SEPs: General Information
Information on the following topics: What is a SEP? What is the commission's approach to SEPs? Why should I consider a SEP? What is the process for getting a SEP approved?
- What is a Supplemental Environmental Project?
- What is the commission’s approach to SEPs?
- Why should I consider a SEP?
- I am a respondent in an enforcement action. What is the process for getting my SEP approved?
- Where are all necessary SEP Forms?
Certain documents linked from this page are in Portable Document Format (PDF) or Microsoft Word format.
What is a Supplemental Environmental Project?
A Supplemental Environmental Project (“SEP”) is a project that prevents pollution, reduces the amount of pollution reaching the environment, enhances the quality of the environment, or contributes to public awareness of environmental matters. A respondent in an enforcement action may negotiate an agreement to perform a SEP in return for an offset of the administrative penalty. The proposal to include a particular SEP in an agreed order will be presented to the Commission or Executive Director for consideration and final approval. Potential SEPs include such diverse projects as cleanups of abandoned tire sites or illegal dump sites, community collections of household hazardous waste, and pollution prevention projects that exceed regulatory requirements. SEPs that have a direct benefit allow a respondent to offset one dollar of its penalty for every dollar spent on the SEP.
In certain circumstances, a local government respondent may be able to perform a SEP to correct the violations or to remediate environmental harm caused by the violations (“Compliance SEP”). For more information on Compliance SEPs, see the SEP Information section of the SEP website.
What is the commission’s approach to SEPs?
Key features of the March 2009 guidance (TCEQ publication GI-352) are:
- Compliance history. Repeat violators are less appropriate candidates, as are those who are not in compliance with previous agency orders.
- Resolution of the violation. A SEP is appropriate where violations have been or are being corrected, the resulting pollution is cleaned up, and the violator has taken steps to ensure that the problem will not happen again.
- Deterrence objectives. As a result of enforcement, violators and other regulated entities should be deterred from future noncompliance with environmental laws and regulations. Therefore, the negotiation of an SEP should not compromise deterrence, which is the main objective in the enforcement process.
- Other factors as circumstances may require. (1) The ED may consider the violator’s good-faith participation in the settlement of the action and the degree of culpability of the violator for the violations at issue, in addition to other factors. (2) Whether the project meets state and regional environmental priorities. (3) Whether the project is in the same media as the alleged violation. (4) Whether the project is in or near the community where the alleged violation occurred. (5) That the project not be an on-site project that benefits the alleged violator, unless the respondent is a Local Government that is eligible to perform a Compliance SEP.
- Pre-Approved SEPs. In 2005, the Commission approved the use of Pre-Approved SEPs, which allow a respondent to contribute to a project on the Commission’s list of approved third-party SEPs in lieu of payment of an administrative penalty. Pre-approved SEPs are simple, convenient, and a quick way for a respondent to avoid paying a penalty to the State.
Why should I consider a SEP?
The SEP program was developed as an approach to resolving enforcement actions and improving environmental quality. For respondents who wish to contribute directly to the environmental improvement of their communities, the SEP policy provides an alternative to payment of the full amount of an administrative penalty.
I am a respondent in an enforcement action. What is the process for getting my SEP approved?
If you are interested in participating in a SEP, you may:
- review the available resources on the SEP web site:
- download the application forms for a respondent ( SEP Forms ), complete the application and send it to the address listed on the form.
These documents explain the process further and give examples of SEPs that have been approved. After reviewing these materials, if you have additional questions, please contact SEP Central by phone at 512/239-2223 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You are encouraged to begin discussing SEP possibilities early in the enforcement process. However, work on a proposed SEP should not commence until the Commission or Executive Director has made a final determination. You will receive a letter from the TCEQ stating the Agreed Order is approved.
I am a Local Government respondent in an enforcement action. What is the process for getting my SEP approved?
Review the available resources on the SEP web site:
Download the application form for a respondent ( SEP Forms ), complete the application and send it to the address listed on the form.
After reviewing these materials, please contact SEP Central by phone at 512/239-2223 or by e-mail at email@example.com.