Posted by: Steven M. Taber | September 13, 2010

Environmental Law and Climate Change Law Newsletter, September 13, 2010, vol. 2, no. 26Environmental Law and Climate Change Law Newsletter, September 13, 2010, vol. 2, no. 26

September 13, 2010, Volume 2, Number 26

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 Taber Law Group every Monday. Archives can be found there and on our blog, The Environmental Law and Climate Change Law Blog.  For more information about the Taber Law Group, please visit our website at taberlaw.com.

SETTLEMENTS

Edge Tech Industries of Davenport, Iowa, to Pay $26,000 Penalty for Failure to Report Annual Toxic Release Inventory for Lead. – EPA News Release, September 9, 2010
Edge Tech Industries, a printed circuit boards and contract manufacturer in Davenport, Iowa, has agreed to pay a $26,000 civil penalty to the United States to settle claims that it failed to submit necessary annual reports listing the quantities of toxic lead that it manufactured, processed or otherwise used during 2006, 2007 and 2008. An EPA Region 7 representative inspected the Edge Tech Industries facility located at 908 East 59th Street in Davenport in August 2009, and discovered the violations of the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Under EPCRA regulations, companies of certain size are required to submit their annual reports to EPA and state authorities by listing the amounts of regulated chemicals that their facilities release into the environment through routine activities or as a result of accidents. The reports, also known as Form R Reports, include additional information regarding waste management, recycling and reduction of these toxic chemicals. The reports provide an important source of information to emergency planners and responders, and residents of surrounding communities.
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Hawaiian County Agrees to Pay Restitution and Modify Operations to Resolve Endangered Species Act & Migratory Bird Treaty Act Violations. – EPA News Release, September 10, 2010
The county of Kauai, Hawaii, has entered into a plea agreement to resolve alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), the Justice Department announced today. The county today entered a plea of guilty to violating the MBTA by taking, that is killing or wounding, more than 18 migratory birds, specifically Newell’s shearwaters (known in the Hawaiian language as ‘a’o).  According to the court documents, the Newell’s shearwater (Puffinus auricularis newelli) is a seabird native to the Hawaiian Islands. The majority of the world’s population of Newell’s shearwaters nest on the island of Kauai, specifically in burrows on inland mountains. Young shearwaters leave these inland mountain nests and make their first flight to the sea in September through December each year, typically at night. The young birds use mountain air currents or physical drop offs to become airborne. If a young shearwater falls to the ground in a location without conditions such as those that occur in the inland mountains or at sea, it usually will be unable to regain flight.
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DECISIONS

Court upholds ID ruling on grazing restrictions. – The Associated Press, September 7, 2010
A federal court has upheld most of an Idaho court’s ruling that blocked looser grazing regulations on millions of acres of public land across the nation. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Bureau of Land Management violated two federal laws by failing to consider the environmental ramifications of the regulation changes. The decision concurs with that of U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Winmill in Idaho, who, in 2007, ruled the BLM’s rule revisions limited the amount of public comment the agency had to consider and diluted the BLM’s authority to sanction ranchers for grazing violations. Winmill said the agency had given in to pressure from the livestock industry. Environmental groups sued to stop the rule revisions, contending they violated the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. The appeals court found the BLM violated the first two acts, but sent the portion of the case dealing with the Federal Land Policy and Management Act back to the district court, citing an overlooked 1984 case that served as a precedent. But that isn’t expected to change BLM regulations.
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Massachusetts-based Landlord Faces Nearly $85K Penalty for Failure to Disclose Lead Paint to Tenants in Springfield. – EPA News Release, September 10, 2010
A Massachusetts apartment complex owner and landlord faces a penalty of $83,575 for charges by EPA that he violated federal lead paint disclosure rules at his apartment complex in Springfield. These violations potentially put tenants at risk of exposure to lead paint hazards. According to EPA, 122 Chestnut, L.L.C., failed to provide tenants with lead hazard information pamphlets; failed to include lead warning statements in leases; failed to include a disclosure statement regarding lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards in leases; and failed to include lists of records or reports pertaining to lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards in leases.
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LAWSUITS AND ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS FILED

Sierra Club Sues Over Texas Power Plant. – Sustainable Business.com, September 8, 2010
The Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice and Environmental Integrity Project, filed a lawsuit last Thursday against the owner of a Texas power plant that the group says has had more than 50,000 air pollution violations. The massive Martin Lake coal-fired power plant, located near Longview, Texas, is owned by Luminant (formerly TXU). It is one of the dirtiest coal plants in the nation and the worst power plant for mercury pollution among all U.S. coal plants with 1,764 pounds of mercury emissions in 2008, as listed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Toxics Release Inventory. In Texas, Martin Lake ranked third for soot pollution and was responsible for 13% of all industrial air pollution in the state. Earthjustice says the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has ignored years of repeated excessive soot pollution and other violations at the Martin Lake plant, putting the health of nearby communities at risk. While this legal challenge alleges over 50,000 violations for the last 5 years, TCEQ has not issued one enforcement notice, nor corrected any of the deficiencies at the plant through that same time period.
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President Obama is right to back lawsuit of carbon emissions. – The Washington Post, September 7, 2010
Environmentalists were unhappy with President Obama after climate legislation foundered in the Senate. A week and a half ago, their blood came to an even more vigorous boil after the administration sided with the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federal entity, in a lawsuit over power plant carbon emissions. This left enviros wondering aloud about what had happened to a president who made reversing the rising of the oceans a campaign promise. Mr. Obama deserves some criticism for his handling of climate legislation. But his administration’s decision on this case, Connecticut v. American Electric Power, is more than defensible. In 2004, a group of states and New York City sued several large electric utilities, charging that the greenhouse emissions their power plants produce were a “public nuisance” because they contributed to global warming, which harmed those jurisdictions. A district court refused to hear the case, saying that it involved questions best left to the political branches of government. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit disagreed, arguing that the political branches hadn’t developed a policy on carbon emissions; so the states could appeal to common law, which allows for nuisance claims. The Obama administration filed a brief on Aug. 26 with the Supreme Court, which might hear the case. The administration pointed out that since the Second Circuit’s ruling, the Environmental Protection Agency has nearly completed preparations to regulate greenhouse emissions from utilities under the Clean Air Act. As long as it addresses the nuisance the states identified — and the administration makes a good argument that it does — that policy displaces common law, the legal basis of the suit.
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Court Enforced EPA Action Aims to Restore Everglades. – Conan Milner, Epoch Times, September 6, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given Florida specific measures to restore water quality to protect the Everglades. The action complies with an amended determination set by U.S. District Judge Alan S. Gold in April ordering the agency to give Florida comprehensive instructions to improve environmental conditions by Sept. 3. For years, the EPA has faced pressure from environmental groups to take pollution in the Everglades more seriously. Friends of the Everglades and the Miccosukee Tribe sued the agency in 2004 for not taking a more active role in protecting this unique ecosystem. In accordance with Gold’s ruling, the EPA told the state that clean water standards for phosphorus are not being met in all areas of the Everglades. The agency called for further reductions in phosphorus pollution specifically in the area south of Lake Okeechobee. According to the EPA, although phosphorus is a naturally-occurring nutrient, “in excess it can cause chemical and biological changes that degrade natural systems, such as wetlands, lakes, and coastal areas.” Runoff from farms north of the Everglades has been blamed as the largest source of the excess phosphorus. The agency says it will soon amend existing discharge limits to conform to Gold’s decision.
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Sioux City Joins Lawsuit Against Environmental Protection Agency. – KPTH Fox 44, September 10, 2010
Sioux City will join a number of other Iowa cities in a lawsuit against the EPA. The Iowa League of Cities already filed the suit challenging rule reinterpretations of wet weather collection issues. City Attorney Andrew Mai says the regulations could have a negative effect on Sioux City’s collections system and the wastewater treatment plant. “Well the regulations all relate the way that you define or the way water enters the system of the sewer plant. And typically with the EPA, what’s done is it’s done through an administrative process when the rules are changed,” said Mai. The lawsuit would require the EPA to follow its own rulemaking process and give cities a voice before regulations are adopted. The city will pay $25,000 in legal fees for the suit.
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REGULATORY ACTIONS

