Posted by: Steven M. Taber | July 5, 2010

Environmental Law and Climate Change Law Newsletter, July 5, 2010, vol. 2, no. 18

The following is a summary review of articles from all over the nation concerning environmental law settlements, decisions, regulatory actions and lawsuits filed during the past week.  These were all first posted, in abbreviated form, on http://twitter.com/smtaber.  This Newsletter also appears as a post on our website on our blog, The Environmental Law and Climate Change Law Blog.

SETTLEMENTS

Mukilteo, Washington seafood distributor to pay $35,000 for failure to properly report release of ammonia. EPA News Release, June 29th, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached a settlement with Pacific Seafood Group for its alleged failure to report the release of ammonia from the company’s warehouse and distribution center in Mukilteo, Wash., in a timely manner. EPA announced the settlement today, which includes a $35,000 penalty. The settlement is related to an ammonia release estimated at 210 pounds on May 29, 2009. The Rane Company, which is located next door to Pacific Seafood, notified the Mukilteo Fire Department when their employees detected a strong ammonia odor coming from Pacific Seafood. “When unintended chemical releases occur, every minute counts if it is an emergency,” said Edward Kowalski, Director of EPA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle. “Emergency responders need to be notified promptly to react effectively.”
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Spokane, Washington chlorine distributor agrees to pay over $19,000 to settle EPA Risk Management Program violations. EPA News Release, June 29th, 2010
Oxarc, Inc. has agreed to pay $19,472 penalty to settle a case for violations of the Clean Air Act Risk Management Program requirements according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The settlement came after EPA found that Oxarc, Inc. was in violation of the Risk Management Program requirements at four of their facilities which are located in North Lewiston and Nampa, Idaho and Pasco and Spokane, Washington. EPA alleges that Oxarc, Inc. failed to update their Risk Management Program at least every five years. The four facilities use more than 2,500 pounds of chlorine each. The violations have since been corrected.
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Agreement Will Ensure the Start of Cleanup of Former Landfill Near South Lake Tahoe, California. Department of Justice News Release, June 29th, 2010
A settlement with El Dorado County, Calif., will ensure the beginning of the cleanup, at an estimated cost of approximately $7 million, of the Meyers Landfill Site, located outside of the city of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., the Justice Department and U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service announced today. The agreement, lodged in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, resolves certain federal claims against El Dorado County for clean up of the Meyers Landfill site. In addition, the agreement resolves certain counter-claims made by the county against the United States for cleanup of the site.
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Alaskan seafood processor fined $135,000 for Clean Water Act violations. EPA News Release, June 29th, 2010
Highland Light Seafoods, LLC, an Alaskan seafood processor headquartered in Seattle, has agreed to pay a $135,000 penalty to settle federal Clean Water Act violations, according to an EPA order. Based on an inspection in December 2008, EPA found that the Highland Light Seafoods’ 160 foot catcher-processor vessel, Westward Wind, was not in compliance with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit while operating in Alaskan waters. Highland Light Seafoods had the following NPDES violations:
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EPA Settles With Timco Engine Center On Hazardous Waste Violations; $104,100 Penalty Assessed. EPA News Release, June 29th, 2010
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has settled with TIMCO Engine Center Inc., Oscoda, Mich., for alleged violations of federal hazardous waste regulations. A $104,100 penalty has been assessed. The company, located at 3921 Arrow St., failed to update its contingency plan; train employees; label, date and close containers; maintain adequate aisle space; and properly manage universal waste lamps. TIMCO generates hazardous waste at its aviation engine repair plant that requires proper storage and disposal. It also stored hazardous waste for more than 90 days.
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Honolulu agrees to upgrade sewer system. Water Technology Online, June 29th, 2010
As part of a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the city of Honolulu will upgrade its sewer system to prevent future wastewater spills, The Associated Press reported. In 2006, 48 million gallons of sewage was discharged into a Waikiki canal before being released into the ocean, the article stated. The proposed agreement, which still needs to be approved by the city council and federal court, settles four lawsuits filed between 1994 and 2010 by environmental groups.
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Ky. company reaches settlement over air violations. The Associated Press, July 1, 2010
A western Kentucky metal processing plant has agreed to pay $200,000 in fines for violations of the federal Clean Air Act as part of a settlement with the U.S. government and state of Kentucky. Audubon Metals in Henderson, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state filed the settlement Thursday afternoon, just hours after the government sued the company in federal court. Under the terms of the settlement, Audubon Metals does not acknowledge wrongdoing, but agreed to pay the penalty to resolve allegations that it did not properly design and install a capture and collection system for exhaust at the plant in 2007. The company takes automobile shredder residue, processes, dries, melts and alloys it, then delivers the material to diecasters throughout the Midwest.
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Manufacturer of Concrete Mixing Equipment in Indianola, Iowa, to Pay $59,775 Civil Penalty for Hazardous Waste Violations. EPA News Release, July 1, 2010
Cemen Tech, Inc., a manufacturer of concrete mixing equipment, has agreed to pay a $59,775 civil penalty to the United States to settle a series of alleged violations of federal hazardous waste laws at its facility in Indianola, Iowa. EPA Region 7 conducted inspections of Cemen Tech’s facility at 1700 N. 14th Street in Indianola in 2007 and 2009, according to an administrative consent agreement and final order filed in Kansas City, Kan. The inspections noted a series of violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which regulates the proper storage, handling and management of hazardous wastes. Those alleged violations included Cemen Tech’s failure to perform hazardous waste determinations, operating as a hazardous waste treatment, storage or disposal facility without a permit; improper management of used oil, and improper shipping manifests for the transport of hazardous wastes.
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Proposed Consent Decree, Clean Air Act Citizen Suit. – Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Register, July 1, 2010
In accordance with section 113(g) of the Clean Air Act, as amended (CAA), 42 U.S.C. 7413(g), notice is hereby given of a proposed consent decree, to address a lawsuit filed by Sandra L. Bahr, Diane E. Brown and David Matusow, Bahr, et al. v. Jackson, No. CV 09-2511-PHX-MHM (D. Ariz.). Plaintiffs filed a deadline suit to compel the Administrator to take final action under section 110(k)(2) of the CAA on the “MAG 2007 Five Percent Plan for PM-10 for the Maricopa County Nonattainment Area,” Maricopa Association of Governments, 2007 (the 5% Plan), a State implementation plan (SIP) revision submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) in December 2007 by the State of Arizona pursuant to section 189(d) of the CAA. The proposed consent decree establishes deadlines for EPA action on the 5% Plan.
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Proposed Consent Decree, Clean Air Act Citizen Suit. – Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Register, July 2, 2010
In accordance with section 113(g) of the Clean Air Act, as amended (CAA), 42 U.S.C. 7413(g), notice is hereby given of a proposed consent decree, to address a lawsuit filed by Comite Civico Del Valle,Inc. in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California: Comite Civico Del Valle, Inc. v. Jackson, No. 10-cv-00946 PJH (N.D. C.A.). On March 5, 2010, Plaintiff filed a complaint to compel the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) to take final action under section 110(k) of the CAA on the “Imperial County Air Pollution Control District Rule 420” (Imperial Rule 420), a State implementation plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of California to EPA on or about August 24, 2007, which pertains to measures to control particulate matter emissions from beef feedlot operations within the Imperial Valley. Under the terms of the proposed consent decree, EPA has agreed to take final action no later than November 15, 2010.
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South Bronx Win: Settlement Reached in Case Against Sewage Odors; Sewage Sludge Plant Set to Close Today. NRDC News Release, June 30, 2010
A major environmental justice case in the South Bronx was settled today as New York City agreed to resolve long-standing community concerns regarding odors and emissions from sewage facilities in the Hunts Point neighborhood. The legal settlement also coincides with the last shipment of de-watered sewage sludge to the New York Organic Fertilizer Company (NYOFCo) — one of the two sewage facilities at issue in the litigation. “This agreement ensures that the NYOFCo facility, which has plagued this community with its noxious odors for almost two decades, will not run as it is ever again,” said Al Huang, NRDC attorney.
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Aurora council finalizes lawsuit settlement payment proposal. – Ray Hughey, Canby Herald, June 30, 2010
The Aurora City Council authorized Mayor James Meirow at its June 8 meeting to sign the consent degree settling the Clean Water Act lawsuit brought by Willamette Riverkeeper and Aurora residents Aaron and Angie Reed. Under the agreement approved by council May 25, the city will pay out $100,000, including $70,000 for Riverkeeper legal expenses. The other $30,000 will be a donation to the Pudding River Watershed Council in lieu of civil penalties. The donation will be used to monitor water quality and make riparian improvements.
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Settlement reached, NEPA process to start all over again on oil & gas drilling on Baca Wildlife Refuge. – David Nicholas, The Crestone Eagle, July 1, 2010
Drilling for oil & gas on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge took another step back this month. In a settlement reached between the plaintiffs: San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council (SLVEC) and the Citizens for SLV Water Protection Coalition and the defendants, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Lexam Explorations (USA) Inc., the parties agreed to begin the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process all over again. Under the agreement a new NEPA process is to be initiated as soon as possible and to be completed no later than April 1, 2011. Also the settlement does not prevent the plaintiffs from  bringing a suit if they are dissatisfied with the USFWS process and conclusions.
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DECISIONS

