The Federal Shutdown: How Are Solid Waste Professionals Impacted?

The federal government shutdown has many people asking, “What does this mean for me?” The shutdown has a wide range of effects on issues and efforts affecting SWANA members. The most obvious and direct effect on SWANA members will be felt in the suspension of EPA efforts.

Nationally, about 94% of EPA staff is required to stop all work, including checking email or returning telephone calls.

“It was illegal for most of us to work during the shutdown, even on a voluntary basis” said Executive Director and CEO Dr. John Skinner, who worked for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) when the federal government was last shutdown in 1996. The EPA’s Contingency Plan for Shutdown, released on September 27, 2013, verifies this statement.

The Contingency Plan indicates that the EPA staff allowed to continue work will be only those assigned to projects where their absence would cause an imminent threat to human health; those assigned to EPA labs, and those needed for emergency and disaster assistance.

Staff assigned to ongoing development of greenhouse gas rules and the small business review panel for the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and Emission Guidelines (EG) are not working; and the status of an October 7 meeting between EPA and small business representatives remains undetermined.

However, the Contingency Plan noted that EPA grant recipients could continue to work on their grant-funded efforts until “they reach a point at which they require EPA involvement or approval”.

If the shutdown continues for any length of time, expect delays in:

  • A response, if any, to the joint letter on an exemption for biogenic CO2 emissions submitted in September by SWANA and NSWMA;
  • Processing of federal permits;
  • The development of renewable fuel standards for 2014; and
  • The comment period on new emissions standards for power plants.
  • Even with the uncertainty of how long the shutdown may last, John Skinner wants you to remember, “SWANA is open for business.”

    For updates on the EPA’s on-going operational status visit:

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    About SWANA

    The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is an organization of more than 10,000 public and private sector professionals committed to advancing from solid waste management to resource management through their shared emphasis on education, advocacy and research. For more than 60 years, SWANA has been the leading association in the solid waste management field. SWANA serves industry professionals through technical conferences, certifications, publications and a large offering of technical training courses.

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