Air

Challenge heightened on EPA air quality rules. – Mike Lee, Star-Telegram, September 6, 2010
New information shows that it may be more challenging than expected to meet tough new air pollution standards that the federal government is proposing. It’s the latest twist in the run-up to new federal rules on ozone, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce at the end of October. Regulators at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, who are in charge of writing the ozone-control plan, questioned some of the results, but agreed with parts of it. Currently, cities are deemed to violate the Clean Air Act if they have more than 85 parts per billion of ozone in their air. Dallas and Fort Worth and nine surrounding counties have violated that standard for years, despite a series of regional plans to reduce the amount of ozone. The EPA has announced that it will lower the standard even further, to between 60 and 70 parts per billion.
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Quality of air a regional problem. – BJ Lewis, Denton Record Chronicle, September 7, 2010
Denton County was among a number of North Texas counties the Environmental Protection Agency recently labeled with “serious non-attainment” status regarding air quality. County officials are now working to come up with a plan to get the air into compliance, and local representatives believe that goal is not that far off.  “We were 2 parts per million out of attainment,” said County Commissioner Ron Marchant, who sits on the clean air steering committee of the North Central Texas Council of Governments along with Denton Mayor Mark Burroughs.  “Because it was not as far off as it could have been, [the EPA] gives you a couple years to reach attainment,” Marchant said. The task force has come together to figure out ways to reduce the amount of ozone and other gases that pollute the air, he said.  Marchant noted that many variables, such as wind direction, can affect air quality on any given day, let alone the three-year period the counties have been given to meet the standard.
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Water

Oregon may raise level of metals allowed in water. – John Darling, Mail Tribune, September 7, 2010
The state Department of Environmental Quality is proposing changes in water quality standards that increase the levels of arsenic, manganese and iron — naturally occurring metals — industries and cities can discharge into rivers. DEQ is inviting public comment through September on the changes, which will prevent needless costs by the DEQ and discharging industries without adversely affecting the health of people, said Debra Sturdevant, DEQ water quality standards program leader in Portland. “We’re changing our criteria to be less stringent,” said Sturdevant. “The current levels of arsenic are very low and it’s unattainable (to reach the limits) in many places.”
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Virginia submits Chesapeake Bay restoration plan. – Steve Szkotak, The Assoicated Press, September 8, 2010
Virginia has submitted what it calls a flexible, recession-conscious plan to restore the Chesapeake Bay, drawing sharp criticism Wednesday from environmentalists who contend it does little to expand cleanup efforts. Gov. Bob McDonnell and Virginia farm interests have been skeptical or outright critical of the federal government’s ambitious approach to revive the bay, and the draft plan submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency reflects that point of view. In a cover letter dated Sept. 3 to the EPA, Virginia’s secretary of natural resources repeats McDonnell’s concerns about the costs, science and timing of meeting demands to restore the bay and its watershed. “It is important to emphasize that this plan is being developed during the worst economy in at least a generation,” Secretary Douglas W. Domenech wrote. “This draft plan takes into account the billions of dollars Virginians have already invested in Chesapeake Bay water quality to date.”
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EPA Objects to Dredging Permit Proposals. – EPA News Release, September 8, 2010
EPA has determined that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Draft Environmental Impact Statement presents insufficient scientific information to support dredging permits allowing sand and gravel removal from the Missouri River. The applicant’s proposal would allow the removal of 11,615,000 tons per year of main channel river bottom material. EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks said, “Adequate science is lacking to support issuance of the requested dredging permits. The proposal could contribute to significant riverbed loss in three segments of the river and result in damage to levees and bridges, increased flood risk and environmental damage.”
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EPA Announces Public Meetings on Chesapeake Bay ‘Pollution Diet.’ – EPA News Release, September 8, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is scheduled to hold 18 public meetings this fall to discuss the draft Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) – a strict “pollution diet” to restore local waters and the Chesapeake Bay. “We encourage the public to continue to provide input as EPA moves forward in finalizing and implementing this blueprint for restoration,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “Restoring the Chesapeake Bay and the waterways that connect to it will not be easy, and every citizen in the Bay watershed has a stake and a role in this process.”  The Bay TMDL will set binding limits on nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution throughout the 64,000-square-mile watershed to meet clean water standards for the Bay and its tidal tributaries and help restore local rivers and streams.
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EPA responds to Enbridge oil spill in Romeoville. – EPA News Release, September 9, 2010
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emergency response personnel were deployed to Romeoville, Ill., this afternoon to investigate and respond to an oil spill from a pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy Limited Partnership. The company notified the National Response Center about the incident at 1:20 p.m. today.  “EPA, state and local agencies mobilized immediately to respond to this incident and we are taking steps to minimize damage to the environment and to protect the DesPlaines River,” said U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman. “We have many questions about this incident and we expect prompt answers from Enbridge.”  Initial assessments indicate that crude oil from the pipeline flowed through sewers into a retention pond at 719 Parkwood Avenue near Route 53. The pipeline has been shut down.
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Other Articles on the Same Topic:

