supplemental environmental projects (seps)

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SUPPLEMENTAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECTS (SEPs). Natalie Bell Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Total Maximum Daily Load Program. What is a SEP?. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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BUILDING IMPLEMENTATION PLANS TO RESTORE WATER QUALITY

Natalie BellTexas Commission on Environmental Quality Total Maximum Daily Load ProgramSUPPLEMENTAL ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECTS (SEPs)

1What is a SEP?SEP A Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) is an environmental enhancement project that offsets an administrative or civil penalty in an enforcement matter.

Through a SEP, a respondent in an enforcement matter can choose to invest penalty dollars in a project that improves the environment, rather than paying into the Texas General Revenue Fund.

SEPs are environmentally beneficial projects that a respondent agrees to undertake in settlement of an enforcement action.

The respondent is not otherwise legally required to perform this action, unless the project is a Compliance SEP performed by a local government.

A respondent in an enforcement action may negotiate an agreement to perform a SEP in return for an offset of the administrative penalty. The proposal to include a particular SEP in an agreed order will be presented to the Commission or Executive Director for consideration and final approval. Potential SEPs include such diverse projects as cleanups of abandoned tire sites or illegal dump sites, community collections of household hazardous waste, and pollution prevention projects that exceed regulatory requirements. SEPs that have a direct benefit allow a respondent to offset one dollar of its penalty for every dollar spent on the SEP.

In certain circumstances, a local government respondent may be able to perform a SEP to correct the violations or to remediate environmental harm caused by the violations (Compliance SEP). For more information on Compliance SEPs, see the SEP Information section of the SEP website.

2Criteria for SEPsTo adequately meet the TCEQs standards, the project must

Be environmentally beneficial- directly beneficial projects preferred

Be done as a result of a Settlement- may not precede enforcement action

Go beyond what is required for Compliance- can not include legal compliance requirements

Three principal criteria that TCEQ uses to assess the validity of a SEP proposal.

Example of directly beneficial project = cleanup of illegal dump site, repairing/replacing septic systems. Indirectly beneficial projects not preferred = education and outreach

If federal, state or local law requires you to carry out the project being proposed, it cant qualify as a SEP. Nor can you use the SEP to fix the problems that are the basis of the enforcement action against you. Generally, a SEP cannot be located on-site at the actual site of the facility that committed the violation. 3Additional CriteriaSEPs should match the environmental media of the violation Wastewater violation = Water quality improvement project

Projects should benefit the community in which the violation occurred Community = Trinity River Basin

Media means air, water, waste.

I do have some inside information that the SEP attorneys are looking to bend these preferences a little more frequently- with regards to the matching media and location requirements.

Also, one of the reasons SEP projects are encouraged in this area is because preference will be given to any project benefitting impaired waterbodies, since they are considered an environmental priority. 4Pre-Approved SEPCustom SEPThird Party Operated: Performed by a 501(c)(3) non-profit or governmental organization

Respondent Operated

Respondent designs, proposes and implements a custom SEP

Must have a significant, enduring, and quantifiable benefit to the environmentTwo Basic Types of SEPsPre-Approved SEPs seem to be preferred because they are already designed and ready to be implemented. The individual proposal process also appears to be simpler and takes less time. It is easy for a respondent in an enforcement case to pick an existing project from this Pre-approved list to donate to. A third-party pre-approved SEP is one that has been reviewed and approved in advance by the TCEQ.

I have a handout showing the Water Quality related portion of the Pre-Approved SEP list. To save paper, I did not print out the air and waste projects that are also included on this list. You can also find this document on-line, and I will provide you with the URL at the end of this presentation. Ive also printed out the detailed project description for project #53- which is a project to provide assistance to low income homeowners for OSSF repair and maintenance.

Opting for a Custom SEP provides the respondent with the opportunity to create a unique project tailored to their capabilities and the communitys needs. You only have one year to complete a custom SEP.

5Examples of Third Party AdministratorsKeep Texas BeautifulBayou Land ConservancyLower Colorado River AuthorityCity of Fort WorthSoutheast Texas Regional Planning CommissionThe Trust for Public LandTexas State UniversityJefferson CountyUniversity of Texas at Arlington6 $$ What about the Money? $$ There are varied percentages of a penalty that can be offset through a SEP.

Offsets are based on:1. Types of business (for profit or not)2. Environmental benefit (direct, indirect, or mixed )7Penalty percentage OffsetNot-for-profit & Government OrganizationsFor-Profit BusinessesUp to 100%Up to 50%Up to 50%Up to 50%Up to 33%Up to 33%Indirect BenefitMixedBenefitDirect Benefit8Allowable Expenses Direct costs that are reasonable and necessary for the proper performance of the project, such as:

Monitoring equipmentPurchase of conservation easementsDisposal feesRestoration/Tree Planting

9Non-Allowable Expenses Administrative costs (salaries, buildings, rent)

Organizational operating costs

Gratuities or refreshments for volunteers

Legal defense costs

10SEP Performance RequirementsContract or Agreed Order with TCEQProject timeline of 1-3 yearsEstimated project budgetSeparate bank account to receive SEP fundsQuarterly Progress ReportsCompletion of SEP and Final Report

11FOR MORE INFORMATIONBecky CombsTCEQ SEP Attorney512-239-6939becky.combs@tceq.texas.gov

www.tceq.texas.gov/legal/sep

See the website for lots more information, details on the application process, and statewide lists of custom and pre-approved SEPs. 12

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