Posted by: Steven M. Taber | August 2, 2010

Environmental Law and Climate Change Law Newsletter, August 2, 2010, vol. 2, no. 22

Vol. 2, No. 22, August 2, 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

Mobil Admits No Wrong Doing, But Will Pay $2.4 Million Penalty for Clean Air Violations. – Kevin Kerrigan, Pacific News Center, July 27, 2010
Guam – Mobil has agreed to pay a $2.4 million dollar civil penalty for violations of the Clean Air Act. The penalty is part of a consent decree filed in District Court today in which Mobil Guam and Mobil Marianas did not admit any liability or wrongdoing. Under the consent decree Mobil also agreed not to operate its fuel storage tanks in Saipan or on Guam until they comply with the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants [NESHAP]. The decree requires that Mobil destroy 2 of its fuel storage tanks. In addition Mobil has agreed to begin “continuous monitoring systems for both the Cabras Terminal and the Saipan Terminal loading racks and to begin preliminary installation of controls for both.” The consent decree filed today grows out of a complaint and settlement agreement filed in District Court on April 18th. The initial complaint alleged that Mobil Oil Guam and Mobil Oil Mariana Islands failed to install vapor pollution controls on thirteen storage tanks and all of their loading racks at gasoline storage facilities on the islands. Both also allegedly failed to comply with pollution limits, install pollution monitors, and submit required reports.
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District Court approves consent decree between feds, Mobil Oil.Pacific Daily News, July 27, 2010
District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood approved a months-old consent decree between the federal government and Mobil Oil that requires the company to pay $2.4 million in penalties for allegedly violating the Clean Air Act on Guam and in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Mobil Oil Guam President Genarro Cioffi in April said the company, after an internal review, found that its fuel terminals in Guam and the CNMI may not have been in full compliance with federal and local regulations. The problem was self-reported by the company, and a proposed consent decree was signed by company officials last December and by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official in early April.
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Settlement Reached to Expedite Cleanup for Walpole, Mass. Superfund Site.EPA News Release, July 28, 2010
A $13 million settlement has been reached between four parties and the United States to expedite cleanup of the contaminated Blackburn and Union Privileges Superfund Site in Walpole, Mass., the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today. The parties involved in the settlement include W.R. Grace & Co.-Conn., a former owner and operator of the site; Tyco Healthcare Group, also former owner and operator; as well as BIM Investment Corp. and Shaffer Realty Nominee Trust, the current owners.
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Pennsylvania Steel Beam and Concrete Manufacturers Settle Chemical Release Reporting Violations at Lancaster, Williamsport and Denver Plants.EPA News Release, July 28, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that High Steel Structures, Inc. and its sister company High Concrete Group, LLC, have settled alleged violations of toxic chemical reporting requirements at their plants in Lancaster, Williamsport and Denver, Pa. EPA cited the companies for violating the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), which requires companies that manufacture, use or process more than a threshold amount of listed toxic chemicals to file an annual toxic chemical release form with EPA and the state. Under EPCRA, companies must also report both routine and accidental releases of toxic chemicals, as well as the maximum amount of any listed chemicals at the facility and the amount contained in wastes transferred off-site.
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North Providence Fined, Will Take Action on Sewer Overflows.EPA News Release, July 29, 2010
The Town of North Providence, R.I. will pay a $15,000 penalty and spend an additional $86,000 to install a municipal sewer line and to replace faulty private sewers in the Warren Street neighborhood. This supplemental environmental project, required under the terms of the settlement with EPA, is designed to eliminate sewer system backups in an area that has experienced discharges of raw sewage inside housing units and into the street, presenting an environmental and public health threat.
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LA area polystyrene manufacturer Lifoam Industries pays $450,000 over violations of federal, state clean-air laws.EPA News Release, July 29, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice and the South Coast Air Quality Management District announced that Lifoam Industries, Inc. will pay $450,000 in fines, claiming the company violated the federal Clean Air Act and state air quality laws at its polystyrene manufacturing facility at 2340 E. 52 Street in Vernon, Calif. Under the terms of a settlement entered today in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Lifoam Industries is required to pay a $450,000 penalty and must vent all of its manufacturing emissions through an air pollution control device. “The effects of illegal air pollution in the Los Angeles basin are insidious, and local residents suffer a disproportionate impact,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “To protect public health and the environment, we will vigilantly track down violators and bring them into compliance.”
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Milford, N.H. Gas Station to Pay Nearly $50K for Oil Spill Violations.EPA News Release, July 29, 2010
The owner and the operator of a gas station in Milford, N.H., have agreed to pay $49,000 to settle EPA claims that they violated federal Clean Water laws regulating preparedness for oil spills, under the terms of a settlement with EPA. Draper Energy, which owned the Snack Corner Mobil Station, and Energy North Inc., which operated the service station, failed to put in place a spill prevention plan and illegally discharged diesel fuel, according to a Complaint that had been filed by EPA’s New England office in September 2009.  As a result of a leak at the Mobil Station on March 5, 2009, approximately 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel discharged into the Souhegan River.
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DECISIONS

Rhode Island Airport Corp. and Contractors Fined for Reporting Violations at TF Green Airport. United States Environmental Protection Agency, July 26, 2010
Rhode Island Airport Corporation and its demolition contractors, O.R. Colan Associates of Florida, LLC and The Jones Payne Group, Inc., of Mass., have agreed to pay $25,000 for alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act and National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Asbestos. Jones Payne will pay the full amount of the $25,000 penalty for its failure to provide EPA with prior written notification of its intent to demolish 146 residences during a Noise Management Program and voluntary land acquisition at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, R.I. From September 2004 to December 2008, Respondents demolished 146 residences. Although the demolition or renovation of a single-family residence is exempt from Asbestos NESHAP requirements, the exemption does not apply where the demolition is part of a larger commercial project. In accordance with federal regulations, as the owner or operator of a demolition activity, RIAC, Colan and Jones Payne were required to provide the Administrator with written notice of intention to demolish or renovate prior to the commencement of the activity. Respondents failed to provide EPA with the required notice, although the State of Rhode Island was notified.
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Appeals Court Reverses TVA Emissions Ruling. – Larry O’Dell, CBS2 Chicago, July 26, 2010
A federal appeals court on Monday reversed a judge’s ruling requiring prompt installation of upgraded emission controls at three coal-fired power plants in Tennessee and one in Alabama. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overturned a decision by U.S. District Judge Lacy H. Thornburg of Asheville, N.C., who had declared the plants a “public nuisance” because of their effect on air quality in North Carolina’s scenic western mountains. Thornburg had ordered the Tennessee Valley Authority to accelerate its planned emission control improvements at the four plants — a demand that TVA said would cost an additional $1 billion. But it was the ruling’s impact on utility regulation, not the cost, that prompted the appeals court to reverse the decision. “If allowed to stand, the injunction would encourage courts to use vague public nuisance standards to scuttle the nation’s carefully created system for accommodating the need for energy production and the need for clean air,” appeals court Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote. “The result would be a balkanization of clean air regulations and a confused patchwork of standards, to the detriment of industry and the environment alike.”
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Other Articles on the Same Topic:

Fourth Circuit: Lawsuits not the way to regulate air quality. – John O’Brien, Legal Newsline, July 27, 2010
A federal appeals court has overturned North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper’s victory in a public nuisance pollution lawsuit against Tennessee Valley Authority, calling his initial victory “a flawed ruling.” Judges Harvie Wilkinson, Paul Niemeyer and Dennis Sheed of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit all voted against Cooper, who alleged emissions from out-of-state TVA plants has polluted his state.  U.S. District Judge Lacy Thornburg had found that three Tennessee plants and one Alabama plant are causing a public nuisance in North Carolina. The decision, written by Wilkinson and released Tuesday, said the cost of Cooper’s success would have been in the billions of dollars. TVA’s customers would have surely picked up some of the cost, Wilkinson added.
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TVA Power Plant Emissions Not a Nuisance, 4th Circuit Rules in North Carolina v. TVA. – Steven M. Taber, Environmental Law & Climate Change Law Blog, July 27, 2010
North Carolina’s injunction against four Tennessee Valley Authority power plants in Alabama and Tennessee, which required the immediate installation of costly emissions controls, was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Monday, July 26, 2010, in State of North Carolina v. TVA, No. 09-1623 (4th Cir., July 26, 2010).  North Carolina had obtained the injunction based on district court’s determination that the TVA plants’ emissions constitute a public nuisance in North Carolina.  As a result, the court imposed specific emissions caps and emissions control technologies that must be completed by 2013.  Judge Harvie Wilkinson, writing the unanimous opinion for the Fourth Circuit stated: This ruling was flawed for several reasons.  If allowed to stand, the injunction would encourage courts to use vague public nuisance standards to scuttle the nation’s carefully created system for accommodating the need for energy production and the need for clean air.  The result would be a balkanization of clean air regulations and a confused patchwork of standards, to the detriment of industry and the environment alike.
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Clean Air Act Trumps North Carolina’s Nuisance Claims. – David Wagman, Power-Gen Worldwide, July 28, 2010
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed a lower court ruling that found emissions from coal-fired power plants operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority in Alabama and Tennessee constituted a public nuisance in North Carolina. The court ruled that “If courts across the nation were to use the vagaries of public nuisance doctrine to overturn the carefully enacted rules governing airborne emissions, it would be increasingly difficult for anyone to determine what standards govern. Energy policy cannot be set, and the environment cannot prosper, in this way.”
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TVA’s Air Pollution Isn’t an Interstate Nuisance, 4th Circuit Rules. – Gabriel Nelson, The New York Times, July 28, 2010
A federal appeals court has reversed a ruling that would have forced the Tennessee Valley Authority to spend $1 billion on pollution controls at coal-fired power plants in Tennessee and Alabama. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) had sued TVA in 2006, arguing that the federally owned utility’s plants posed a public nuisance because their air pollution crossed state lines and contributed to haze over his state’s western mountains. U.S. District Judge Lacy Thornburg of Asheville, N.C., sided with the state last year, ordering TVA to upgrade or install pollution controls for sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) at the Bull Run, Kingston and John Sevier plants in Tennessee and the Widows Creek Fossil Plant in Alabama (Greenwire, Jan. 14, 2009).
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Judge doesn’t derail water pollution lawsuit. – Jenny Hopkinson, Delmarva Media Group, July 27, 2010
A U.S. District Court judge has denied a request by Perdue Farms and a Berlin-area farmer to dismiss an ongoing Clean Water Act suit, paving the way for the case to go to trial. In his opinion, Judge William M. Nickerson concluded that Waterkeeper Alliance, Assateague Coastkeeper and the Assateague Coastal Trust had supplied the poultry company and Logtown Road farmers Alan and Kristen Hudson, with sufficient notice of potential violations and allegations of continuing problems to move forward with the suit. The judge also found that Perdue could be liable for the discharges of contract growers, despite contrary claims by the company. “Having a permit is not the basis of an integrator’s potential liability,” Nickerson wrote. “Rather, an integrator’s liability is determined on the bases of its level of control over their contractors’ chicken operations.”
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Other Articles on the Same Topic:

Clean water lawsuit against Perdue proceeds.Feedstuffs, July 28, 2010
A lawsuit is moving to trial in which environmental groups led by the Waterkeepers Alliance have accused Perdue Farms Inc. and Perdue contract growers Alan and Kristen Hudson with polluting a ditch that feeds into local waters that flow into the Pocomoke River and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.  The suit represents a citizens complaint under the Clean Water Act.  Perdue — the third-largest chicken integrator in the U.S., with headquarters in Salisbury, Md. — had asked for the charges to be dismissed on the basis that it and the Hudsons had not received sufficient notice of the alleged violations.  However, Judge William M. Nickerson denied the request and also ruled that Perdue has a level of control over its contract growers that makes the company liable for discharges from its growers’ farms. His ruling is the first by a federal court to hold integrators liable for such actions.  The case is being heard in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in Baltimore. The case is now in the discovery process, which likely will take several months before going to trial.
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Environmental groups back EPA’s effort to clean Texas air.News 8 Austin, July 28, 2010
An environmental watchdog group is supporting the federal government’s decision to end the state’s ”flexible permitting program.” Earlier this summer, the Environmental Protection Agency ruled the permitting program makes regulating pollution impossible, and has prohibited the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s ability to issue them. The EPA will review 129 flexible permit holders in Texas to ensure the facilities are up to code with the Clean Air Act. Most of the permit holders are petrochemical/chemical plants and oil refineries.
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EPA Takes Penalty Actions against 10 Wastewater Treatment Plants for Clean Water Act Violations.EPA News Release, July 29, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it has recently filed administrative penalty complaints against 10 publicly owned wastewater treatment plants (POTWs) operated by nine municipalities in Pennsylvania for failing to comply with the Clean Water Act. The 10 plants’ Clean Water Act discharge permits require them to periodically reevaluate their industrial pretreatment programs and submit information from that reevaluation to state and federal regulators. The complaints allege in part that the plant operators failed to conduct the sampling needed to reevaluate the pollution limits they set for industrial users. The penalties range from $22,000 to $32,000.
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EPA Rejects Claims of Flawed Climate Science.EPA News Release, July 29, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today denied 10 petitions challenging its 2009 determination that climate change is real, is occurring due to emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities, and threatens human health and the environment.  The petitions to reconsider EPA’s Endangerment Finding claim that climate science cannot be trusted, and assert a conspiracy that invalidates the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program. After months of serious consideration of the petitions and of the state of climate change science, EPA finds no evidence to support these claims. In contrast, EPA’s review shows that climate science is credible, compelling, and growing stronger.  “The endangerment finding is based on years of science from the U.S. and around the world. These petitions — based as they are on selectively edited, out-of-context data and a manufactured controversy — provide no evidence to undermine our determination. Excess greenhouse gases are a threat to our health and welfare,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Defenders of the status quo will try to slow our efforts to get America running on clean energy. A better solution would be to join the vast majority of the American people who want to see more green jobs, more clean energy innovation and an end to the oil addiction that pollutes our planet and jeopardizes our national security.”
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U.S. Chamber Comments on EPA’s Failure to Reconsider Endangerment Finding.Cape Fear Business News, July 29, 2010
Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber’s National Chamber Litigation Center, today issued the following statement on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) denial of the Chamber’s petition to reconsider triggering the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions: “The U.S. Chamber, policymakers, numerous trade groups, state governments, and businesses throughout the country have collectively raised strong concerns about the significant negative impact EPA’s endangerment finding will have on jobs and local economies. “We are deeply disappointed with the EPA’s failure to reconsider its flawed decision to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. We intend to appeal the ruling.
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U.S. EPA denies 10 petitions challenging climate science.Xinhua, July 30, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday denied 10 petitions challenging its 2009 determination that climate change is real, is occurring due to emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities, and threatens human health and the environment. The petitions to reconsider EPA’s Endangerment Finding claim that climate science cannot be trusted, and assert a conspiracy that invalidates the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The EPA had received the petitions from states such as Texas and Virginia and groups like the Ohio Coal Association.
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Decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in John P. Vidiksis v. EPA.Case No. 09-12544, July 28, 2010
In 2005, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) filed an administrative complaint against Petitioner John P. Vidiksis. The complaint alleged 69 violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act section 409, 15 U.S.C. § 2689; the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, 42 U.S.C. §§ 4851-4856; and the federal regulations promulgated thereunder. An Administrative Law Judge for the EPA (“ALJ”) found Vidiksis liable on each of the 69 counts and assessed a civil penalty of $97,545. On appeal, the Environmental Appeals Board (“EAB”) affirmed the decision of the ALJ as to the liability finding and the penalty amount. Vidiksis has now appealed to this court. As explained further below, we AFFIRM the EAB’s ruling on liability and on the penalty amount.
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Judge Rules Against Opponents Of Rogue River Dam Removal. – Rob Manning, OPB News, July 28, 2010
Supporters of taking out a dam on Oregon’s Rogue River overcame a last-ditch attempt to stop the removal in court Wednesday.  Four southern Oregonians wanted to get an injunction to keep the dam in place. Federal judge Owen Panner had granted a temporary restraining order last week, halting work. But Judge Panner ruled Wednesday that the dam removal opponents hadn’t proven their claims of procedural problems, conflicts of interest, or issues of the dam’s historical significance. Pete Frost is with the Western Environmental Law Center – the firm that argued for allowing the removal to continue. Pete Frost: “The work resumed immediately. The challengers have one more route of appeal – that’s the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals, but the fact that federal judge, Panner, has ruled against them, portends that LUBA would, too.” Environmental and fishing groups have been pushing for removal of dams on the Rogue River, to restore historic salmon runs. The Rogue’s Savage Rapids Dam was breeched last year.
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Judge orders tougher look at fire retardant drops. – Eve Byron, Independent Record, July 28, 2010
A federal court judge in Missoula has ordered the U.S. Forest Service to do a deeper analysis of whether the use of chemical fire retardant adversely affects endangered or threatened species, and how it will handle the use of retardant in emergency situations. In his 79-page ruling signed late Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy wrote that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, along with the Forest Service, has “elevated fire suppression over the protection of jeopardized listed species” and that by failing to impose any binding restrictions on the use of fire retardant has failed to alleviate the risk to those protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. In areas where wildfires typically occur, that could harm 27 species of fish and critical habitat for 45 listed animal species. He ordered the Forest Service to prepare an environmental impact statement on fire retardant use by Dec. 31, 2011, and warned that failure to comply with the deadline “may subject them to sanctions, including contempt proceeding” as well as cause him to prohibit the use of chemical retardant. He stopped short, though, of stopping the practice at this time.
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EPA Takes Penalty Actions against 10 Wastewater Treatment Plants for Clean Water Act Violations.EPA News Release, July 29, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it has recently filed administrative penalty complaints against 10 publicly owned wastewater treatment plants (POTWs) operated by nine municipalities in Pennsylvania for failing to comply with the Clean Water Act.  The 10 plants’ Clean Water Act discharge permits require them to periodically reevaluate their industrial pretreatment programs and submit information from that reevaluation to state and federal regulators. The complaints allege in part that the plant operators failed to conduct the sampling needed to reevaluate the pollution limits they set for industrial users. The penalties range from $22,000 to $32,000.
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Order Issued to HPI Products, Inc., of St. Joseph, Mo., to Stop Sale and Distribution of Tainted Warthog 2 EC Herbicide.EPA News Release, July 30, 2010
EPA Region 7 has issued an order to HPI Products, Inc., of St. Joseph, Mo., directing the company to immediately halt the sale or distribution of its supplies of Warthog 2 EC, following reports that a tainted batch of the herbicide distributed by the company damaged 8,000 acres of soybeans near Beattie, Kan. Under the authority of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), similar Stop Sale, Use or Removal Orders (SSUROs) have also been issued by EPA to the pesticide’s registrant, J. Oliver Products, LLC, of Hernando, Miss.; and to Pony Express Warehouse, in St. Joseph, Mo., which received distribution of the product from HPI Products.
During the week of July 12, the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) responded to multiple complaints from farmers near Beattie, Kan. The farmers indicated their soybean crops sustained damage from the recent use of Warthog 2 EC that was purchased from Frontier Chemical, Inc., a dealership in Beattie. KDA then conducted an inspection of Frontier Chemical to collect records and product samples.
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LAWSUITS AND ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS FILED

