Chez EPA's new menu

A hearty helping of incentives, with a side order of flexibility, anyone? Due to popular demand, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may soon be serving a wider variety of compliance options to its customers, the regulated community. And if certain EPA officials have their way, carrots may replace sticks as the main entrée on the new menu. As part of its reinvention initiative to deliver smarter and cheaper results, EPA is trying to move beyond its traditional command and control approach and use new methods to induce better environmental performance by industry, states, local communities and the general public. The Reinvention Criteria Committee, which works under EPA's National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology, had two meetings last year to discuss this new policy. The committee's main goal is to help EPA understand how incentives can be used most successfully to inspire the industrial sector to go beyond mere compliance with existing regulations. In their December meeting, committee members looked at the incentives used in the context of EPA's Project XL program, which the agency designed to grant companies regulatory flexibility, in exchange for creating site-specific measures that achieve superior environmental results. The committee examined the Project XL program implemented in Weyerhauser's Flint River, Ga., facility, a wood and paper products company. The project targeted air, water and solid waste limits, and let the facility managers adopt an alternative approach to maximum achievable control technology requirements, with an emphasis on pollution prevention. In return, Weyerhauser agreed to limit hazardous air pollutant emissions and cut effluent flow, solid waste and hazardous waste. Permitting predictability for 15 years was another attractive incentive given to the company. The committee is currently examining issues such as the use of larger incentives for better performers; the relative importance of incentives that meet specific goals vs. incentives that drive continuous improvement; tailoring incentives to performance; delivery mechanisms for incentives; and using incentives in combination with partnerships and other EPA tools. The committee will meet again on March 15-16 to discuss the incentives needed by states and will issue a report on its findings to EPA in September. For more information, contact Gwen Whitt, EPA's sous chef in the Office of Cooperative Environmental Management at (202) 260-9484. Environmental leaders of the 20th century As the 20th century draws to a close, Environmental Protection will be honoring environmental professionals, including scientists, engineers, politicians and even lawyers, who have had the greatest impact in protecting the environment during the past 100 years. We are interested in hearing from our readers about who should be chosen. And as we gather ideas throughout 1999, we look forward to reading your nominations - many of which we will publish in our Letters to the Editor section in the months ahead. Please write to us by e-mail at Look for our profiles of these leaders in upcoming issues this year.

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/1999 issue of Environmental Protection.

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