Posted by: Steven M. Taber | July 26, 2010

Environmental Law and Climate Change Law Newsletter, July 26, 2010, vol. 2, no. 21

Vol. 2, No. 21, July 26, 2010

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.

SETTLEMENTS

Rhode Island Concrete Manufacturer Pays Penalty for Clean Water Violations.United States Environmental Protection Agency, July 20, 2010
Subject to court approval, Cardi Materials, LLC of Warwick, R.I., will pay a $55,000 civil penalty and perform an additional project costing $168,500 to resolve numerous violations of the Clean Water Act at its Warwick concrete manufacturing facility. In addition to a financial penalty, the proposed settlement requires Cardi to eliminate all process water discharges from the facility. Process waters include waters from concrete production manufacturing operations such as vehicle and equipment cleaning, and concrete truck washout and can contain caustic chemicals that are toxic to fish and other aquatic life. These measures will result in the elimination of caustic chemical discharges, the elimination of tens of thousands of pounds of sediment being discharged into the environmental annually, as well as significant reductions in oil and grease, iron and nitrate and nitrogen. Further, the settlement announced today requires Cardi to perform a comprehensive environmental audit of its facility to ensure that it is in compliance with all federal environmental laws. The company must also conduct additional monitoring and reporting of stormwater discharges, hire personnel certified in stormwater management to oversee compliance with stormwater permits, and provide training in stormwater management for all operational employees.
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JEA settles sewer lawsuit. – Steve Patterson, Jacksonville, July 20, 2010
Three years after being sued over pollution from its sewers, JEA agreed Tuesday to cooperate with environmental activists in looking for ways to improve its operation. The utility’s governing board approved a settlement Tuesday giving JEA 90 days to share its plan to reduce sewer overflows, which can release raw sewage into creeks and rivers. The utility will also pay up to $100,000 for consultants – picked jointly by the utility and the activists — to critique the plan and advise the activists about any new problems. “They have very bright people on their side. We have very bright people on our side. … It seemed better on all sides to work together,” city General Counsel Cindy Laquidara told board members as she explained the settlement proposal. JEA’s 3,000 miles of sewer serve about 232,000 homes and businesses. The St. Johns Riverkeeper and the Public Trust Environmental Law Institute of Florida sued JEA in 2007 over more than 200 instances of sewer overflows since 2001.
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Notice of Lodging of Consent Decree Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.Trading Markets.com, July 21, 2010
Consistent with Section 122 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, as amended (“CERCLA”), 42 U.S.C. 9622(d), and 28 CFR 50.7, notice is hereby given that on July 16, 2010, the United States lodged a Consent Decree with 163 defendants (each of which is identified in the proposed Decree) in United States of America v. Alcoa Inc., et al, Civil No. 2:10-cv-05051-GW (PLAx) (C.D. Cal.), with respect to the Omega Chemical Superfund Site, located in Whittier, Los Angeles County, California (the “Site”). On July 9, 2010, Plaintiff United States of America (“United States”), on behalf of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) filed a complaint in this matter pursuant to CERCLA Section 107, 42 U.S.C. 9607, seeking recovery of environmental response costs incurred by EPA related to the release or threatened release or disposal of hazardous substances at or from the Site. Under the proposed Consent Decree, the defendants in the action will implement the Operable Unit One remedy, addressing soil contamination at the Site, and pay $1.5 million towards EPA’s unrecovered past response costs. In exchange, the proposed Consent Decree provides a covenant not to sue and contribution protection with respect to the Work, Past Response Costs and Future Response Costs as defined in the proposed Consent Decree.
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Orinda luxury home developer to pay water quality board $500,000 settlement. – Jonathan Morales, Contra Costa Times, July 21, 2010
The developer of a luxury home project will pay more than a half-million dollars to settle allegations it spilled contaminated water into a creek. OG Property Owner Corp., which is developing the 1,600-acre Wilder project just east of the Caldecott Tunnel, has agreed to pay the Regional Water Quality Control Board $530,000 to resolve a 2009 complaint that violated its construction permit and state water regulations including the Clean Water Act. The water board has received the first payment of $110,000, said senior engineer Keith Lichten. Orinda leaders were disappointed that none of the money would come back to the city for environmental projects. In the complaint, the board alleged that 37,373 gallons of storm water runoff and 55,000 gallons of chlorinated water and concrete wash water spilled into Brookside Creek in early October 2007 as a result of OG Property’s inadequate erosion control.
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EPA seeks fine against Fafard for stormwater violations.Milford Daily News, July 21, 2010
Environmental officials are seeking a $150,000 fine against Fafard Real Estate and Development and two related companies for alleged stormwater violations at about 13 construction sites. The Environmental Protection Agency said Fafard also would have to carry out a project valued at about $300,000 to reduce stormwater pollution. In inspections, the EPA said it found violations by Fafard, FRE Building Co. and Benchmark Engineering Corp. at sites in Holliston, Natick, Uxbridge, Milford, Marlborough and elsewhere. In those cases, the companies had not complied with federal stormwater permits and did not use measures to reduce the environmental impact of stormwater runoff from their construction sites.
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U.S. Announces Settlement of Actions to Enforce Payment Obligations for Cleanup of New Jersey Superfund Site.Department of Justice News Release, July 22, 2010
Champion Chemical Company, Imperial Oil Company Inc. and Imperial’s two former officers have agreed to pay at least $1.4 million to resolve actions to enforce a prior agreement to reimburse cleanup costs incurred by the federal government at the Imperial Oil Company Inc./Champion Chemical Company Superfund Site in Marlboro Township, N.J., the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today.
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Hoosier Energy Agreement Marks 20th Settlement Under EPA’s Power Plant Enforcement Initiative.EPA News Release, July 23, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Justice Department, and the state of Indiana announced that Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc. has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $950,000 and install and upgrade pollution control technology at its two coal-fired power plants in Indiana to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act. The settlement, filed in federal court today, will reduce harmful air pollution by more than 24,500 tons per year and requires Hoosier to spend $5 million on environmental projects. “This settlement continues our important enforcement initiative to reduce harmful air pollution from coal-fired power plants and provide the public with cleaner, healthier air to breathe,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Pollution from these sources can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts, and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog, and haze. Coal-fired power plants are large sources of air emissions, and EPA is committed to making sure that they comply with the law.”
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Other Articles on the Same Topic:

Hoosier Energy, EPA reach Clean Air Act settlement. – Rick Callahan, The Assoicated Press, July 23, 2010
Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative has agreed to pay a $950,000 civil penalty and spend up to $100 million to improve pollution controls at two of its coal-fired power plants in Indiana to settle alleged Clean Air Act violations. The agreement filed Friday in federal court in Indianapolis also requires Bloomington-based Hoosier Energy to spend $5 million on environmental mitigation projects to resolve the dispute over changes it made to the 1,000-megawatt Merom power plant in southwestern Indiana. In 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency alleged that Hoosier Energy violated the Clean Air Act by modifying that plant without first obtaining needed permits or taking steps to install the best available pollution emission controls.
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DECISIONS

Boston Landlord Faces Nearly $85K Penalty for Failure to Disclose Lead Paint to Tenants.United States Environmental Protection Agency, July 20, 2010
A Boston landlord faces a penalty of $84,600 for charges by EPA that he violated federal lead paint disclosure rules at four of his apartments in Roxbury and Dorchester. These violations potentially put tenants at risk of exposure to lead hazards. John C. Jones, who owns and manages at least eight properties with at least 19 rental units, is responsible for 14 violations of federal lead-based paint disclosure laws in four leases, according to EPA’s New England regional office. The four rental properties involved were in Roxbury (20 Woodville Street, 48 Edgewater Street, and 25 Southwood Street) and in Dorchester (176-180 Quincy Street). According to EPA, Jones failed to provide tenants with lead hazard information pamphlets and with reports pertaining to lead-based paint/paint hazards; failed to include lead warning statements in leases; failed to include a disclosure statement regarding lead-based paint/paint hazards or lack of knowledge thereof in leases; and failed to include lists of records pertaining to lead-based paint/hazards in leases. The federal Disclosure Rule is meant to ensure that tenants get adequate information about the risks associated with lead paint before signing a lease.
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Other Articles on the Same Topic:

EPA fines landlord $85K over lead paint.Boston Business Journal, July 21, 2010
A Boston landlord is facing a fine of nearly $85,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency amid accusations that he violated lead paint disclosure rules 14 times. EPA’s New England regional office said John C. Jones violated the federal disclosure rule at four rental properties he owns in Roxbury and Dorchester. The violations put tenants at risk of exposure to lead hazard, the EPA said. “Here in New England exposure to lead paint is a serious public health concern for kids, because so much of our housing was built before 1978 when lead paint was banned,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office, in announcing the fine.
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Two N.H. Companies Face Fines for Oil Spill Prevention Violations.United States Environmental Protection Agency, July 20, 2010
Two New Hampshire companies with facilities that store significant amounts of oil each face penalties of up to $177,500 for their failure to take adequate precautions to prevent and contain oil spills, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. According to complaints issued recently by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Munce’s Superior and Munce’s Superior Petroleum Products of Gorham as well as Ryezak Oil Co. of Rumney failed to fully prepare and maintain Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure or SPCC plans. The violations occurred despite attempts by EPA to gain information and require compliance. Although contacted by EPA, both companies have failed to respond to agency inquiries or phone calls. According the EPA complaints, Munce’s failed to fully implement the required SPCC plan at three of its four oil storage facilities. At its fourth facility the company failed to create any plan at all. Munce’s has a total storage capacity of about 181,000 gallons, all within 50 to 500 feet of the Androscoggin River. EPA staff inspected the facility in November 2009. Ryezak, inspected by EPA in March 2009, had an aggregate above ground storage capacity of about 70,000 gallons – all of it located about 200 feet from a storm drain that empties into the Baker River. The company did not have a secondary containment area for oil spills, as required by its spill prevention plan.
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Warwick concrete firm fined for environmental violations.Projo, July 20, 2010
A Rhode Island concrete manufacturer has been fined $55,000 for environmental violations at its Warwick concrete manufacturing facility, 400 Lincoln Ave. A settlement agreement announced Tuesday with the Environmental Protection Agency also requires Cardi Materials LLC to spend $168,500 on new pavement aimed at reducing storm-water runoff along a park road located in Hunt’s Mills, a park located in East Providence. A complaint filed in federal court accused Cardi of failing to develop a spill prevention plan and also alleged un-permitted process-water and storm-water discharges. The penalty must be paid within 30 days. The phone rang unanswered Tuesday at a listing for Cardi Materials.
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3 Mass. Real Estate Development and Construction Companies Fined for Clean Water Violations.EPA News Release, July 21, 2010
Subject to court approval, three related real estate development, construction and engineering companies will pay a $150,000 penalty for illegally discharging polluted stormwater from multiple Mass. construction sites. In addition the companies will perform a Supplemental Environmental Project (“SEP”) valued at approximately $300,000 which will further reduce stormwater pollution to the environment. Several EPA inspections revealed that Fafard Real Estate and Development Corporation, FRE Building Company, Inc., and Benchmark Engineering Corp. (collectively referred to as “Fafard”) had engaged in construction activities at approximately 13 construction sites in eastern Massachusetts in towns such as Holliston, Natick, Uxbridge, Milford, Marlborough, and others, without having, or without fully complying with federal stormwater permits. Of particular concern were sites where Best Management Practices (“BMPs”) were not being implemented to reduce the impact of stormwater discharges on the environment from these construction sites.
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Federal judge halts activity on Chukchi Sea petroleum leases, says enviro law not followed. – Dan Joling, Associated Press, July 21, 2010
A federal judge on Wednesday stopped companies from developing oil and gas wells on billions of dollars in leases off Alaska’s northwest coast, saying the federal government failed to follow environmental law before it sold the drilling rights. The lease sale in February 2008 brought in nearly $2.7 billion for the federal government from the sale of 2.76 million acres in the Arctic waters of the Chukchi Sea, including $2.1 billion in high bids submitted by Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline said that the Minerals Management Service failed to analyze the environmental effect of natural gas development despite industry interest and specific lease incentives for such development.
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Florida loses a ruling in tri-state water case. – Bill Rankin, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 21, 2010
A federal judge on Wednesday rejected arguments by Florida in the tri-state water dispute to allow the Endangered Species Act to be used to dictate water flow into the Apalachicola River. Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson said he found no evidence that a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s biological opinion that is being used to support an interim water management plan was incorrect. Florida has said more water is needed to protect the Gulf sturgeon, the fat threeridge mussel and the purple bankclimber mussel. Bert Brantley, a spokesman for Gov. Sonny Perdue, hailed the decision, saying it should help Georgia in its negotiations over a water-sharing plan with Florida and Alabama. “It allows us to negotiate a sharing agreement that doesn’t have to account for a forced, higher water flow to support endangered species,” he said. “There’s plenty of water for all three states.”
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Other Articles on the Same Topic:

Federal Ruling Validates Fish and Wildlife Service’s Biological Opinion.Oyster Radio News, July 22, 2010
A federal judge on Wednesday affirmed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2008 biological opinion related to federally protected species in Florida’s Apalachicola River. In the opinion, Service biologists determined that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s reservoir operations would not jeopardize the survival of the Gulf sturgeon, a fish listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and three freshwater mussel species: the fat threeridge, listed as endangered, and the purple bankclimber and Chipola slabshell, listed as threatened. U.S.  District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson’s order determined the Service acted properly under the ESA and its own regulations.
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EPA Fines Arizona Builder for Failing to Comply with Clean Air Act.Construction and Demolition Recycling, July 23, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined the Arizona company Summit Builders Construction $105,610 for allegedly failing to comply with Clean Air Act regulations. In addition to the monetary fine, the EPA is requiring Summit to take steps to minimize the generation of dust at its construction sites. In 2006 and 2007, the Maricopa County Air Quality Department (MCAD) inspected five commercial construction projects in Maricopa County and uncovered eight violations for failing to perform various measures required to reduce particulate matter emissions. The violation included the following:   Failure to install a trackout control device to remove particulate matter from vehicles; Failure to immediately clean up dirt that is tracked more than 50 feet beyond the site; Failure to operate a water application system during earthmoving operations; Failure to comply with the dust control plan. In addition to the penalty, Summit is required to train employees in basic dust control; document the training; and employ qualified dust controls at larger work sites for two years.
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Developer Held Liable for Residential Cleanup Costs. – Elizabeth Banicki, Courthouse News Service, July 23, 2010
A real estate developer that bought a contaminated tract of wetlands in Huntington Beach, Calif., is responsible for the cleanup costs of neighboring residential areas, the 9th Circuit ruled, even though it sold the land before getting billed by the state. California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control had sued Hearthside Residential Corp., seeking reimbursement for the costs of cleaning up residential property near Hearthside’s land, both of which were contaminated with the toxic substance polychlorinated biphenyls. Hearthside bought its Fieldstone property knowing that it was contaminated. The state regulatory agency told Hearthstone that if it was going to clean up its own land, it also had to clean up the contaminated areas surrounding it, since its land was the source of contamination.
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LAWSUITS AND ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS FILED

Drilling Ban Judge Won’t Step Down Due to Investments.Bloomberg Businessweek, July 19, 2010
The judge who threw out the government’s deep-water drilling ban refused to step aside over alleged conflicts of interest because of his energy investments. “The motion for disqualification is without merit,’’ U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman said in an order posted today on the New Orleans federal court’s website. The Obama administration imposed a six-month ban on drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet in May in response to the worst oil spill in U.S. history, caused by the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig off the coast of Louisiana. The Transocean Ltd. rig is leased to BP Plc. Hornbeck Offshore Services, more than a dozen offshore service providers and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal sued to overturn the ban, claiming the drilling suspension is turning an “environmental disaster into an economic catastrophe.’’
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5 Great Lakes states sue feds over Asian carp. – John Flesher, The Associated Press, July 19, 2010
Despite being rebuffed twice by the U.S. Supreme Court, five states filed suit Monday with a lower federal court demanding tougher federal and municipal action to prevent Asian carp from overrunning the Great Lakes and decimating their fishing industry. Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota and Pennsylvania said in their complaint the situation had become more dire since a live bighead carp was found last month in a Chicago-area waterway only 6 miles from Lake Michigan — well past an electric barrier designed to block the voracious fish’s path. “Asian carp will kill jobs and ruin our way of life,” Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said in a statement. “We cannot afford more bureaucratic delays — every action must be taken to protect the Great Lakes.” The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in northern Illinois. It accuses the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago of creating a public nuisance by operating locks, gates and other infrastructure through which the carp could enter the lakes. That argument didn’t convince the nation’s highest court to order the locks closed earlier this year despite two requests from Michigan and other states. But the justices’ rulings were procedural and did not deal with the merits of the case, Cox’s spokeswoman Joy Yearout said.
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NMA Files Suit Against EPA and Army Corps over Moratorium on Appalachian Coal Permits.Kentucky’s Coal Blog, July 20, 2010
The National Mining Association (NMA) today filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) for unlawfully obstructing permitting of coal mining operations in the Central Appalachian coal region and beyond jeopardizing thousands of jobs and a vital supply of fuel to meet the nation’s electric power needs. NMA’s lawsuit, filed in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, contends EPA and the Corps have circumvented clear requirements for public notice and comment of a host of federal statutes and ignored calls for peer-reviewed science as part of a deliberate policy to substitute agency “guidance” for formal rulemaking. “NMA members’ efforts to navigate this unlawful process and obtain reasonable and predictable permit terms have been unsuccessful, leaving us no choice but to challenge the EPA and Corps policy in court,” said NMA President and CEO Hal Quinn. “Detailed agency guidance is not a valid substitute for lawful rulemaking based on public notice and comment,” Quinn explained.  “The agencies’ continued abuse of the law to impose arbitrary standards on mining operations, state agencies and other federal regulatory bodies threatens the entire region with further economic misery and stagnant employment.”
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Mine industry sues over Appalachian permits. – Tim Huber, The Associated Press, July 20, 2010
The coal industry filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the Obama administration’s efforts to limit surface coal mining in Appalachia. The National Mining Association’s lawsuit accuses the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers of illegally preventing mines from obtaining water quality permits in the region. If successful, the NMA says the lawsuit would free a logjam of 235 pending permit applications that have been held up for additional scrutiny by the EPA since 2009. “Members’ efforts to navigate this unlawful process and obtain reasonable and predictable permit terms have been unsuccessful, leaving us no choice but to challenge the EPA and Corps policy in court,” NMA President Hal Quinn said in a statement. “The agencies’ continued abuse of the law to impose arbitrary standards on mining operations, state agencies and other federal regulatory bodies threatens the entire region with further economic misery and stagnant employment.” The EPA had no immediate comment. The corps referred questions to the U.S. Department of Justice, which also had no immediate comment. The lawsuit is the latest skirmish in a series of court fights over mountaintop removal coal mining in West Virginia, Kentucky and other Appalachian states. Mine operators say the practice is highly efficient, supports tens of thousands of jobs and provides coal for electric power plants across much of the South and East. But opponents argue that surface mining is too damaging to the environment because it disposes of excess material such as rock by burying streams.
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Other Articles on the Same Topic:

Coal lobbying group sues US EPA, Army Corp over mining permits.Platt’s, July 20, 2010
The National Mining Association filed suit Tuesday against the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, claiming the agencies are “unlawfully obstructing permitting of coal mining operations” in Central Appalachia. The suit, filed with the US District Court for the District of Columbia, charges the agencies are “jeopardizing thousands of jobs and a vital supply of fuel to meet the nation’s electric power needs.” “This civil action challenges a series of EPA and Corps actions that have unlawfully obstructed Clean Water Act [Section 404] permitting processes for coal mining,” the industry trade group said.  The suit takes aim a June 2009 accord between EPA and the Corps in which the agencies agreed to an “enhanced” procedure to review 79 permit applications — many tied to valley fills and large surface mining operations — over concerns about potential harm to the environment, especially streams in the region. NMA’s lawsuit claims “EPA and the Corps have circumvented clean requirements for public notice and comment of a host of federal statutes and ignored calls for peer-reviewed science as part of a deliberate policy to substitute agency ‘guidance’ for formal rulemaking.”
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Attorney General Cuomo Announces Intent to Sue Major Pennsylvania Power.NBC 34, July 20, 2010
Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that his office has notified a major Pennsylvania electric power plant of his intent to sue over multiple violations of the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) at the facility. The plant, Homer City Station, is one of the largest out-of-state contributors of sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution to New York. Attorney General Cuomo is joined by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) in this action. In the notice of intent to sue, Cuomo and PADEP charge that the current and former owners of Homer City Station disregarded provisions of the CAA that required state-of-the-art pollution controls be installed at the plant when it underwent several major modifications in the 1980s and 1990s that increased its pollution emissions. The lawsuit would seek to require the companies to comply fully with the CAA, including installing state-of-the-art pollution controls to address their increased emissions. The CAA requires a 60-day notice of intent to sue. “The owners of Homer City Station have ignored their legal obligations while their power plant pollutes our skies and our lungs with over one hundred thousand tons of emissions each year,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “We will hold the owners of the Homer City power plant accountable for breaking clean air laws and for endangering the health and environment of New Yorkers.”
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Other Articles on the Same Topic:

Cuomo says Pa. pollution drifting to New York. – Kieth Loria, Legal Newsline, July 20, 2010
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday that he has sent word to one of the top electric power plants in Pennsylvania that he is planning to file a lawsuit against them. Cuomo and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection have filed a notice of intent to sue against the current and former owners of the Homer City Station electric power plant, a 1,884-megawatt plant located in Homer City, Pa. Cuomo says he believes the plant to be one of the largest out-of-state sources of sulfur dioxide pollution within New York. Cuomo claims the plant emits 100,000 tons of SO2, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter each year, which contribute heavily to smog and soot pollution in New York, and is considered the largest upwind source of this sort of pollution in the state. Cuomo alleges that the owners and operators of Homer City Station disregarded provisions of the federal Clean Air Act, alleging that state-of-the-art pollution controls should have been installed during upgrades and modifications in the 1980s and 1990s. The changes made at these times instead increased the plant’s pollution emissions, Cuomo claims.
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Drill-Ban Foes Challenge U.S. Bid to Dismiss Suit.San Francisco Chronicle, July 20, 2010
Hornbeck Offshore Services Inc. and other oil-service companies asked a judge to reject a U.S. request to dismiss their lawsuit challenging the federal moratorium on deep-water oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans on June 22 threw out the six-month ban imposed by federal regulators on oil and gas drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet, finding it was too broad. A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on July 8 refused regulators’ request to put Feldman’s order on hold while the government appeals. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar issued a revised ban on July 12 that may allow new wells if the industry shows it has strengthened safety standards. The government also asked both courts to dismiss the Hornbeck lawsuit. The new policy “repackages the prior moratorium,” lawyers for offshore service companies said in court filings.
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Congress Introduces Renewable Fuels Liability Legislation.NACS Online, July 21, 2010
NACS yesterday commended U.S. Representatives Mike Ross (D-AR) and John Shimkus (R-IL) for introducing legislation (H.R. 5778) that seeks to ensure retail motor fuels equipment is safe and legally compatible to sell renewables fuels greater than E10 and B5. The renewable fuels standard (RFS) established by Congress in 2007 requires the use of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels (such as ethanol) in motor fuels by 2022. However, the law did not take into account infrastructure roadblocks that limit the amount of renewable fuels that can be sold through existing retail motor fuels outlets. Currently, it is illegal for retailers to store and sell any fuel with greater than 10 percent ethanol (including E85) or more than 5 percent biodiesel using existing infrastructure. Retailers must use equipment certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory like Underwriters Laboratories (UL) as compatible with the fuel they are selling. Failure to do so exposes the retailer to claims of gross negligence liability, violation of local fire codes and OSHA regulations, violation of tank insurance and state tank fund policy requirements, and provisions contained in many business loan agreements. As of July 15, 2010, there were only 2 certified dispensers to sell E85 and only 2 certified dispensers to sell up to E25.
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Taxpayers Sue Gov. Gregoire To Invalidate Climate Change Executive Order.Sound Politics, July 21, 2010
I can’t yet speak to the claims in detail, but the complaint claims that the executive order “directs state agencies, local governments, planning councils, business representatives, and other entities to take specific actions and to implement new responsibilities and processes.” If that’s true, the EFF has a strong case. My guess is that the case will rest on how true that is, because, certainly, while the governor has some authority, without specific statutory or constitutional grant, to tell state agencies what to do, it’s limited; and more certainly, she has no such authority to tell anyone else what to do.
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Lawsuit Threat Ends Violations.WDUQ News, July 21, 2010
Four days before environmental groups were to file a federal lawsuit for violations of environmental laws by the waste coal-burning Seward Generating Station near Johnstown in Indiana County, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection issued a new permit to the plant’s owner, RRI Energy of Houston, Texas, that requires the facility to upgrade and comply with environmental standards.  Penn Environment Director David Masur says the company’s own reporting listed 12,000 violations of the Clean Water Act and Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams law over five years.
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New Oil Industry Suit Challenges Obama’s Latest Effort to Pause Offshore Oil Drilling. – Rachel Sauter, OMB Watch, July 21, 2010
A Texas-based deepwater drilling contractor has filed a lawsuit in federal district court, seeking to block the Obama administration’s latest effort to temporarily halt new offshore drilling operations while the Department of the Interior investigates safety and technology concerns in light of the April 20 explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Ensco Offshore argues in their July 20 suit that the drilling suspension issued by the Interior is “substantially the same” as an earlier moratorium that was struck down in federal district court.
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Three individuals, one company indicted for conspiracy to violate Clean Air Act. – Margaret Lucas Agius, The Examiner, July 21, 2010
The Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency yesterday announced the indictment of three New York residents for conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act and making false statements to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for events involving the illegal removal of asbestos at a Belleville, Michigan apartment complex in June 2008. U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade and EPA Special Agent-in-Charge Randall Ashe made the announcement. The four-count superseding indictment, unsealed Tuesday, names Peter DeFilippo (a.k.a. Charlie DeVito), 47, David Olsen, 30, Joseph Terranova, 65, and Excel Demo, Inc. as defendants.
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EPA Faces Lawsuit for Failure to Control Air Pollution From Pulp Mills.Center for Biological Diversity News Release, July 22, 2010
Californians for Alternatives to Toxics and the Center for Biological Diversity today notified the Environmental Protection Agency of their intent to sue the agency for failing to review and update Clean Air Act rules for certain polluting pulp mills. The 60-day notice focuses on New Source Performance Standards for kraft pulp mills, which dissolve wood chips into fibers later used to make paper products. New Source Performance Standards are a part of the Clean Air Act that ensure industrial air polluters maintain adequate pollution controls. Although the Clean Air Act mandates that EPA review these standards for each source of air pollution at least every eight years, EPA has not reviewed the pollution-emission standards for kraft pulp mills for 24 years. “Over the last 24 years technology has come a long way,” said Patty Clary of Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, “but kraft pulp mills are still stuck in the ’80s.”
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Thirteen states want to intervene in EPA suit. – Keith Loria, Legal Newslines, July 22, 2010
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday that, as part of a 13-state coalition, he has filed a motion in a federal appeals court in favor of a new environmental regulation limiting greenhouse gases. Beginning in January of next year, new federal pollution control requirements under the Clean Air Act will take effect for any new or modified facility that emits global warming pollution.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is aiming these requirements at large facilities. Some groups have filed suit against the EPA, seeking to overturn the rule. Cuomo and the coalition have filed a motion to intervene to help fight the lawsuits.  “New York is leading a coalition of states from around the country to defend common-sense regulations that will protect our country’s health and well-being from global warming pollution,” Cuomo said. The other states joining the cause are California, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
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EPA: Emissions rule likely will face court challenge. – Nicole Gaudiano, Gannett News, July 22, 2010
A proposed federal rule aimed at reducing power plant emissions in most states likely will be challenged in court, an Environmental Protection Agency official told a Senate panel today. But Regina McCarthy, EPA’s assistant administrator of the office of air and radiation, said she expects the new rule, known as the Transport Rule, to be legally defensible. It was released July 6 in response to a court decision that invalidated its predecessor, the Clean Air Transport Rule, and ordered EPA to create a new rule.  “I fully expect that it will be litigated,” McCarthy said of the Transport Rule. “I think the difference that I’m trying to point out is, I think it adheres much more closely to the requirements in the Clean Air Act.”
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Federal suit seeks ban of common pesticide. – Marisa Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle, July 23, 2010
Two environmental groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday, demanding that the federal government decide whether to ban a widely used pesticide that has been linked to illnesses, including asthma and developmental problems such as attention deficit disorder. The chemical chlorpyrifos was banned for household use nine years ago by the EPA, which cited its effects on children, including delayed mental and motor skill development. But it is still widely used as an insecticide on corn, grapes, oranges, almonds and other crops, on golf courses and for pest control in urban areas.
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Groups Seeking Ban on Toxic Pesticide Go to Federal Court.Earthjustice News Release, July 23, 2010
Community groups joined environmental advocates in filing a lawsuit today to force the Environmental Protection Agency to decide once and for all whether or not it will ban the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos. Chlorpyrifos — sprayed on corn, oranges, almonds and other crops — is acutely poisonous and is among a class of pesticides initially developed for World War II-era chemical warfare. Short term effects of exposure to chlorpyrifos include chest tightness, blurred vision, headaches, coughing and wheezing, weakness, nausea and vomiting, coma, seizures, and even death. Prenatal and early childhood exposure has been linked to low birth weights, developmental delays and other health effects.
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Pesticide causes asthma, ADD, groups say in lawsuit. – Jill Blocker, Eat, Drink and Be, July 23, 2010
Plumes of a widely-used pesticide drifting with the wind away from corn, grapes, oranges, almonds and other crops toward human lungs is unsafe, two environmental groups claim in a lawsuit, which calls for the pesticide’s ban. The lawsuit calls for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make an official decision on whether or not to ban the chemical chlorpyrifos in pesticides, which have been linked to illnesses, including asthma and developmental problems such as attention deficit disorder, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Chlorpyrifos was banned in households nine years ago by the EPA for its potentially harmful effects on children, including delayed mental and motor skill development, but it is still used as an insecticide on various crops, on golf courses and in urban areas.
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Groups sue to ban popular pesticide. – Dale Kaiser, The Sacramento Bee, July 23, 2010
A pesticide popular with California farmers is facing legal attack from environmentalists. Two national groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week in an effort to ban the use of chlorpyrifos, a chemical sprayed on wine grapes, walnuts, almonds and scores of other crops. The groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pesticide Action Network North America, say the chemical can cause neurological problems and can even be fatal. But its manufacturer, Dow Chemical, said Friday the product is safe. Although it was banned by the U.S. government for household use in 2001, chlorpyrifos is used widely by farmers in California and elsewhere. Some 1.3 million pounds were sprayed on California crops in 2008, according to state records compiled by Earthjustice, a public-interest law firm that filed the suit.
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REGULATORY ACTIONS

