The EPA Audit Policy, "Incentives for Self-Policing: Discovery, Disclosure, Correction and Prevention of Violations," has been in effect since 1995. It reflects input from industry, trade associations, state environmental programs, and public interest groups. The Audit Policy is designed to provide incentives for regulated entities to come into compliance with the federal environmental Laws & Regulations. These incentives are for regulated entities that voluntarily discover, promptly disclose and expeditiously correct noncompliance, making formal EPA investigations and enforcement actions unnecessary.
In addition, EPA has developed a series of Environmental Auditing Protocols to assist the regulated community in developing self-audit programs at individual facilities for evaluating their compliance with the environmental requirements under the federal Laws & Regulations. The protocols are intended solely as guidance in this effort. The regulated community's legal obligations are determined by the terms of applicable environmental facility-specific permits and underlying statutes, as well as the applicable state and local laws.
EPA's Audit Policy: Tailored Incentives for New Owners -- On August 1, 2008, EPA published in the Federal Register (FR) its “Interim Approach to Applying the Audit Policy to New Owners (“Interim Approach),” which describes Audit Policy incentives tailored for new owners that want to make a “clean start” at their recently acquired facilities by addressing environmental noncompliance that began prior to acquisition.
The Interim Approach, which was effective upon publication of the FR, is designed to motivate new owners to audit their facilities and to encourage self-disclosures of violations that will, once corrected, yield significant pollutant reductions and benefits to the environment. EPA is concurrently seeking public comment on the Interim Approach for a period of 90 days.
eDisclosure -- EPA's Electronic Audit Policy Self-Disclosure System -- EPA is piloting a web-based system to allow companies to electronically self-disclose violations under EPA’s Audit Policy. eDisclosure makes it easier and faster to self-report environmental violations. It also speeds up EPA’s processing of self-disclosures by ensuring that each disclosure contains complete information. Facilities nationwide can use eDisclosure to disclose violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, and facilities located in EPA Region 6 states -- Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas -- can also use eDisclosure to disclose violations of other environmental laws. Once EPA has gained experience with electronic self-disclosures, EPA will refine the system, as necessary, and decide whether to expand, on a nationwide basis, the eDisclosure system to allow regulated entities to electronically self-disclose violations of other federally enforceable environmental requirements for possible incentives under the Audit Policy. For more on Electronic Self-Disclosure.