(Beyond Pesticides, June 22, 2010) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced earlier this month that it is seeking public comment on its draft five-year strategic plan, which the agency says will help advance Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priorities and EPA’s overall mission to protect human health and the environment. Administrator Jackson’s seven priorities are; taking action on climate change, improving air quality, protecting Americas waters, cleaning up our communities, assuring the safety of chemicals, expanding the conversation on environmentalism and working for environmental justice, and building strong state and tribal partnerships.
In accordance with the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA), EPA submitted the agency’s 2006-2011 Strategic Plan to Congress on September 29, 2006. Now, the agency is releasing its Draft FY 2011-2015 Strategic Plan for public review and comment through July 30, 2010.
GPRA requires agencies to develop a five-year Strategic Plan for what they intend to accomplish, measure how well they are doing, make appropriate decisions based on the information they have gathered, and communicate information about their performance to Congress and to the public. It includes a mission statement and sets out long-term goals and objectives; Annual Performance Plans, which provide annual performance commitments toward achieving the goals and objectives presented in the Strategic Plan; and Annual Performance and Accountability Reports, which evaluate an agency’s progress toward achieving performance commitments.
To comply with certain GPRA requirements and further enable the agency to manage for results, EPA has built a framework that aligns planning, budgeting, and accountability in an integrated system. EPA says that they continue to look for ways to improve our planning and priority-setting both in terms of our annual planning and budgeting and our longer-range strategic planning and look forward to hearing comments and suggestions. The draft plan identifies the measurable environmental and human health benefits the public can expect over the next five years and describes how EPA intends to achieve those results. It proposes five strategic goals and five cross-cutting fundamental strategies that aim to foster a renewed commitment to accountability, transparency and inclusion.
EPA’s Draft Strategic Plan identifies five goals:
”¢ Taking action on climate change and improving air quality
”¢ Protecting America’s waters
”¢ Cleaning up our communities
”¢ Ensuring the safety of chemicals and preventing pollution
”¢ Enforcing environmental laws
According to the draft, one of EPA’s highest priorities over the next five years is to “ensure the safety of chemicals and pesticides used in this country.” To do this, EPA says it will be taking a more integrated approach to managing chemical and pesticide risk reduction and is focusing on consumers, workers, and sensitive subpopulations like children. EPA is enhancing its ability to measure the effects of chemicals and pesticides on human health and the environment by introducing new measures to reduce the concentration of targeted chemicals and pesticides in the general population, children, and low-income communities.
EPA says that their pesticide review process will place emphasis on the protection of potentially sensitive groups, such as children, by reducing exposures from pesticides used in and around homes, schools, and other public areas. The agency also says that it is critically reviewing its worker safety and certification and training regulations to ensure that they are fully protective.
Also mentioned in the draft are EPA’s plans to address the risks of nano-scale materials during new chemical review, develop significant new use rules for nano-scale materials not subject to new chemical review, and improving data collection efforts. In addition, EPA is undertaking a new testing program to identify whether chemicals have the potential to interact with the endocrine system.
More broadly, EPA says it is looking to determine the best tools to apply to specific problems. For example, under a new drinking water strategy, the agency is exploring how to use the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to ensure that drinking water is protected from pesticides and industrial chemicals and that chemicals found in drinking water are being screened for endocrine disrupting properties using the authorities of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), and FIFRA.
Some highlights include:
”¢ Reduce the number of moderate to severe incidents affecting workers exposed to acutely toxic pesticides by a certain percent by 2015. The six pesticides of concern are: chlorpyrifos; diazinon, malathion; pyrethrins; 2,4-D and carbofuran.
”¢ Reduce the percentage of children with blood lead levels above 5ug/dl to 2.5 percent or less by 2015.
”¢ Reduce concentration of targeted chemicals by a certain percent in the general population by 2015. Chemicals used as indicators under this measure will include pesticides and industrial/commercial chemicals.
”¢ Reduce the disparity of concentration of chemicals in low income populations as compared to non-low income populations by a certain percent by 2015.
”¢ Reduce concentration of targeted chemicals by a certain percent in children by 2015.
”¢ Complete Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP) decisions for 100percent of chemicals for which complete EDSP information is expected to be available by the end of 2014.
More information about the draft plan can be found on EPA’s website.
For background on necessary reform efforts at EPA and across other federal agencies, see Transforming Government’s Approach to Regulating Pesticides.
For additional information on what EPA has been doing with pesticides over the years, please see Beyond Pesticides’ What’s New at EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP)?
Take Action! Comments on the Draft Strategic Plan may be submitted at www.regulations.gov (Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OA-2010-0486). The public comment period begins June 18 and will close July 30. EPA will use stakeholder feedback to prepare the final strategic plan, which will be released by September 30.
Also, for the first time, EPA is using a discussion forum to solicit ideas and feedback on the cross-cutting fundamental strategies, a new element of EPAs strategic plan. The agency will use the feedback provided through https://blog.epa.gov/strategicplan as it implements the cross-cutting fundamental strategies and takes actions to change the way EPA does its work.