Air

EPA and CARB Present Proposals to Reconsider 2010 SCR Engine Certification Requirements.Market Watch, July 20, 2010
Navistar International Corporation /quotes/comstock/13*!nav/quotes/nls/nav  (NAV  51.43, +0.87, +1.72%)  said from a workshop today that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) presented preliminary proposals aimed at the compliance loopholes found in current 2010 liquid-based SCR systems. “Navistar first identified these loopholes to the agencies and also presented our concerns at today’s workshop,” said Jack Allen, president of Navistar’s North American truck group. “We will be working with the EPA and CARB to ensure full environmental compliance.” At today’s joint CARB and EPA workshop, Navistar’s concerns about environmental compliance were backed up by independent test findings that show new commercial vehicles that must contain liquid urea to meet federal NOx emissions standards continue to operate effectively when urea is not present. At such times, Navistar said, the vehicles throw off levels of NOx as much as 10 times higher or more than when urea is present.
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CARB hears Navistar’s SCR complaints.Fleet Owner, July 21, 2010
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) held a public workshop yesterday to discuss possible changes in the way selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems react to malfunctions or other problems in trucks meeting the Environmental Protection Agency 2010 diesel engine emissions standards.  The workshop was part of an agreement with Navistar International  (NYSE: NAV). that led to its withdrawal of lawsuits against EPA  and CARB  over “guidance” or shutdown strategies issued by EPA for trucks using SCR.  Navistar is the only U.S. truck manufacturer that has chosen not to use the SCR technology to meet the new emissions rules, instead employing what it calls “Advanced EGR.” In the public notice announcing the workshop, CARB pointed out that it had already “approved 2010 and 2011 model year heavy-duty diesel engines with SCR… However, for future vehicles seeking certification, [CARB] expects manufacturers to do a better job of assuring that vehicles are not allowed to operate out of compliance for significant periods of time.”  With the EPA also in attendance, Navistar presented test data that showed three trucks with SCR systems were able “to operate effectively” without the diesel emissions fluid (DEF) needed to control the regulated NOx emissions, increasing NOx emissions “ as much as 10 times higher or more than when [DEF] is present.”  The test was conducted with two long-haul tractors and a heavy-duty pickup by EnSIGHT, an independent consulting firm hired by Navistar.
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EPA looking to close engine emission loopholes.The Green Car Website, July 21, 2010
The US Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board are working together with the aim of closing compliance loopholes for both medium- and heavy-duty diesel engines that use SCR-based NOx emission control systems. At the moment, SCR is the primary nitrogen oxide control strategy for heavy duty on-road engines. Both the Air Resources Board and the EPA have approved 2010 and 2011 model year engines with SCR that are designed with certain strategies that affect operations and detection of malfunctions.
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Group Says EPA Air Tests Not Good Enough.WDSU, July 20, 2010
Since the oil spill disaster began on April 20, the Environmental Protection Agency has tested air samples on the Gulf Coast to ensure air quality for folks working and living around the spill. But the Louisiana Bucket Brigade is now pointing out holes in their testing system. “The Gulf Coast is a pretty vast area, and they are trying to sample across a thousand miles and they just don’t have the capacity to do it,” said Anne Rolfes of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. Most results from the EPA show air quality is good, with a few areas like Grand Isle testing as a moderate health risk. But the Bucket Brigade said it has taken both health and odor complaints across the region, and many of those are coming from areas without an air quality monitor. “There are lots of reasons for that. Wind direction is important and the placement of EPA monitors were for convenience, maybe where there was power,” Rolfes said.
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Navistar presents “pollution loopholes” during Cali workshop.Today’s Trucking, July 21, 2010
Earning a public workshop by dropping its lawsuits against environmental regulators, Navistar took the opportunity to debate “compliance loopholes” in liquid-based SCR systems for diesel engines. While every other engine maker adopted SCR systems to meet stringent new NOx reduction rules for 2010, Navistar decided to continue with EGR-based engine technology. Navistar had asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. to void the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s certification polices for SCR-equipped trucks because they had been adopted by the EPA without the public process required by law, but instead following input only from the SCR engine makers.
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Water

Groups push tighter W.Va. water standard.Charleston Daily Mail, July 19, 2010
Environmentalists are urging the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to strengthen a proposed water quality standard. The DEP held a public hearing Monday on its proposal to limit salts, chlorides and other total dissolved solids to 500 parts per million in streams. The standard would be more stringent than Pennsylvania’s standard but less than what’s recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Don Garvin with the West Virginia Environmental Council said the DEP should adopt the EPA’s recommended standard of 250 parts per million. But Lew Baker with the West Virginia Rural Water Association said specific standards for irons that make up dissolved solids would be better.
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EPA takes new look at gas drilling, water issues. –Marc Levy and Mary Esch, The Examiner, July 20, 2010
So vast is the wealth of natural gas locked into dense rock deep beneath Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Ohio that some geologists estimate it’s enough to supply the entire East Coast for 50 years. But freeing it requires a powerful drilling process called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” using millions of gallons of water brewed with toxic chemicals, that some fear could pollute water above and below ground and deplete aquifers. As gas drillers swarm to this lucrative Marcellus Shale region and blast into other shale reserves around the country, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking a new look at the controversial fracking technique, currently exempt from federal regulation. The $1.9 million study comes as the nation reels from the Deepwater Horizon environmental and economic disaster playing out in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil and gas industry steadfastly defends the process as having been proven safe over many years as well as necessary to keep the nation on a path to energy independence. Studies have “consistently shown that the risks are managed, it’s safe, it’s a technology that’s essential … it’s also a technology that’s well-regulated,” said Lee Fuller, director of the industry coalition Energy In Depth.
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EPA Notifies Farmers of the Need to Comply with Rules Protecting Pennsylvania Waters.EPA News Release, July 21, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is calling on Pennsylvania farmers to comply with federal and state regulations designed to protect water quality. EPA is joining the Lancaster County Conservation District in urging farmers in the Muddy Run Watershed and throughout the County to take steps to reduce groundwater contamination and the discharge of manure to streams. “EPA expects all farms in the Commonwealth to comply with state and federal law,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “We anticipate that the majority of farmers in Muddy Run will use this opportunity to voluntarily evaluate their operations to ensure they’re in compliance.”
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EPA Seeks Small Business Input on Proposed Stormwater Rule.EPA News Release, July 21, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting small businesses and municipalities to nominate representatives to provide input on a proposed stormwater rule. The rule would strengthen the national stormwater program under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and focus on stormwater discharges from developed sites, such as subdivisions, roadways, industrial facilities, and commercial buildings or shopping centers.
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Group seeks EPA role in Vermont water regulation. – Candace Page, Burlington Free Press, July 22, 2010
The Conservation Law Foundation renewed its request Wednesday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency take over the job of regulating water pollution in Vermont on grounds the state Agency of Natural Resources is failing to get the job done. “The state is not protecting clean water in the way that Congress and the EPA require, so the state shouldn’t be able to take millions of dollars of taxpayer money for those programs,” said Chris Kilian, head of CLF’s Vermont office. Vermont is one of a number of states to which the EPA has delegated enforcement of the Clean Water Act. The state receives an estimated $6 million a year to do the job.
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Dairy farmers cringe at possible EPA regulations. – Anthony Pura, KHAS-TV News, July 22, 2010 There is no use crying over spilled milk unless you are a dairy farmer and the EPA has its way. Under the Clean Water Act, the EPA said it has the authority to regulate milk, like it does oil. How it is stored and disposed of has dairy farmers up in arms. Wednesday afternoon, Senator Mike Johanns introduced a bill that would block those regulations for milk. So how does milk even fall under the same regulations as oil? Milk contains animal fat, which under EPA laws, is considered non–petroleum oil. Now, last year the EPA was considering exempting milk from these regulations. There is no decision from them yet, but Senator Johann’s bill would pretty much make the decision for them. If there is anything lawmakers have learned in the past months, it is that you cannot be too careful trying to prevent oil spills. But instead of thick, black waters, imagine the threat of a white watery coastline from say a milk spill.
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EPA Changes to Kentucky Coal Mine Permit Protect Water Quality and the Environment.EPA News Release, July 23, 2010
Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit to Czar Coal Corporation for the Scaffold Lick Branch Coarse Refuse Storage Site project in eastern Kentucky. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Czar Coal Corporation resulted in significant protections against environmental impacts that are consistent with the Clean Water Act (CWA) and recent EPA regulations and policy. These changes are expected to reduce existing water quality problems associated with previous coal mining in the watershed, improve restoration of the site during construction, and enhance mitigation to offset unavoidable mining impacts. The permit includes new water quality monitoring to assess stream health during and following mining activities at the site. These steps are consistent with the agencies’ Clean Water Act regulations and recent mining policy issued by EPA in April 2010.
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Waste

