Jim Morriss Quoted in Inside EPA on SelfAudit Delay

“EPA Delays With SelfAudit Oversight Prompt Push To Boost States’ Role”

Some industry attorneys are calling for EPA to allow states to take a leading role in reviewing facilities’ selfreported violations of environmental laws rather than employing the agency’s own selfaudit policy, saying the federal program is outdated and has limited resources that have led to delays responding to submissions.

In a recent interview with Inside EPA, attorney James C. Morriss III said industry is seeing increasing delays in EPA’s responses to selfaudits of environmental violations under the policy that credits facilities for notifying regulators of such incidents, including through reduced civil and criminal penalties.

“For industry, a big priority with submitting an audit report is how soon you will get a response. When EPA says it’s going to take a long time and there’s no deadline they can commit to, a primary reason for doing an audit certainty or closure is gone,” he says.

However, Morriss and other attorneys are arguing that it is unrealistic to expect EPA to overhaul and devote more staff to the audit program, especially at a time of dwindling agency enforcement resources. Expanding the program “is very unlikely in the current fiscal and political climate,” he said.