EPA orders Enbridge to stop Ill. pipeline spill. – The Associated Press, September 11, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday ordered Enbridge Energy Partners to stop the flow of oil from its leaking pipeline outside of Chicago by noon Monday. EPA said that Enbridge crews have contained oil spilling from the pipeline and are trying to determine how the leak happened. EPA spokeswoman Anne Rowan said the pipeline was leaking an estimated 200 to 600 gallons of crude per hour. “The leak site itself is contained but oil is continuing to drain out of the pipeline,” said Enbridge spokeswoman Terri Larson. “As that oil drains out crews are cleaning it up.” The Houston company does not have a timetable for restoring the line to operation but is working to divert its volume to other pipelines and storage facilities. Enbridge shut the pipeline down after the leak was reported Thursday in the Chicago suburb of Romeoville. Oil spewed onto a roadway and into a nearby retention pond but no injuries were reported.
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Oil Continues to Leak in Chicago Suburbs. – Jerry A. Dicolo, The Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2010
Oil continued to leak out of a pipeline in the Chicago suburbs, sending crude-oil prices higher on the prospect of extended downtime for a key artery that ships Canadian crude to the U.S. “The site itself is isolated and contained,” said Terri Larson, a spokeswoman for Enbridge Inc., a Canadian company that owns and operates the pipeline. “There is still some oil coming out of the pipe.” The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered that the leakage be halted by noon on Monday.  Enbridge first detected the leak in Romeoville, Ill., on Thursday. The cause and the size of the spill are still unknown. This is the second time in three months that oil has spilled from Enbridge’s aging Lakehead system, which carries an estimated 70% of oil that flows into the U.S. from its northern neighbor. The U.S. imports more oil from Canada than any other nation and cross-border flows averaged 2.2 million barrels in June, according to the latest U.S. government data. Crews haven’t begun excavating the underground Enbridge 6A pipeline, which has the capacity to carry 670,000 barrels a day. The Calgary-based company isolated a three-mile section of its pipeline after the leak was discovered, and the oil is slowly seeping out. Some oil made its way into a nearby retention pond but not into local waterways, the EPA said. The agency is taking various air and water samples and says it expects the removal of all contaminated plants, oil and ground water by Nov. 9.
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EPA Formally Requests Information From Companies About Chemicals Used in Natural Gas Extraction / Information on hydraulic fracturing chemicals is key to agency study of potential impacts on drinking water. – EPA News Release, September 9, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it has issued voluntary information requests to nine natural gas service companies regarding the process known as hydraulic fracturing. The data requested is integral to a broad scientific study now underway by EPA, which Congress in 2009 directed the agency to conduct to determine whether hydraulic fracturing has an impact on drinking water and the public health of Americans living in the vicinity of hydraulic fracturing wells. In making the requests of the nine leading national and regional hydraulic fracturing service providers – BJ Services, Complete Production Services, Halliburton, Key Energy Services, Patterson-UTI, RPC, Inc., Schlumberger, Superior Well Services, and Weatherford – EPA is seeking information on the chemical composition of fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process, data on the impacts of the chemicals on human health and the environment, standard operating procedures at their hydraulic fracturing sites and the locations of sites where fracturing has been conducted. This information will be used as the basis for gathering further detailed information on a representative selection of sites.
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EPA awards 13 million for Puget Sound restoration. – The Associated Press, September 9, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding $13 million in science grants to help protect and restore Puget Sound. EPA Regional Administrator Dennis McLerran joined U.S. Reps. Norm Dicks and Adam Smith on Wednesday to announce the money and unveil plans for the Puget Sound Research Institute at the University of Washington, Tacoma. The state Department of Health is one of several agencies getting a grant. Money also will be used to study the effects of industrial contaminants on Puget Sound salmon, to protect wetlands from development and to protect local beaches and shellfish beds.
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Iowa feedlots told to clean up. – Andrew J. Nelson, World-Herald, September 9, 2010
When the Environmental Protection Agency tested the waters downstream from some Iowa feedlots, it found more E-coli and other pathogens than the agency would allow a wastewater treatment plant to discharge. It’s a problem, one involving a region with many feedlots, creeks and rivers, and operators who are unsure exactly what the rules are. The EPA has ordered improvements for feedlots it thinks are contaminating nearby water systems, including eight in northwest Iowa in August. Those feedlots housed between 300 and 1,000 head of cattle. “Over time, hopefully, we’ll be looking at fewer because more folks will be getting the message,” said Chris Whitley, a spokesman for the EPA region covering Iowa and Nebraska. The problem affects a lot more than just residents in northwest Iowa, Whitley said. Most of the facilities cited by the EPA are near waters that eventually flow into the Missouri River north of Omaha and Council Bluffs. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources classifies the Missouri in the metro area as environmentally impaired, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
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EPA scorns dredging in Missouri River. – UPI, September 9, 2010
An environmental impact assessment from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on plans to dredge the Missouri River is inadequate, the EPA found. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determined that a draft impact statement prepared by the Army Corps of Engineers doesn’t have enough scientific information to support plans to remove more than 11 million tons of gravel per year from the Missouri River. “Adequate science is lacking to support issuance of the requested dredging permits,” said Karl Brooks, the regional EPA administrator, in a statement. “The proposal could contribute to significant riverbed loss in three segments of the river and result in damage to levees and bridges, increased flood risk and environmental damage.” The EPA said the Corps of Engineers would consider its warnings as it starts work on its final environmental impact statement. “The final EIS will contain the corps’ preferred dredging amount,” the EPA said. Dredging in the Missouri River began in the 1930s to support road construction and other development projects. Around 7 million tons of sand and gravel are removed from the river each year on average.
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EPA Sets New Limits for Blue Plains Wastewater Discharges; Will Bring Improvements to the Bay, Potomac River. – EPA News Release, September 10, 2010
To help improve water quality in the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reissued an operating permit for the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility. The permit reduces the amount of nitrogen the plant can discharge by 3.8 million pounds each year – - a 45 percent reduction. “These reductions are critical to protecting the health of the Chesapeake Bay as well as the Potomac River,” said Shawn M. Garvin, EPA mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator. By significantly reducing nitrogen pollution from the Blue Plains plant, we’re taking a major step on the road to restoring the Bay for future generations. DC Water through its early actions to enhance treatment levels at this facility is clearly a leader in the Bay restoration.”
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Waste