State audit critical of Iowa DNR. – Jason Clayworth, Chicago Tribune, July 20, 2010
Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources has not complied with 16 state laws dealing with issues such as treatment of infectious waste, an audit released this week shows. An environmental activist called the findings alarming because laws such as one requiring creation of a toxic pollution prevention program were enacted to protect the public. The agency’s failure to uphold state law jeopardizes the well-being of Iowans and represents a serious disconnect between lawmakers and agency leaders responsible for enforcement, the activist said. Some of the laws have been on the books for nearly 20 years.
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National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan; National Priorities List: Partial Deletion of the Rocky Mountain.Trading Markets, July 21, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 8 issued a Notice of Intent to Delete portions of the Rocky Mountain  Arsenal Federal Facility (RMA) from the National Priorities List (NPL) on June 17, 2010. The portions proposed for deletion are the Central and Eastern Surface Areas of the On-Post Operable Unit (OU3) including surface media and structures (CES) and the surface media of the entire Off-Post Operable Unit (OU4) (OPS). A formal request was made to extend the public comment period which is scheduled to end on July 19, 2010. In response, EPA is reopening the public comment period for an additional 30 days concluding on August 16, 2010. The NPL, promulgated pursuant to section 105 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, as amended, is an appendix of the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP). The EPA and the State of Colorado, through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), have determined that all appropriate response actions under CERCLA at the CES and OPS, other than operation, maintenance, and five-year reviews, have been completed.
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EPA extends comment period for new harbor cleanup plan. – Dan McDonald, South Coast Today, July 23, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency has extended the public comment period for the agency’s proposal to begin disposing of contaminated soil from the harbor’s Superfund site into deeply dug pits in the harbor’s bed. The deadline, which was previously this month, has been extended to Sept. 10. State Rep. Antonio F.D. Cabral, D-New Bedford, was among those in the city’s Statehouse delegation to request an extension.
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Climate Change

Oregon Biomass Industry Questions EPA Tailoring Rule.Environmental Leader, July 20, 2010
The biomass industry in Oregon is concerned that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new ‘tailoring’ ruling could result in biomass losing its ‘green’ or carbon neutral status and be considered a greenhouse gas polluter just like coal-fired plants, reports OregonLive (via AP). What’s in question is the EPA’s tailoring rule released in May (as reported by EL), which establishes thresholds for CO2 and other greenhouse gases for pollution permits under the Clean Air Act for large stationary sources. The biomass industry is concerned because the EPA did not give all biomass combustion greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions a blanket exemption from complying with the act, according to four environmental groups, which recently filed a joint motion in federal court to help defend the EPA’s decision, reports Common Dreams. The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and Clean Air Task Force (CATF) attorneys filed a motion to intervene in defense of the EPA’s rule on behalf of Georgia ForestWatch and Wild Virginia, represented by SELC, and the Conservation Law Foundation and the Natural Resources Council of Maine, represented by CATF.
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Climate change law’s $63 million fee delayed by California. – Rick Daysog, The Sacramento Bee, July 21, 2010
The state, facing a ballot initiative to roll back its landmark climate change law, has pushed back a $63 million fee to pay for the legislation until after the November elections. The California Air Resources Board was supposed to begin collecting fees from oil companies, utilities and other energy producers last year to pay for the greenhouse gas reduction law. But a lawsuit by business organizations and taxpayer advocates — combined with the ongoing state budget crisis — has pushed back the implementation date to November. “We’re disappointed with the delay,” said Bonnie Holmes-Gen, senior policy director for the American Lung Association of California. “We need to start the policy of having polluters pay to enact this critical program.” Signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, California’s climate change law, or AB 32, aims to reduce carbon emissions statewide by 15 percent by 2020. Enforcement of the law — which includes additional staffing — will be paid for by fees assessed to oil companies, power companies and other big carbon emitters. The fee delay comes as the fate of the entire law will be put before voters this fall.
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Other

ARA Reacts To Proposed Pesticide General Permit.Croplife, July 21, 2010
The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) has filed comments in response to the EPA’s proposed pesticide general permit (PGP) for aquatic pesticide application. In the comments, ARA reminded EPA of the interaction between the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and that FIFRA was intended to have primacy over pesticide use.
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Massachusetts Authorized to Implement Lead Renovation Program; EPA Provides More Time for Contractors To Obtain Certification and Training.EPA News Release, July 22, 2010
Massachusetts became the second New England state and ninth nationally, to receive authorization to administer and enforce EPA’s Lead Renovation Program (RRP). The program mandates that anyone receiving compensation for renovating, repairing and painting work in homes and child-occupied facilities built before 1978 be trained and certified in lead-safe work practices by the state of Massachusetts. By taking state-wide authority for administering the national RRP program, Massachusetts will be able to provide greater local oversight. EPA’s authorization is based on certifications from both Governor Deval Patrick and Attorney General Martha Coakley, that the Massachusetts program is at least as protective as the EPA RRP program and provides adequate enforcement.
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STATE & FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION

Utilities and Environmentalists Haggle Over Climate Bill. – Felicity Barringer, The New York Times, July 19, 2010
Utility executives plan to head to Washington this week to weigh in on the latest iterations of legislation to control carbon dioxide emissions. Among them are Michael G. Morris, president and chief executive of American Electric Power, and James Rogers, chairman of Duke Energy. Intense negotiations have been unfolding over the possible architecture of a Senate energy bill pulled together by the chamber’s majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, to control those emissions, beginning with coal-fired power plants. Lobbyists from environmental groups and from publicly owned utilities have been meeting to see if they can find some common ground. More of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions come from coal-fired power plants than any other source. A climate and energy bill passed last year by the House called for an economywide cap, but that seems unlikely to prevail in the Senate, so discussion has turned to winning approval of a limit that embraces the utility sector.
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After Gulf oil spill, Obama plans better use of oceans.The Christian Science Monitor, July 19, 2010
Long after the last oil seeps from the BP spill, the eco-disaster in the Gulf is bound to change the way Americans take responsibility for the oceans. President Obama made a start Monday by ordering 22 agencies with ocean responsibilities to become better stewards of the marine environment. In particular, he endorsed the idea of zoning the nation’s coastal seas (and Great Lakes) – or the roping off of areas for such diverse uses as sport fishing, oil drilling, shipping, and underwater parks. This “marine spatial planning” will be done in nine regions but coordinated by a new National Ocean Council. The aim is to minimize often-conflicting demands and improve the eco-systems. One lesson from the BP spill was that the federal agency overseeing offshore drilling, the Minerals Management Service (MMS), was too focused on helping the industry extract oil and gas while downplaying protection of the environment. This new planning should provide better balance in locating drilling sites and saving vulnerable areas. The idea is already active in three coastal states, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. And Scientific American magazine recently referred to it as one of “20 World Changing Ideas.” But like zoning for land use, marine spatial planning is controversial. It forces government to restrict commercial or recreational activities based on estimates of sustaining always-changing marine areas. Ocean scientists often differ on the effects of human actions, and the concept of sustainability can sometimes be fuzzy.
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President to make environmental history today with national ocean policy. – Sarah Chasis, National Resources Defense Council, July 19, 2010
According to press  reports, today will go down in environmental history for landmark progress toward ocean protection. In my 36 years of environmental policy work, there are few moments in my book that rise to today’s level of importance. We have the Clean Water Act for our water and the Clean Air Act for our air. Finally, we will now have a bedrock environmental policy like this for our oceans. President Obama, who hails from the ocean state of Hawaii and the Great Lakes state of Illinois, is expected to announce a revamping ofthe way we protect our oceans. This is something ocean advocates like me have been working toward for years. This national ocean policy would coordinate efforts to reduce pollution and protect marine life, so that beaches are clean and fish and wildlife abundant. It will help federal agencies better protect, maintain and restore ocean ecosystems, and it establishes a National Ocean Council to help oversee the policy’s implementation, including the development of specific action plans to address priority issues.
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Obama launches policy to protect oceans. – Julie Pace, The Associated Press, July 19, 2010
The Obama administration on Monday announced a new national policy for strengthening the way the U.S. manages its oceans and coasts, and the Great Lakes. Officials said the framework is needed now more than ever following the massive Gulf oil spill. The policy calls for the creation of a new National Ocean Council that will coordinate the work of the many federal agencies involved in conservation and marine planning. But it creates no new restrictions or regulations, and is not expected to have any short-term effect on offshore oil drilling. Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the new policy recognizes that use of the ocean is expanding at a rate that challenges the ability to manage competing demands.
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In Midst of Gulf Disaster, New National Ocean Policy Gives Hope for Our Seas. – Sigourney Weaver, OnEarth Magazine, July 19, 2010
I have always loved the oceans. My father was a Navy man and one requirement he had for us growing up was that we had to live near a body of saltwater. I was raised listening to foghorns by night and being chased by horseshoe crabs by day. The oceans are filled with so much life and variety – nearly all of it hidden from our sight. This makes the process of learning about the seas an endless series of surprises, a constant discovery of secrets. Like a lot of us, I always thought the oceans were infinite, vast and forgiving of what we were doing to them. They seemed somehow indestructible. Now we know that’s not true and these same features that make the oceans wonderful – their mystery and other-worldliness – have also worked to their disadvantage. Life beneath the surface is often out-of-sight and therefore out-of-mind. As a result, we tend to forget a rather important fact: we depend on the oceans for our survival regardless of where we live or what we eat. After all, our oceans generate most of our oxygen, regulate our climate, and directly provide a critical food source for much of our population. We cannot prosper unless the oceans prosper, too. But as the oil disaster continues to ravage the Gulf of Mexico and the people who depend on it, we are being reminded daily of the often-forgotten value of these resources, and our responsibility to protect them. That’s why I was filled with hope today when President Obama announced he is creating the first-ever comprehensive national policy  – like a Clean Air or Water Act – to protect our oceans. It is now clearer than ever that our country needs this to protect our oceans from the threats they face. If we had a policy like this in place before the Deepwater Horizon rig sunk – not only would we have better able to respond, an accident like this might not have happened there are at all.
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White House’s New National Ocean Policy a Welcome Sign, But Lacks Assurances to Protect Our Oceans.Center for Biological Diversity, July 19, 2010
Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity, issued the following statement today in response to the Obama administration’s Final Recommendations of the Ocean Policy Task Force, which would establish a “National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts, and Great Lakes” and create a new governing body for oceans called the National Ocean Council: “Our oceans are in urgent need of a coordinated approach for their conservation and management, and this new national policy is a step in the right direction. Our oceans face numerous threats, from overfishing and pollution to climate change and acidification. The policy announced today acknowledges that our country needs to initiate a comprehensive program to ensure healthy and productive oceans and coasts for generations to come. “The Obama administration’s proposal creates a governance structure for the management of the oceans and sets out a program for marine spatial planning — which, like zoning on land, would designate certain areas for diverse uses such as drilling, fishing, shipping and protection. But the proposal lacks guarantees for conservation and biodiversity protection. And the overwhelming need for prevention of climate change and ocean acidification is also overlooked by the policy. Instead the Obama administration focuses on adapting to these changes, while completely ignoring what we need to do to avoid allowing them to escalate into potentially devastating environmental transformation.
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Obama’s new ocean policy offers greater safeguards for Central Coast. – Kurtis Alexander, San Jose Mercury News, July 19, 2010
The Obama administration Monday unveiled new policy for managing the nation’s oceans, seeking to strengthen protection of coastal waters from the Gulf of Mexico to the Monterey Bay. The policy, which secures a longtime vision of local Congressman Sam Farr, calls for creation of a National Ocean Council to coordinate the many layers of state and federal regulation on such matters as offshore drilling, fishing and shipping. The policy creates no new law, but is expected to sharpen attention to existing regulations. The announcement comes three months after the BP oil spill, which continues to blacken the Gulf, though a federal task force has been working on the policy since June of last year. “At a time when science knows the oceans are dying and several politicians have known it, there’s never been a crisis to drive policy, until now,” said Farr, D-Carmel, who has tried unsuccessfully to win a similar oceans conservation plan through legislation. “This is giant step forward.” Farr called the president’s policy, which comes via presidential order, “the clean water and air acts for the ocean.” At the heart of the new plan is a practice known as marine spatial planning. Just as local governments establish zoning to manage land use, ocean regulators will approach coastal waters from a broad perspective, figuring out what aquatic activities are appropriate and where.
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Obama launches policy to protect nation’s oceans. – Mark Schleifstein, NOLA, July 19, 2010
With the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster serving as a reminder of the fragility of the world’s oceans, the Obama administration on Monday announced a new, comprehensive national policy for managing the nation’s oceans, the Great Lakes and their coasts. The 10-point policy will be overseen by a new National Ocean Council co-chaired by John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the Council for Environmental Quality. The council also will include the secretaries of all Cabinet-level federal agencies and representatives of other federal environmental and economic agencies. “The national policy we’re announcing today sets the United States on a new path toward comprehensively planning for the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans,” Sutley said in a teleconference with reporters. “America’s coastal regions and waters support tens of millions of jobs and account for trillions of dollars of the national economy each year. “Americans want clean beaches, abundant seafood and wildlife, a robust economy and jobs and recreational opportunities from our oceans,” Sutley said. “The national policy gives us a lasting foundation to help us achieve this.”
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Crist says he won’t call ‘do-nothing legislature’ back on oil. – Dara Kam and Michael C. Bender, The Palm Beach Post, July 20, 2010
The special session on banning drilling for oil in state waters is over. The Florida House voted 67-44 to adjourn before 1 p.m., and the Senate followed with an 18-16 vote to adjourn by 2:20 p.m. By 3 p.m., Gov. Charlie Crist, who had ordered the chambers into session to consider asking voters if they wanted to put the ban in the constitution in the first place, said he won’t call them back a second time, even though he still had time before the Aug. 4 deadline for putting questions on the Nov. 2 ballot. “I am significantly disappointed for the people of Florida,” Crist said. “I can’t believe this legislature has shirked its duty so badly.” “How arrogant can a legislature be?” he continued. “I call this legislature the do-nothing legislature. And I’m going to give them hell for it.” The House vote, which split along party lines, came less than an hour after the House started at about noon. Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne and the next president of the Senate, said he was not unhappy with the House move. He said the constitutional ban was unnecessary because Florida law already banned drilling in state waters. He said he and House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon, R-Orlando, will not repeal the current law during their two years’ heading their respective chambers, even though they led the effort last year and during this year’s regular session to repeal that law.
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House Approps Chairman Supports Funding for ‘Civic Activism’ on Climate. – Gabriel Nelson, The New York Times, July 20, 2010
The leader of the House appropriations panel that oversees U.S. EPA’s budget said he would support additional funding for efforts to spur “civic activism” on environmental issues, including climate change. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), chairman of the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, met with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and other agency leaders today to discuss the Gulf spill response, outreach programs and other agency initiatives. Moran also hosted a town hall session at EPA headquarters, where he said authoritative science and outreach efforts are key to environmental protection. The Obama administration has recommended $10 billion for EPA in fiscal 2011, a $300 million cut. House and Senate appropriators have not moved on budgets for the agency, which received about $2.7 billion more this year than it did at the end of President George W. Bush’s presidency. “We want to see that increase continue, and as long as EPA stands up and speaks out on behalf of the American public, it will increase,” Moran said. “One of the things we were talking about with Administrator Jackson, who said she feels very strongly about this, is EPA needs to have the ability — to be given the ability — to outreach more to communities.”
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Schumer wants dairy farmers exempt from oil spill regulation. – Debra Groom, The Post Standard, July 21, 2010
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is announcing today that he will ask the federal Environmental Protection Agency to exempt dairy farmers from a regulation that would cause hardship to their bottom lines. Schumer said the rule, a part of the Clean Water Act, would require dairy farmers to develop and implement plans on handling a milk spill — the same sort of plan that oil companies must develop for dealing with oil spills. Schumer said the EPA claims the authority to require such spill prevention plans because milk contains animal fat – an oil. But he said Congress meant for these regulations to apply to toxic substances and companies like ExxonMobil and BP, and to oil, not a 75-cow dairy farm and milk.
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Opinion: An environmental rift: Cutting corners in ocean protection.Capitol Weekly, July 22, 2010
Environmental groups, long the champions of upholding the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), have instead been working to short-cut environmental protection. That’s correct: environmental groups actively sought to sidestep environmental law which requires openness in analyzing negative environmental impacts of projects. Usually, these groups fight to ensure complete compliance with CEQA – they repelled numerous legislative attacks by developers, and even Governor Schwarzenegger, already this year.  But ironically, some have apparently decided CEQA doesn’t apply to projects they favor.
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How State Lawmakers Could Lead On Climate Change. – Adam Doster, Progress Illinois, July 22, 2010
Back in May, environmental advocates cautiously endorsed a climate bill introduced by Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) that set a meaningful limit on global warming pollution. But lacking the votes to overcome a Republican filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) recently abandoned the broad cap-and-trade proposal and may also ditch a similar program limited to utility companies. This week, progressive senators are scrambling to improve the package’s underlying energy provisions, but Democratic leaders remain noncommittal about whether they will introduce that slimmed-down bill before the August recess. “It’s looking increasingly likely that the Senate will not only fumble climate legislation, but even fail to move a basic package of energy reforms in response to the oil spill,” Mother Jones‘ Kate Sheppard reported yesterday afternoon.
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Other Articles on the Same Topic:

