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RE: Industry environmental initiative waning
- Subject: RE: Industry environmental initiative waning
- From: "Thomas Vinson" <TVINSON@tceq.state.tx.us>
- Date: Mon, 30 Dec 2002 10:11:18 -0600
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- Reply-To: "Thomas Vinson" <TVINSON@tceq.state.tx.us>
I am not a regulator, but I play one on TV.
I run a program where we require P2 planning, but don't require companies to implement the projects. I work with closely with another team that does purely voluntary outreach. We have a friendly competition and are constantly comparing notes to help each other out.
In My Humble Opinion: Requiring P2 planning is a good way to get P2 on the minds of facilities, but if you push it too hard it becomes a paperwok exercise. A strong regulatory environment pushes P2, but P2 can thrive under any conditions because it is the best way to deal with pollution. Because it is the best alternative it will always win out in the long run.
A few thoughts in particular caught my eye. Rather than a million e-mails, I put my responses in one big e-mail....you can look for your name below....or read them all if you like.
"Even here in NJ,
where P2 Planning is mandatory but implementation of P2 measures is
voluntary, I have had numerous corporate representatives comment that
they would be implementing much more P2 if it were mandatory.
Regulations drive corporate behavio "Melinda Dower" <Melinda.Dower@dep.state.nj.us> "
Melinda's thought intrigues me. I am not sure how we could mandate P2 implementation. After all, we have rules with best management practices, and many of them are P2, but how would you mandate someone to creatively think outside the box? Also, I don't think it is politically feasible to make tougher P2 laws. I think you have to constantly alternate the carrot and the stick, and use the stick lightly. (too many horse metaphors here).
"Getting out of
regulatory requirements is the single best driver I have found, even
exceeding saving money."
Agreed. Money and risk avoidance are pretty high on the list. "Because it is the right thing to do" comes up a lot higher than I would ever believe.
"TCEQ has a regulatory requirement that forced many industries/companies to develop P2 plans. Without this regulation, P2 planning in Texas would not be as widespread. If the regulation had more teeth, more P2 would have been implemented; unfortunately over time the regualtion just became a paper exercise (I don't think there ahve been any enforcemnt actions that resulted in a fine). If implementation of the P2 plans was enforced, more P2 would have occurred." Mark Johnson" <Mark.Johnson@lcra.org>
True, without requiring P2 planning, I doubt many facilities would even consider P2 in their operations. What we try to do is "bring the horse to the water" after that, if we show the water is sweet, they will drink.
We don't focus on going after non-compliant facilities; inspectors do check for plans and it could elevate to fine level if someone refused to comply. So far we have never gotten to the point of a fine...and if we did, the facility probably had a lot of other issues that were bigger than a P2 plan.
We went through a few iterations of "getting tough" and really scaring people who didn't have a P2 plan in place. We raised our compliance by over 10% but there were some drawbacks.
1. We had to devote massive resources to administrative issues. When you tell someone they are out of compliance you better have your files in order. Maintaining perfect records in real time for every HW generator and TRI reporter without duplicates, outdated records etc... pulls staff away from technical assistance and puts them into file and paper world.
2. Sure you raise compliance, but do you raise how many people are implementing projects? If your staff is spending time chasing down records instead of giving these companies options...probably not.
Through required P2 planning we have had significant reductions....over 1,000,000 tons of hazardous waste and 30,0000 pounds of toxic pollutants reduced at the source last year. Staitistics aside (see below on measurement), we regularly communicate with companies who get reductions and attribute it to the P2 plan. So I don't think we are overseeing a paperwork exercise.
Having said that about half the compliant facilities have NEVER reported a single pound of pollution reduced. Also, it is hard to quantify how much source reduction would have happened without a requirement. Half as much? Ten percent? Who knows?
So our challenge, as seems to be the case is not to increase our compliance, but to increase the amount of P2 in the state. Compliance is just one of the tools.
"What are we doing to encourage that 10% in the 'leadership' category to become 20%, 50%, 98%? (It'll never be 100%, after all.) "Minicucci, Bob" <email@example.com>"
We have a two pronged strategy:
1. Get people in compliance. Bring the horse to the water.
2. Provide them technical assistance-- make the water appealling enough to drink.
If you don't have a P2 law like Melinda and I you can tie your activities to the inspectors...give them fact sheets to hand out and such. Even if they say "NOT REQUIRED" all over them you will get customers calling you wanting to do it.