Whitefish River Drained for BNSF Cleanup. – Myers Reece, The Flathead Beacon, September 6, 2010
A section of the Whitefish River has gone dry. And when the water returns, it will have a much cleaner home. Construction crews have re-routed a dammed-off portion of the Whitefish River as part of a cleanup process mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is requiring Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to remove sediments contaminated by petroleum-based products in the river near the rail company’s fueling facility. The river draining – between the fueling facility and just below the Second Street Bridge – is part of the river cleanup’s Phase II. During last year’s Phase I, crews cleaned out about 3,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments farther upstream near the fueling facility, said Jennifer Chergo, spokesperson for EPA’s Region 8.
Chergo said Phase II will remove 10,000 cubic yards of sediments from a total of 2,100 feet of river – 1,200 feet downstream of the fueling facility and about another 900 feet upstream. Crews began assembling the portable dams and piping system in late July in preparation for the river draining.
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Short-Term Cleanup Completed at Centredale Manor Restoration Project in N. Providence. – EPA News Release, September 7, 2010
The latest phase of cleanup at the Centredale Manor Restoration Project in North Providence, R.I. is complete. Last month, Emhart Industries, Inc., a potentially responsible party, completed an approximately $1.7 million short-term cleanup excavating contaminated soil alongside and under portions of the Brook Village parking lot. The removal of nearly 2,300 tons of contaminated soil will limit the migration of contamination through groundwater into the Woonasquatucket River. EPA and the Rhode Island Dept. of Environmental Management (RIDEM) supervised the work done by Loureiro Engineering Associates and its subcontractors on behalf of Emhart. Key elements of the short-term cleanup included:
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EPA to Seek Public Input on Cleanup Plan for Contamination at Raymark Site in Stratford, Conn. – EPA News Release, September 7, 2010
A 30-day public comment period will begin next week on the Proposed Cleanup Plan for a portion of the Raymark Industries, Inc. Superfund Site in Stratford, Conn. The comment period, which begins September 16, will end on October 16, 2010. EPA has also scheduled a public meeting and public hearing to ensure adequate opportunity for the public to provide input on the proposal. The Public Informational Meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Septembe15, 2010 at Stratford High School, 44 North Parade, Stratford, CT. There will be a presentation on the plan followed by a discussion period. A Public Hearing will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at the Stratford Town Hall Council Chamber, 2725 Main Street, Stratford, CT. At this hearing the public can offer oral and written comments on the plan. EPA does not respond to any of the comments made at the Public Hearing other than to indicate the time limits or to request clarification. At the close of the formal comment session, if time permits, EPA will be available to answer questions.
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U.S. EPA designates area off Guam for disposal of clean sediments from dredging. – EPA News Release, September 8, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has published a Final Rule in the Federal Register designating an ocean disposal site offshore of Guam for clean sediments from dredging projects.
Dredging is necessary to maintain or improve safe navigation in existing ports and harbors, as well as when new shipping facilities are built. Whenever possible, the sediments from dredging projects are recycled, but sometimes that’s not feasible. On a small island such as Guam, upland capacity for reusing sediments is particularly limited. EPA’s action provides an environmentally sound alternative for managing Guam’s dredged sediments.
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Edgewater officials confront EPA on plan for Quanta site cleanup. – Maxim Almenas, NorthJersey.com, September 8, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency made a formal presentation to the mayor and council on Sept. 7 of its recommendations for the contaminated Quanta site and other areas nearby where pollutants have migrated for 100 years. John Prince, the EPA’s section chief for New Jersey remediation, proposed a solidification and stabilization treatment that would contain the contaminant coal tar, or NAPL, a viscous black liquid made from the distillation of coal and used in roofing and waterproofing and in dyes, drugs and paints. The EPA is also contemplating excavation of NAPL and arsenic on the Quanta property bordering River Road and the hotel at the City Place development. The EPA has said that area of the site has the highest level of arsenic in the state.
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Cleanup at Orland Park site will take time. – Dennis Sullivan, The Chicago Tribune, September 8, 2010
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing a 5-inch-thick report on soil and water contamination at a 75-acre parcel on Orland Park‘s west side. But it might be a while before the state recommends how to clean up the site northwest of 153rd Street and the Norfolk Southern Railroad line, said IEPA spokesman Stan Black. Andrew LLC previously used the site to manufacture communications equipment. Typically, Black said, the review process takes one to two months, but can take longer. Because there is no contamination “that could affect the public in any way” at the Orland Park site, “it’s not a time-sensitive issue,” he said. “Nobody has wells in the area; they all have Lake Michigan water,” Black said. “It would be a real concern if they had wells, but nobody does.” Andrew voluntarily participates in –– and pays for –– the remediation process, which ultimately provides a clean environmental bill of health for the once-contaminated property, Black said. That is an important issue for lenders and potential buyers.
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Workers say Garner Environmental covering up partial clean up efforts. – Todd A. Heywood, The Michigan Messenger, September 9, 2010
Oil spill cleanup workers are alleging that Garner Environmental — a key contractor for Enbridge Energy Partners — is instructing those who work for them to cover up oil-soaked areas rather than clean them up.  Garner Environmental is a Texas company and a major contractor hired by Enbridge to conduct the cleanup. The company has already weathered one controversy when a Michigan Messenger investigation discovered that a subcontractor that it hired, Hallmark Industrial, had hired undocumented workers and had them toiling on the river between 12 and 14 hours a day, seven days a week for $800 a week. The workers were paid in cash, and provided hotel rooms and meals. All of the workers spoke with Michigan Messenger on the condition of anonymity because they want to continue working on the cleanup efforts in Calhoun county. Both Enbridge and Garner have had employees, contractors and subcontractors sign non-disclosure agreements.
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EPA invites public to meeting on proposed changes to Dana facility cleanup plan. – EPA News Release, September 10, 2010
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 will hold a public meeting Wednesday, Sept. 15, to present proposed changes to the cleanup plan for the Dana Corp. facility. The Roscoe, Illinois community is invited to comment on the proposed changes at a meeting from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the North Suburban Library District Roscoe Branch, 5562 Clayton Circle. EPA is proposing to phase out the pump-and-treat system used to clean polluted underground water supplies at the Dana Corp. facility formerly known as Warner Electric. The pump-and-treat system has been operating since 1991. Tests show the underground water is now meeting drinking water standards and treatment is no longer needed. Before EPA makes a final decision on altering the 1989 cleanup plan that called for the ground water treatment system, the Agency will review oral comments from the meeting and written public comments submitted through Sept. 30, 2010.
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EPA branch chief pledges CTS site will be cleaned up. – Susan Andrew, Mountain Xpress, September 9, 2010
Don Rigger, chief of the Superfund Remedial and Site Evaluation Branch at EPA’s Region IV in Atlanta, told a gathering of perhaps 30 local residents at the Skyland Fire Department that whether the former CTS electroplating plant pays for the cleanup or the federal government has to take over, the site will be cleaned up. (Rigger was the section chief back in 1999, telling residents then that the EPA would launch an investigation to determine the contamination’s source and to consider Superfund status for the site, according to an Aug. 25 report in the Asheville Citizen-Times that year.) Addressing Dot Rice, whose property adjoins the old CTS plant in Skyland, Rigger said, “I’m sorry this has happened.” The Rice family’s spring, which once provided their drinking water, was contaminated with high levels of toxic chemicals, including trichloroethylene, a suspected carcinogen. The family was placed on the public water system in 1999, but by that time they had been consuming the tainted water for year.
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Climate Change

