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Project Summary Information

Title: A Cross-Media Environmental Results Project for the Retail Gasoline Sales Sector
Project Location: State of Vermont
Project Period: July 1, 2004 - June 30, 2006
Recipient of Funds: State of Vermont, Department of Environmental Conservation
Project Contact:
Peter W. Marshall; State of Vermont, Department of Environmental Conservation; 103 S. Main Street/ West Office Building; Waterbury, VT 05671-0404; Phone: (802) 241-3868; Fax: (802) 241-3296; Email: peter.marshall@anr.state.vt.us

A significant portion of this proposed project is not focused on hazardous waste management and permitting under the Resource, Conservation and Recovery Act.

This proposed project would not be executed in cooperation with or funded by another federal or EPA program .

Regulatory flexibility from EPA would not be necessary to implement this project.

Budget summary

<Budgetary Information Withheld by U.S. EPA>

The Commissioner of VT DEC, has been briefed on this pre-proposal and endorses the project as envisioned.

Pre-Proposal Narrative

A Cross-Media Environmental Results Project for the Retail Gasoline Sales Sector

This project would use the Environmental Results Program (ERP) model to achieve a measurable improvement in compliance with sections of several federally-delegated regulatory programs at facilities within the retail gasoline sales sector as well as other facilities regulated by the Vermont Underground Storage Tank (UST) program. The project seeks to measure and improve compliance at the subject facilities with: the Underground Storage Tank program, RCRA generator requirements; Stage II (and possibly Stage I) air rules; and the floor drain aspects of the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program. In addition, this project could evaluate compliance with the non-delegable, federal, Spill Prevention Control & Countermeasures (SPCC) plan requirement. Enhanced outreach to the sector would focus on the use of sector-specific best management practices (BMPs) to achieve cross-media compliance and pollution prevention.

A Cross-Media ERP Defined by the Jurisdiction of the UST Program

The State of Vermont currently has approximately 1.5 full-time equivalents (FTEs) conducting inspections in its federally delegated UST Program to oversee compliance with the Vermont Underground Storage Tank Regulations (VUSTR). The regulated community consists of approximately 2,400 USTs at approximately 1,100 facilities. The Vermont UST program currently conducts approximately 100 inspections per year and does not anticipate having new resources in the foreseeable future to significantly increase the number of inspections. At the current rate of inspection, it would take the Vermont UST Program over 10 years to evaluate each facility once. Under the ERP model, an assessment of every facility's compliance status would be conducted and submitted to VT DEC on an annual basis.

The Vermont UST program is an established program seeking improved sector-wide compliance. The ERP model can achieve this goal through a combination of enhanced technical assistance, outreach, and a mandatory self-certification program. The Vermont RCRA program has found the retail gasoline sector to have unique, and altogether too common, compliance problems. In the last few years, the Vermont RCRA program has forwarded formal enforcement cases against retail gasoline sector facilities involving 18 locations. Several of these cases also involved violations of the Vermont Underground Storage Tank Regulations as well as Stage II air violations.

Program Criteria

This pre-proposal meets the first program criterion of focusing on priority environmental issues by targeting an industry sector that is present statewide with significant potential for environmental releases and emissions. The project is intended to improve compliance within the sector with requirements of four federally-delegated programs: UST, RCRA generator requirements, the Clean Air Act (CAA) Stage II requirements, and the Clean Water Act (CWA) UIC requirements.

This project would establish sector-specific, cross-media Best Management Practices (BMPs) as well as other compliance guidance materials. The purpose of the BMPs would be to encourage facilities to go "beyond compliance" to reduce waste, pollution, and emissions. This project would encourage the regulated community to achieve reduced compliance costs by addressing all compliance and environmental issues at once through cross-media BMPs (that lead to compliance) rather than narrowly focusing on whatever problem was identified during the last regulatory inspection.

This pre-proposal meets the second program criterion of being likely to improve environmental results by the intended outcomes of: reducing the threat of releases of hazardous wastes and materials to groundwater (a significant source of drinking water in Vermont) and soils through enhanced compliance with UST, RCRA, UIC, and sector-specific BMPs; reducing air emissions through enhanced Stage II vapor recovery compliance; and reducing hazardous waste generation through the use of the BMPs.

The ERP model will allow for the measurement of annual compliance progress for the entire sector, with several environmental laws . This proposed ERP model consists of an initial round of inspections of a statistically valid number of facilities, sector-based multimedia outreach and education, a mandatory multi-media self-certification on a sector-specific form, a processing fee, and data analysis that would result in statistically valid compliance reports to document project performance. Current environmental programs tend to measure outputs rather than outcomes, whereas this approach would measure environmental results on a holistic cross-media basis.

This project will build on "lessons learned" from the last decade of searching for ways to measure "prevention" efforts by using a mechanism (ERP) that specifically measures results. The project is likely to produce quantifiable reductions in hazardous waste generation as well as quantifiable improvements in compliance with all four prevention programs.

The ERP model will serve as a framework for coordinating the reporting that the various DEC regulatory programs require of these facilities. This coordination will enhance the DEC's ability to view compliance across programs and will reduce the paperwork burden for both the sector facilities and the DEC. The various reporting requirements for this sector are currently program-driven and not coordinated. This project would minimize reporting burdens by consolidating as many reporting requirements as possible (others not currently identified can be added to the project at any time) while also reinforcing, both internally and externally, the notion that facility compliance crosses media and programmatic boundaries. It is anticipated that this coordination, and the automation of the certification report processing, will result in cost savings that will benefit the regulated community and the VT DEC.