Making Climate Progress with the Tools We Already Have. – David Doniger, NRDC Switchboard, July 23, 2010
There may be a special place in the hot hell of runaway global warming for the minority of Senators who have blocked the path forward on climate and energy legislation this year.  As NRDC’s Peter Lehner said yesterday:  “They are fiddling while Rome burns.  Their failure means that we will continue to send a billion dollars a day overseas to buy oil, that China will continue to race ahead in creating the jobs of the future, and that pollution will continue to increase at home.”  The Senate’s continuing failure to pass new legislation makes it all the more important that the Obama administration protect and use the tools it has now under the Clean Air Act and other laws already on the books.  Through these laws, the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal departments can take a big bite out of the pollution that is driving global warming.
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Carbon Emission Reductions Depend on U.S. Agencies, States, Group Says. – Simon Lomax, Bloomberg, July 23, 2010
Federal agencies and state governments can get the U.S. close to President Barack Obama’s goal for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions after the “apparent collapse” of congressional efforts to pass new pollution laws, according to the World Resources Institute. The agencies and states might achieve a 14 percent cut in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 from 2005 levels if they act with “high ambition,” the Washington-based institute said in a report today. Obama said last year the U.S. should aim for a 17 percent carbon cut by 2020. “It is possible to make significant reductions using existing tools,” Jonathan Lash, the institute’s president, told reporters in Washington. The carbon cuts depend on regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency and other parts of the federal government together with state-level programs such as a 10-state carbon trading program for power plants in the Northeast, Lash said.
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Existing Emissions Laws Could Cut U.S. Footprint Without Climate Bill.Climatebiz, July 23, 2010
A day after the Senate pulled the plug on a comprehensive climate bill, a new report shows the U.S. could reduce greenhouse gas emissions 14 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 by aggressively using existing state and federal policies. A 14 percent reduction, however, falls short of President Barack Obama’s Copenhagen commitment, as well the emissions reduction targets put forth in the most recent climate legislation that was put forth and failed over the last year. It also pales in comparison to the cuts most scientists say is needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change. “The study highlights both the need to pass climate legislation and the importance of preserving existing authorities,” Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute, which wrote the report, said in a statement. “The study’s findings make it very clear that current efforts by Congress to curb U.S. EPA authority will undermine U.S. competitiveness in a clean energy world economy, block control of dangerous pollutants, and put the U.S. at odds with its allies.”
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Democrats surrendering on climate change? – Stephen Stromberg, The Washington Post, July 22, 2010
Update, 2:45 p.m.: Reid, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and White House energy chief Carol Browner just finished speaking at the Capitol. They all repeatedly insisted that they weren’t giving up on a comprehensive climate bill. Quite the opposite, they said. But through all the protesting-too-much, it sure sounded like they were surrendering, for now. They said that they just don’t have the votes. They didn’t give much hope that anyone could be swayed. And, tellingly, Reid somberly thanked everyone for their effort. Environment fail.  It looks more and more like President Obama won’t be able to make the oceans stop rising this year. He and Senate Democrats have kicked climate legislation down the road since the beginning of 2009. And now Democratic aides are telling The Hill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won’t bring a climate bill to the floor next week as planned. Instead, he’ll introduce legislation with provisions relating to the oil spill and a few other, non-controversial energy proposals, pass that before August and then, perhaps, take up a more ambitious bill in the fall — just before midterm elections, when little is likely to pass. Reid will apparently speak on this around 2:00 p.m. today.
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The earth warms up, but Congress won’t act on climate change. – Cynthia Tucker, Atlanta Journal Constitution, July 22, 2010
How hot does it have to get for the climate change deniers to admit global warming is caused by human activity? From David Leonhardt’s excellent column in the New York Times on Tuesday: All the while, the risks and costs of climate change grow. Sea levels are rising faster than scientists predicted just a few years ago. Himalayan glaciers are melting. In the American West, pine beetles (which struggle to survive the cold) are multiplying and killing trees. According to NASA, 2010 is on course to be the planet’s hottest year since records started in 1880. The current top 10, in descending order, are: 2005, 2007, 2009, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2004, 2001 and 2008. Hot is the new normal.  Still, John Kerry is throwing in the towel on his comprehensive climate change/energy bill, which is no great surprise. Despite the horrendous oil spill in the Gulf, despite signs of a warming planet all around, the GOP is full of climate change deniers and the Democratic Party is full of politicians too afraid of the mid-terms to tackle the issue.
We’ll keep roasting and the oceans will keep rising for a long time.
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Senate leaders abandon effort to pass climate change bill until fall.The Boston Globe, July 22, 2010
Senate leaders acknowledged today they have no chance of passing a comprehensive climate change bill any time soon, saying they would abandon the effort for the time being and take it up again in the fall. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, standing with Majority Leader Harry Reid, and White House energy advisor Carol Browner, said a year of work had still not produced a deal that could gain GOP support.
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Other Articles on the Same Topic:

Democrats Call Off Climate Bill Effort. – Carl Hulse and David M. Herszenhorn, The New York Times, July 22, 2010
The effort to advance a major climate change bill through the Senate this summer collapsed Thursday even as President Obama signed into law another top Democratic priority — a bill to restore unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who have been out of work for six months or more. Bowing to political reality, Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and majority leader, said the Senate would not take up legislation intended to reduce carbon emissions blamed as a cause of climate change, but would instead pursue a more limited measure focused on responding to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and tightening energy efficiency standards.
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Kerry Says Broad Climate-Change Bill Is `Not Dead’: Video.Bloomberg, July 23, 2010
U.S. Senator John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, says his comprehensive climate-change bill is “not dead” after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced a more limited energy bill that doesn’t include a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Kerry spoke in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt” airing this weekend. Hunt discusses the Kerry interview and new House ethics charges against U.S. Representative Charles Rangel on “InBusiness With Margaret Brennan.”
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In U.S. Senate, Climate Change Bill Dies With a Whimper. – Rebecca Boyle, Popular Science, July 23, 2010
A major effort to push a climate change bill through Congress this summer died quietly Thursday evening, as Senate leaders said they would instead focus on legislation aimed at cleaning up the oil spill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is seeking re-election this fall in Nevada, said, “We know that we don’t have the votes,” the New York Times reports.  The announcement is in stark contrast to senatorial optimism from a month ago, after Reid, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and other senators met with President Obama at the White House. Back then, members of both parties expressed hope that they would reach a compromise sometime this summer.
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After the Climate Bill Failure. – John M. Broder, The New York Times, July 23, 2010
With the Senate slinking away from any effort to control climate-altering carbon emissions, the frustrated and perplexed are asking, now what? Can federal and state governments move ahead under existing law to achieve some or all of the greenhouse gas reductions envisioned in the failed legislation? Just in time comes a report from the respected World Resources Institute attempting to answer just that question. The 60-page paper was released on the very day that the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, pulled the plug on the already-comatose Senate climate bill. The study (warning: quite wonky) looks at federal and state laws governing greenhouse gas pollutants and asks if they can achieve the goal set by President Obama at the international climate conference in Copenhagen last December — a 17 percent reduction over 2005 levels by 2020.
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Why a climate bill failed. – Ezra Klein, The Washington  Post, July 23, 2010
If you wanted to design a threat that our political system couldn’t address, here’s what you’d do: You’d make the pain of doing nothing come much later, but the pain of doing something begin right now. You’d concentrate the costs of failure in poor countries, while the costs of a policy solution would be concentrated in certain regions of America. You’d make it hard to solve without the imposition of a new tax. You’d make sure that some of the largest and richest industries in the world had an enormous amount to fear from that tax. Which is all to say, it’s no surprise that Congress is collapsing beneath the weight of an energy bill. Climate change, a long-range problem that will primarily harm developing countries and require immediate and difficult policy changes on the part of rich countries that will impose huge costs on particular regions of the United States, is exactly the sort of problem our system can’t handle.
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Its Official: Strong TSCA Reform Bill Debuts in the House. – Dan Rosenburg, NRDC Switchboard, July 23, 2010
The TSCA reform bill introduced on Thursday by Representatives Bobby Rush and Henry Waxman, called the “Toxic Chemicals Safety Act” (H.R.5820) will help fix an outdated and barely functioning law that was intended to protect people from unsafe chemicals but failed to do so.  The bill will improve public health protection by establishing a system that moves us toward production and use of safer chemicals. The bill will enhance EPA’s authority (and responsibility) to regulate toxic chemicals, both those we already know are unsafe, and those for which we currently lack sufficient information to determine safety. And the bill will expand the public’s right to know about the health and environmental impacts of chemicals used in commerce, as well as where those chemicals are used and how people are likely to be exposed. The Toxic Chemicals Safety Act contains many important provisions for reforming TSCA and improving public protection from toxic chemicals.  Here is a Top Ten list of features in the bill:
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Veto likely on bills blocking EPA regs. – Darren Samuelsohn, Politico, July 23, 2010
President Barack Obama would veto legislation suspending the EPA’s plans to write new climate change rules, a White House official said on Friday. Coal-state Democrats, led by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (W. Va), Reps. Rick Boucher (Va.) and Nick Rahall (W. Va), are trying to limit the federal government’s ability to control greenhouse gases from power plants. The coal-state proposals, which would block the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority for two years, would undercut what is widely seen as Obama’s alternative climate policy, now that Congress has punted on cap-and-trade legislation for the year. The Obama aide said the proposals won’t win the president’s signature if they managed to pass on Capitol Hill. Rockefeller’s bill is expected to reach the Senate floor at some point this year. In a press release on Friday, Rockefeller said he was “continuing to push hard” for his legislation to suspend the EPA regulations “so that Congress, not federal regulators, can set national energy policy.” The West Virginia Democrat also came out this summer against efforts to pass cap-and-trade legislation that would place mandatory limits on greenhouse gases.
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ENERGY

Natural Gas

Huge Turnout for E.P.A. Fracking Hearing. – Tom Zeller, Jr., San Francisco Chronicle, July 23, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency will probably be getting an earful at a public meeting in southwestern Pennsylvania, part of its recently opened re-examination of hydraulic fracturing. Many Green readers will already know that gas drillers rely heavily on the practice, often called “fracking,” which involves the high-pressure injection of a mixture of water, sand and chemicals designed to create fractures in rock formations deep underground so that gas can be released. Environmentalists have long complained — often in vain — that the industry in general and fracking in particular are too loosely regulated and that all manner of environmental and health impacts could be at stake. Groundwater contamination ranks high on their list of concerns.
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E.P.A. Considers Risks of Gas Extraction. – Tom Zeller, Jr., The New York Times, July 23, 2010
The streams of people came to the public meeting here armed with stories of yellowed and foul-smelling well water, deformed livestock, poisoned fish and itchy skin. One resident invoked the 1968 zombie thriller “Night of the Living Dead,” which, as it happens, was filmed just an hour away from this southwestern corner of Pennsylvania. The culprit, these people argued, was hydraulic fracturing, a method of extracting natural gas that involves blasting underground rock with a cocktail of water, sand and chemicals. Gas companies countered that the horror stories described in Pennsylvania and at other meetings held recently in Texas and Colorado are either fictions or not the companies’ fault. More regulation, the industry warned, would kill jobs and stifle production of gas, which the companies consider a clean-burning fuel the nation desperately needs.
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Biofuels

