Quick Tour of Environmental Regulations

This simple page was originally written for students in my course GE440: Hazardous Waste Management. These resources may be of use to other students. The course is recommended for environmental-track majors in geography and other disciplines. It is organized according to the major federal environmental regulatory programs in the United States. Contact me for details at jhayesboh@bridgew.edu.


We will get to information about Toxic Release Inventory and other CAA data through EPA's Surf Your Watershed. We will navigate as follows:
1) Go to http://www.epa.gov/surf
2) Find the Naragansett Watershed by inputting a ZIP Code (02324)
3) Go to the Air / AIRS information
4) Choose Antonelli Plating Company in Providence - and examine the AIRS and RCRIS data
5) Look at a dry cleaner for comparison
Note that for any kind of information provided, a link to an explanation of that source is also provided. For example, we will click on "AIRS" in step 3 before looking at a specific facility, to see what kinds of data are available, how they are collected, and under what authority.


We will find EPA documents for a few Super fund sites. To begin, we will go directly to the EPA's Envirofacts database. Note that the Surf database in many cases (such as above) points to data contained in the Envirofacts database. We will navigate as follows:
1) Go to http://www.epa.gov/enviro
2) In the "Generate Reports" area, choose "Super fund Data."
3) Use the Geography Search feature to find a site of interest. Let's choose Woburn, Mass. (Do not check the "NPL Sites Only"
4) Notice that we find 17 sites, but only 2 are NPL. In loose usage, these are sometimes called "CERCLIS" vs. "CERCLA" sites. The former have been investigated and therefore remain in the CERCLIS database regardless of their status; the latter have made the NPL, and are eligible for Super fund action. Having a "CERCLIS" site is not necessarily a big deal.
5) Click on the EPA ID number for Wells G&H to get a summary page for the site. Then click on both the ROD and the Super fund Fact Sheets.


It is possible to obtain maps of EPA listed facilities, including air, RCRA, CERCLIS, and more. We will navigate as follows:

1) Go to http://www.epa.gov/enviro
2) In the "Maps on Demand" area, choose "Zipinfo."
3) Enter a ZIP code for which we would like to obtain a map.
4) Select parameters for mapping. In a work situation, you could save yourself a tremendous amount of money by carefully choosing these parameters. You can even save as ArcInfo!!!!
5) Submit required information, and check for results.

The processing takes anywhere from several minutes to several hours, but before this system was implemented similar maps could takes weeks and cost thousands of dollars to assemble!


Most environmental regulations are in CFR Title 40. We will navigate to http://www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/index.html, where we will look for Title 40. We will then navigate to Volume 2 -- corresponding to paper volume number 2 of these regulations, which happens to include Parts 50 & 51. Notice what each of these parts is for. Let's explore them some.

Then let's look at equivalents for Massachusetts:
Massachusetts : http://www.mass.gov/dep/service/matrix.htm
In some cases, state regulations read and are structured exactly like the federal regulations.


EPA (and other agencies) are required to publish Final Rules and Regulations, Sunshine Act Meetings, and Proposed Rules in the daily Federal Register. This is now searchable. Let's look for recent Proposed Rules for a specific industry. We will begin at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/


It is possible - and even likely - that a person (business) could be aware of a set of regulations but unfamiliar with the techniques required to meet that regulation. For example, specific laboratory techniques might be needed to verify compliance with a discharge limit. For this reason, EPA publishes a wide variety of guidance documents. They do not have the force of law or regulations, but they provide more detailed explanations of how to comply with the regulations. An example is at: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/policy/release/faciliti.htm


Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell: http://www.turi.org/.

Any questions? Contact me at jhayesboh@bridgew.edu.
James Hayes-Bohanan, Ph.D.
Bridgewater State College
Revised: April 21, 2009