Houston, Texas, and Albuquerque, New Mexico Receive $923,000 to Reduce Greenhouse Gases. – EPA News Release, September 7, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that the City of Houston and the City of Albuquerque will receive grants to advance greenhouse gas reduction activities as part of the Agency’s Climate Showcase Communities initiative. The funds will also help communities increase energy efficiency, save consumers money and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. These EPA Region 6 grantees are among 25 U.S. communities, receiving a total of $10 million for projects that will reduce greenhouse gases (GHG). The City of Houston is receiving $423,069 to reduce transportation related emissions through development of electric vehicle and bicycle infrastructure. The proposal calls for the City to 1) develop an electric vehicle charging infrastructure to be used by both city vehicles and commercial or residential vehicles, 2) implement a bike-share program, and 3) improve the existing bike infrastructure by using solar-powered LED lighting on bike paths to improve safety. The project has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower air pollutants. Houston does not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone pollution, so reducing nitrogen oxides is an important part of this project.
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EPA Chief: Veto Coming If Congress Tries Blocking Carbon Pollution Clean-Up. – David Doniger, NRDC Switchboard, September 7, 2010
Bloomberg Businessweek ran a story last week on the actions taken by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to begin curbing the carbon pollution that drives global warming.  Jackson is acting under the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision holding that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollutants are “air pollutants” that can be reduced under the landmark Clean Air Act, which turns 40 years old next week. The Bloomberg story, and another on Reuters, explain the substantial steps EPA has taken so far:  the science-based finding that carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants are dangerous to our health and the environment, new emission standards for cars and trucks, and first steps to limit carbon pollution from new power plants and factories.  The stories also look ahead to possible new steps to reduce CO2 emissions from existing power plants – the biggest source of global warming pollution in the nation.
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EPA to Hold Public Hearing on Proposed Plan for Greenhouse Gas Permits. – EPA News Release, September 10, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a public hearing on its proposed federal implementation plan for greenhouse gas permitting. The federal plan would allow EPA to issue permits for large GHG emitters located in states unable to address these emissions under their Clean Air Act permitting program. This would be a temporary measure that is in place until the state can revise its own plan and resume responsibility for permitting. The hearing will begin at 9:00 a.m. and continue until 6:00 p.m. EDT time, or later if necessary, at the following location:
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Other

