Authorizing States to Implement RCRA

Congress intended states to assume responsibility for implementing RCRA, with oversight from the federal government. In order for a state to receive authorization to implement and enforce the hazardous waste regulations in lieu of federal U.S. EPA, the state must demonstrate that its program

1. Is equivalent to, no less stringent than, and consistent with the federal program (state requirements may be more stringent or broader in scope).

2. Provides adequate enforcement authority.

3. Provides for public availability of information in substantially the same manner and to the same degree as the federal program.

Any state that seeks final authorization for its hazardous waste program must submit an application to the U.S. EPA Administrator containing the following elements2:

1. A letter from the governor requesting program authorization.

2. A complete program description.

3. An attorney general's statement.

4. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).

5. Copies of all applicable state statutes and regulations.

6. Documentation of public participation activities.

Once a state's program has been authorized, it must revise its program, on an annual basis, to reflect both changes in the federal program, and state statutory or regulatory changes. State programs are also subject to review by U.S. EPA, and a state's authorized status can be withdrawn if the program does not comply with appropriate regulatory requirements. Without officially withdrawing authorization, U.S. EPA may take independent enforcement action by over-filing, or enforcing a provision for which a particular state has authorization. States may also choose to transfer program responsibility back to U.S. EPA.

U.S. EPA works closely with states in implementing the hazardous waste management program by offering grants to states, setting national goals and priorities, and providing program oversight. U.S. EPA Headquarters, U.S. EPA Regions, and states collect, compile, and track information on the RCRA hazardous waste program through RCRAInfo.

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