Biofuels Industry Blames Washington for Holding Back Cellulosic Ethanol. – Stacy Feldman, The New York Times, July 19, 2010
America’s cellulosic biofuels industry suffered an abrupt setback last week when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency slashed the target for the next-generation fuel source – despite pledges and promises to rely on it heavily to meet fuel needs. EPA announced it expects 5 to 17.1 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol to be blended into the nation’s fuels in 2011, a tiny fraction of the 250 million gallons mandated under federal law. The news left some industry watchers scratching their heads and others fuming. He and others scolded the administration for not buttressing the new rules with renewed commitments to finance new biorefineries. Under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, the U.S. must massively boost the use of biofuels from 12 billion gallons this year to 36 billion gallons by 2022. Around 16 billion gallons of that is earmarked to come from switchgrass, corncobs, sugarcane bagasse and other inedible cellulosic plant parts. To keep the industry on track to deliver the rapid expansion, EPA must publish goals every year for four fuel technologies – biomass-based diesel, advanced, cellulosic and total renewable biofuels. Next year the biofuels industry will provide 13.95 billion gallons, or 7.95 percent of the nation’s transportation fuels, according to the proposed 2011 Renewable Fuel Standards.
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Biomass facility will transform farm waste. – Barry Alston, Farmers Gaurdian, July 19, 2010
FARMERS had one of the first opportunities at the Royal Welsh today (Monday, July 19) to find out about a unique new biomass waste recycling facility designed to transform the way the country tackles climate change. The new purpose-designed facility at Aberystwyth University’s Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences has been built with funding help of nearly £180,000 from the Welsh Assembly Government. It is the only one of its kind in the UK and designed and built to ‘burn’ a variety of grasses, organic waste and wood without oxygen through a process called pyrolysis to improve ways of producing ‘biochar’ Biochar is a fine-grained, highly porous, charcoal-like substance rich in carbon that can be used to improve soil fertility and raise agricultural productivity.
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Groups launch new campaign against E15. – Kris Bevill, Ethanol Producer Magazine, July 22, 2010
Environmental organizations, small engine manufacturers, food manufacturers and petroleum associations have teamed up to launch a new ad campaign urging Congress and the U.S. EPA to prevent the widespread use of E15. The first ad, titled “Say NO to untested E15,” makes the claim that E15 will cause automobile and recreational engines to stall and directs Congress not to “rush to judgment based on politics.” The groups claim that more testing needs to be conducted before an increase in ethanol blends should be approved.
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Exhaustive Data Proves E15 is the Right Choice for Our Engines, Our Economy and Our Environment. – Louise Roys, AllVoices, July 23, 2010
A recent ad launched by industry groups opposed to an increase in ethanol in gasoline completely ignores the academic, government, and third-party research that proves a 15 percent blend of ethanol in gasoline can help clean our environment and create jobs, all without any impact on the drivability of our cars, said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, in a statement released today. Growth Energy’s Green Jobs Waiver, submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency in March 2009, seeks an increase in the allowable blend of ethanol with gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent. In December, the EPA indicated that engine testing so far showed that 2001 and later vehicles could be eligible for E15. In their letter, they wrote, “Although all of the studies have not been completed, our engineering assessment to date indicates that the robust fuel, engine and emissions control systems on newer vehicles (likely 2001 and newer model years) will likely be able to accommodate higher ethanol blends, such as E15.” A full decision is expected by the fall.
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Corn Ethanol is Just a Very Bad Deal, Claims a New Anti-Farm Lobby Advertising Campaign. – Ken Zino, The Detroit Bureau, July 23, 2010
Politics might make strange bedfellows, but when environmental and industry advocacy groups hop into the sack together it gets our attention. This is precisely what’s happening with a newly launched advertising campaign that challenges the pork-driven, pay-to-play U.S. Congress to put aside the influence – critics say bribes – of the huge contributions from agribusiness and stipulate that “objective” scientific testing be conducted before allowing an increase in the amount of ethanol in gasoline. (See How a Bad Bush Administration Energy Policy Begets More Bad Policy?)
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Wind

Wind Energy Proponents Grouse Over Grouse Conservation.Wyoming Energy News, July 19, 2010
It’s another conservation battle gone to the birds. Wyoming’s blocking of wind energy studies, development and turbines within core habitat areas of the sage grouse is ruffling feathers among wind development proponents. Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal’s moves to protect the sage grouse have been designed to help the state dodge more restrictive rules that would come along with an Endangered Species Act listing. The sage grouse in the United States is currently listed as a candidate for endangered species status. Studies have found that sage grouse abandon breeding areas near oil drilling areas and tall structures where predators are likely to perch. Regulators seeking to minimize disruption to the birds have required that drilling rigs be at least one kilometer from known breeding areas — and since wind turbines are even taller, larger buffer zones may be required. The Biodiversity Conservation Alliance and a coalition of conservation groups recently recommended a five-mile buffer for wind developments, the same standard the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been recommending since 2003.
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BLM releases drafts for Wind Farm Project.The Ely TImes, July 21, 2010
The BLM Ely District has released the Spring Valley Wind Project Revised Preliminary Environmental Assessment and draft Finding of No Significant Impact for public review and comment. The 30-day formal public comment period concludes at 5 p.m., on Wednesday, Aug. 18. Interested individuals should address all written comments to the BLM Ely District Office, HC 33 Box 33500, Ely, NV 89301, ATTN: Project Lead Gina Jones. Comments may be submitted electronically to springvalley@blm.gov. The Spring Valley Wind, LLC-proposed Spring Valley Wind Project is a 150-megawatt wind generation farm that would be constructed on 8,565 acres of the public land in north Spring Valley, about 30 miles east of Ely.
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OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS

Water

As We See It: National Ocean Policy has great potential.Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 21, 2010
Planning. You can’t build a community without it. Zoning laws, codes, permit processes — they turn chaos into order. So why should the ocean be any different? Shouldn’t we apply the same principles to our coastal waters? With the stroke of a pen, President Barack Obama on Monday set into motion such a planning process by creating a National Ocean Policy and an accompanying National Ocean Council, a body of scientists and administration officials charged with overseeing activities such as drilling, fishing and shipping along the nation’s ocean shores. Rep. Sam Farr, a longtime champion of such an ocean-resource policy, hailed Obama’s executive order, comparing it to the nation’s Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. The executive order, Farr said, “in effect creates a Clean Ocean Act.” At the heart of the new policy, which drew praise from local environmentalists, is the creation of “marine spatial plans.” Just as cities develop zoning to guide land use, marine zones will be developed to guide the best use of coastal waters. That planning will be done by nine regional bodies. The promise of greater coordination in the planning and development of policies governing use of our ocean waters is certainly a lofty and worthy goal, and one that we hope is truly embraced and carried out. It is just a bit ironic that the story appeared in the Sentinel just above a Washington Post story that noted the anti-terror bureaucracy created in the wake of 9/11 is so unwieldy that no one has a handle on what programs exist, what information is shared or how many agencies do the same work.
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Ancient Ocean Acidification Intimates Long Recovery from Climate Change. – David Biello, Scientific American, July 23, 2010
Single-cell life-forms thrive throughout the world’s oceans—and have for hundreds of millions of years. Tiny varieties known as calcareous nanoplankton build exuberant, microscopic shells—resembling wagon wheels, fishlike scales, even overlapping oval shields decorated with craggy explosions at their centers—known as “coccoliths”. The ability to form these shells rests on the amount of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dissolved in the seawater—and that amount depends on the concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 is the ubiquitous greenhouse gas emitted by human activity, particularly fossil-fuel and forest burning. As levels rise in the atmosphere (currently at 390 parts per million and counting), the ocean’s surface waters absorb more of the molecule. This water–CO2 mixture forms carbonic acid, which slightly lowers the ocean’s overall pH (the lower the pH, the more acidic). More acidic ocean water means less calcium carbonate—and less material for shell-building plants and animals of all sizes, including the nannoplankton that constitute the base of the food chain.
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Climate Change

Climate change is bad for your health.San Francisco Chronicle, July 19, 2010
While we’ve been “enjoying” a foggy summer here in San Francisco, the East Coast has been sweltering under some record breaking heat waves. And climate change models show such heat waves will occur more often and last longer, according David Easterling, a climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center. Heat waves are just one of the ways climate change impairs public health. Michael McGeehin, director of the Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects at the CDC, calls them “a public health disaster.” Heat waves, he says, “kill the most vulnerable members of our society. The fact that climate change is going to increase the number and intensity of heat waves is something we need to prepare for.” On the other hand, taking steps to check climate change would improve public health. Research from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, found that simply reducing the number of miles driven by about 20 percent would save hundreds of lives, avoid hundreds of thousands of hospital admissions, and save billions of dollars in health care costs in the Midwest alone.
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Study: Climate change grasped better as health issue.Green House, USA Today, July 19, 2010
Framing climate change as a public health problem helps people, even skeptics, better understand the issue’s significance, reports George Mason University researchers. Most of the 74 adults surveyed, who varied in both their demographics and views on climate change, reacted favorably to a short essay on the human health implications of global warming, according to an exploratory study released Monday by the university’s Center for Climate Change Communication.
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Responses

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