, they are part of an alternative CMS and this graph is intended to reflect those scenarios. For more information on the Clean Air Act Stationary Source Compliance Monitoring Strategy, please refer to Compliance Monitoring Policies and Guidance.
The CWA Compliance Monitoring Strategy (CMS) sets the national inspection frequency goals for all categories of dischargers in the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. In administration and oversight of the NPDES program, EPA regulations establish some dischargers as "majors." All dischargers that do not meet the definition of "major" are commonly referred to as "non-majors." For example, publicly owned treatment works (POTW) majors are those discharging equal to or greater than one million gallons per day. Non-majors include smaller POTWs and industrial dischargers, municipal stormwater, construction stormwater and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The national inspection frequency goal for NPDES major facilities is for each to be inspected at least once every two years. The inspection frequency goal for traditional non-major facilities (POTWs with designed discharge flows of less than one million gallons per day and active minor industrial facilities) is at least one inspection of each facility every five years. States may choose to spread these inspections evenly over the two and five year time periods (i.e., 50% and 20% inspection coverage of major facilities and traditional non-major facilities each year, respectively), or may decide to unevenly plan their inspections over the two and five year time periods. Inspection frequency goals for other non-major facilities vary depending on the type of facility. In addition, states are afforded flexibility under the CWA CMS that may accommodate alternative frequencies. For more information on NPDES inspection goals, including facility categories within the NPDES program that are not currently shown on the dashboards, please refer to CWA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Compliance Monitoring Strategy.
To provide a meaningful display in the State Dashboards, EPA shows these goals as straight lines indicating 50% per year (major facilities) and 20% per year (traditional non-major facilities), but it is important to understand that the actual goal is 100% over the two and five year time periods. Therefore, a state may appear to have not met the national goal in a particular year but still be meeting the two or five year goal. Additionally, if a state has not reached the national goal depicted on the website, it is possible that they have an approved CMS plan that includes inspection commitments that are different than the national goals in accordance with flexibilities available in the national CMS policy (e.g., commitment to inspection 25% of majors in a given year due to high rates of compliance with majors and water quality-based need for additional CAFO inspections). However, EPA's database does not yet track state performance against actual state commitments on a facility-by-facility basis. As a short-term solution, EPA is working to develop more information that will be linked from this website that will allow data users to view which states have alternative commitments in their Clean Water Act CMS plans.
The national goal for the RCRA program is that all Large Quantity Generators receive a comprehensive inspection every five years, with a goal of 20% of the universe per year. To improve environmental outcomes from its compliance assurance activities, a state may seek approval of an alternative inspection plan that allows flexibility from the obligation to inspect at least 20% of its LQG universe. The state may use this flexibility to provide for compliance monitoring of smaller generators, transporters, non-notifiers, and/or other RCRA handlers.
For the RCRA program, alternative plans (also known as State Flexibility Plans) are relatively new, so most states are not operating under approved alternative plans. As states begin taking advantage of this flexibility, EPA will provide links here to existing plans.
Note: Alternative plans do not apply to Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs), as their inspection is mandated by the RCRA statute.