Pacific Seafood fined $35K for ammonia release. The Associated Press, June 28th, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined a Seattle seafood distributor $35,000 for failing to properly report the release of ammonia from its warehouse in Mukilteo. The 210-pound ammonia leak at Pacific Seafood Group in May 2009 was first noticed by the employees of a neighboring company. The neighbors called the fire department when they detected a strong ammonia odor coming from Pacific Seafood.
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RAM discharge found to be polluting water: RAM Energy Resources Inc. was ordered to quit discharging production wastewater. Trading Markets, June 29th, 2010
RAM Energy Resources Inc. was ordered to quit discharging production wastewater from its oil field in Wichita County, Texas, the federal Environmental Protection Agency reported Monday. The EPA issued a cease-and-desist order to RAM after discovering that the Tulsa-based company’s production site released an unauthorized discharge of oil field brine and wastewater into Long Creek. The agency’s May 13 inspection also revealed that water in the discharge point of entry was contaminated with brine discharges and salts.
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EPA Orders RAM Energy Resources, Inc. to Stop Discharging. EPA News Release, June 29th, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a cease and desist administrative order to RAM Energy Resources, Inc. of Tulsa, Oklahoma, for violations of the federal Clean Water Act. A May 13, 2010, EPA inspection of the company’s oil field production facility in Wichita County, Texas, found an unauthorized discharge of oil field brine and produced wastewater generated by oil production activities into Long Creek. The inspection also revealed that water located at the discharge point of entry into Long Creek was contaminated with brine discharges and salts.
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EPA Orders Leasehold Management Corp. to Stop Discharging. EPA News Release, June 29th, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a cease and desist administrative order to Leasehold Management Corp. of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for violations of the federal Clean Water Act. A June 1, 2010, EPA inspection of the company’s oil field production facility in Okmulgee County, Oklahoma, found an unauthorized discharge of oil field brine and produced wastewater generated by producing well Deville Number 2 into a tributary of Salt Creek. The inspection also revealed that water located at the discharge point of entry into the tributary of Salt Creek was contaminated with brine discharges and salts.
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Appeals Court Rejects GE Challenge to Superfund Law. – Brent Kendall, The Wall Street Journal, June 30th, 2010
A federal appeals court Tuesday rejected General Electric Co.’s constitutional challenge to part of the federal Superfund law that gives the Environmental Protection Agency the power to order companies to clean up sites contaminated with hazardous waste. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled unanimously that the Superfund law didn’t violate GE’s constitutional due-process rights. GE, which has been subject to several cleanup orders, had argued that the law violated companies’ constitutional rights because they have no meaningful opportunity to contest the EPA’s cleanup orders before they are issued. GE also argued that companies’ have little choice but to comply with a cleanup order because the potential financial costs of noncompliance are very high.
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GE Loses Challenge to Superfund Law in Hudson Pollution Case. – William McQuillen, Bloomberg Business Week, June 30, 2010
General Electric Co. failed to convince a federal appeals court that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund law governing cleanup of hazardous waste sites is unconstitutional. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington sided with a lower court, rejecting the company’s argument that the agency violated its due process rights under the U.S. Constitution.
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A clear, clean law. The Albany Times Union, July 4, 2010
Follow the sequence of events, now, New Yorkers. Take note of the coincidences, too. There’s no reason why an understanding of the federal Superfund law can’t be as pristinely clear as, say, the Hudson River ought to be. The law giving the federal Environmental Protection Agency the unilateral authority to order that the country’s worst instances of industrial pollution be cleaned up had been on the books for some two decades when General Electric Co. went to court to dispute its constitutionality. That, remember, came just months before the EPA found GE responsible for the PCB pollution in the upper Hudson River and ordered the company to embark upon the largest and most expensive such cleanup project in history. But, no, GE has long said, its challenge to the Superfund law had nothing to do with the Hudson dredging order.
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DC Circuit Shoots Down G.E.’s ‘Super’ Argument. – Ashby Jones, Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2010
Last month, we wrote about a provocative oral argument down at the D.C. Circuit involving the Environmental Protection Agency and General Electric. GE, no stranger to the federal Superfund law which governs remediation of contaminated sites, was arguing that the part of the law was unconstitutional. Specifically, GE lawyers, led by veteran appellate lawyer Carter Phillips, pushed the notion that the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to order companies to clean up contaminated sites violated the company’s constitutional due-process rights. If it seemed like a losing argument, well, let us show you three judges on the DC Circuit who agree with you: Judges David Tatel, Judith Rogers and Thomas Griffith.
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DC Circuit Rules Cleanup Order Does Not Violate GE’s Due Process Rights. – Steven M. Taber, Environmental Law and Climate Change Law blog, June 30, 2010
Long a sticking point with Superfund lawyers and Superfund defendants, the EPA’s use of the “Uniform Administrative Order” to force companies it believes are in violation of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) to clean up a hazardous waste site was upheld on Tuesday, June 29, 2010, by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. in the case General Electric Company v. Jackson, EPA et al. Case No. 09-5092 (June 29, 2010). General Electric argued that CERCLA, as well as the way in which EPA administers it, violates the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution when the EPA issues clean-up orders without a hearing before a neutral decisionmaker.  42 U.S.C. 9606. The D.C. Circuit concluded that because the recipient of a clean up order can obtain a hearing in court by refusing to comply with the clean up order, the recipient’s due process rights are satisfied.  This has been the position of the EPA and the courts since the inception of CERCLA.
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Fish processor fined for waste. Anchorage Daily News, June 29th, 2010
Federal environmental regulators have fined a Seattle-based seafood processor that operates in Alaska waters $135,000 for Clean Water Act violations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the company, Highland Light Seafoods, discharged waste from its 160-foot floating catcher-processor, the Westward Wind, in violation of its permit and federal pollution regulations. The violations happened in waters near the Aleutian and Pribilof islands.
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EPA Voids Certificates Approving Import of Up to 200,000 Small Recreational Vehicles /Agency may levy penalties. Environmental Protection Agency, June 30th, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew its approval of the import and sale of up to 200,000 gas-powered off-road motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. The agency suspects that tailpipe emissions information was either incomplete or falsified. This is the first time EPA has voided certificates of conformity for these types of vehicles and only the second time the agency has done so for any type of vehicle. EPA is considering an enforcement action under the Clean Air Act, which could lead to significant financial penalties against the businesses that manufactured or imported these types of recreational vehicles.
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Jury Convicts District of Columbia Fish Wholesaler & Two Employees for Purchasing Illegally Harvested Striped Bass. Department of Justice News Release, July 1, 2010
Following a five-week trial, a fish wholesaler and two of its employees were found guilty with purchasing illegally harvested striped bass, known locally as rockfish, from the Potomac River in Virginia and Maryland from 1995 through 2007, the Justice Department announced today. Ocean Pro Ltd. d/b/a Profish, one of the largest District of Columbia seafood wholesalers, its vice-president Timothy Lydon of Bethesda, Md., and its fish buyer, Benjamin Clough of Graysonville, Md., were all convicted of a felony conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act. Ocean Pro and Lydon were also convicted of three felony Lacey Act violations, and Clough was convicted of three Lacey Act violations and a felony false statement charge. The Lacey Act is a federal law that prohibits individuals or corporations from transporting, selling or buying fish and wildlife harvested illegally.
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Three Arizona Men Sentenced for Illegally Possessing a Golden Eagle. Department of Justice News Release, July 2, 2010
Three men were sentenced today in federal court in Flagstaff, Ariz., for illegally possessing a protected golden eagle, the Justice Department announced. Arthur Batala, Darrell Batala and Steven Silas, all members of the Hopi Indian Tribe of Arizona, were sentenced for taking and possessing a golden eagle in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a federal law that protects most species of birds in the United States.  Magistrate Judge Mark E. Aspey of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona sentenced Art Batala to pay $500 restitution and serve two years of probation, Darrell Batala to pay $500 restitution and serve one year of probation and Silas to pay $500 restitution and serve one year of supervised probation.
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Sierra Club wins lawsuit against Army Corps of Engineers over permit for Cypress Creek Mall development. – Mitch Perry, The Daily Loaf, July 1, 2010
Environmental activists are cheering this morning after a Federal Judge ruled in their favor and against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers yesterday for issuing a permit to allow for a 1 million-square foot mall called the Cypress Creek Town Center in Pasco County.  The proposed mall is being developed by the Richard E. Jacobs Group of Cleveland and Sierra Properties of Tampa, and has had many setbacks along the way, such as being called out for allowing for muddy discharges to pollute nearby Cypress Creek, which is a tributary for the Hillsborough River, the main source of drinking water for Tampa citizens.
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Judge concerned about Pasco mall’s environmental impact. – Kevin Wiatrowski, The Tampa Tribune, July 1, 2010
The Sierra Club won a partial victory in federal court this week against the developers of Cypress Creek Town Center. In an order issued late Wednesday afternoon, a federal judge told the Army Corps of Engineers to reexamine the permit it issued to the Richard E. Jacobs Group. That permit let Jacobs fill more than 50 acres of wetlands on 510 acres near the junction of State Road 56 and Interstate 75. In exchange, Jacobs preserved more than 200 acres along the Hillsborough River in far eastern Pasco County. The judge gave the developers and the Army Corps 20 days to come up with a strategy for reducing the mall’s environmental impact. That plan will have to include an environmental impact statement – a lengthy and potentially expensive report the Army Corps didn’t originally require.
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SIERRA CLUB, et al., Plaintiffs, v. ROBERT L. VAN ANTWERP, et al., Defendants, Civil Action No. 07-1756 (RCL). U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, June 30, 2010
For the reasons set forth in this opinion, plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment will be granted in part and denied in part. Likewise, government defendants’ motion for summary judgment and intervening defendants’ cross-motion for will be granted in part and denied in part. Specifically, plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on their NEPA and CWA claims will be granted but their motion for summary judgment on the ESA claim will be denied. Consequently, government defendants’ motion for summary judgment and intervening defendants’ cross-motion for summary judgment regarding plaintiffs’ ESA claim will be granted.
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First Suncoke permit void; appeals dismissed. – Jessica Heffner, Middletown Journal, July 1, 2010
A state review board dismissed three appeals filed against the first air permit for SunCoke Energy to build a $360 million coke plant in Middletown. The Environmental Review Appeals Commission on Wednesday, June 30, dismissed the appeals against the netting air emissions permit issued by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in November 2008, because the permit is void. The appeals were filed by Lemon Twp. resident Robert Snook, plant opposition group SunCoke Watch Inc. plus 17 of its members and nearby property owners, and the city of Monroe, which borders the property on which plant is being built off Yankee Road.
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Conn. submaker cited for polluting water. The Associated Press, July 2, 2010
Submarine maker Electric Boat has been cited by the state Department of Environmental protection for three environmental violations in the past six months. The Day of New London reports the most serious involves the release of 4 million gallons of polluted water from EB’s graving dock into the Thames River in January. The DEP says Electric Boat violated water discharge permits, state regulations and the federal Clean Water Act. In a statement, Electric Boat says the violations were self-reported and steps were immediately taken to prevent them from being repeated. DEP spokesman Dennis Schain says the company and the state are negotiating a resolution that could include a fine or other enforcement action. The citations are the first at EB since 2007.
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EPA’s Lead Rule Stand. Enviro.BLR.com, July 2, 2010
EPA is not required to review its national air standards for lead, according to a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (Coalition of Battery Recyclers Association v. EPA). In 2008, EPA revised the primary and secondary national air quality standards for lead to provide what the Agency considers the requisite protection of public health and welfare “in light of recent science.” The Coalition of Battery Recyclers and the Doe Run Resources Corporation (petitioners) contend that EPA’s action was arbitrary and capricious in many ways.
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LAWSUITS AND ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS FILED

