EPA Launches New Website to Improve Transparency in Permitting

April 15, 2024
The EPA is announcing the launch of a new website, epa.gov/permits, a centralized web-based platform for information about federal environmental permitting. It highlights EPA’s permitting and environmental review programs and shares information on related statutes and environmental justice initiatives. In support of EPA’s commitments under Title 41 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41), it also displays the status of EPA permits for large scale infrastructure projects covered by this statute. The website is a resource for the public, permit applicants and federal agency partners.
“EPA’s new website is making it easier for the public and stakeholders to learn about the agency’s permitting process and our programs,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe. “This new, comprehensive website provides a one-stop portal for the public, permit applicants and colleagues from other federal, state and local agencies to quickly find information about EPA’s permitting program and how these permits are helping to protect public health and the environment in communities across our nation.”
“EPA has been working diligently to increase the transparency of information regarding our permitting resources, requirements and timelines, especially as we implement President Biden’s ambitious Investing in America Agenda. We are pleased to launch this site available to all,” said Vicki Arroyo, Associate Administrator for EPA’s Office of Policy, which oversees permitting and environmental review work for EPA.
The new website provides:
  • Centralized information about all EPA permitting programs, information on delegations of authority to states and descriptions of other requirements that are often applicable (such as Endangered Species Act and National Historic Preservation Act consultation).
  • Public-facing reports and resources, including environmental justice and civil rights in permitting information.
  • FAST-41 information, including an explanation of EPA’s roles under the Act and a table that shows the status of EPA permits needed for FAST-41 projects and project tracking.
  • Inflation Reduction Act information regarding funding allocated to EPA for improving efficiencies in permitting.
In May 2022, the Biden-Harris Permitting Action Plan directed all federal agencies to evaluate their permitting processes and create goals around project tracking and dissemination of public information. This website fulfills EPA’s commitments under the Permitting Action Plan by providing the status of FAST-41 projects with EPA permits and posting them on a public-facing website.
FAST-41 requires EPA to post details on its website relevant to the permitting process, such as permit applications and public meetings, at appropriate intervals. FAST-41 is aimed at improving the timelines, predictability and transparency of federal environmental review and authorization processes for covered infrastructure projects. EPA is a member of the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (Permitting Council), represented by EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe and Deputy Associate Administrator in EPA’s Office of Policy, Navis Bermudez. EPA has a permitting role on some FAST-41 covered projects, such as offshore wind energy under the renewable energy production sector.
EPCRA Violations Lead to $120,000 Settlement
The EPA announced a $120,000 settlement with Forge Group DeKalb, LLC, known as DeKalb Forge Co., to resolve alleged failure to report  toxic chemical releases in DeKalb, Illinois, violating the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, or EPCRA.
The company forges and shapes steel products using drop hammers and mechanical presses at their facility at 1832 Pleasant Street in DeKalb, Illinois. The EPA alleged the company failed to timely submit EPCRA forms to notify the agency about the release of  toxic chemicals such as chromium, manganese, and nickel during the forging and shaping process.
EPCRA requires facilities to report the storage, use, and releases of toxic chemicals. The information submitted is compiled in the Toxics Release Inventory, or TRI, that informs government agencies, the public and more about toxic chemical releases and pollution prevention activities reported by industrial and federal facilities.
The facility is in a community with potential environmental justice concerns.  Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
Justice Department Secures $1.37 Million Settlement for Pollution Cleanup Costs at Oil Site
The United States Justice Department has entered a consent decree granting the United States money for environmental clean-up costs, along with declaratory relief for costs associated with possible future remediation, relating to the A.A. Oil Site, located at 2340 S Tibbs Avenue, on the Southwest side of Indianapolis.
From the 1950s to the late 1980s, A.A. Oil Co., Inc., a division of Cam-Or, Inc., operated the Site as a waste oil collection, storage, and transfer facility. The waste oil was collected from garages, gas stations, oil change facilities, automobile dealers, and trucking companies, and was stored at the Site and then shipped to the Cam-Or facility in Westville, Indiana.
In 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a site cleanup to remove the hazardous substances and contaminated surface soil and analyze any imminent or substantial endangerment to the public health or the environment.
On February 13, 2024, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and ENRD sued the defendant companies pursuant to Section 107 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), a federal environmental remediation program that authorizes the United States to recover costs incurred in response to the release and threatened release of hazardous substances.
The complaint alleged that the site was contaminated by oil and other hazardous materials over past decades and, as a result, is contaminated with trichloroethylene, polychlorinated biphenyls, and other volatile organic compounds (benzene, toluene, and xylenes, among others) in soil, groundwater, and storage tanks.
As part of the resolution, the defendants, Arconic Corporation, Navistar Inc., and Ford Motor Company, agreed to pay the federal government a total of $1.37 million dollars without admission of liability. The complaint alleged that the defendant companies (in the case of Arconic and Navistar, through their predecessor corporations) transported hazardous materials to the Site, thus rendering them liable for these clean-up costs.
“All residents of the Southern District of Indiana deserve a safe, healthy, and pollution-free community,” said U.S. Attorney Myers. “The Department of Justice is committed to aggressively pursuing environmental enforcement and to holding polluters accountable.”
