Local environmental regulatory agencies are charged with accomplishing a very broad and challenging mission of "protecting public health and the environment" within a context of ever increasing environmental regulatory scope and complexity, increased staff technical qualification requirements, and funding constraints.
As the local environmental regulatory agencies strive to effectively accomplish this broad mission, they must continually establish and evaluate priorities, implement comprehensive program elements and varied compliance strategies described in this model, seek continual program improvements through innovation, and ensure that all entities subject to regulation are identified and in compliance with program standards.
Management flexibility to continually improve their programs and to allocate and adjust staff resources to address the highest environmental and public safety priorities is essential. However, managers are increasingly experiencing conflicts between their ability to address these priorities and the requirement to meet statutorily mandated "one size fits all" inspection frequencies.
Under current inspection frequency mandates, all regulated entities are subject to the same routine inspection frequency regardless of their prior compliance history, the volume and type of materials or processes subject to regulation, the use or absence of "state of the art" technology, system or facility design and maintenance, proximity to sensitive receptors and similar priority or qualitative "risk based" considerations. Neither do they consider other compliance strategies with proven value. A plating shop with numerous chemicals of concern and perhaps a poor compliance history is inspected at the same frequency as a clean auto repair shop. A brand new gas station with all the latest technology is inspected annually, while a refinery is inspected every three years. At the same time, Environmental Justice initiatives, environmental or other emergencies (including fires), and other local or State priorities must be balanced against the "routine" inspection frequency mandated either by statute or in the Inspection and Enforcement Plan of the UPA.
The Unified Program Regulatory Performance Model (UP-RPM) describes the elements of a comprehensive regulatory program and criteria for priority considerations that would form the framework for establishing a CUPA/Cal/EPA pilot program to test and measure innovative and potentially more effective "Alternative Compliance Strategies". This concept was first examined in the early 2000's and was not able to gain support legislatively. It is now time to examine this "risk based" alternative compliance program that will allow local managers to allocate staff resources in a way that allows flexibility from rigid inspection frequency mandates. Kickoff and planning meetings have occurred and will continue in 2017 with more to come!