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Doing Good: Enforcement’s Brighter Side


By Jill M. Speegle

More items for Good Technical Practice

When companies run afoul of environmental laws, they typically pay a fine, clean up the mess, and move on. But sometimes, they do more.

 Supplemental Environmental Projects are designed to produce environmental or public health and safety benefits beyond those required by law.
Supplemental Environmental Projects are designed to produce environmental,  health and safety benefits beyond those required by law.

When settling lead-paint, hazardous-waste and other violations with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), many companies perform supplemental projects as part of the agreement.

That’s why you’ll sometimes see, in reports by D+D News, that companies are performing a restoration or lead-abatement project to help offset penalties they face.

For example, a recent story (“College Pro Gets ‘F’ in Lead Case”) reported that a national house-painting company would spend $65,000 on a lead-abatement project at a children’s school in Cambridge, MA, in addition to paying a fine of $7,200.

The company failed to provide homeowners with lead-hazard information before starting 41 projects in the Northeast, according to EPA.

What is a SEP?

These so-called Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) are initiatives that produce environmental or public health and safety benefits beyond those required by law, EPA says.

“Generally, respondents/defendants in enforcement actions propose Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) that they would like to perform as part of settlements,” said Andrea Simpson, senior enforcement counsel, EPA.

Simpson said each project proposal is then evaluated based on the factors set forth in EPA’s SEP Policy. Those factors include the proposed project’s nexus to the violations that were at issue in the case and the project’s environmental or public health benefit.

Library of Possible Projects

EPA’s Region 1 maintains a library for SEP proposals that might be appropriate for implementation in the settlement of a case.

The bank “includes projects which have been proposed by members of the public—usually environmental organizations,” Simpson said.

However, anyone can submit a project for inclusion in the library.


Jill M. Speegle

Jill Speegle is the Editor of Durability + Design News. She earned her B.A. in journalism and English as well as her J.D. from the University of Arkansas. In Sketches, Jill shares her thoughts on a number of topics that may be of interest to the D+D community, including architecture, interior design, green building, historic restoration, and whatever else catches her radar.



Tagged categories: Enforcement; EPA; Laws and litigation; Lead; Lead; Lead paint abatement

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