Association Preparing to Comment on EPA’s Draft Permit by May 26 Deadline; Members Urged to Weigh In
As previously reported by AGC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting public comment on its draft 2017 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Construction General Permit (CGP) until May 26. AGC has taken numerous actions over the last several weeks to inform the EPA staff tasked with reissuing the federal CGP of AGC’s main concerns with the agency’s proposed draft. The paramount concern is the possible addition of a brand-new requirement that would make construction site “operators” publicly report (via an Internet post) their construction stormwater pollution prevention plans (SWPPPs). AGC is building a strong case against online SWPPPs – and is working closely with the homebuilders and other real estate and development groups. Please use AGC’s draft DISCUSSION DOCUMENT (still a work in progress) to share your concerns with EPA by the May 26th comment deadline. CLICK HERE to submit your individual comments directly to EPA. Although EPA’s CGP directly applies in only a handful of states and territories, it serves as a national model for state-issued CGPs.
Since the draft CGP was published last month, AGC has had three in-depth conference calls with agency leads on the CGP reissuance project, including representatives from the Water Permits Division (including the new municipal branch chief) and the Office of Enforcement. AGC is meeting face-to-face on May 16 with many of these folks to talk in more detail – and AGC is also sitting down with the EPA staff responsible for implementing the electronic reporting provisions that ultimately end up in EPA’s final 2017 CGP.
We know for sure that anyone who wants coverage under EPA’s 2017 CGP will need to use the online NPDES eReporting Tool, or “NeT” system, to prepare and submit their NOI electronically. The imminent shift from paper-based filings to mandatory electronic submission stems from EPA’s NPDES Electronic Reporting Final Rule, effective Dec. 2015. EPA’s “default” plan is to make the entire NOI (Notice of Intent) form available for public review via the Internet (probably on EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online website). As NPDES-authorized states reissue their permits over the next 5 years, state CGPs also will require site “operators” to file their NOIs (and NOTs) electronically with the appropriate permitting authority (maybe using NeT or maybe using a state-developed “tool”), the data will be shared with EPA HQs, and the construction site-specific information will be posted on EPA’s ECHO website for anyone to view.
AGC is very concerned by EPA’s attempt to “add on” electronic SWPPP reporting – in the midst of an already insufficient 45-day comment period on the draft 2017 CGP. As AGC has explained to EPA, the published SWPPP data would be “stale” as soon as it hits the Web, which would confuse the general public, subject the construction sector to unfair scrutiny, and lead to unsubstantiated citizen complaints (or, even worse, frivolous lawsuits). All of this will, in turn, force needless government inspections and thwart construction work, including critical infrastructure improvements that are necessary to environmental gains – wasting government’s limited resources and taxpayer dollars. Please use AGC’s draft DISCUSSION DOCUMENT to share your concerns with EPA by the May 26th comment deadline. CLICK HERE to submit your individual comments directly to EPA.
AGC’s request for an extension of the CGP comment period was denied. AGC and others continue to stress that it will be difficult for industry stakeholders to carefully examine and reach consensus on viable alternatives to many contentious CGP revisions under consideration, including how SWPPPs for thousands of construction sites across the United States are collected by the government and then shared with – used by – the public at large.
For more information, please contact AGC’s Leah Pilconis at firstname.lastname@example.org.