Breaking Down The Barriers p. 24

By: MARK FITZGERALD THIS IS NOT your father's EPA, the environmental agency's Southwestern deputy for compliance told the Newspaper Purchasing Management Association's recent annual convention in Houston.
"I'm sure there are few among you who haven't felt the daunting process of federal or state regulation ? and probably both. But now after getting the regulations out, we are looking to a next generation Environmental Protection Agency," said Barbara Greenfield, EPA's Region 6 deputy director of compliance assurance and enforcement division.
This "next generation" EPA is under orders to follow a handful of principles that will be good news for newspapers.
"First among the principles that we are directed to follow by EPA administrator Carol Browner is common sense," Greenfield said. "Now that may see perfectly obvious. But for EPA regulators, common sense is not always the first thing that comes to mind."
Another big shift in EPA thinking: "We realize regulating people is not the ultimate goal of environmental protection. We would rather guide business and industry in ways to prevent pollution."
EPA has adopted "an ethic of avoiding regulation," Greenfield said, and whenever strictures become necessary, the goal is to adopt "minimum regulation. We have learned the lesson that one-size-fits-all regulations simply don't work," she said.
EPA, Greenfield said, is waking up to the fact that big industries ? including the printing and publishing industry ? are substantially in compliance with environmental goals while there remains substantial noncompliance among smaller industries.
To encourage compliance among these smaller players without further burdening clean industries, EPA is encouraging self-regulation and voluntary compliance measures, Greenfield said.
"We are no longer in the business of playing 'gotcha' with the regulated community," Greenfield said. That means, she added, that businesses won't get socked with heavy penalties when they alert the agency to their own noncompliance, as has happened so often in the past. Neither, however, will noncompliers be allowed to gain competitive advantage by flouting environmental regulations, she said.
"We will use formal enforcement to maintain a level playing field between industries that are complying and those that are not," Greenfield said.
To encourage self-regulation, EPA has established so-called "common sense initiative" task forces in various industries, including printing. The Washington Post is the newspaper industry's representative on the printing industry task force.
These meetings ? which are aimed at crafting reports on industry regulatory reform within the next year ? are open to the public. The schedule for the printing industry meetings can be obtained from the Philadelphia EPA office.
EPA is also encouraging newspapers to devise self-regulation experiments like the one underway at John Roberts Co., a medium-sized lithographic printing company in Minnesota. This company is conducting a three-year experiment that uses "mentoring" techniques to increase compliance among small printers. In exchange, the company will be under looser regulation during the project, Greenfield said.
"As long as they demonstrate they will ultimately [reach] . . . some beneficial outcome, EPA is open to the concept of relaxing compliance," Greenfield said. "We will not inspect you. We will not enforce against you while your project is going on."
Across the board, EPA is tearing down regulatory barriers, Greenfield said. Last year alone, she said, the agency eliminated 13,000 reporting requirements.
That can't happen fast enough for newspapers, however. One example: John Hilton, the Rocky Mountain News' director of general services, told Greenfield that one regulation alone ? the so-called Section 313 requirement to determine whether a plan is exceeding the 10,000-pound threshold for toxic emissions ? takes the Denver paper 120 to 140 man-hours to calculate.


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