EPA Picks State Capitals to Create Models of Green Design. – EPA News Release, September 8, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today committed to help the capital cities of five states pursue high quality green development that includes cleaning up and recycling vacant lands, providing greater housing and transportation choices, and reducing infrastructure and energy costs. Through its new Greening America’s Capitals program, the EPA will fund private sector experts to provide sustainable design assistance to Boston; Jefferson City, Mo.; Hartford, Conn.; Charleston, W.Va.; and Little Rock, Ark. The cities will demonstrate how to develop sustainable designs that create interesting, unique neighborhoods with multiple social, economic, environmental and public health benefits.
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Boston, Hartford Among Cities Chosen for Green Capitals Program. – Reuters, September 9, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has named the five cities that will be the first to participate in the Greening America’s Capitals program and receive free expert assistance to turn their towns into models of sustainable design. The state capitals that were chosen as the inaugural beneficiaries of the program are Boston, Jefferson City, Mo., Hartford, Conn., Charleston, W.Va., and Little Rock, Ark. Launched this summer, Greening America’s Capitals is a project of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which is a collaborative effort involving the EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation. As part of the project, the EPA provides and funds the design teams that are to work with state capitals.
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Puget Sound protection efforts get nearly $13 million boost from EPA science grants. – EPA News Release, September 8, 2010
Regional efforts to protect and restore Puget Sound will receive a $13 million helping hand, thanks to the latest round of federal science grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Congressman Norm Dicks and Congressman Adam Smith joined EPA Regional Administrator Dennis McLerran at an event marking the grant announcement today at the Pierce County Environmental Services Building in University Place, just south of Tacoma. Also speaking at the event were Gregg Grunenfelder, Assistant Secretary of the Division of Environmental Health at the Washington State Department of Health; James Slape Jr., Nisqually Tribe Councilmember; and Dr. Joel Baker from the University of Washington (Tacoma).
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The Politics of Bedbugs. – Jerry Adler, Newsweek, September 8, 2010
Some memes never die, as long as there are bloggers to keep them alive. Each summer, the first faint hum of a mosquito at the window screen reminds some right-wing think-tanker to blame the Environmental Protection Agency for banning DDT (and calls forth a response from the left, blaming global warming). In fact, DDT is still being used, mostly in Africa and Asia, to control malaria, something even some environmentalists have reluctantly endorsed. But it remains a touchstone in the never-ending struggle over government regulation—one of the first and most visible instances of a chemical banned over its long-term environmental effects. For environmentalists it is a symbol of success, and for industry apologists, a shameful example of shoddy sentimentalism influencing policy. A slick Web site called Rachel Was Wrong—run by the libertarian-oriented Competitive Enterprise Institute—exists entirely to dispute the founding document of modern environmentalism, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. So it was probably inevitable that the latest plague to be visited on innocent Americans’ hides—bedbugs—would be enlisted in the campaign to bring back DDT.
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EPA should let Ohio use Propoxur against bedbugs. – EPA News Release, September 10, 2010
Ohio has found out the hard way that even bedbugs can’t budge the U.S. Environmental Agency. Four Ohio cities are on the recent Terminix list of the top 15 U.S. cities most affected by painful bedbugs. Bedbugs began making a resurgence in the U.S. after Congress passed a major pesticides law in 1996. Among the substances banned for residential use is Propoxur, the pesticide Ohio officials think can help control its growing bedbug problem. While studies have shown Propoxur is highly effective in killing the bugs, the EPA will not allow its use in homes. The agency cites possible dangers to children if Propoxur is overused or improperly applied. Ohio has requested a temporary waiver on the use of Propoxur because more Ohioans are putting themselves at risk when they try to use other dangerous chemicals to rid their homes of bedbugs.
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Finding new weapons to kill bedbugs. – Lena H. Sun, The Washington Post, September 5, 2010
The brown bugs, each about half the size of a pencil eraser, lie in glass petri dishes – a few on their backs, legs in the air. They died within seconds of scurrying across a piece of paper containing drops of a chemical.The next step is to find out whether that same piece of paper will kill insects that crawl over it two, three or four months from now. This lab is the front line in the federal government’s chemical warfare on a scourge that has become resistant to many insecticides and is raising anxiety – and welts – in bedrooms, college dorms and hotel suites across the country: bedbugs. Among those leading the attack is Mark F. Feldlaufer, an entomologist at the Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory on the Agriculture Department’s sprawling research center in suburban Maryland. His mission is to find compounds that kill the bloodsuckers, which have made such an itch-inducing comeback in recent years that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency issued a joint statement last month noting their “alarming resurgence.”
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EPA: Town can’t supersede state noise law. – Shir Haberman, SeacoastOnline.com, September 7, 2010
Just because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires a label on all motorcycle mufflers indicating the noise the vehicle produces does not exceed 80 decibels doesn’t mean a municipality has the right to enforce that noise level, according to a lawyer for the federal agency. “The Noise Control Act (NCA), which authorizes EPA to enact noise control regulations, states that ‘nothing in this section precludes or denies the right of any state or political subdivision thereof to establish and enforce controls on environmental noise,’”‰” EPA Senior Assistant Regional Counsel Timothy Williamson wrote in an Aug. 31 letter to North Hampton Town Administrator Steve Fournier. “However, neither does it grant localities any additional authority to control environmental noise beyond that available to them under state and local law.” Williamson’s letter was in response to a July 6 request from Fournier for information concerning the ability of a town to enforce an EPA noise standard. In May, North Hampton voters overwhelmingly approved a motorcycle noise ordinance that uses the EPA label requirement as its basis.
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The Obama Administration Should Unleash American Ingenuity to Dramatically Raise Car and Truck Efficiency and Cut Carbon Pollution. – Luke Tonachel, NRDC Switchboard, September 9, 2010
Today, NRDC and 18 other environmental and science organizations sent a letter urging President Obama to set strong fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards for new cars and trucks. Strong, forward-looking performance standards send clear signals to auto and truck engineers to apply their ingenuity to build cleaner, more efficient vehicles sorely needed in a world of dangerous oil dependence and intensifying global warming. The Obama Administration should seize this opportunity to lower consumer fuel costs, improve our security and cool the planet. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) are preparing to release proposals for improved vehicle standards this fall that will cover (a) cars and light trucks for model years (MY) 2017 to 2025 and (b) medium and heavy-duty trucks, which include long-haul tractor trailers, city buses, delivery vehicles and work trucks, for MY 2014 to 2017. (See Roland Hwang’s blog for a more detailed description of the process and the history of vehicle standards.)
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EPA chief: We’re not ag’s enemies. – Ricki Barker, Albany Herald, September 11, 2010
While the Environmental Protection Agency has not always seen eye to eye with farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural industry, which boasts a $56.7 billion impact to Georgia’s economy, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said Friday that rural areas should not think of the EPA as the big bad wolf of government agencies. “There is such a fear in rural areas that the EPA is coming after you,” Jackson spoke bluntly at a Friday Town Hall meeting in Americus. “We are trying to get the best data we can when addressing policy and your (agribusiness’s) comments and input are needed.” Jackson, the head of EPA, was in south Georgia on Friday for a town hall meeting to find out what rural Georgians have to say about the environment. The joint EPA-Congressional Black Caucus event was part of an Environmental Justice Tour designed to highlight the impact of environmental issues on communities. The meeting in Americus gave those involved in agribusiness a chance to share concerns about pending EPA regulations that affect agriculture, as well as air and water quality issues. During the meeting Friday at South Georgia Technical College in Americus, Jackson listened to concerns from representatives of several agribusinesses, including the Georgia Peanut Commission and the Georgia Cotton Council.
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ENERGY

Oil

EPA: Louisiana’s sand berms not stopping much oil. – Cain Burdeau, The Associated PRess, September 10, 2010
Federal environmental regulators are blasting Gov. Bobby Jindal’s $360 million plan to block oil from the BP spill with sand berms, saying barriers built so far are ineffective and threaten wildlife. In a Sept. 7 letter made public Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency urged the Army Corps of Engineers to turn down the state’s recent request to build 101 miles of sand berms to stop oil from contaminating shores and marshlands. The state needs permission from the Army Corps to complete the project. The sand berms – paid for with $360 million from BP PLC – have drawn criticism from coastal scientists and federal regulators. Critics say the work was ill-conceived and would damage the environment. Still, Jindal has made the sand berms a cornerstone to his strategy to fight the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The state said it has spent $86 million on the project so far. EPA said there were serious problems with the project. On May 27, the Army Corps of Engineers allowed the state to build 40 miles of berm, but only four miles have been constructed so far, EPA said.
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Coal