Criminal Charges for Environmental Accidents More Common. – Joe Cogliano, Dayton Business Journal, June 28th, 2010
Earlier this month, a Butler County grand jury indicted United Oil Recovery Services Inc. and several of its executives on criminal charges in the death of a worker at the company’s Middletown facility. The charges stem from an incident in 2008, when wastewater was allegedly treated improperly, causing a chemical reaction that killed an employee. Also recently, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a criminal investigation of BP plc (NYSE: BP) relating to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill started with an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that killed 11 workers.
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Developers face criminal charges in asbestos removal at Citadel Plaza project. – Mark Morris, Karen Dillon and Lynn Horsely, The Kansas City Star, June 29th, 2010
Two developers who promised an $85 million retail jewel in a blighted East Side neighborhood instead face criminal charges that they degraded the environment. A federal grand jury in Kansas City on Tuesday charged William M. Threatt Jr., 69, former president of the Community Development Corp. of Kansas City, and Anthony Crompton, 40, a real estate director at the agency, with improperly removing and disposing of asbestos-containing materials.
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Cape Wind sued for violating Endangered Species Act. – Gale Courey Toensing, Indian Country News, June 30, 2010
A renewable energy advocacy group from California and conservation groups from as far away as Texas have partnered with the Alliance to Save Nantucket Sound in a district court lawsuit against the federal agencies that approved the industrial Cape Wind energy factory in Nantucket Sound, an area sacred to the Wampanoag people. The lawsuit filed June 25 by the Alliance and its partners names as defendants the newly appointed Michael Bromwich, director of the newly-named U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (until recently known as the Minerals Management Service), Ken Salazar, secretary of the Interior Department, and Rowan Gould, acting director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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Jefferson County, Ala. sewer employees subpoenaed. The Associated Press, July 2, 2010
Jefferson County officials say three current county employees are named in a federal subpoena that seeks information on sewer overflows. The subpoena, served Wednesday by agents from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal division, asks for all e-mails to and from three employees in the county’s line maintenance division. David Denard, director of the county’s environmental services department, declined on Thursday to name the three or others who may be connected with the investigation.
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Appeals court sets hearing on drilling ban. – Gerald Helguero, International Business Times, June 30, 2010
A U.S. appeals court has quickly scheduled to hear oral arguments related to the federal government’s request to stay a ruling which overturned President Barack Obama’s six-month ban on new deep water well drilling. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday scheduled the event for July 8. The new hearing comes in response to a June 25 ruling by federal Judge Martin Feldman stating that the Obama administration’s ban on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico was overly broad, arbitrary and capricious, therefore violating the law. Oil services companies which brought the legal action against the ban argued that the government’s actions were illegal and would  irreparably harm their businesses.
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NRDC Sues FDA over BPA in Food Packaging. Environmental Leader, June 30, 2010
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its handling of bisphenol A (BPA), in an attempt to force the agency to respond to an October 2008 request to ban the chemical from food packaging, reports the New York Times. Studies have linked BPA to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and liver-enzyme abnormalities. In August 2008, the FDA said BPA was safe, but agreed two months later that due to concerns raised in some studies that additional research would be needed. In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its plans to potentially regulate the use of BPA and will add the chemical to the agency’s list of chemicals of concern that require testing related to environmental effects.
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Lawsuit Seeks to Hold Administration Accountable for Marine Mammal Harm in Gulf. NRDC News Release, June 30, 2010
Today several environmental groups filed suit against the renamed Minerals Management Service (MMS) regarding the use of powerful seismic surveys throughout the Gulf of Mexico, known to disrupt marine mammal feeding and breeding and basic communication over vast areas of the ocean. The groups contend that MMS, which is now known as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement, failed to adequately analyze the substantial impacts of seismic surveys on the Gulf’s marine environment before permitting activities there, in clear violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), Sierra Club, and the Gulf Restoration Network have filed the suit in federal court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
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Brandywine landfill operator argues for dismissal of polluting charges. – Zoe Tillman, Gazette.net, July 1, 2010
The operator of a Brandywine landfill that stores coal combustion waste byproducts has filed a motion to dismiss charges brought by the Maryland Department of the Environment that accuse the company of polluting local waterways. Arguing that MDE failed to prove any wrongdoing, Mirant Maryland Ash Management, which runs the Brandywine Coal Combustion Waste Landfill, filed a motion June 21 to dismiss charges that it violated the federal Clean Water Act. MDE filed the original complaint in March in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.In the motion, Mirant argues that MDE failed to provide enough proof of Mirant’s alleged pollution to merit charges and that the company was and still is in compliance with its permits. It also accuses MDE of failing to follow the proper procedures for filing a suit under the Clean Water Act.
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Federal Water Transfers Challenged in Court. Indybay, July 1, 2010
AquAlliance, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), and the California Water Impact Network (CWIN) have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) to protect the economy and the environment of the northern Sacramento Valley. Repeated water transfer projects in the last decade have all occurred without the benefit of thorough federal or state environmental analysis, which would require the establishment of baseline conditions, comprehensive monitoring, and the disclosure of impacts.
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Cape Cod lawsuit cites ‘scientific misconduct.’Tri-City Herald, July 2, 2010
These days, when government regulatory agencies claim they’ve been thorough and rigorous in their duties, the public is understandably skeptical. Think bank regulators. Think the Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans. Think the Minerals Management Service’s oversight of British Petroleum. Now think the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Both are accused in federal lawsuits of violating the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and National Environmental Policy Act. How? In ruling in favor of wind farms off Cape Cod, according to a federal lawsuit, these agencies ignored their own findings about migratory birds and whales that could be affected by the project.
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Riverkeeper worried officials will file lawsuit against EPA. – Preston Knight, Northern Virginia Daily, July 3, 2010
Shenandoah Riverkeeper Jeff Kelble is concerned that Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will seek court action in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay draft pollution allocations announced Thursday. The nutrient allocations for nitrogen and phosphorous are meant to meet water quality standards in the bay and its tidal tributaries, and restore local rivers and streams throughout the 64,000-square-mile watershed, an EPA news release states. The agency proposed watershed-wide limits of 187.4 million pounds of nitrogen and 12.5 million pounds of phosphorous annually, and divided them among the six watershed states and the District of Columbia, as well as the major river basins.
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Wolf kill order prompts groups to file lawsuit. – Katy Nesbitt, The Observer, July 2, 2010
Four conservation groups sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s predator control branch, Wildlife Services, Thursday for its role in authorizing the killing of two wolves blamed for killing calves. According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Portland, Wildlife Services did not conduct the environmental analysis required to disclose the impacts of killing two of Oregon’s 14 confirmed wolves. Cascadia Wildlands, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Oregon Wild and the national Center for Biological Diversity brought the suit. They are also strongly considering suing the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for its role in authorizing the kill permits. “Wildlife Services is required to do an environmental assessment for the health of the wolves’ population before they go out and remove them,” said Sean Stevens of Oregon Wild.
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REGULATORY ACTIONS