Blue Ledge site in violation of Clean Water Act because of its tailings. – Paul Fattig, Mail Tribune, July 25, 2010
The cost of the Blue Ledge project is more than the entire U.S. Forest Service’s annual national budget for cleaning up abandoned mine sites, says project administrator Pete Jones. However, the bulk of the $11.1 million is coming from federal stimulus funds with the rest — $1.3 million — being contributed by American Smelting and Refining Corp., which owned the smelter in Tacoma, Wash., where the estimated 11,150 tons of ore were shipped, he said. The mine has been owned, leased or operated by at least 14 different parties over the years. It is currently owned by a trust based in Salem that is working closely with the agencies involved in the clean-up project, Jones said. The mine went into production around 1900, followed by full production during World War I, a time when copper demand was high. There also was a resurgence of mining activity on the mountain in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. For years, the tailings have been leaching toxic materials in violation of the Clean Water Act, severely impacting the aquatic biology of Joe Creek, Jones said. Some three miles downstream from the mine is the remote community of Joe Bar, a historic hamlet of half a dozen homes near where Joe Creek flows into Elliott Creek. The stream sediment and fish will be tested all the way downstream from the mine to Applegate Reservoir a half dozen miles distant to see how far the toxins have migrated, he said. An estimated 20,000 tons of the tailings have gone downstream, he noted.
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Massey wants Copenhaver on two water pollution suits. – Steve Korris, The West Virginia Record, July 26, 2010
Facing two water pollution claims before federal judges John Copenhaver and Robert Chambers, Massey Energy wants Copenhaver to take charge of both. On July 14, Robert McLusky of Charleston asked Copenhaver to transfer to his court in Charleston a suit pending before Chambers in Huntington. “There is simply no reason for two different judges within the same district to consider the identical legal issues between the same parties,” McLusky wrote. He argued that both suits relate to a consent decree Copenhaver approved in 2008, between Massey and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Sierra Club sued four Massey subsidiaries in federal court at Charleston in April, claiming their coal mines have not complied with the decree. West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, and Coal River Mountain Watch joined the suit. They claimed the mines illegally discharged various poisons into public waters. The same groups sued two Massey subsidiaries in federal court at Huntington in June, alleging illegal discharges of selenium into public waters. Both suits sought injunctive relief and civil penalties up to $37,500 a day, under the national Clean Water Act.
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Center for Biological Diversity sues U.S. Interior secretary. – Clayton R. Norman, Arizona Daily Star, July 26, 2010
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit Monday against U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar for what it says was an inadequate assessment of the risks of offshore drilling to endangered species in the Gulf of Mexico. Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director for the Tucson-based center, says that a 2007 government analysis of offshore drilling risks hugely underestimated the amount of oil that could be released into the ocean by a spill such as the one at BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in April.  That analysis estimated that a “large” spill would release only 15,000 barrels of oil into the ocean — less than what the Deepwater Horizon blowout released in only one day. “When the government looked at impacts of oil and gas drilling on endangered species in the Gulf of Mexico, it did a really incomplete job” Sakashita said. “Five different types of endangered whale species are found in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Sakashita. “Sperm whales which inhabit the Gulf have been seen swimming through the oil slick.” Kemp’s ridley, loggerhead, hawkbill and green sea turtles all also live in the Gulf and nest on beaches in areas effected by the spill.
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State appeals EPA rejection of air permits. – Matthew Tresaugue, Houston & Texas News, July 26, 2010
Texas has sued the federal Environmental Protection Agency for the second time in six weeks, escalating a feud over the state’s rules for air pollution from refiners and other large industries. State Attorney General Greg Abbott said Monday he filed a petition with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking to block the EPA from disapproving the state’s so-called flexible permits. State officials argue the federal agency had no legal or technical justification for rejecting the 16-year-old permitting program, which covers 122 refiners, chemical plants and plastics makers. The federal Clean Air Act requires polluters to limit emissions of key pollutants at each source inside a plant. The disputed Texas permits set a plantwide ceiling, a distinction that makes them practically unenforceable, the EPA said in announcing the decision last month. Gov. Rick Perry and state regulators say the flexible permitting program cuts red tape and air pollution without violating federal law. In a statement praising the lawsuit, Perry said jobs and gains in air quality would be lost if the EPA’s decision stands. “The EPA’s overreach is as potentially devastating as it is unnecessary,” Perry said.
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Sierra Club Accuses Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) of Violating Clean Air Act.American Banking & Market News, July 27, 2010
The Sierra Club has accused the largest U.S. oil refinery, owned by Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM), of violating the Clean Air Act and other pollution laws thousands of times during the last five years, allegedly releasing more than 10 million pounds worth of pollution into the air. The Sierra Club has also recently sued Shell and forced the company into a $5.8 million settlement over Clean Air Act violations and has filed a lawsuit against Chevron Phillips. The organization has not yet sued Exxon Mobil, but has notified the company as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality of plans do so. The notices sent to the organizations outline violations that Exxon measured and reported itself, as well as accusations that the plant violates emissions limits for sulfur dioxide, a component of acid rain; hydrogen sulfide, a toxic, flammable gas characterized by a rotten egg smell; cancer-causing agents such as benzene and butadiene; carbon monoxide; and nitrogen oxide, a cause of smog. Exxon Mobil reported all of the incidents and claimed in many cases that they did not consider the actions as “deviations” because they did not violate the limitations of the air operating permit for the refinery, located 35 miles southeast of Houston.
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Iowa League of Cities sues EPA. – Peter Hussmann, Newton Independent, July 28, 2010
The Iowa League of Cities is petitioning the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to take up its lawsuit alleging the Environmental Protection Agency has illegally changed federal rules concerning the operation of wastewater treatment plants and heavy rain-related discharges that potentially expose cities to huge costs to come into compliance. The lawsuit, filed on Monday on behalf of the League by Hall & Associates of Washington, D.C., claims the EPA has reinterpreted federal rules, without going through the administrative rule-making process, that places more stringent requirements on city operated wastewater treatment facilities. Plants that previously had been in compliance because of the EPA’s allowance for alternative approaches to address peak flow periods now find themselves at odds with federal rules, the League assets.
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Legal fallout from Gulf oil spill as massive as the catastrophe itself. – Carol J. Williams, The Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2010
The largest oil spill in U.S. history has unleashed a gusher of at least 250 class-action lawsuits that could eventually encompass millions of victims in a massive legal battle expected to stretch on for decades. The first step in what many experts predict will be among the most complex environmental cases to hit the U.S. courts begins Thursday when an army of attorneys converges on Boise, Idaho, where a federal panel will begin to decide what judge or judges will oversee the cases and where they will be initially heard.
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NMA files suit over mining permits. – Cris Ritchie, The Hazard Herald, July 28, 2010
The National Mining Association has filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, requesting the court to vacate recent federal rulings on surface mining and process a backlog of permit applications.  The lawsuit, filed on July 20, alleges that the defendants violated federal law and overreached their authority by “substantially and illegally” amending the permitting process for coal mining in Appalachia. “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 on the group’s website. “Detailed agency guidance is not a valid substitute for lawful rule making based on public notice and comment. 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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Tonawanda Coke hit with indictment.The Buffalo News, July 30, 2010
A grand jury Thursday returned a 20-count indictment charging Tonawanda Coke Corp. and its environmental- control manager with a variety of federal crimes stemming from alleged emissions of toxic chemicals at the River Road plant in the Town of Tonawanda. Charges include unsafe storage and treatment of coal tar sludge, a manufacturing byproduct, at the facility and attempting to conceal it during an Environmental Protection Agency inspection in April 2009. Both the corporation and environmental- control manager Mark L. Kamholz, of West Seneca, could be fined if found guilty. Kamholz, 63, also faces the possibility of prison, according to U. S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. The incidents allegedly occurred from 2005 to 2009.
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Enviro groups file suit to stop plant.KXAN Austin News, July 30, 2010
Two environmental groups and a UT professor filed a lawsuit Thursday in the hopes it would stop the city from moving forward on the proposed water treatment plant. Save Our Springs Alliance and Environment Texas, as well as UT biology professor Dr. Mark Kirkpatrick filed suit against the city of Austin, U.S. Secretary of the interior Ken Salazar, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The suit complains that the defendants are violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by not performing required environmental tests before moving forward with construction of water treatment plant #4.  The suit alleges that moving forward with the plant will threaten habitats and an endangered species.
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REGULATORY ACTIONS

