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EPA Releases 2020 Year in Review Highlighting Agency Accomplishments and Environmental Progress

Vipin Saini
Vipin Saini
EPA Year Inreview
EPA Year Inreview

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the 2020 Year in Review outlining major accomplishments and environmental progress over the past fiscal year (FY), calendar year, and four years.

“This report shows a year of accomplishments that, in terms of both policy and regulatory actions, rivals any year in the agency’s history; an extraordinary statement that I am happy to stand behind,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “From the first ever emissions standards for aircraft, to drafting the nation’s newest recycling goal and finalizing the first overhaul of the Lead and Copper Rule in 30 years, this list of achievements will stand the test of time.”

2020 EPA accomplishments include:

Finalizing the first greenhouse gas emissions standards for aircraft.

Reviewing and retaining, without changes, the 2015 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) set by the Obama-Biden Administration, which marks only the second time in Clean Air Act history that the agency has completed a NAAQS review within the congressionally mandated five-year timeframe.

Finalizing the first major overhaul to the Lead and Copper Rule for the first time in nearly 30 years to ensure the safety of drinking water for children and young adults.

Deleting all or part of 27 sites from the National Priorities List (NPL) for the second consecutive year, which was the largest number of deletions in a single year since FY 2001.

Establishing the Office of Mountains, Deserts and Plains to assume oversight responsibilities for federal hardrock mining cleanup sites west of the Mississippi River; serve as a central contact for other federal agencies, states and tribes with responsibility for or impacted by these sites; and develop innovative technologies and adaptive management approaches to address legacy pollution.

Unveiling America’s newest National Recycling Goal to increase the national recycling rate to 50 percent—up from roughly 32 percent—by 2030.

Releasing the U.S. Federal Strategy for Addressing the Global Issue of Marine Litter, which outlines the comprehensive approach the administration is leading domestically and internationally to preventing trash, litter, and garbage—including plastics—from entering marine and freshwater environments.

In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the pesticides program developed List N: Surface Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2. This is a list of more than 500 products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

EPA’s accomplishments over the last four years include:

To-date, EPA finalized 78 deregulatory actions, saving an estimated $99 billion. The agency also exceeded the deregulatory goal of the two-for-one Executive Order (EO) by finalizing more than 5 deregulatory actions for every regulatory action under the EO.

Since 2017, combined air pollution emissions have fallen more than 7 percent, even as the economy continued to grow.

EPA has redesignated more than 58 non-attainment areas around the country to attainment. These redesignations help communities economically and represent improved health outcomes for several million citizens living within these areas.

EPA has approved over 1200 State Implementation Plans (SIPs), both new and backlogged and converted 30 Federal Implementation Plans into SIPs.

In just three years, EPA has closed 41 WIFIA loans that are providing $7.8 billion in credit assistance to help finance $16.8 billion for water infrastructure while creating more than 38,800 jobs and saving ratepayers $3.7 billion.

Since January 2017, EPA has approved more than 7,000 Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) plans to restore polluted waters.

Under this administration, EPA has delivered approximately $295 million in Brownfields grants directly to communities and non-profits in need.

Over the last four fiscal years, EPA has fully or partially delisted 82 sites from the National Priorities List – matching the site total over two terms of the Obama-Biden Administration.

EPA has also reinvigorated the federal government’s role in promoting recycling. The agency established the annual America Recycles Day Summit in November in 2018 and organizing the America Recycles Pledge, which more than 250 organizations have signed promising to work together to improve the American recycling system.

Administrator Wheler issued a directive in 2019 calling for the agency to eliminate mammal testing and funding by 2035.

EPA developed and implemented the PFAS Action Plan—the first multi-media, multi-program, national research, management, and risk communication plan to address a challenge like PFAS.

Over the last four years, EPA’s enforcement and compliance actions resulted in over $5.7 billion in combined civil penalties, criminal fines, and restitution collected, and the investment of $32.2 billion in actions and equipment that achieve compliance.

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