Air

E.P.A. Lags on Setting Some Air Standards, Report Finds. – Yeganeh June Torbati, The New York Times, June 26th, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency is 10 years behind schedule in setting guidelines for a host of toxic air pollutants, according to a report from the agency’s inspector general. The report, which was released last week, found that the agency had failed to develop emissions standards, due in 2000, for some sources of hazardous air pollutants. These included smaller sites often located in urban areas, like dry cleaners and gas stations, but also some chemical manufacturers. The inspector general also found that the agency had not met targets outlined in a 1999 planning document, the Integrated Urban Air Toxics Strategy, including tracking urban dwellers’ risk of developing health problems from exposure to pollutants.
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Small Contractors Cry Foul as Certification and Training Fees Skyrocket. – Karen McMahan, Lincoln Tribune, June 28th, 2010
Under a North Carolina law that took effect January 1, thousands of businesses providing renovation, repair, and painting (RRP) services to certain homes and child-occupied facilities built before 1978 face stiff new fees and requirements. The new rules have caused such concern from small contractors that a key state senator has convened a meeting of state environmental and budget officials today to address some of the concerns. In April 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopted sweeping new rules expanding the scope of regulations beyond the existing lead-abatement program to include firms that perform any work disturbing more than 6 square feet of painted surface in any room or more than 20 square feet of total exterior painted surface in homes and certain other facilities built before 1978.
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Agency Delays Enforcement on Lead Paint Certification. Environmental Protection, June 30th, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decision to delay enforcement of the new Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting rule will provide much-needed time to get more remodelers and other contractors trained – and for EPA to get the word out to consumers about the importance of hiring a certified remodeler, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). In revised guidance, EPA acknowledged that remodelers in many parts of the country have been unable to obtain the required training to comply with the rule – a problem that NAHB has urged the agency to solve since the rule was announced two years ago.
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EPA Delays Enforcement of Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. The Associated General Contractors of America, June 30th, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced it will delay enforcement of the new Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Program (RRP) regulations.  The Agency issued a memorandum providing renovation firms and workers additional time to obtain necessary training and certifications to comply with its new lead paint rules. EPA’s decision is a win for AGC of America and AGC of Maine; both trade groups worked to inform the Agency of the difficult timeline the rule would impose on contractors. EPA announced it will not fine renovation workers if he or she enrolls in or applies to enroll in a certified renovator class by September 30, 2010, and completes training by December 31, 2010.
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EPA Disapproves Texas Flexible Air Permit Program. EPA News Release, June 30th, 2010
Today, EPA announced final disapproval of the flexible permit program that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) had submitted for inclusion in its clean-air implementation plan. EPA has determined that this program does not meet several national Clean Air Act requirements that help to assure the protection of health and the environment. EPA is disapproving the permit program after determining that it allows companies to avoid certain federal clean air requirements by lumping emissions from multiple units under a single “cap” rather than setting specific emission limits for individual pollution sources at their plants.
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EPA is correct to require Texas to clean up its air. – Editorial, Houston Chronicle, July 1, 2010
As legislators in Austin and Washington, D.C., we know that breathing clean air should not be a partisan issue. As a result, we urge the Environmental Protection Agency not to allow Texas’ election-year partisan politics to interfere with the agency’s legally mandated task of enforcing the Clean Air Act — a law that is integral to protecting Texans from the health risks associated with air pollution. Recently, the EPA took some important steps to address shortcomings in Texas’ air permitting program by requiring three Texas facilities with deficient air quality permits to seek federally authorized permits directly from the EPA. This action was the end result of years of attempted negotiation between the federal agency and its state counterpart, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), over numerous controversial aspects of Texas’ air permitting program.
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Texas Air Program Does Not Meet CAA Requirements. EPA Says. Environmental Protection, June 30, 2010
Today, EPA announced final disapproval of the flexible permit program that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) had submitted for inclusion in its clean-air implementation plan. The federal agency has determined that this program does not meet several national Clean Air Act requirements that help to ensure the protection of health and the environment. EPA is disapproving the permit program after determining that it allows companies to avoid certain federal clean air requirements by lumping emissions from multiple units under a single “cap” rather than setting specific emission limits for individual pollution sources at their plants. “Today’s action improves our ability to provide the citizens of Texas with the same healthy air protections that are provided for citizens in all other states under the Clean Air Act,” said Al Armendariz, regional administrator. “EPA will continue working closely with Texas, industry, environmental organizations, and community leaders to assure an effective and legal air permitting system.”
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EPA rejects air permits of 122 Texas plants. – R.G. Ratcliffe, Houston Chronicle, July 1, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday invalidated the air quality permits of 122 plants across Texas, throwing out one of the state’s key environmental permitting processes. The action sparked complaints from representatives of the petrochemical industry who called the move a “backdoor” attempt to bring the facilities under federal greenhouse gas regulation. EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz invalidated all 122 flexible air quality permits issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality since the 1990s, leaving the facilities to apply for new permits. Most were issued to oil and chemical refineries. “We’re going to transition these facilities from these flexible permits to standard permits and, by doing so, lower emissions and improve public health,” he said.
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Texas: State Loses Pollution Fight. The Associated Press, June 30, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency has overturned a 16-year-old Texas program it says violates the Clean Air Act. The act requires polluters to limit emissions for several key pollutants from each smokestack, or other source inside a plant or refinery. But since 1994, Texas has instead given about 140 plants a general ceiling for pollution from all sources inside a plant. The E.P.A. decision will force about 140 refineries and petrochemical plants to invest millions of dollars to get new permits. Many plants may also have to invest in updates.
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As EPA nixes Texas air plan, Perry consults with AG over next move. – Martin Bartlett, KVUE News, July 1, 2010
The Texas Capitol could once again be ground zero of a power play over electric power and air pollution. The EPA has ruled that the state’s air permitting program violates the Federal Clean Air Act. One of the facilities affected is the LCRA’s Fayette Power Plant, 60 miles east of Austin. The coal-fueled plant began generating electricity in the 1970′s. It is owned primarily by the Lower Colorado River Authority. The city of Austin also owns parts of the plant. A Lower Colorado River Authority official declined KVUE’s request for an on-camera interview, saying the LCRA is still trying to determine the ruling’s impact on the organization.
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The EPA is not on a mission to force a bureaucratic assault on free enterprise. – Sen. Mark Udall, Denver Post, July 4, 2010
Vincent Carroll took me to task for voting against a resolution authored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, that would have stripped the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Carroll started, somewhat uncharacteristically, with a gratuitous insult — claiming that in the face of an economic downturn, I “apparently believe the private sector can withstand a lot more uncertainty and stress.” The truth is that I am well aware of the global economic recession, brought on, as many economists believe, by a lack of regulation on Wall Street and financial institutions run amok. I am also painfully aware that unemployment and financial hardship have hit Coloradans hard.
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EPA to Issue Mandatory Emissions Reporting for Heavy Polluting Industries. – Harry Tournemille, Emerging Energy, June 30, 2010
Who? Underground coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment systems, industrial waste landfills, and magnesium production facilities are at the heart of the new details — due to their substantial greenhouse gas (GHG) pollutant track record. Why? With the exception of magnesium production, all of the sources are known for releasing methane into the atmosphere. Methane is roughly 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide for warming the atmosphere. About the Program: Back in 2007, President Bush (yes, that President Bush) authorized funding for the EPA to create a mandatory emissions reporting initiative under the Clean Air Act. A Regulatory Impact Analysis [pdf] in 2009 confirmed the initiative’s importance and in 2010, the EPA has included the aforementioned four industry sources to its regulation. What’s the motive? Well, in about as neutral language as governing bodies can muster, the EPA’s official goal is to establish, “a better understanding of GHG emissions [which] will help EPA and businesses develop effective policies and programs to reduce them.” Because we all know there just isn’t enough information out there about GHG’s and their environmental impact.
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EPA proposes mercury limits for boilers and incinerators. American Recycler, July 1, 2010
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued proposals that would cut mercury emissions by more than half and would significantly cut other pollutants from boilers, process heaters and solid waste incinerators. The proposed rules would define some “non-hazardous secondary materials” as solid waste, which would require units that burned those materials to be defined under section 129 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) as solid waste incineration units, rather than as fuel under less stringent standards for boilers under section 112 of the CAA. EPA is also proposing to identify which non-hazardous secondary materials would be considered solid waste and which would be considered fuel. This distinction would determine whether a material can be burned in a boiler or whether it must be burned in a solid waste incinerator. The agency is also soliciting comment on several other broader approaches that would identify additional non-hazardous secondary materials as solid waste when burned in combustion units. The limits would take effect after a 45 day public comment period.
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Delaware’s offshore wind farm hits EPA roadblock. – Aaron Nathans, The News Journal, July 2, 2010
Who knew an offshore wind farm project could get tangled up over air pollution emissions? The first step toward building an offshore wind farm — a source of pollution-free power — is putting up a meteorological tower in roughly the spot where the turbines would be built. Instruments mounted on the tower would record a year’s worth of wind speeds and bird flight patterns. But building such a tower requires a series of permits from the federal government, and those are proving elusive.
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Waste

