4 The record articles

Getting Your CMS House in Order

Posted: May 4th, 2017

Authors: Eric S. 

This article is available as a podcast episode on ALL4’s Air Quality Insider

We are all wondering how the proposed cutbacks at U.S. EPA could influence the day-to-day compliance obligations at facilities using continuous monitoring systems (CMS).  The organizations that may be affected the most by the anticipated U.S. EPA cutbacks are the state environmental agencies.  Not only will state environmental agencies continue to be challenged with processing new permit applications and renewing existing permits, they will also continue to carry the burden of enforcing the day-to-day compliance obligations at facilities.  In most cases, the state environmental agencies were already delegated authority by U.S. EPA to implement and enforce Federal regulations.  The biggest change could be, not in this obligation, but the increased scrutiny that state regulators are likely to receive from non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  We anticipate this increased scrutiny from NGOs to occur as a result of a perceived regulatory vacuum because of possible cutbacks at U.S. EPA. With the change in administration, NGOs are empowered and have been more successful than ever in raising money.  NGOs will most likely have their plates full with challenging the proposed rollback of regulations, while allocating their remaining time to keep an eye on day-to-day facility compliance obligations.

Why could NGOs focus on CMS data used for compliance purposes?

CMS data developed and reported by facilities typically represent “low hanging fruit” with regard to compliance and “deviations”.

  1. CMS data (including excess emissions and CMS downtime) are routinely reported to state environmental agencies.
  2. CMS data is available electronically on U.S. EPA’s Webfire report search retrieval website.
  3. The process for challenging CMS data is reproducible from facility-to-facility and state-to-state making it easy for NGOs to efficiently target and challenge CMS data.

The state environmental agencies will most likely feel the initial pain, being challenged on areas of enforcement (or lack thereof) for excess emissions or excessive CMS downtime.  This scrutiny on compliance demonstrations using CMS data will be passed from the state environmental agencies to facilities in an attempt to avoid involvement from NGOs.  State environmental agencies may also look to become more proficient in evaluating CMS data, possibly embracing U.S. EPA’s “NextGen” compliance initiative to allow for the electronic submittal of data and the ability to make that data directly reviewable by the public.

ALL4 is has observed that most facilities are choosing to “wait and see”  what happens next with the proposed cutbacks at U.S. EPA.  Why wait?  Your best action now is to “get your CMS house in order.”  Multiple regulations came into play over the last several years that required new monitoring systems.  Are you subject to these regulations?  If so, how are the new monitoring systems performing?  Has anyone ever independently reviewed the operation and quality assurance of the new monitoring systems?  What about your existing CMS?  Now is a great opportunity to “get your CMS house in order” and formulate an action plan to assess and understand how you are using CMS data for compliance purposes.  For more information on formulating your CMS action plan including evaluating your existing equipment, data management systems, and even identifying areas for CMS training, please visit our CMS webpage.  Also, please feel free to contact me at 610-422-1117 or eswisher@all4inc.com for assistance in formulating your plan to “get your CMS house in order”.


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