This pre-proposal meets the third program criterion of establishing goals for the innovation, and indicators to measure progress toward those goals, by using the ERP model for the project's structure. The project is designed to demonstrate accountability for environmental results within the sector by measuring progress towards the key project indicators from the various project programs on an annual basis. The information concerning project design, tracking, measurement, and reporting of results will all be maintained on a web page devoted to this project. Results from the project would be generated annually after the first implementation year. Specific goals for the project would include both environmental result goals as well as compliance goals. The environmental result goals would be derived from the key indicators of the project and would likely include measures of: UST releases, air emissions, and hazardous waste generation (sumps, spill buckets, and releases). The compliance goals for the project are:

In the long-term, it is expected that this approach will yield: annual multi-media compliance measures across all facilities in the sector (compared to less than 10% currently); improved sector-wide compliance; reduced emissions and releases; reduced costs of compliance and program administration; and improved communication between the regulated community and the VT DEC concerning compliance (regulatory improvements, self-reporting).

This pre-proposal meets the fourth program criterion of transferring innovation by being designed to accommodate: additional regulatory requirements within this sector program; the use of the project model for other industry sectors and regulatory programs within Vermont; and the use of the project model by other states. The project would be fully documented, modular in design, and tracked on the project's web site. It is anticipated that this project will serve as a model for other sectors where there is overlap between regulatory programs, or pollution prevention opportunities, to communicate with one voice to regulated community in order to promote multi-media compliance. This proposal is designed to coordinate programs where they overlap naturally rather than force a multi-media model in a situation where it does not belong. This approach may likely be widely used in the future as a successful alternative to the cumbersome multi-media programs of the past.

Areas of Innovation

This project proposes several areas of innovation: economy, modularity, assistance, and the communications of compliance results.

First, due to a limited budget and limited grant availability, this project would demonstrate how to implement an "ERP on a shoestring." Because the ERP concept is now sufficiently established, the VT DEC can show through this proposal that a successful ERP can be maintained on a very limited budget. (The bulk of the grant money will go toward the development and initial implementation of the ERP). The second element of economy is the cost savings which will result from the coordination of reporting requirements of a number of currently uncoordinated reporting requirements from various programs, many driven by federal law. Both the regulated community and the VT DEC will benefit from these cost savings.

The second area of innovation involves modularity. This proposal would establish the ERP in a "modular" format that would allow for: (1) straightforward future expansion to cover new regulatory requirements or additional regulatory programs, and (2) easy transferability to new sectors and programs. It would be designed at the outset to serve as a model for two other areas which the VT DEC believes lend themselves to the ERP approach: the auto salvage sector and the Stormwater Program's multi-sector general permit. The project would be designed to be transferable to other states. A Vermont web page would track the project and serve as a repository for the project design and reports.

The third area of innovation involves the broad use of technical and compliance assistance to enhance compliance while, at the same time, minimizing the potential for the cross-media transfer of pollutants. It appears likely that a bill now before Congress will soon require states to increase assistance efforts to the UST regulated community.

The fourth area of innovation involves the ability of the ERP model to generate data that measures program performance. This is accomplished by comparing compliance rates from the initial inspections of a statistically valid number of facilities to the compliance rates found through random inspections after the information & education and self-certification phase of the project. As the public and policy makers increasingly demand results from governmental efforts, it is not enough to simply say that we are doing well in meeting our output goals, we need to be able to demonstrate the specific progress being made in meeting the desired outcome of enhanced environmental protection.

Project Schedule and Timetable

The project would begin immediately after a grant award with the selection of contractor to assist with the development of the project, internal VT DEC meetings among participating programs to determine the scope of the project, and the hiring of a project administrator. The Vermont UST Regulations would be amended to require the self-certifications. Legislation would also be drafted to set fees that would allow the project to be self-sufficient after the grant period. Broad enabling legislation for ERP-type projects that cross current programmatic boundaries would also be proposed. It is estimated that this initial work would be completed within four months.

The second phase of the project would be to work with the selected contractor to develop an implementation plan covering the development of: the self-certification form, outreach materials, statistical requirements for baseline and follow-up inspections, a data management system, and the creation of a tracking system for project performance. Baseline inspections would be conducted during this phase of the project. It is estimated this phase would be completed in 6-8 months.

The third phase of the project would include the outreach efforts and the self-certification. An information and education effort to notify the regulated sector of the initiative would be conducted early in this phase. This would consist of distributing information by mail and email, maintaining a web page devoted to the effort, and conducting a series of workshops around the state. The next activity would be the dissemination of the mandatory self-certification (with a deadline for response) along with a guide to its completion. A fee would be required with this submission.

The fourth phase of the project would involve the analysis of the data, enforcement efforts (for failure to submit the form and/or instances of significant non-compliance), and the development of a report documenting results of the initial round of work. Due to the nature of the statistical model utilized for ERP, it would likely take another year before compliance performance could be reported.

Pre-Proposal Budget Summary

A Cross-Media Environmental Results Project for the Retail Gasoline Sales Sector

Contact Information:
Applicant: State of Vermont
Department of Environmental Conservation
Project Title: A Cross-Media Environmental Results Project for the Retail Gasoline Sales Sector

<Budgetary Information Withheld by U.S. EPA>

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