Deal aims to stop sewage spills on Waikiki beaches. – Mark Niesse, The Associated Press, June 28th, 2010
Honolulu officials said Monday that the city will upgrade its aging sewer system to prevent another spill from contaminating Waikiki’s famous beaches. The upgrades were part of a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that ended years of lawsuits and sanitation warnings. The threat spilled over in 2006, when 48 million gallons of sewage was flushed into a Waikiki canal and reached beaches after weeks of heavy rain. If the wastewater hadn’t been released into the ocean, sewage could have backed up into hotels, homes and businesses. “My biggest nightmare was to have a sewage spill in Waikiki … and that’s what happened,” said Mayor Mufi Hannemann. “This is a clear case of pay now or pay later.”
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Stupak warns of environmental risks with Kennecott mine. – Eartha Jane Melzer, The Michigan Messenger, June 29th, 2010
Rio Tinto, the global mining company whose subsidiary, Kennecott, is building a nickel sulfide mine west of Marquette, has earned a reputation for a willingness to cut corners on safety and environmental safeguards, U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) warned in an op-ed  distributed across northern Michigan over the weekend. Stupak, who chairs of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said that he is concerned that the $17 million assurance bond put up by Kennecott would not be enough to cover the persistent contamination that the company could cause.
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EPA: No Fed Permit Needed for Upper Peninsula Mine. The Associated Press, July 2, 2010
Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. doesn’t need a federal permit to build a nickel and copper mine in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a letter to the company made public Friday. EPA previously said that federal approval was required for the mine’s wastewater discharge system because it would operate below the earth’s surface. But the company announced a redesign in March that will keep the network of pipes above ground. The federal permit was the last regulatory hurdle for Kennecott Eagle, which already has state permits to build and operate the mine. Drilling is expected to start next year. Rio Tinto, the mining giant that owns Kennecott Eagle, says it should begin producing minerals by late 2013.
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Results of Soil Sampling near Soccer Complex in Cameron, Mo., Inconclusive; EPA Seeks Permission to Sample Other Properties. EPA News Release, June 29th, 2010
Because lab results from a preliminary round of soil sampling at the Cameron, Mo., Soccer Complex and adjacent properties are inconclusive, EPA Region 7 will conduct a second round of soil sampling from the site, and will seek permission to conduct new, first-time sampling on three other private properties nearby. EPA collected soil samples from a 225,000-square-foot area near the Soccer Complex, 1012 W. Second Street, on March 4, 2010. The Agency became interested in the location, which it refers to as the Ore Stockpile Area, based on citizens’ tips that it had been used many years ago as a site for the off-loading of railroad cars that contained ore and raw materials that were subsequently hauled by truck to the former Rockwool Industries facility in Cameron. After a separate rail line was built to allow for delivery of the material directly to the Rockwool facility, the old railroad tracks were removed, a city street was built and the public soccer facility and skate park were completed as the area was redeveloped.
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Bannister Federal Complex Community Advisory Panel Being Formed to Provide Input on Environmental, Redevelopment Issues. EPA News Release, June 29th, 2010
EPA and GSA regional administrators have begun forming a community advisory panel whose members will provide independent input to the Inter-agency Environmental Leadership Council (IELC) for the Bannister Federal Complex. The members of the Environmental Leadership Council are high-level managers from the General Services Administration Heartland Office, Region 7 Environmental Protection Agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration Kansas City Plant and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. In addition to providing independent input on environmental and redevelopment issues, the Community Advisory Panel (CAP) will also act as a communication conduit and forum for stakeholders within the community surrounding the Bannister Federal Complex. “This community panel will provide an important two-way communication tool regarding environmental issues while being a catalyst for possible future redevelopment,” said Karl Brooks, EPA Region 7 Administrator. “Our long-term objective is for the Bannister Federal Complex to be a viable property for generations to come.”
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EPA and State of Texas Declare Federal Property in Masterson “Ready for Reuse”. Environmental Protection Agency, June 29th, 2010
Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) commemorated the issuance of a “ready for reuse” determination for the former Exell Helium Plant (Exell) in Masterson, Texas. The determination is the first to be issued to a U.S. Department of the Interior facility nationally. The “ready for reuse” determination, awarded by EPA and TCEQ, verifies the environmental conditions at the property are protective of human health and the environment for its current and future commercial/industrial use.
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EPA Extends Public Comment Period for Proposed Clean Up Plan for Nyanza Chemical Waste Dump. EPA News Release, July 1, 2010
EPA granted a request to extend the public comment period an additional 30 days for the proposed cleanup plan for the Nyanza Chemical Waste Dump Superfund site in Ashland, Massachusetts. The comment period will now conclude on August 26, 2010. EPA held informational meeting the week of June 21st. A formal hearing will be held on July 19, 2010 to receive public comments of the cleanup plan. The Nyanza Chemical Waste Dump site is a 35-acre parcel of land located adjacent to an active industrial complex. From 1917 to 1978, the site was used to produce textile dyes, intermediates, and other products. Nyanza Inc. operated on this site from 1965 until 1978, when it ceased operations. Large volumes of industrial wastewater containing high levels of acids and numerous organic and inorganic chemicals, including mercury, were generated by these companies. Some of the wastes were partially treated and discharged into the Sudbury River through a small stream, referred to as Chemical Brook.
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Water

Are you Spraying or are you Polluting Public Bodies of Water? Cattle Network, June 28th, 2010
re you spraying your corn for Japanese beetles or are you polluting a body of water? Are you spraying a fungicide on Asian soybean rust or are you polluting a body of water? Are you spraying glyphosate on a weedy crop or are you polluting a body of water? We know how the typical Cornbelt farmer would answer those questions, but that is not necessarily how a court would define your activity in the event the Environmental Protection Agency follows through with a proposal to change its for point source pollution and non-point source pollution.
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EPA Approves New York State’s List of Impaired Waters: Long Island’s South Shore Estuary and Lake Ontario New Entries on the List. EPA News Release, June 29th, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the 2010 list of waters in New York State that are considered either impaired or threatened by pollutants. An impaired water body is one that does not meet water quality standards even after pollution controls have been put in place. A threatened water body is one that is expected to be impaired within two years. The list helps to set priorities for addressing current water pollution threats. The Clean Water Act requires states to assess the quality of their waters and to report their findings every two years to EPA. The list is compiled by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and is a valuable tool for reaching the Clean Water Act goal of “fishable and swimmable” waters for all of New York State.
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Texas may allow more E. coli bacteria in water. – Associated Press, The Dallas Morning News, June 30th, 2010
Texas environmental regulators will consider lowering the standard for E. coli bacteria in recreational waters, a move that increases the risk to public health. The governor-appointed, rule-making body of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will meet Wednesday. Its staff and scientists recommend the standards be loosened. However, environmental groups warn that would put the public at risk. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t lowered its standards.
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Decision on Iowa’s Water Quality Standards. EPA News Release, June 30, 2010
EPA has approved the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ (IDNR) designated use changes for 64 water bodies and disapproved changes for 93 water bodies. Designated uses describe the achievable recreational activities and aquatic life uses in Iowa’s waters. EPA is finalizing action on the remaining 19 water bodies. The Clean Water Act (CWA) presumes that all waters are suitable for the highest levels of recreation, such as swimming, and that the waters can support a diverse community of aquatic life. A state must present a well-documented study to set a lower goal. EPA found that the studies submitted by IDNR did not support a lower designated use for the 93 disapprovals.
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EPA sets tough new Chesapeake pollution caps. – Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun, July 1, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency proposed tough pollution caps for the Chesapeake Bay Thursday, requiring Maryland and other mid-Atlantic states to do more to clean up the troubled estuary than previously thought necessary. The pollution limits proposed by the EPA would force the six states and the District of Columbia to roughly double the pace at which they’ve been removing nitrogen, one of the two nutrients fouling the bay. Maryland, for instance, would have to curtail nitrogen by 15 percent over the next seven years — a regimen likely to require costly upgrades to sewage treatment plants, expensive retrofits of storm drains in urban and suburban areas, and major new curbs on runoff of fertilizer and chicken manure from Eastern Shore farms.
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EPA Announces Next Step Toward Establishing Rigorous Pollution Diet for Chesapeake Bay. – EPA News Release, July 1, 2010
EPA today announced draft allocations for nitrogen and phosphorus as part of a rigorous pollution diet for meeting water quality standards in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries, and restoring local rivers and streams throughout the 64,000-square-mile watershed. “Restoring the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries will not be easy,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “While we all recognize that every jurisdiction within the watershed will have to make very difficult choices to reduce pollution, we also recognize that we must collectively accelerate our efforts if we are going to restore this national treasure as part of our legacy for future generations.”
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Is The Environmental Protection Agency Allowing Bad Drinking Water. BlogSDN, July 2, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may have tightened their grip on water purification standards, but these standards also allow a minimum amount of pathogens. These pathogens can be inorganic and organic compounds that may be harmful to health. “May” is the key word here. This government agency promises us safe and clean drinking water but still allows some level of pathogens in the water. In 2005, a non-profit organization called Environmental Working Group tested municipal water in 42 states here in the United States. The results? They detected 260 contaminants in these public water supplies. Out of these 260, 140 of them were unregulated chemicals, meaning these were chemicals that no public health official had a safety standard for. Since these chemicals were not included in any safety standard, they didn’t have any methods for removing them either. The EPA may have stricter guidelines for water purification, but what explains these large amounts of chemicals and toxins found in the water?
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Climate Change

EPA Issues Greenhouse Gas Reporting Requirements for Four Emissions Sources/Agency also to consider data confidentiality. EPA News Release, June 29th, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finalizing requirements under its national mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting program for underground coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment systems, industrial waste landfills and magnesium production facilities. The data from these sectors will provide a better understanding of GHG emissions and will help EPA and businesses develop effective policies and programs to reduce them. Methane is the primary GHG emitted from coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment systems and industrial landfills and is more than 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide at warming the atmosphere. The main fluorinated GHG emitted from magnesium production is sulfur hexafluoride, which has an even greater warming potential than methane, and can stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years.
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Other

A Closer Look: Pesticides in strawberry fields. – Jill U. Adams, Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2010
California strawberry farmers may soon have a new pesticide to use on their fields. The state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation is recommending approving use of the soil fumigant methyl iodide. However, scientists say that methyl iodide is very toxic and can cause cancer, brain damage and miscarriages. An independent panel of scientists, invited to review the health risk data and safe exposure levels recommended for farmworkers and nearby communities, were shocked that the state is still moving toward approval and at higher levels of exposure than what the department’s scientists proposed.
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Quick-Med Technology Applies for EPA Registration of Stay Fresh™ Antimicrobial technology. MarketWatch, June 28th, 2010
Quick-Med Technologies, Inc. , a leader in developing innovative antimicrobial technologies for the healthcare and consumer markets, today announced its application for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration of the Company’s proprietary Stay Fresh(TM) antimicrobial textiles technology. Stay Fresh provides durable, long-lasting antimicrobial efficacy against 99.999% of both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, for as many as 75 laundering cycles. To obtain EPA registration for Stay Fresh, Quick-Med has submitted data to the agency showing that an inert binder in the formulation bonds the active agent to the fabric. This inert binder tethers the eco-friendly active ingredient to fibers or fabrics to eliminate odor causing bacteria and fungi. The Company notes that EPA has not yet evaluated or approved the efficacy or other data submitted to support its registration.
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Monsanto Seeks Genuity VT Double Pro Corn RIB Registration. Farm Chemicals International, June 29th, 2010
Monsanto Co. has submitted for registration to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a 5% refuge-in-the-bag (RIB) option for its Genuity VT Double PRO corn, the company announced in a press release. The RIB option would enable US farmers to plant one bag that contains both Bt seed and refuge seed, without having to maintain a separate refuge. EPA is also currently reviewing Monsanto’s RIB application for Genuity SmartStax corn, which the company submitted in Dec. 2009. Pending registrations, Monsanto expects both RIB product options to be commercially available to US corn belt farmers for the 2012 growing season.
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EPA to Include Employees in Chemical Safety Inspections. Environmental Protection, June 29th, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released interim guidance that would provide greater transparency in the agency’s chemical safety inspections process. Under the guidance, EPA inspectors will offer employees and employee representatives the opportunity to participate in chemical safety inspections. In addition, EPA will request that state and local agencies adopt similar procedures under the Risk Management Program. Through this program, EPA seeks to reduce the risks to surrounding communities that arise from the management, use or storage of certain hazardous chemicals. Owners and operators of covered facilities must develop a risk management plan, which includes facility plans for the prevention and response to chemical accidents.
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STATE & FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION

Obama Move to Reinstate Superfund Tax is Resisted. – Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post, June 27th, 2010
There is no question that the Superfund program, first established 30 years ago to clean up sites around the country contaminated with hazardous waste, is facing a budget crunch. For 15 years, the government imposed taxes on oil and chemical companies and certain other corporations. The money went into a cleanup trust fund, which reached its peak of $3.8 billion in 1996. But the taxes expired in 1995, and because Congress refused to renew them, the fund ran out of money. Now the Obama administration will push to reinstate the Superfund tax. The Environmental Protection Agency will send a letter to Congress calling for legislation to reimpose the tax.
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The Return of Superfund. The New York Times, June 27th, 2010
Superfund — which cleans up abandoned hazardous waste sites — is one of the country’s most important environmental programs. It has been struggling since 1995, when a Republican Congress refused to renew the corporate taxes that gave it a steady source of financing. The pace of cleanups has dropped markedly. The Environmental Protection Agency has now asked Congress to reinstate Superfund taxes. Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon, has introduced a bill that would raise about $19 billion over 10 years by imposing excise taxes on oil producers, refineries, chemical manufacturers and a few other industries.
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Obama Pushes for Senate Climate Bill With Price on Carbon; GOP Resists. Environmental News Service, June 29th, 2010
A bipartisan group of about 20 senators met with President Barack Obama at the White House today in an attempt by the President to gather support for passage of energy and climate legislation this year. The urgency of getting climate legislation enacted was heightened by the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, participants said. Last June, the House of Representatives passed its version of a climate and energy bill, which places a price on carbon through a cap and trade market mechanism, but the Senate has not passed any climate bill. It would take 60 votes in the Senate to pass controversial cap and trade legislation. In this election year, politicians of both parties may be reluctant to vote for a bill that would raise the cost of burning fossil fuels to level the playing field for cleaner fuels.
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Senators predict anticipated climate bill will only cap emissions for utilities. – Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post, June 30, 2010
A bipartisan group of senators emerged Tuesday from a meeting with President Obama still divided over how to craft a climate and energy bill, with lawmakers predicting scaled-back legislation that would cap emissions from electric utilities rather than impose an economy-wide limit on greenhouse gases. Last month Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) unveiled a bill that includes a broader emissions cap along with subsidies for the nuclear industry and limits on the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon. Kerry said in an interview that they would make more concessions to win Republican support, but he added: “My question is, which is the compromise of any of the others? Show me the compromise.”
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Clean Air Act Proving Effective in CO2 Regulation, Lawyers Tell Their Corporate Clients. – Elizabeth McGowan, SolveClimate, June 30, 2010
U.S. senators have emitted their fair share of carbon dioxide explaining over and over why they need to assume the leading role in limiting pollution from greenhouse gases. But the longer senators dawdle, the more the Clean Air Act—which some legislators revel in deriding—seems to upstage their supposed superiority. Some observers are even questioning Congress’s relevance as the Environmental Protection Agency gains momentum with its current measured approach to curbing heat-trapping gases. For instance, at least one nationwide law firm that advises major clients on the environmental front praises the Clean Air Act as a proven and effective tool for regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
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Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Approves Feinstein-Boxer Legislation to Authorize Ten Years of Funding for EPA to Continue Wetlands Restoration in the San Francisco Bay. U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, June 30, 2010
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today approved legislation sponsored by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (both D-Calif.) to authorize ten years of funding for the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to continue wetlands restoration projects and improve water quality in the San Francisco Bay and its watershed. The Environment and Public Works Committee, which is chaired by Senator Boxer, today approved the Feinstein-Boxer legislation by voice vote during a full committee meeting to consider a number of pending bills. The legislation was introduced by Senators Feinstein and Boxer late last week, and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
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EPW Committee Approves Measure to Ensure Responsible Parties Pay for Damage from Oil Spills. U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, June 30, 2010
Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), approved S. 3305, the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Liability Act of 2010, legislation introduced by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to lift the cap on liability for damages from oil spills. The bill passed the Committee by voice vote with an amendment, offered by Senator Boxer, to eliminate the cap on liability for responsible parties at an offshore facility, as well as amendments to improve oil spill contingency plans and improve the claims process. The Menendez bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration. Senator Boxer said: “The catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico makes it clear that the companies responsible must be held fully accountable for the damages they cause to the economy and the environment. In California, more than 300,000 jobs and $23 billion in economic activity depend on our beautiful coastline, and I am committed to ensuring that polluters pay for all of the damage from an oil spill.”
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EPW Committee Approves Landmark Measures to Protect Great Water Bodies Across the U.S. U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, June 30, 2010
Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), approved several pieces of legislation to protect bodies of water throughout the United States, including the Chesapeake Bay, the San Francisco Bay, the Great Lakes, Puget Sound, Long Island Sound, the Columbia River and the Gulf of Mexico. The Committee also passed measures to help restore the nation’s estuaries and address storm water pollution. The bills were passed by voice vote and will now go to the full Senate for consideration. Senator Boxer said: “I am pleased that the Committee has worked on a bipartisan basis to report out legislation that will protect and restore some of our nation’s most treasured bodies of water from the San Francisco Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico, to the Chesapeake Bay. I look forward to working with my colleagues as this legislation moves through the full Senate.”
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Great Lakes lawmakers act to stop Asian carp. – Jim Lynch, The Detroit News, July 1, 2010
Legislation introduced Wednesday by Great Lakes lawmakers seeks to do what federal agencies have been unwilling to do so far in the battle against the invasive Asian carp — create a permanent barrier between the waters where the fish is present and Lake Michigan. The Permanent Prevention of Asian Carp Act would compel the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to “expedite” a study outlining the best means of separating the Mississippi River basin and Great Lakes. The proposal comes more than a week after a single bighead Asian carp was discovered in Chicago’s Lake Calumet, six miles past an electric barrier designed to stop the fish. Since that discovery, many groups have expressed dissatisfaction with the U.S. government’s response, particularly that of the Army Corps.
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5 Most Positive Pieces of Environmental Legislation. – Salvatore Cardoni, Take Part, July 1, 2010
Despite the gushing nudge provided by the Gulf oil spill, the Waxman-Markey climate bill passed last year by the House of Representatives still languishes in the Senate. The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act looks to be DOA. All this D.C. gridlock got us thinking: Let’s remind our elected officials and their constituents of the major pieces of environmental legislation that Congresses Past were able to pass. We’re not even talking about the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, or the Toxic Substances Control Act.
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Tester: Forest Jobs bill can help reduce fire danger, create jobs. – John Q. Murray, Chronicle, July 1, 2010
Sen. Jon Tester reported progress on his Forest Jobs and Recreation bill, affirmed support for Secure Rural Schools, and again tried to quash the rumor about a federal land lockup in Montana.
He made the remarks during his monthly teleconference with Montana newspaper reporters on Thursday morning. Sen. Tester said he recently held a productive breakfast meeting with chairman Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) about moving the bill out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee . “We’ve got the Forest Service on board working to get some language squared away,” he said, noting that the bill is getting closer to passage every day. “Every once in a while we get a hiccup and wonder if we can pull this through.” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is promoting a similar bill, and both senators presented their visions for their bills at the meeting.
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House committee approves amendment to close Clean Water Act loophole. Water Technology Online, July 2, 2010
Earthworks, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the destructive impacts of mineral development, has announced its support of an effort by U.S. Rep. Mike Arcuri (D-NY) to close one of the loopholes in the Clean Water Act for oil and gas companies, according to a press release. Arcuri offered an amendment to the Oil Spill Accountability and Environmental Protection Act of 2010, which was approved on July 1 by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The amendment eliminates the ability of oil and gas operators to circumvent the Clean Water Act’s stormwater permitting provisions during construction of oil and gas wells, the release stated.
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ENERGY

