The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) have opened a 30 day comment period for an Environmental Performance Partnership Agreement (Agreement) between the agencies. The comment period lasts from April 30, 2021 to May 30, 2021. Interested parties can submit comments here.
According to Ecology, the agencies entered the Agreement to “[r]ecognize mutual environmental goals, strategies, activities and performance measures.” The Agreement also provides background on EPA-funded projects on water quality, air quality, hazardous waste, and nuclear waste that Ecology will carry out during the term of the Agreement.
The Agreement focuses on several major areas of importance to both agencies, including assisting vulnerable groups or populations with environmental concerns. EPA and Ecology acknowledge a mutual priority to address environmental and health inequities and to incorporate environmental justice initiatives. Additionally, the Agreement prioritizes children’s environmental health and adds language focused on children’s health to the Mutual Priorities chapter, highlighting its importance to the agencies.
The agencies also use the Agreement to emphasize a mutual focus on water quality work. The Agreement calls for additional environmental work for the Columbia River Basin, including protection and restoration efforts for the Puget Sound and Columbia River, and a new section in the Water Quality Program focused on the Columbia River Restoration Program. The agencies also place an emphasis on the importance of groundwater inspections and testing at corrective action sites as part of the Agreement.
The Agreement is part of the National Environmental Performance Partnership System (NEPPS), established by EPA as a way to coordinate work between the federal government, states, and tribes. Agreements under the NEPPS establish joint priorities and develop a strategic approach to environmental protection.
The EPA and Ecology are seeking comments on the priorities, goals, and implications of this Partnership Agreement. The effective date of this Agreement begins on July 1, 2021. The short timeline between the comment period and the effective date means that any interested parties should be sure to submit all comments by the May 30, 2021 comment deadline to ensure that the agencies can respond to and incorporate comments into the Agreement.