Air

EPA awards $5.6m for cutting-edge clean diesel technologies. – Eric Loveday, Autoblog Green, July 24, 2010
In the past, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) typically issued grants for the advancement of proven technologies and rarely offered up government money on projects that some would consider experimental. As environmental concerns rose in recent years, the EPA created its emerging technologies program to fund unproven, cutting-edge advancements that offer the promise of reduced emissions and improved air quality. The program kicked off in 2008 with an aim to offer assistance to companies that take an innovative approach to solving environmental concerns. Recently, the EPA issued $5.6 million in grants to several cutting-edge clean diesel technologies. According to the EPA, recipients of the grants include:
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EPA reviewing its dust regulations. – Katie Stockstill, McPherson Sentinel, July 27, 2010
Dust is part of summer in Kansas. It trails trucks on dirt roads, settles near tractors in the field and kicks up under the feet of cattle moving through the pasture. But the Environmental Protection Agency, through its Clean Air Act, is taking a second look at dust and how it affects human health. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards every five years. The standards were last established in 2006 and the EPA is beginning the review and testing process for the 2011 standards. Earlier this month, the EPA released a report saying that while the science of measuring dust- coarse particulate matter – is still uncertain, but that the agency would be justified in either retaining the current standards or tightening allowable levels. The EPA regulates all sizes and types of particulate matter as a way to minimize the matter’s impact on human health. The EPA has concluded that matter smaller than 10 micrometers in diameter- dust included- is directly linked to potential health problems. “Small particulates less than 10 micrometers in diameter post the greatest problems because they can get deep into your lungs and some may even get into your bloodstream,” the EPA states on its website. “Exposure to such particles can affect both your lungs and your heart.” The 2006 standards allow for 150 micrograms per cubic meter in a 24-hour period.
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Hotspots with bad air need far more attention. – Editorial, Detroit Free Press, July 26, 2010
It’s a conundrum: While Michigan’s air quality has been gradually improving, apparent hotspots remain — most particularly in southwest Detroit, where a study recently proclaimed one ZIP code as the most polluted in the state. There are no simple solutions, especially given that Michigan needs every job it can muster and certainly does not want to chase away new businesses or discourage expansions. Still, it is clear that the air quality staff at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment is hard-pressed to keep up with some of its most basic duties, such as ensuring compliance with the air permits it issues, and that even in a well-monitored area the averages may not tell the whole story.
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Groups press EPA to increase regulation of energy industry emissions. – Katherine McIntire Peters, Government Executive, July 28, 2010
Citing threats to human health and the environment, environmental groups are increasing efforts to force the Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen air quality standards for the oil and gas industry. “Ramped up oil and gas drilling has outgrown the regulations meant to protect clean air, public health and the environment,” said Jen Powis, the Sierra Club’s senior regional representative for Texas, in a conference call on Wednesday with representatives from five other environmental advocacy groups and individuals affected by drilling. “Regulations are unclear, there are a variety of loopholes and because different regulatory agencies are doing different things, there’s no [analysis of] cumulative impacts,” Powis said. For example, in the Barnett Shale formation near Fort Worth, Texas, where more than 9,000 horizontal wells operate, no entity has assessed the full impact of those wells, she said.
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Former TCEQ Commissioner – A Perry Appointee – Says Perry Is Full of Hot Air on EPA Permitting. – Philip Martin, Burnt Orange, July 28, 2010
Larry Soward, former TCEQ Commissioner: Former TCEQ Commissioner Larry Soward says the dispute over the Texas flexible air permitting program not working can be easily fixed if the TCEQ will just listen to the EPA’s concerns and go from there.  “Get on with the business of getting the program compliant with the Federal Clean Air Act and get those permits that have been issued that are not compliant, get those adjusted to make them compliant.”  Soward says changing the air permitting program to make it compliant won’t cost the state jobs.  “These same companies are operating in other states with fully compliant air programs, they’re not losing jobs, the companies aren’t moving away or shutting down, and the same will be true with Texas.”
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EPA Report: 22 Million Cataract Cases Will Be Prevented by Stronger Ozone Layer Protection.EPA News Release, July 30, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency marked the beginning of Cataract Awareness Month by announcing a new peer-reviewed report predicting that more than 22 million additional cataract cases will be avoided for Americans born between 1985 and 2100 due to the Montreal Protocol. The environmental treaty, signed by 196 countries, was designed to reduce and eventually eliminate ozone depleting substances. Too much UV radiation not only increases the risk for skin cancer, but also increases the risk for cataracts — a clouding of the eye’s lens that affects more than 20 million Americans age 40 and older. “Since the 1970s, we have prevented millions of skin cancer cases and deaths through our work protecting the ozone layer,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “I am excited to kick off Cataract Awareness Month by announcing that the science has now enabled us to estimate our impact on cataracts.”
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Tennessee Adopts VOC Exemptions. – Malcolm Butler, Enviro.BLR.com, July 30, 2010
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has adopted amendments to its regulations under the Tennessee Air Quality Act and the State Implementation Plan (SIP) governing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) effective August 10, 2010. The Department added dimethyl carbonate and propylene carbonate to the compounds excluded from the definition of VOC. Areas with ozone air pollution levels that exceed national ambient air quality standards must develop SIPs for the prevention, abatement, and control of air pollution, including strategies for reducing ground-level ozone. These plans may include VOC emissions limits. Tennessee is required to develop a plan that is consistent with the Clean Air Act and federal regulations for ozone control. Since VOCs are a precursor to ozone, it is necessary that the state definition of VOC conform to EPA’s definition.
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Water

US EPA issues Clean Water Act permit to Czar Coal Corp.Steel Guru, July 25, 2010
The US Army Corps of Engineers issued a Clean Water Act permit to Czar Coal Corporation for the Scaffold Lick Branch Coarse Refuse Storage Site project in eastern Kentucky. The US Environmental Protection Agency’s coordination with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Czar Coal Corporation resulted in significant protections against environmental impacts that are consistent with the Clean Water Act 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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Republican senators caution EPA against overreach with pesticide NPDES permit.Agra-net, July 26, 2010
Seven Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee sent a letter July 22 to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson expressing their opposition to the 6th Circuit’s ruling subjecting certain pesticide applications to the Clean Water Act’s permitting requirements and advising EPA to stick to the specific issues addressed in the case. “As you review the comments submitted for the record, we request that you ensure the [Pesticide General Permit] address only the specific issues addressed in National Cotton Council, et al. v. EPA and not attempt to cover any additional activities,” the senators, led by ranking EPW member James Inhofe (R-Okla.), write.
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Sewer work to cost Mishawaka $125 million over 20 years. – Sue Lowe, South Bend Tribune, July 27, 2010
Mishawaka has reached an agreement with the state and federal governments that calls for the city to do $125 million in sewer work during the next 20 years. The consent decree was approved Tuesday by the city’s Board of Public Works and Safety and now goes to the Common Council. The federal Clean Water Act and state law have set standards for discharges into the St. Joseph River that the city is not meeting during storms. During dry weather, the city’s sewer plant handles all the waste water that goes through it. However, rain from the grates that drain city streets goes to the treatment plant during a storm. Because the plant can’t handle that much water some of it overflows into the river. And that water includes some sewage. According to the resolution approved by the board of works Tuesday, the city already has spent more than $80 million since 1990 on the problem, reducing the volume of combined sewer overflow by 86 percent. The volume of combined sewer overflow has been reduced from 357 million gallons a year to 50 million gallons per year.
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Corps issues EPA-approved mine permit in Logan. – Ken Ward Jr., Coal Tattoo, July 27, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just issued this announcement: Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issued a final Clean Water Act (CWA) permit to Coal-Mac Inc. for the Pine Creek Surface Mine project in Logan County, West Virginia. More about this permit in this previous post.
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EPA Obtains Changes to West Virginia Coal Mine Permit to Significantly Protect Water and Environment.United States Environmental Protection Agency, July 27, 2010
Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issued a final Clean Water Act permit to Coal-Mac Inc. for the Pine Creek Surface Mine project in Logan County, West Virginia. Consistent with the Clean Water Act and the recent EPA guidance on mountain top mining, the Agency’s consultation with the Company and the Corps led to significant changes to the permit that will reduce potential adverse impacts to water quality and avoid significant degradation of the aquatic ecosystems in the Pine Creek watershed. The key changes include reductions to stream impacts, protection of water quality through a strict conductivity level, enhanced mitigation and restoration, and reduction of cumulative impacts. EPA also reached an agreement with the company related to sequencing of valley fill construction. The company may only proceed with the first valley fill and any additional valley fills will have to be evaluated individually as part of the agreement. If EPA and the Corps find that any of the valley fills are adversely impacting water quality, we will not approve additional mining at the site. The company agreed to meet all conditions presented by the Agency.
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EPA Assumes On-Scene Coordinator Role in Response to Enbridge Kalamazoo River Spill.EPA News Release, July 28, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has assumed the role of Federal On-Scene Coordinator in response to the Enbridge oil spill in the Kalamazoo River. In that role, EPA will coordinate the response activities carried out by federal and state officials and will direct the response efforts carried out by Enbridge, Inc. EPA has responsibility under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 for this spill because it happened inland, rather than offshore.  “EPA and other federal and state agencies mobilized immediately in response to this spill and have taken a series of steps to minimize the damage this spill does to the river and surrounding communities,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “This is a serious spill that has the potential to damage a vital waterway and threatens public health. Staff from EPA’s regional and headquarters office are on the scene and ensuring the leaked oil is contained and cleaned up as quickly and effectively as possible.”
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Other Articles on the Same Topic:

Energy company, EPA double efforts after Michigan oil spill.CNN, July 28, 2010
A Canada-based energy company and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have doubled their resources in their bid to contain and clean up a Michigan oil spill, officials said Wednesday. The action came a day after Gov. Jennifer Granholm demanded a large response to the spill, which was estimated at 19,500 barrels of oil. Enbridge Energy Partners stopped the leak from its pipeline and is committed to cleaning up the oil, its CEO said. “Our intent is to return your community and the waterways to its original state,” Patrick Daniel said at a news conference in Battle Creek, Michigan. “We’ve made significant progress since yesterday. We still have a lot of work to do.”
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EPA: Michigan oil spill may have exceeded 1M gallons.Associated Press, July 28, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency says it believes more than a million gallons of oil may have leaked this week into a major southern Michigan waterway that leads to Lake Michigan. The estimate reported tonight from the EPA exceeds earlier estimates from the company responsible for the spill into Talmadge Creek, which runs into the Kalamazoo River, of about 819,000 gallons. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement the agency and Enbridge Inc. are taking action on the “serious spill.” “EPA and other federal and state agencies mobilized immediately in response to this spill and have taken a series of steps to minimize the damage this spill does to the river and surrounding communities,” Jackson said.
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EPA Proposes One Year Compliance Date Extension on Spill Prevention Rule for Certain Facilities / Offshore drilling, production, workover, and certain onshore facilities are not eligible for extension.EPA News Release, July 30, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to extend the compliance date by one year for certain facilities subject to recent amendments to the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule. The agency is also announcing that certain facilities will not be eligible for the one year extension and will have to comply by the current date of November 10, 2010.  Last year, EPA amended the SPCC rule to strengthen certain provisions. Regulated facilities are required to amend and implement these changes as part of their overall SPCC plans. The purpose of the SPCC rule, which was finalized in 1973, is to establish requirements for facilities to prevent a discharge of oil into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. EPA has no SPCC jurisdiction over drilling, production or workover facilities seaward of the coastline.
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Louisiana Vessel Company Pleads Guilty to Dumping Oil on High Seas, Will Pay $2.1 Million in Penalties.Department of Justice News Release, July 30, 2010
Offshore Vessels LLC (OSV) has entered a plea of guilty to knowingly discharging waste oil from one of its vessels, in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), the Justice Department announced today. OSV, based in Louisiana, entered the plea in U.S. District Court in New Orleans. OSV owned and operated the R/V Laurence M. (L.M.) Gould (R/V Gould). The R/V Gould is a 2,966 gross ton American-flagged vessel that served on a contractual basis as an ice-breaking research vessel for the National Science Foundation on research voyages to and from Antarctica. OSV admitted that on or about Sept. 8, 2005, on the high seas, R/V Gould crew members knowingly discharged oily wastewater from the bilge tank of the ship overboard, in violation APPS. Regulations under APPS require that oily wastewater be discharged only after it has been processed through an oily water separator, to ensure that the concentration of oil in the wastewater is below the legal limit.
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Waste

EPA Reaches Major Milestone at Welsbach Superfund Site.United States Environmental Protection Agency, July 26, 2010
With the help of millions of dollars in Recovery Act funding, an important milestone was reached today in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) cleanup of the expansive Welsbach Superfund site in Camden, New Jersey. Walter Mugdan, Superfund Director of EPA Region 2, Congressman Robert E. Andrews, Camden Mayor Dana Redd, and Heart of Camden’s Executive Director Helene Pierson, were on hand today to mark the demolition of a large building adjacent to the former General Gas Mantle facility in Camden. The building must be demolished to allow EPA to clean up radiologically contaminated soil underneath. Commercial tenants of the building have been relocated to another space in Camden with EPA’s assistance. In spring 2009, EPA received $28 million in Recovery Act funds for the ongoing cleanup of the Welsbach site. Much of that money is being used to clean up radiologically contaminated soil around the former General Gas Mantle facility in Camden, a community designated for special focus as a Brownfields Showcase Community. The cleanup of the General Gas Mantle property and the adjacent property will serve as a catalyst for redevelopment of the area and more than 60 jobs have been created as a result of the stimulus-funded work.
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EPA to hold session in Edgewater on Quanta Resources superfund site. – Merry Firschein, North Jersey, July 27, 2010
The federal Environmental Protection Agency will hold a public information session and two question-and-answer sessions to discuss a proposed plan for the contamination at the Quanta Resources superfund site on River Road. The information session is scheduled for Aug. 3 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the American Legion Hall, 1165 River Road. The question-and-answer sessions will be held Aug. 4 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at the same location. The 5.5-acre Quanta Resources site was once part of a 15-acre parcel owned by Honeywell, then called Allied Chemical Co., which held a waste-oil recycling facility. Coal tar residue — an oily liquid and solid waste — is found throughout the site, an EPA proposed remediation plan states. Other tar chemicals and high concentrations of arsenic also are present on the site, the report states. The groundwater is also contaminated, the report states. The report includes several alternatives for cleaning the soil and the groundwater. The public can comment on the EPA’s plan through Aug. 19. The federal agency will consult with the state Department of Environmental Protection in choosing a remedy after reviewing comments, the EPA’s plan states.
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EPA to remove hazardous wastes at Elizabeth Mining and Development property in Montrose County (Colo.).United States Environmental Protection Agency, July 27, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will conduct an emergency removal of hazardous substances this week at the 35-acre Elizabeth Mining and Development, Inc.(EMDI) site located at 11948 6300 Road, four miles northwest of Montrose, in Montrose County. EPA estimates that the cleanup will be complete by the end of the week. “EPA will remove a large volume of abandoned hazardous material from the Elizabeth Mining and Development property,” said Christopher Wardell, Community Involvement Coordinator with EPA’s office in Denver. “This cleanup will safely dispose of more than 6,000 gallons of acids, explosive material, and other liquids that pose a risk to nearby waters and residents.” The EMDI site had been most recently used for reclaiming rare metals from used catalytic converters. The reclamation process employed large equipment to shred converters and an acid bath process to recover metals. Several categories of waste by-products were stored on site including lead, chromium, corrosives (sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide), caustics, sodium nitrate, potassium nitrate, and ethyl acetate.
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EPA Announces $16 Million in Brownfields Funds to Clean up Communities.EPA News Release, July 29, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced more than $16 million in supplemental funding for cleanup efforts at contaminated sites known as brownfields. Communities representing 27 state or local governments were chosen to receive the supplemental funding, which will help them carry out cleanup activities, redevelopment projects, and create jobs for people living near brownfields sites. Brownfields are sites where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
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EPA provides Missoula $850,000 to advance revitalization efforts.EPA News Release, July 29, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing the City of Missoula with $850,000 in supplemental funding for cleanup efforts at contaminated sites known as brownfields. Missoula is one of 27 state or local governments chosen to receive these funds, which will help carry out cleanup activities, redevelopment projects, and create jobs for people living near brownfields sites. Brownfields are sites where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
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Pesticide crackdown? – Les Blumenthal, The News Tribune, July 26, 2010
Farmers in Washington and across the nation could face severe restrictions on the use of pesticides as environmentalists, spurred by a favorable legal ruling, want the courts to force federal regulators to protect endangered species from the effects of agricultural chemicals. An eight-year-old ruling by a federal judge in Seattle required the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Environmental Protection Agency to review whether 54 pesticides, herbicides and fungicides were jeopardizing troubled West Coast salmon runs. The agencies recently moved to restrict the use of three of the chemicals near any bodies of water that flow into salmon-bearing streams, and regulators are now considering restrictions on 12 additional chemicals. The Washington State Department of Agriculture says such restrictions would prevent pesticide use on 75 percent of the state’s farmlands.
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Conrad, Brownback press EPA for softer rules on byproduct from coal plants. – Ben Geman, The Hill, July 29, 2010
Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) — backed by the coal industry — are putting political pressure on the EPA to adopt the less aggressive of two options for regulating a common waste product from coal-fired power plants. The senators are seeking colleagues’ signatures on an upcoming letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, obtained by The Hill, that weighs in on pending rules imposing new controls on “coal combustion residuals.”  Regulators are targeting the substance — stored in liquid form in surface ponds and in solid form at landfills — for new controls under federal waste law.
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U.S. EPA Announces $1.4 Million to Help Clean Up Contaminated Properties, Communities in California.EPA News Release, July 30, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced that $1.4 million is being awarded for cleanup efforts at contaminated California sites known as brownfields.  Both the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and City of Sacramento were chosen to receive the grant funds. A brownfield is a parcel of land where hazardous substances or pollutants are a barrier to its successful redevelopment or reuse. “Contaminated properties exact a heavy toll on the quality of life of local residents, and create a drag on nearby businesses,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest.  “These funds will be used to revitalize toxic sites, turning blighted properties into engines of economic opportunity and community pride.”
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Climate Change