Oil

Federal rule change could free more skimmers for Gulf oil fight. – Chris Kirkham, Nola, June 29th, 2010
In an attempt to streamline federal laws that require skimmers and other oil spill response equipment to be on hand in other parts of the country — preventing their use in the Gulf of Mexico — the Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency issued a temporary rule Tuesday that would free up resources and allow them to combat the Gulf oil disaster. It’s unclear exactly how many more skimming vessels could be directed to the Gulf as a result of the rule change. Officials with the Coast Guard did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday. But based on numbers from early last week in the Coast Guard’s National Response Resource Inventory, there are more than 1,600 skimmers available in the continental United States — though only an estimated 433 skimming vessels are currently working in the Gulf.
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EPA Releases First Round of Toxicity Testing Data for Eight Oil Dispersants. EPA News Release, June 30, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released peer reviewed results from the first round of its own independent toxicity testing on eight oil dispersants. EPA conducted testing to ensure that decisions about ongoing dispersant use in the Gulf of Mexico continue to be grounded in the best available science. EPA’s results indicated that none of the eight dispersants tested, including the product in use in the gulf, displayed biologically significant endocrine disrupting activity. While the dispersant products alone – not mixed with oil – have roughly the same impact on aquatic life, JD-2000 and Corexit 9500 were generally less toxic to small fish and JD-2000 and SAF-RON GOLD were least toxic to mysid shrimp. While this is important information to have, additional testing is needed to further inform the use of dispersants.
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EPA Says Chemical Dispersant Is Far Less Toxic Than Oil. WKRG-News5, July 1, 2010
BP started using chemical dispersants in April to break apart the massive amount of oil in the Gulf. In May, the Environmental Protection Agency told BP to find a less toxic dispersant to use. But BP never did, and continued using a dispersant called “Corexit.”  Now after initial tests, the EPA says Corexit is less toxic than oil.  Dr. Bob Shipp is a popular marine biologist who thinks dispersants will do more harm than good. “I just can’t understand it. I just can’t understand EPA’s role in this at all, it makes no sense. You shouldn’t use dispersants anyway because it makes the oil far more difficult to handle. It allows it to enter the ecosystem and it’s going to have some negative effects.”
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Feds lean on BP over trash disposal. – Garance Burke, The Associated Press, July 2, 2010
The Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency are tightening up their oversight of BP and its contractors cleaning up the mess on the oily Gulf Coast. The agencies sent a letter to BP PLC on Thursday setting new requirements on how the company should test, manage and dispose of waste from the worst oil spill the Gulf has ever seen. BP has hired contractors to haul away thousands of tons of oily refuse from the coast. A spot check by The Associated Press last week found the handling and disposal of oily materials in some areas was haphazard at best. An EPA spokeswoman says the new rules will make the waste plan enforceable and add transparency requirements on how BP is managing the waste. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Why Is the Gulf Cleanup So Slow? – Paul H. Rubin, The Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2010
As the oil spill continues and the cleanup lags, we must begin to ask difficult and uncomfortable questions. There does not seem to be much that anyone can do to stop the spill except dig a relief well, not due until August. But the cleanup is a different story. The press and Internet are full of straightforward suggestions for easy ways of improving the cleanup, but the federal government is resisting these remedies. First, the Environmental Protection Agency can relax restrictions on the amount of oil in discharged water, currently limited to 15 parts per million. In normal times, this rule sensibly controls the amount of pollution that can be added to relatively clean ocean water. But this is not a normal time. Various skimmers and tankers (some of them very large) are available that could eliminate most of the oil from seawater, discharging the mostly clean water while storing the oil onboard. While this would clean vast amounts of water efficiently, the EPA is unwilling to grant a temporary waiver of its regulations.
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Coast Guard and EPA Send Directive to BP on Oil Spill Waste Management Plan. EPA News Release, July 1, 2010
Today, the U.S. Coast Guard, with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreement, issued a directive to BP on how the company should manage recovered oil, contaminated materials and liquid and solid wastes recovered in cleanup operations from the BP oil spill. The U.S. Coast Guard, along with EPA, and in consultation with the states, will hold BP accountable for the implementation of the approved waste management plans and ensure that the directives are followed in the gulf coast states. While the states of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida are overseeing BP’s waste management activities and conducting inspections, this action today is meant to compliment their activities by providing further oversight and imposing more specific requirements. Under the directive, EPA, in addition to sampling already being done by BP, will begin sampling the waste to help verify that the waste is being properly managed. Waste sampling to date has been done in compliance with EPA and state regulatory requirements.
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The oil spill: The latest developments. The Washington Post, July 3, 2010
“I would not go into the water today.” Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson visited Pensacola Beach on Saturday, her first trip to Florida and her sixth to the gulf since the spill began. Jackson said that despite the level of contamination on the beaches, it should be up to local officials to decide whether they should be closed. Pressed by reporters, she said she would not be swimming.
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Hopes ride on giant oil skimmer in Gulf of Mexico. – Tom Breen, The Associated Press, July 3, 2010
The latest hopes are riding on a massive new skimmer to clean oil from near the spewing well in the Gulf of Mexico, while a local Louisiana parish’s plan to block the slick has been rejected by federal officials. A 48-hour test of the Taiwanese vessel dubbed “A Whale” began Saturday and was to continue through Sunday. TMT Shipping created what is billed as the world’s largest oil skimmer by converting an oil tanker after the April 20 explosion sent millions of gallons of crude spilling into the Gulf. The vessel was expected to cruise a 25-square-mile test site just north of the Macondo Deepwater well site, company officials said.
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Oil spill: Crowds steer clear of beach. – Rebecca Ross, Pensacola News Journal, July 4, 2010
Restaurants and hotel owners hoping for a fireworks-style weekend, saw nothing more than a small spark as the July Fourth holiday kicked off Saturday. Tourists and residents mixed with BP workers cleaning tar balls off of Pensacola Beach. Meanwhile, local officials heard more of the same from the Environmental Protection Agency at a meeting Saturday: Don’t eat the fish caught in the Gulf, and stay out of the water. The Parker family stayed on the beach and dug and packed the white sand. Slowly, a large sea turtle took shape.
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Special Report: BP oil spill a gusher for lawyers. – Jonathan Stempel, Reuters, June 30, 2010
From a legal perspective, BP’s Deepwater Horizon blowout and the 1989 grounding of the Exxon Valdez are in many respects night and day. “The Gulf is seen to be a systemic breakdown,” said Zygmunt Plater, a professor at Boston College Law School and former chairman of the Alaska Oil Spill Commission’s legal task force after the Valdez disaster. “It’s not just one guy who had some drinks.” That was a reference to Joseph Hazelwood, the Valdez captain who admitted to drinking vodka before the spill. He was convicted of negligent discharge of oil, a misdemeanor, and sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service. The closest analogues in the United States may be the litigation over asbestos, which analysts have estimated has cost between $250 billion and $300 billion, and tobacco, whose bill is hard to determine given the many pending cases.
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EPA to sample Macondo spill waste; had been solely BP role. – Richard Rubin, Platts, July 2, 2010
The US Environmental Protection Agency will begin sampling oil, contaminated materials and liquid and solid wastes recovered in cleanup operations from the the Macondo spill to help verify the waste is being properly managed, EPA said Thursday. The sampling of Macondo waste so far has been done by Macondo well operator BP in compliance with regulatory requirements of the EPA and the four Gulf States affected by the ongoing spill, EPA said in a statement.  “While the states of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida are overseeing BP’s waste-management activities and conducting inspections, this action today is meant to complement their activities by providing further oversight and imposing more specific requirements,” EPA said.
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White House Decision On Drilling Should Come In Few Days. – The Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2010
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Thursday said a decision should come in a few days on whether the government will lift a six-month deepwater-drilling moratorium imposed after the disastrous BP PLC (BP, BP.LN) oil spill.  Gibbs, speaking at a daily briefing with reporters, said the decision will come from the Department of Interior. He didn’t hint at what the decision would be. The six-month ban is tangled in court and has raised concerns in the oil industry
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Coal

Underground Coal Mines Fall Under New US EPA Reporting Rules. – Siobhan Hughes, The Wall Street Journal, June 29th, 2010
Underground coal mines, industrial wastewater-treatment systems and industrial-waste landfills will have to disclose details about methane emissions under a rule finalized by …
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Manchin and the WVDEP retain legal counsel in case state decides to sue EPA over MTR guidelines. – Tammy Rose, Examiner , June 30th, 2010
Gov. Joe Manchin and his administration have hired outside legal counsel to represent the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection in case state officials decide to sue the Environmental Protection Agency over their new Water Quality Guidelines for Appalachian Strip Mining. The Charleston law firm of Bailey and Glasser will handle litigation if the state decides a lawsuit is necessary. In a strange twist Bailey and Glasser brought several suits on behalf of coalfield residents against Massey Energy of Virginia.
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EPA gives tentative OK to Logan mine permit. – Ken Ward, Jr., The Charleston Gazette, June 29th, 2010
The Obama administration has given its tentative approval to a new mountaintop removal permit, provided the Logan County operation makes changes federal regulators say are needed to protect downstream water quality. Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency quietly signed off on federal Army Corps of Engineers issuance of a Clean Water Act permit for Arch Coal Inc. subsidiary Coal-Mac Inc.’s Pine Creek Surface Mine near Omar.
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The cost of regulating Wisconsin’s coal ash. – Sarah J. Worthman, Milwaukee Magazine, July 2, 2010
New regulations for the disposing of coal ash proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency are likely to increase costs for utilities in Wisconsin, which are particularly dependent on coal – and those costs are expected to be passed on to consumers. The regulations may also make it more difficult for Milwaukee’s utility, WE Energies, to sell the ash, which is a byproduct of the coal burning process. It’s successfully marketed this waste product to concrete, cement and wallboard manufacturers. The EPA’s proposal was released last month and comments are being accepted until September 20. It proposed two sets of rules – one to regulate coal ash as hazardous waste and another to categorize it as a type of solid waste, a classification also used for household garbage. If the EPA decides to classify the waste as “hazardous,” it would oversee its regulation. If not, the agency would only mandate a set of minimum national standards and leave it up to state governments and citizens’ groups to enforce them.
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Hazardous Label for Coal Ash Opposed NRECA asks EPA for more comment time on rule. ECT.coop, July 2, 2010
Regulation of coal ash as a hazardous substance by the Environmental Protection Agency could preclude converting the material for beneficial purposes, while driving up costs for utilities and ratepayers, NRECA officials said. Instead, EPA can take more measured steps to regulate coal combustion residuals, known as coal ash, according to the association, which will ask the agency to extend the time for comments on its regulatory plans. “We believe the administration can achieve its objectives without jeopardizing the current economically and environmentally beneficial practice of reusing these materials and we strongly oppose classifying coal ash as hazardous material,” said NRECA CEO Glenn English.
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EPA Quietly Approves New Mountaintop Removal Permit in Appalachia. Center for Biological Diversity News Release, June 30, 2010
With the nation’s eyes on the Gulf of Mexico disaster, the Environmental Protection Agency, without publicly announcing the action, has approved a major new mountaintop-removal coal mining permit in Logan County, West Virginia. The permit approves the destruction of nearly three miles of currently clean stream and 760 acres of forest, in a county where at least 13 percent of the land has already been permitted for surface coal mining. This is the first permit decision the EPA has issued under its new mountaintop removal guidelines, which promised “unprecedented steps” to reduce the negative impacts of surface coal mining on water quality, aquatic life and human health in Appalachia.
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EPA to Require Greenhouse Gas Reporting from Coal Mines. – Kristin Espeland Gourlay, 89.3 WFPL, June 30, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued rules in October of last year requiring certain industries to report the amount of greenhouse gases they emit.  Now, the agency has added underground coal mines to that list of industries.  Beginning in January of 2011, mine operators will have to track and later report how much methane they emit.  Methane is 21 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide, and to prevent it from building up underground, mine operators release it into the atmosphere.  But EPA Climate Change Division spokeswoman Pamela Franklin says that methane can be put to use.
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Gas

