Understanding Primacy and Who to Contact for Assistance with Common Environmental Regulations

The Division of Compliance Assistance routinely gets questions from Kentucky facilities and citizens regarding a variety of environmental topics. Often, the person requesting assistance assumes that if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implements a program related to the topic they are concerned about, then so does the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection (DEP). This is not always the case.

States often have the discretion to choose which federal programs they wish to be authorized or delegated to administer and implement at a state level.  This is sometimes referred to as primacy. States also have the ability to administer programs that are not implemented at a federal level, but are authorized by state statutes.

In Kentucky, most of the environmental laws and programs mirror or are very closely modeled after federal environmental laws.  However, Kentucky does implement some state-specific programs as directed by the Kentucky Legislature.  There are also some federal laws implemented by the EPA directly or are implemented by another state agency besides DEP.  Below are a few programs not implemented by the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, but are implemented at a federal level or by another Kentucky agency.

For additional information or questions, contact the Division of Compliance Assistance at envhelp@ky.gov or at 800-926-8111.