U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Taylor Kirklin, the Office’s Environmental Justice Coordinator, Samantha M. Ricci, Trial Attorney with ENRD’s Environmental Enforcement Section, for their work on this case.
Members of the public who have concerns about environmental matters, including matters involving environmental justice issues, in the Southern District of Indiana can report them to the U.S. Attorney’s office via email to USAINS-Environmental@usdoj.gov.
EPA Warns Farmworkers About Risks of Dacthal
The EPA is announcing its next steps to protect people from the herbicide dimethyl tetrachloroterephthalate (DCPA, or Dacthal). EPA is warning people of the significant health risks to pregnant individuals and their developing babies exposed to DCPA and will be pursuing action to address the serious, permanent, and irreversible health risks associated with the pesticide as quickly as possible. EPA has also issued a letter to AMVAC, the sole manufacturer of DCPA, restating the risks the agency found and stating that due to the serious risks posed by DCPA, the agency is pursuing further action to protect workers and others who could be exposed. EPA is taking this rare step of warning farmworkers about these concerns while it works on action to protect workers because of the significant risks the agency has identified.
“DCPA exposure represents a serious risk to pregnant workers and their children, so it’s imperative that we warn people about those risks now,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff. “We’re committed to taking action to protect the health of children, workers, and others who are exposed to DCPA.”
DCPA is an herbicide registered to control weeds in both agricultural and non-agricultural settings, but is primarily used on crops such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and onions.
DCPA is currently undergoing registration review, a process that requires reevaluating registered pesticides every 15 years to ensure they cause no unreasonable adverse effects on human health or the environment. In May 2023, EPA released its assessment on the risks of occupational and residential exposure to products containing DCPA, after the agency reviewed data that it compelled AMVAC to submit, which had been overdue for almost 10 years. The assessment found concerning evidence of health risks associated with DCPA use and application, even when personal protective equipment and engineering controls are used. The most serious risks extend to the developing babies of pregnant individuals. EPA estimates that some pregnant individuals handling DCPA products could be subjected to exposures from four to 20 times greater than what current DCPA product label use instructions indicate is considered safe. EPA is concerned that pregnant women exposed to DCPA could experience changes to fetal thyroid hormone levels, and these changes are generally linked to low birth weight, impaired brain development, decreased IQ, and impaired motor skills later in life.
Also of concern, are risks to developing babies of pregnant individuals entering or working in areas where DCPA has already been applied (especially post-application workers involved in tasks such as transplanting, weeding and harvesting). Current product labels specify that entry into treated fields must be restricted for 12 hours after application. However, the evidence indicates that for many crops and tasks, levels of DCPA in the previously treated fields remained at unsafe levels for 25 days or more. EPA also identified potential risks for individuals using golf courses and athletic fields after DCPA was applied. Spray drift from pesticide application could also put developing babies at risk for pregnant individuals living near areas where DCPA is used.
Since the release of EPA’s 2023 assessment, AMVAC has proposed several changes to the DCPA registrations, including the recent cancelation of all DCPA products registered for use on turf. Those cancelations eliminate exposures to DCPA from recreational activities on and around turf. However, according to EPA’s analysis, other proposals submitted by AMVAC do not adequately address the serious health risks for people who work with and around DCPA. EPA is therefore preparing to take further action under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) as quickly as possible to protect people from the risks of DCPA.
When serious risks are identified, EPA can take action under FIFRA to suspend or cancel a pesticide. These actions are resource-intensive and take time to implement, partly due to the procedural requirements of FIFRA. A cancelation proceeding would take at least several months (if uncontested by the registrant), and potentially several years to accommodate a potential administrative hearing and any subsequent appeal of an order of cancelation (if the registrant contests the action). FIFRA also allows EPA to seek a suspension of a pesticide product while cancelation proceedings are ongoing if the Administrator determines it is necessary to prevent an imminent hazard. An administrative hearing and final order on a suspension proceeding (if the action is contested) would likely take several months to conclude. However, the Administrator may also issue an order of suspension—effective immediately on issuance—if he determines that an emergency exists such that an administrative hearing cannot be held before suspending. Any final order of suspension would remain in effect until cancelation proceedings end.  EPA is considering these tools as it moves forward with the DCPA registration review, but in light of the serious risks posed by DCPA, chose to warn the public of them at this time as it continues its work.
Background on EPA’s Review of DCPA
In 2013, the agency issued a Data Call-In (DCI) to AMVAC, requiring it to submit more than 20 studies to support the existing registrations of DCPA. The data required by EPA included a comprehensive study of the effects of DCPA on thyroid development and function in adults and in developing babies before birth. Several of the studies submitted by AMVAC from 2013-2021 were considered insufficient to address the DCI, while the thyroid study and other studies were not submitted at all. In April 2022, EPA issued a Notice of Intent to Suspend the DCPA technical-grade product (used to manufacture end-use products) based on AMVAC’s failure to submit the complete set of required data for almost 10 years, including data on DCPA’s thyroid toxicity. On Aug. 22, 2023, the agency suspended the registration for the DCPA technical-grade product, a rare but necessary step given AMVAC’s delay in providing the data EPA requested nearly a decade before. In November 2023 the suspension was lifted after AMVAC submitted sufficient data. DCPA use on turf was voluntarily canceled by AMVAC in December 2023, but unacceptable risks from agricultural use remained. 
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