Health Rules Could Cut Greenhouse Emissions. – Timothy Gardner, The New York Times, July 25, 2010
A proposed rule on mercury, a pollutant bad for fish and the people who eat too many of them, could help the administration of President Barack Obama  get near its short-term climate goal, even if the U.S. Congress fails this year or next to pass a bill tackling greenhouse gases directly. Senate Democrats crafting an energy bill have abandoned it until September, and for the rest of the year they probably will not debate climate measures like carbon caps on power plants and mandates for utilities to produce more power from renewable sources like wind and solar. But while many people concerned about climate control have been focusing on the Senate, the Environmental Protection Agency, under its administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, has been quietly preparing to crack down on coal, the most carbon-intensive fuel, as never before. Under Ms. Jackson — who has said the idea that progress on the environment has to hurt the economy is a “false choice” — the agency declared late last year that greenhouse gases endangered human health and welfare.
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The Other Climate War Front.The American Prospect, July 25, 2010
Last Thursday, the chance of passing any type of comprehensive climate legislation was pronounced  dead-on-arrival in the Senate, but it’s worth noting that this isn’t the end of climate-change regulation. The Environmental Protection Agency announced  its standards for regulating greenhouse gases in May. And while there are many pluses to a market-based cap-and-trade system over a regulatory one, at least this shows that — behind all the politics — someone remembers there’s a real problem to solve. Steven Cohen writes in the Huffington Post today that the steps to start regulating these gases take time, but the EPA has already started them. Moreover, the top-down regulatory approach will have some of the same effects as a cap-and-trade bill would have.
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USA – Shooting in the dark on livestock carbon emissions. Meat Trade News Daily, July 25, 2010
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid played dumb last week when a reporter asked him if the energy and climate bill headed to the floor would come with a “cap” on greenhouse gas emissions. “I don’t use that,” the Nevada Democrat replied. “Those words are not in my vocabulary. We’re going to work on pollution.” Moments earlier, Reid had confirmed he was trying to craft legislation targeting the heat-trapping pollution that comes from power plants. But he’s determined to win the war of words when it comes to a carbon cap — and that means losing the lexicon attached to past climate battles. Gone, in the Democrat’s mind, are the terms “cap” and “cap and trade,” which are synonymous with last June’s House-passed climate bill as well as other existing environmental policies for curbing traditional air pollutants. In their place are new slogans recommended by prominent pollsters (and even a neuroscientist) that Reid and allies hope they can use to overcome the long-shot prospects for passing climate legislation. But they’ve got a difficult job ahead. Already, Republican-led attacks during the past year have crushed the Democrats in the message war over a very complex piece of legislation. GOP opponents have exploited public angst over record unemployment levels, higher taxes and the creation of a new carbon market that’s potentially worth trillions of dollars, a reminder for voters of the recent Wall Street collapse.
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Coal Plant Shutdowns: One Small Victory for Environmentalists. – Nicole Allan, News Blaze, July 26, 2010
The New Republic’s Brad Plumer calls attention  to a new set of EPA regulations that have nothing to do with greenhouse gas emissions — but that may end up doing more to reduce them than any legislation Congress passes this year. The EPA is currently proposing a new set of air pollution regulations that will significantly affect coal plants. While the agency has drafted carbon emissions rules that will go into place in January, these regulations target non-greenhouse gases: sulfur-dioxide, mercury, and nitrogen-dioxide: Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to continually update pollution limits to reflect the latest science. The U.S. District Court, for instance, has ordered the EPA to set new mercury standards by the end of next year. As a result, new rules are now coming down the pike on smog-forming pollutants, on mercury, on coal ash… None of these regulations have anything to do with climate change per se. But according to industry analysts, many coal plants will have to shut down as a result, and that will affect the carbon picture quite significantly.
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Western Climate Initiative offers cap-and-trade. – Jeff Barnard, Associated Press, July 27, 2010
A coalition of seven western states and three Canadian provinces on Tuesday offered its most detailed strategy yet for controlling greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change, saying they hope it will stand as a model for national systems in the United States and Canada. At the core is a cap-and-trade system that would go into effect in January 2012, gradually ramping down emissions levels. The system, which gives financial incentives to reduce carbon emissions, would start with power plants, then extend to large industrial producers and transportation. The goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the next 10 years to levels 15 percent below those in the year 2005. Building on a less detailed strategy issued two years ago, the plan comes as Congress has been unable to produce a climate bill to address the same issues. The document includes the first details of how the carbon auction would work, and it recommends that offsets from programs that store carbon would be limited to a fraction of total emissions. There would be a floor price on emissions, and the auction would be open to anyone.
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Other

EPA Releases Rulemaking Guidance on Environmental Justice.United States Environmental Protection Agency, July 26, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing an interim guidance document to help agency staff incorporate environmental justice into the agency’s rulemaking process. The rulemaking guidance is an important and positive step toward meeting EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priority to work for environmental justice and protect the health and safety of communities who have been disproportionally impacted by pollution. “Historically, the low-income and minority communities that carry the greatest environmental burdens haven’t had a voice in our policy development or rulemaking. We want to expand the conversation to the places where EPA’s work can make a real difference for health and the economy,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “This plan is part of my ongoing commitment to give all communities a seat at the decision-making table. Making environmental justice a consideration in our rulemaking changes both the perception and practice of how we work with overburdened communities, and opens this conversation up to new voices.”
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State farmers may face stiff pesticide restrictions. – Les Blumenthal, Northwest News, July 25, 2010
Farmers in Washington and across the nation could face severe restrictions on the use of pesticides as environmentalists, spurred by a favorable legal ruling, want the courts to force federal regulators to protect endangered species from the effects of agricultural chemicals. An 8-year-old ruling by a federal judge in Seattle required the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Environmental Protection Agency to review whether 54 pesticides, herbicides and fungicides were jeopardizing troubled West Coast salmon runs. The agencies recently moved to restrict the use of three of the chemicals near any bodies of water that flow into salmon-bearing streams and regulators are now considering restrictions on 12 additional chemicals. The Washington State Department of Agriculture says such restrictions will prevent pesticide use on 75 percent of the state’s farmlands. A federal judge in California has issued a similar ruling involving 11 endangered and threatened species and 75 pesticides in the San Francisco Bay area. Rather than continuing to file piecemeal lawsuits, the Center for Biological Diversity says it will file a broader suit this summer involving nearly 400 pesticides and almost 900 species protected under the Endangered Species Act.
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Udall visits Dillon for update on mountain pine beetle fight. – Alex Miller, Post Independent, July 26, 2010
Saying he’s “on the case,” U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., was in Dillon Sunday to have a first-hand look at devastation caused by the mountain pine beetle and to reassure local officials help is on the way. Udall met with state Sen. Dan Gibbs, U.S. Forest Service district ranger Jan Cutts and others on the site of a clear-cut on Denver Water land near the Tenderfoot Trail in Dillon. There, Udall stood on a thick carpet of felled lodgepole pines and got an update from Cutts, Gibbs and the Dillon Ranger District’s Paul Semmer on local efforts to address the slow-moving pine-beetle crisis. Udall said the $30 million he’s helped appropriate to address the problem will soon start to be felt as a comprehensive plan falls into place. “It’s an interesting phase we’re in now, from the dying-off to the falling down,” Udall said, noting the figure of 100,000 beetle-kill lodgepoles falling daily across the West. “The forest will return, but not necessarily based on human lifestyle or aesthetic expectations.”
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Editorial, 7/27: Keystone XL pipeline needs more study.Journal Star, July 26, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency is right. The draft statement on the environmental impact of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is inadequate. More work is needed. The EPA ought to know. It’s the federal agency that usually handles this type of assessment. Because of a legal quirk — the pipeline proposed by TransCanada crosses the U.S.-Canada border — the task of assessing the pipeline’s effect on the environment instead was handed to the State Department. That oddity was noted by Sen. Mike Johanns in a congressional hearing last month. “When I think of all the expertise we have on pipelines in the federal government, I can’t imagine it would be the State Department,” Johanns said at the hearing. “None of this is very reassuring to me; we’ve got a very important resource. I just want to make sure that it’s properly assessed and protected.” National coverage of the letter to the State Department from EPA official Cynthia Giles focused on the concern that refining Canadian oil sands will generate 82 percent more greenhouse gases than processing typical crude.
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Other Articles on the Same Topic:

