Has there been a real improvement in the environmental behavior of industry in Ireland since the EPA was formed? Has taxpayers’ money been wasted? by Cian Brennan, Stephen Corrigan and Melissa Morrissey
Before EPA Creation • Local Authorities were in charge • Too many of them • Inconsistencies across regions • Lacked funding • Couldn’t keep up with the flood of policies • Serious conflict of interest • Major polluters themselves
Causes for EPA Creation • Industrialisation of Ireland 1970s and on. • Oil spillages • Increases in fish kills • Dublin smog • Loss of Confidence in local authorities • Political blame shifting • Generally, environmental crises and disaster.
EPA Responsibilities • Environmental licensing • Enforcement of Environmental law • Environmental planning and guidance • Monitoring and reporting on the environmental status (air, water, waste, noise, land and soil) • Environmental research
EPA Funding • Dept of the Environment. • Local government • Levy charges • Monitoring charges • Licensing fees.
EPA Main Functions • Monitor and analysis the environment • National environmental protection • Licence and control large scale activities. • Independent reporting of trends in waste generation, management and infrastructure. • Regulate Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions • Provide guidance to the public and industry on environmental concerns • Promoting waste prevention
EPA Licensing • Integration Pollution Prevention Control (IPPC) licences • Waste licenses • Emission Trading • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
IPPC Licensing • IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention Control) licensing July 2004 • Replaced IPC (Integrated Pollution Control) licence • The main aims of this licence are to prevent or reduce emissions to the air, water and land, also to reduce waste and use energy efficiently • Implementing the polluter pays principle • The Protection of the Environment Act 2003, provides significant amendments
Improvements • More strict and provides a more strengthened framework for environmental protection. • The applicant required to satisfy more criteria than was the case with the IPC. • The list of licensable activities is extended. • The EPA has extended powers allowing it to operate more efficiently. • Once the industry is up and running, it is subject to continual monitoring. The permit conditions may also be updated.
Licensable Chemical Industries • organic and inorganic chemicals • glues, bonding agents and adhesives • artificial fertilizers • organic or organometallic products • pharmaceuticals • Pesticides • paints, varnishes, dyes and pigments where production exceeds 1000L per week • veterinary products • manufacture of vitamins involving the use of heavy metals • olefins and their derivatives
EPA Problems • Past few years, the EPA issued a significant amount of licenses for industrial waste management. • Created an increase in the amount of monitoring and enforcement activities required. • Lack of sufficient resources at present to meet the demands required above led to a decline in the policing of these licenses.
Independence? • In the initial stages of the setting up of the EPA it was made clear that politics and administration needed to be separated i.e. that the agency should be freed from the taint of politics • This would allow it to deal with problems in an unbiased manner
Benefits of An Independent Agency • Allows shifting of responsibility: • When difficult decisions need to be made, politicians can delegate the problem to the independent agency. • Allows for Credible Commitment • An independent agency can commit to a certain policy making course. This would not be true of a governmental agency. • Expertise • The agency has high levels of expertise which makes their decisions and policy making commitments highly credible.
Is the EPA truly independent of Government?‘consumers & environmental lobbies’ VS. ‘commercial and agricultural lobbies’ • Irelands environment is under increasing pressure economic development • It could be argued that economic costs in this country are weighed more heavily than environmental costs. • There is in effect a ‘conflict’ of interests between economics and environment.
Is taxpayers’ money being wasted? • The EPA has a number of sources of income: • Oireachtas Grants • Lab Intercalibration, Advisory and other services • Income from regional laboratories • Licensing Activities (IPPC + Waste facilities) • Sundry Receipts • The Oireachtas grants and Licensing Fees are the two major income sources and in recent years have each made up ~50% of the EPA’s income. • Total income over the last number of years has been ~ €30 million on average annually.
It could therefore be argued that taxpayers’ money only constitutes 50% of the EPA budget. • Do we as taxpayers’ have control over how this money is spent? • As discussed previously, although it is an independent agency, the EPA is influenced by government. • A continuous chain from citizens to policies exists i.e. we elect politicians who create policies that we like. • Policy is therefore ultimately accountable to citizens!
Is money being wasted? • The EPA is committed to providing “value for money”* • The wide range of activities of the EPA have been outlined earlier • This report is interested only in the dealings of the EPA with industry • This is best quantified by viewing IPPC activity of the EPA i.e. • Granting of licenses • License enforcement *taken from list of ‘values’ published in 2004 Annual Report & Accounts
License Enforcement • This includes: • Inspections • Audits • Monitoring Visits • Statutory notices issued • Notifications of non-compliance issued • Prosecutions instigated
CONCLUSIONS • All of these graphs serve as an illustration that the EPA is having an effect on industry • The question still remains though: “is taxpayers’ money being wasted?” • In our opinion the EPA are giving good ‘value for money’ with the limited resources at their disposal
Public Views • Mary Harney “ With such a wide range of functions and powers, it is essential that the agency… possess a strong and independent management.” • Fine Gael Councillor Tim Lombard says “public confidence in EPA and chemical industries in Cork harbour is at an all time low.” • Chemical Industrial Expert Peter North “The EPA has neither the expertise nor the resources to fully monitor and enforce environmental regulations within the industry”
References • www.epa.ie • C.R. Shipan, Independence and the Irish Environmental Protection Agency:a comparative assessment, a working paper, The Policy Institute, Trinity College Dublin. • www.eea. • www.chaseireland.org • www.irishexaminar.ie