Three Duke coal plants are at heart of environmental debate. – iStock Analyst, September 7, 2010
Upstream of Lake Wylie, three Duke Energy coal ash facilities sit at the heart of the local debate on the safety issue of coal ash storage. The Environmental Protection Agency will host a Charlotte public meeting Sept. 14 on the possibility of reclassifying coal ash as hazardous waste. All three made an EPA list earlier this year among “high hazard potential” sites nationally, based on the impacts to the environment and public if a dam failure were to occur. The rating was not based on the likelihood of a failure. After making that list, the EPA posted reports on all three stations outlining specifics of the facilities.
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Sides raise concerns over coal ash at EPA hearing in Dallas. – Randy Lee Loftis, The Dallas Morning News, September 9, 2010
Hundreds of people packed a public hearing Wednesday in Dallas to sound off on a federal proposal to label the ash from coal-burning power plants a hazardous waste. Texas, the nation’s biggest coal-burning state, also leads in producing coal ash. Power companies either bury it in landfills or impoundment ponds, or sell it for use in concrete, bricks and other products. Coal ash contains heavy metals such as arsenic and mercury and is typically classified as a “special waste,” requiring careful handling but not posing the same health risk as hazardous waste. The Environmental Protection Agency in May proposed reclassifying it as hazardous, a move that would boost regulation. The EPA also said it would consider making no changes. The agency invited public comment at the Dallas meeting, one of seven being held around the country.
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Unsolved Coal Ash Problem. – Editorial, The New York Times, September 5, 2010
In December 2008, a gigantic storage pond belonging to the Tennessee Valley Authority near Kingston, Tenn., effectively burst at the seams, spilling a billion gallons of mainly toxic coal ash from a T.V.A. power plant into surrounding lands and rivers. It was the perfect moment to right a long-festering environmental wrong. The Environmental Protection Agency promised tough new regulations governing the disposal of coal ash. Industry complained. The White House hesitated. Nothing happened. The administration can redeem itself in the weeks ahead. Last Monday, the E.P.A. held the first in a series of regional hearings on two quite different proposals governing how coal-fired power plants dispose of waste. One proposal, favored by public-interest groups and by agency scientists, would replace a patchwork of uneven — and in many cases weak — state regulations with new national standards. It would formally designate coal ash as a hazardous waste under federal law, require industry to phase out porous sludge ponds, replace them with sturdy, leak-proof facilities, and take other protective steps.
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Pines will issue plea for coal ash controls. – Post-Tribune, September 8, 2010
Residents whose wells are contaminated by coal ash plan to tell the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at a Chicago hearing next week to start regulating the substance. The residents are sponsoring a bus for anyone who wants to join them in commenting on the first-ever national rules to ensure the safe disposal and management of coal ash from coal-fired power plants. Coal ash spread across the town of Pines west of Michigan City has contaminated residents’ well water. The Northern Indiana Public Service Co. used to store coal ash near its Michigan City plant. In the 1980s, ash ponds at NIPSCO’s Michigan City generating station were overflowing with coal ash. About a million tons of waste were moved to Brown’s Yard 520 in the Pines for what was supposed to be temporary storage. In 2000, chemicals from the landfill were found in private wells at homes in the town of Pines at twice the safe level. As “potentially responsible parties,” NIPSCO and Brown agreed to pay to supply residents with municipal water.
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Texans testify about coal-burning power plant ash. – The Associated Press, September 9, 2010
Hundreds of people showed up at a public hearing to take comments on whether ash from coal-burning power plants should be classified as hazardous waste. On one side were environmentalists who said the change would protect water supplies; on the other were industry and state officials who insisted that current regulations are enough. As the nation’s largest coal-burning state, Texas also produces the most ash. The Dallas Morning News reported that Wednesday’s hearing was one of seven the Environmental Protection Agency is holding across the country. The EPA now typically labels coal ash as a special waste, which must be handled carefully. However, in May, the federal agency proposed changing its classification to hazardous, which would increase the amount regulation. The ash from burning coal contains heavy metals such as arsenic and mercury. “These are not little known toxins,” said Dr. Karen Lewis, a pediatrician and member of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Meanwhile Michael Brune, the Sierra Club’s national executive director, asked the EPA to regulate coal ash as the hazardous and toxic waste his group believes it is. But James Roewer, executive director of the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group, disagreed. “These are real regulations, with teeth,” Roewer said, stressing that the current regulations are adequate.
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Natural Gas

E.P.A. Meeting Stalled by Security and Cost. – Andrew Revkin, The New York Times, September 10, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency has been on something of a listening tour lately, holding public meetings around the country where stakeholders concerned about hydraulic fracturing can share their thoughts with the agency. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is an increasingly contentious practice in which drilling companies blast a cocktail of sand, water and chemicals deep underground to break up rock formations and release hard-to-reach oil and gas deposits. It’s an issue of particular interest in states like West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York, where huge deposits of previously unreachable natural gas have drillers and many residents seeing dollar signs. Other residents, and plenty of environmental groups, see something else — principally the threat of wanton pollution and groundwater contamination. The E.P.A. was preparing to bring its roadshow, part of the ramp-up for a formal study of fracking (see my story in Friday’s Times), to Binghamton University in central New York on Aug. 12, but that was ultimately rescheduled for a different venue in Binghamton on Monday and Wednesday of next week. (More on that at E.P.A.’s Web site.)
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Fracking debate heats up in New York. – Steve Hargreaves, CNN Money, September 11, 2010
Hundreds of people are expected to pack an upstate New York auditorium Monday as the federal government enters the fray over a controversial technique for natural gas production. The hearing is the public comment portion of an ongoing Environmental Protection Agency investigation into whether or not hydraulic fracturing, a process that injects thousands of gallons of chemical-laced water and sand into natural gas wells, cracking the shale rock and allowing the gas to flow out, is safe. Fracturing – or ‘fracking’ – has helped usher in one of the biggest energy booms in U.S. history. It’s also generated fear over ground water contamination and other hazards. “It’s a trap,” said Martha Robertson, a resident of Dryden, N.Y., who is traveling to the hearing in Binghamton on Monday. “If it comes to New York it will transform our landscape, our economy, and our way of life. I’m deeply concerned about going in this direction.”  The hearing will be the fourth the EPA has conducted across the nation as it attempts figure out if fracking, which is expanding on a rapid scale in shale gas fields across the country, is safe.
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Wind