I find that building trust with the regulatory arm of your agency is every bit as important as trust with the companies. The regulatory arm may be fearful of you trying to get people out of the laws. They can also percieve you as "fluff" and not a core priority. Working closely with our inspectors and showing them how we can make their job easier gave us a great way to get to the poor performers.
Here is how it works. An inspector goes out to a facility and sees all kinds of problems he writes them up, and raises the hammer to strike. But enforcement is slow, and he is very busy with a large caseload. He remembers seeing something in his investigator training about technical assitance for metal finishers. He refers them to you, and you help the company (who is eager for help) get their act clean...win-win-win situation.
Even if the company gets a big fine, you can help ensure it doesn't happen again...and they are ussually ready to listen.
So, like many have said, P2 must be promoted on all fronts. To get to the poor environmental performers, convince your enforcers to call on you.
" During the first half of the project, companies were approached a minimum of five times through mailings, calls and even onsite visits to educate them on pollution prevention opportunities: p2 implemented - zero" "LeAnn Herren" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
We have gotten a lot of results through our site visits and other voluntary measures; however, while we get good results with the sites we devote time on, we can't reach the vast majority of facilities in the state. This might indicate that we need to be doing more P2 site visits and other voluntary measures. A lot of the sites we helped were definitely not in the top 10% of performers...at least not initially.
". Unfortunately, not only are we seeing a de-emphasis on regulatory approaches, we're also seeing a decided effort on
the part of the current administration to reduce information-sharing with
the public, thus limiting the public's ability to participate in this issue.
""Skumanich, Marina" <sku@BATTELLE.ORG>
My experience has been that the public doesn't really focus on P2 anyway. If they focus on the environment at all it is a knee jerk reaction to some impending change in their neighborhood. They often get quite irate when we try to address the consumer end of the environment (and we consumers have a HUGE impact). So, I don't think public involvment is the magic bullet. Sometimes this reaction is very helpful...public participation recently led to a huge enforcement action here in TX because they saw things an inspector wouldn't catch.
Certainly the public is a driver, but environment is much more than a populist movement.
" We have an active EMS program company-wide, and
have a community and social responsibility component to our internal
Baldridge-style business sytem. " "Munn, Jordan C" <JordanCMunn@eaton.com>
I think that is the approach that will work for the companies that have already found all the low hanging fruit. If it is a systematic approach they will look for the next big thing. For the smaller companies who don't have a corporate management system cookie cutter best management practices seem to work. I think that the best thing government could do is lighten the regulatory burden on companies that can demonstrate they have a process for ensuring they deal with risk. The government could check the system and leave the details to the companies. It would free up resources to pursue the "bad guys", and let the good guys spend more time protecting the environment and less time with paperwork.....call me a utopian dreamer, but I think that is where we are heading.
"he problem I see now is that we have many local and regional assistant
programs that are doing a good job at pointing out P2 opportunities to small
and mid-size companies but are not able, generally due to workload, to
provide the needed engineering to identify the exact costs to implement, the
design changes and the true benefits/savings that will be realized."
We worked on that, but one drawback is that people don't generally come to the government to find out how to save money. In fact, I have to say that we are really the worst people to tell a company how to operate efficiently. What worked was for us to serve as a clearinghouse for case studies...that way companies were telling each other, in their own words, what worked. But even then there are a lot of small biz's that just won't listen to the government tell them how to save money...and they are still in business, so they must be doing something right.
"Lastly, the efficacy of VPs is typically difficult to measure and many of
these programs are designed without giving prior consideration to
performance measures needed for gauging success." Karen Shapiro <email@example.com>
Yeah, how do you tell people what would have happened? How can you measure what DIDN'T happen? It sounds like some Zen riddle, and in the end it is all estimates. And like Kevin said, we don't want to have a whole program about measuring our program.
And I suppose I don't want to be on my e-mail all day, so I will wish you all a Happy New Year and thank you all for the thoughts...keep up the good conversations!
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
PO Box 13087
Austin, Tx 78711-3087
Disclaimer: Regulatory guidance e-mails are provided to quickly get you an answer to legal requirements. They are not a substitute for compliance with the regulation, but guidance based on the best information available to the staff of TNRCC at the time.
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