Pennsylvania Fracking Fluid Found To Contain Neurologically Harmful Chemicals. – Eartha Jane Melzer, The Michigan Messenger, June 29th, 2010
More than two years after the start of a natural gas drilling boom, Pennsylvania is making public a complete list of the chemicals used to extract the gas from deep underground amid rising public fears of potential water contamination and increased scrutiny of the fast-growing industry. Compounds associated with neurological problems, cancer and other serious health effects are among the chemicals being used to drill the wells, although state and industry officials say there is no evidence that the activity is polluting drinking water.
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OPINION: Make fracking as safe as possible. LeHigh Valley Live, June 30th, 2010
The news on the “fracking”  front in Pennsylvania has been moving faster than a natural-gas gusher. For those still catching up on this, fracking is the process of injecting water, chemicals and sand under high pressure into shale formations deep underground, freeing up natural gas and pushing it to the surface. It has been an economic boon to depressed areas, but it comes with environmental hazards, the most recent being a June 3 blowout of a well in Clearfield County.
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Pa. Misfires In Bid To Identify Drilling Chemicals. – Marc Levy, The Associated Press, July 1, 2010
State environmental regulators said Thursday they misfired in a bid to catalog chemicals used by the drilling industry to extract natural gas from the rich Marcellus Shale reserve. Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Tom Rathbun said a list of chemicals provided to The Associated Press shortly after a blowout at a natural-gas well inadvertently included all chemicals used at well sites, not just those injected into wells. “It was an effort to be transparent and give complete public disclosure, and unfortunately it didn’t work out that way,” Rathbun said. A blowout at a well in a remote area about 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh on June 3 shot explosive gas and polluted water as high as 75 feet into the air before crews were able to tame it more than half a day later. The gas never caught fire, and no injuries were reported, but state officials had worried about an explosion before the well could be controlled.
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Biofuels

Why the Delay for Higher Blends of Ethanol? KCAU-TV, June 28th, 2010
U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota says she and other members of Congress want to find out why federal officials have delayed a decision on allowing higher concentrations of ethanol in gasoline. The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced it will wait until fall to decide whether to increase the maximum blend from 10 to 15 percent. The agency said the delay would allow more testing of the higher blend in vehicles.
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Harkin Echoes Calls to Obama for increased Ethanol Use. The Daily Iowan, June 28th, 2010
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, joined six other senators on June 25 in sending a letter to President Obama appealing for increased promotion of biofuels that use higher blends of ethanol. Among several issues discussed in the letter, the statement from the senators urges Obama to respond to the current BP oil spill with a greater sense of urgency to “utilize more homegrown biofuels. The letter also expressed concern that the Department of Energy has not yet completed testing of gasoline-ethanol blends with higher than 10 percent ethanol.
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OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS

Waste

U.S.: Joint and Several CERCLA Liability After the Burlington Northern Decision. – Robert Lucic and John D’Agostino, EHS Journal, July 2, 2010
Businesses facing potential liability for environmental cleanup costs have struggled with the often-draconian method for assessing the extent of that liability, especially where other contributors to contamination have gone out of business or are otherwise unable to meet their obligations for cleanup costs.  The threat of joint and several liability under the U.S. Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) was simply a presumed fact of life. U.S. Supreme Court Ruling. Environmental lawyers and consultants are now grappling with how to advise clients about CERCLA liability since the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company, et al. v. United States in May 2009.  The two-part decision addressed (1) whether CERCLA liability attached to a chemical manufacturer (Shell Oil Company) that sold new and useful product that was disposed of improperly by the purchaser, and (2) whether the owners of a portion of a contaminated site could be held jointly and severally liable for the cleanup costs of the entire site.  The Supreme Court answered these questions, respectively, “no” and “not necessarily.”
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Water

Toxic Mercury Is More at Home in Seawater, Study Finds. – Sindyah N. Bhanoo, The New York Times, June 29th, 2010
It has long been known that mercury levels in seafood can prove poisonous to humans. Methylmercury, an especially toxic form of mercury, can lead to kidney dysfunction and neurological disorders. Pregnant women in particular are told to be careful because dietary exposure to methylmercury can lead to birth defects in infants. Now a new study suggests that humans need to be more wary of saltwater fish like tuna, mackerel and sharks than of freshwater fish. Although seawater has lower concentrations of mercury than freshwater, mercury in seawater is more likely to stay in its toxic form, researchers report in a recent issue of Nature Geoscience.
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Ohio lake’s algae dangerous to swimmers, economy. – John Seewer, The Associated Press, July 2, 2010
Patches of green and turquoise slime floated like thick paint in the channel behind Kyle Biesel’s home. His pontoon boat sat covered up, unused for weeks, on a wooden lift stained by the algae. A foul smell enveloped the backyard where he used to fish and watch blue herons glide over the water. He called it a “sickening combination of manure and propane gas.” Even more alarming, tests reveal that the waters in Ohio’s largest inland lake contain dangerous toxins with the potential to cause rashes, vomiting or even liver and nerve damage. State officials say it’s no longer safe for swimming and skiing. It’s causing economic and environmental distress for hundreds of people who work along Grand Lake St. Marys in western Ohio, an area already hurt by manufacturing cuts that have contributed to Ohio’s highest unemployment rates in a quarter century. Tourism brings an estimated $216 million into the area with much of that coming from visitors to the lake.
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Climate Change

Michael Mann says hockey stick should not have become ‘climate change icon’. – Louise Gray, Telegraph, June 28th, 2010
Professor Michael Mann plotted a graph in the late 1990s that showed global temperatures for the last 1,000 years. It showed a sharp rise in temperature over the last 100 years as man made carbon emissions also increased, creating the shape of a hockey stick. The graph was used by Al Gore in his film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and was cited by the United Nations body the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as evidence of the link between fossil fuel use and global warming. But the graph was questioned by sceptics who pointed out that is it impossible to know for certain the global temperature going back beyond modern times because there were no accurate readings.
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Sorting Myth and Reality in Climate Policy. – Andrew C. Revkin, The New York Times, June 30, 2010
The Energy Collective is a valuable aggregator of views on one of the prime challenges of our time — how to provide the energy required to foster a smooth path beyond “ peak us” while cutting the risks of economic turmoil, resource conflicts or disruptive climate change. In a fresh post, Darrene Hackler summarizes conclusions from a new report she wrote with Robert D. Atkinson (they both hail from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a nonprofit research group) that rebuts 10 prominent strategies for avoiding dangerous human-driven climate change. Their report, “ Debunking the Myths of Global Climate Change,” will challenge a variety of camps in the climate debate, from those seeing  regulatory and market forces as sufficient to drive the energy transformation to those seeking a “ steady-state economy.”
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The other carbon-dioxide problem. – Ny Alesund, The Economist, July 1, 2010
In the waters of Kongsfjord, an inlet on the coast of Spitsbergen, sit nine contraptions that bring nothing to mind as much as monster condoms. Each is a transparent sheath of plastic 17-metres long, mostly underwater, held in place by a floating collar. The seawater sealed within them is being mixed with different levels of carbon dioxide to see what will happen to the ecology of the Arctic waters. As carbon dioxide levels go up, pH levels come down. Acidity depends on the presence of hydrogen ions (the H in pH) and more hydrogen ions mean, counterintuitively, a lower pH. Expose the surface of the ocean to an atmosphere with ever more carbon dioxide, and the gas and waters will produce carbonic acid, lowering pH on a planetary scale. The declining pH does not actually make the waters acidic (they started off mildly alkaline). But it makes them more acidic, just as turning up the light makes a dark room brighter
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Penn State Clears Climate Scientist Mann of Climategate Wrongdoing. Environmental News Service, July 1, 2010
A Pennsylvania State University investigative committee today cleared a well-known Penn State climate scientist of research misconduct, in connection with pilfered e-mails about global warming called Climategate. Penn State meteorology professor Michael Mann has been cleared of any wrongdoing, according to the report resulting from the four-month long internal investigation that was released today. Mann was under investigation for allegations of research impropriety that surfaced last year after thousands of stolen e-mails were published online.
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Other Articles on the Same Topic:

Climate Scientist Cleared of Altering Data. – Justin GIllis, The New York Times, July 1, 2010
An American scientist accused of manipulating research findings on climate science was cleared of that charge by his university on Thursday, the latest in a string of reports to find little substance in the allegations known as Climategate. An investigative panel at Pennsylvania State University, weighing the question of whether the scientist, Michael E. Mann, had “seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting or reporting research or other scholarly activities,” declared that he had not. Dr. Mann said he was gratified by the findings, the second report from Penn State to clear him. An earlier report had exonerated him of related charges that he suppressed or falsified data, destroyed e-mail and misused confidential information.
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Other

EPA: $30M on the way for Puget Sound restoration. – The Associated Press, July 2, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that nearly $30 million in federal money is on the way to help restore Puget Sound. The money will be used to support local projects to protect and restore the sound’s water quality and habitat. The agency says it will announce how some of the grant money will be used next week.
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