Wind farms and the radar problem. – The Los Angeles Times, September 7, 2010
Increasing the amount of electricity we get from renewable sources such as the sun and wind is a national priority and a state mandate. Among the many obstacles to getting that done — opposition to new transmission lines, worries that solar plants will harm endangered species, conflicts over land use — one has until recently remained largely off the public radar screen. But the radar screen is precisely the problem: Wind farms interfere with commercial and military radar systems. In 2009, wind projects that would have produced a combined 9,000 megawatts of power were shelved or stalled after the Department of Defense or the Federal Aviation Administration raised concerns about radar, according to the New York Times. That’s nearly as much as the power generated by wind farms that were actually built last year. The Mojave Desert is a particular trouble spot because of the many military air facilities in the region, and several proposed projects there have been withdrawn after hitting turbulence from the military. Modern wind farms plant rows of spinning turbines on towers up to 400 feet tall, sometimes causing aircraft passing overhead to appear to vanish from radar screens. It’s a serious problem but it’s not insurmountable, as wind developers in Solano County recently showed.
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OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS

Air

Estimate of Premature Deaths Associated with Fine Particle Pollution (PM2.5) in California Using a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Methodology. – RFF Library Blog, September 10, 2010
The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (U.S. EPA) recently released “Quantitative Health Risk Assessment for Particulate Matter”  provides national estimates of premature mortality associated with fine particulate matter pollution (PM2.5), supported by its finding that the scientific evidence shows a causal connection between mortality and exposure to PM2.5. This report describes the U.S. EPA’s risk assessment methodology for calculating premature mortality, and its 2009 Integrated Science Assessment for particulate matter that provides the underlying scientific basis for the calculations. These U.S. EPA reports were prepared as part of U.S. EPA’s periodic review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter. The U.S. EPA risk assessment estimated premature deaths associated with PM2.5 nationwide, and in 15 urban areas including Los Angeles and Fresno. This report applies the U.S. EPA methodology to California on a statewide basis. The U.S. EPA’s reports were peer reviewed in a public process by the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) Particulate Matter Review Panel, an independent peer review body of national scientists. The methodology described in this report is used to quantify the premature deaths associated with current levels of PM2.5 in California, and to estimate the premature deaths avoided by achieving compliance with the current annual air quality standard for PM2.5. This report also describes the method used by U.S. EPA to calculate the health benefits of PM2.5 emission reductions from specific source categories.
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Water

Report: Ocean ‘Dead Zones’ Increasing in US. – David Knowles, The Associated Press, September 6, 2010
The nation’s waterways are fast becoming a wasteland. Released Friday, a joint report by the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science finds that the number of so-called “dead zones” in U.S. waters is 30 times more expansive today than it was in 1960. The rise of hypoxia — a lethal drop in oxygen levels in water to the point at which fish and plant life can no longer survive — is largely attributable to man-made activity such as pollution and fertilizer runoff into the nation’s waterways, but it is also found to be occurring because of climate change, the report concludes. Perhaps most alarming, hypoxia is now a serious problem along all of the nation’s coasts as well as in the Great Lakes, the report said, impacting biodiversity and resulting in huge economic losses for the country’s fishing industry. “The nation’s coastal waters are vital to our quality of life, our culture, and the economy,” said Nancy H. Sutley, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, one of the agencies that contributed to the report. “Therefore, it is imperative that we move forward to better understand and prevent hypoxic events, which threaten all our coasts.”
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Rising ‘Dead Zones’ threaten US coastal ecosystem. – Balachander SuriyanarayananThe Associated Press, September 6, 2010
The number of hypoxic or ‘dead zones’ in U.S. coastal waters have been rising rapidly over the last 50 years, threatening ecosystems and fisheries nationwide, according to a report. The report by environmental and scientific federal agencies said incidents of hypoxia — a condition in which oxygen levels drop so low that fish and other animals are stressed or killed — have increased nearly 30-fold since 1960 mainly due to human activities that create excess nutrients that run off into coastal waters. “These growing dead zones endanger fragile ecosystems and potentially jeopardize billions of dollars in economic activity,” said Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson. The presence of excess nutrients in water is thought to lead to reduced oxygen concentrations. Hypoxic waters generally do not have enough oxygen to support fish and other aquatic animals, and are sometimes called dead zones because the only organisms that can live there are microbes such as bacteria.
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Climate Change

Once-Lowly Charcoal Emerges as ‘Major Tool’ for Curbing Carbon. – Paul Voosen, The New York Times, September 7, 2010
Charcoal is taking root on the farm. Simmered out of eucalyptus, charcoal is being hoed into the degraded soils of former forests in western Kenya. Roasted out of chicken manure, it is spurring the growth of malting barley in Australia. And in Iowa, researchers are plowing charcoal into corn rows, hoping to limit the tons of fertilizer that saturate the state’s fields each year. At these farms and more, scientists are probing the limits of how high-grade charcoal, dubbed biochar, can be formed from plant and animal waste to squirrel away the atmosphere’s carbon for centuries, or even millennia. Inspired by ancient Amazonian soils, researchers have found that buried charcoal resists bacteria’s attempts to break it down. And thanks to its porous geometry, it has a knack for improving land in ways still being revealed.
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Climate Change May Affect Plague Distribution and Incidence. – The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, PR Newswire, September 7, 2010
While many climate experts and environmentalists explore the negative effects of global warming, a new study reveals a positive outcome of the warming of the planet: the potential elimination of the plague.  Global warming affects temperatures and precipitation regimes that play a pivotal role in the lives of rodents and fleas; rodents and fleas are responsible for maintenance and spread of plague to human populations. Plague can be fatal if the symptoms are not recognized and treated within 24 hours. The study, featured in the September issue of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (AJTMH), revealed incidences of plague in the western United States are decreasing as global warming raises temperatures and decreases snowfall in the area. The study examined a 56-year time series of plague reports (1950-2005), in conjunction with temperature and precipitation records, to determine the effect of large-scale climate variability on the dynamics of human plague in the region.
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Can carbon capture and storage fix climate change? – Lawrence George, Helium, September 7, 2010
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a way of preventing power stations pumping CO2 straight into the air. It enables governments to build coal and gas fired power stations without their contributing so heavily to climate change. There are different ways it can achieve this. Some are already in use: BP has a plant in the Sahara which pumps CO2 into porous rocks, which will hold it in the same way they hold natural gas. In other methods, coal can be burned in oxygen rather than air, and can produce a form of pure CO2 which can then be easily transported and stored. Other methods involve chemical reactions to capture the CO2. The current estimates are that CCS can capture significant amounts of CO2. In the UK, the government has begun a project to build power stations which will capture up to 25% of produced CO2.
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