State Department delays decision on Keystone XL oil pipeline.Argus Leader, July 27, 2010
With fresh criticism from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of the Keystone XL oil pipeline project, U.S. Department of State officials extended by 90 days its decision to issue a permit. Because the pipeline begins in Canada, a State Department Presidential Permit is needed. The State Department made its announcement Monday, saying it would let other federal agencies review its draft Environmental Impact Statement. On July 16, the EPA said that study was inadequate and should be revised. The $7 billion, 1,980-mile Keystone XL project would deliver 900,000 barrels of Alberta tar sands crude oil to existing refineries on the Gulf Coast. It will cross Harding, Butte, Perkins, Meade, Pennington, Haakon, Jones, Lyman and Tripp counties in South Dakota. TransCanada already has completed work on Keystone Phase 1, which delivers tar-sands crude oil from Alberta, Canada, across eastern South Dakota on its way to serve refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma. That pipeline began delivering oil in June.
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EPA: Send Keystone Environmental Impact Study Back to Drawing Board.Madville Times, July 22, 2010
TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline faces some serious problems. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) has declared the pipeline “would be a step in the wrong direction, undermining the President’s efforts to move America to a clean energy economy.” The folks who plan to make the steel for Keystone XL produced all sorts of defective steel for other pipelines between 2007 and 2009.  And now the Environmental Protection Agency has said the State Department’s draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Keystone XL is inadequate.
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EPA Publishes Latest Data on Industrial and Toxics Releases in the U.S. / Data on Toxics Release Inventory available the same month it is collected.EPA News Release, July 28, 2010
As part of the Obama Administration’s continuing commitment to open government, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published the latest data on industrial releases and transfers of toxic chemicals in the United States between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2009. EPA is making the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data available within weeks of the reporting deadline through its Web site and in the popular tools, TRI Explorer and Envirofacts. The database contains environmental release and transfer data on nearly 650 chemicals and chemical categories reported to EPA by more than 21,000 industrial and other facilities. “It is vital that every community has access to information that impacts their health and environment,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. “The data we’re releasing provides critical insights about pollution and polluters in the places where people live, work, play and learn. Making that knowledge available is the first step in empowering communities to protect the environment in their areas.”
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BLM announces schedule change for release of D-EIS on Gateway West Transmission Line.Little Chicago Review, July 28, 2010
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced today that the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Gateway West Transmission Line Project will be released during the last quarter of this year.  The draft EIS was originally scheduled to be released in the summer of 2010. BLM delayed release of the document in order to address comments received during the internal administrative review process as well as to clarify management objectives related to sage grouse, visual and other public resources.
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STATE & FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION

Schumer Urges EPA Milk Exemption.New York Farm Bureau, July 25, 2010
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer released a letter to Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), urging the agency to exempt dairy farmers from provisions of the Clean Water Act that could require them to develop and implement plans to handle a milk spill – the same provision that requires oil companies to develop plans to deal with oil spills.The EPA claims the authority to require such spill prevention plans because milk contains animal fat – an oil – but Schumer said that 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. The current administration has been considering a rule exempting farmers from these requirements since January of 2009 but has not yet acted to finalize the ruling. Should the EPA decide to apply the provision to dairy farmers, it would mean that dairy farms with 1,320 gallons of milk stored would have to develop a spill response plan. The vast majority of farms in New York State meet that threshold. Farms that store below 10,000 gallons of milk could self certify their plan, whereas farms that store over 10,000 gallons of milk would have to have their plans certified by an engineer. This process can cost thousands of dollars.
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Outlook chilly for a smart climate bill. The Washington Post, July 25, 2010
WITH DEMOCRATS in control of the White House and Congress and a major international climate conference scheduled in Copenhagen, the prospect of passing legislation that would curb America’s carbon emissions appeared better than ever at the beginning of the Obama administration. But President Obama and the Senate did not prioritize climate-change legislation. Health care and financial reform dragged on much longer than expected. On Thursday came the consequence: Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced that he would not, as had been planned, bring a climate bill to the floor before Congress’s August recess.. There isn’t enough time to gather the necessary votes before the break — and, it now seems likely, before the end of the year. Which means more delay and, ultimately, a higher price tag.
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Liberal activists say good riddance to Kerry-Lieberman climate legislation. – Alexander Bolton, The Hill, July 24, 2010
Liberal and environmental activists say that Democrats will not suffer in November because of their failure to pass Senate climate change legislation. Charles Chamberlain, political director of Democracy for America, an advocacy group founded by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, said liberal voters are happy that a climate bill sponsored by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) was shelved. “The reality is that the base didn’t have a lot at stake in the climate bill,” said Chamberlain. “After the BP disaster, all we’ve heard from our members, the No. 1 issue is climate change and offshore oil drilling and oil,” he said. “But we polled our members about whether we should be fighting for the bill and it wasn’t even close. The answer was no.” Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, a liberal environmental advocacy group, said the Kerry-Lieberman bill was full of gifts to the oil, coal and nuclear industries. “The way they were going to give away free emission permits instead of set[ting] up an auction system, which [President] Obama had campaigned on,” said O’Donnell, “that was massive giveaway.”
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Governor: Freezing AB32 ‘would be devastating’. – Carla Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, July 25, 2010
Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says political candidates and forces in his own party who argue for the suspension of the state’s climate change law  are “trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes” and have “the intention of eliminating” the landmark climate change bill he signed in 2006. “There is no suspension,” the governor said in an interview with The Chronicle last week, adding that the state’s economy is “like a ship – and when you approach the iceberg, you cannot just move the ship.” Likewise, the state cannot “from one year to the next, change policy and stop the creation of jobs,” he said. “We have to be consistent and stay in place. You have to be flexible with your regulations, and you’ve got to move forward.” The remarks were Schwarzenegger’s strongest to date on the efforts of Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who has said she would suspend the law for one year if elected, and proponents of Proposition 23, a measure on the November ballot that would suspend AB32.
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Four Ways to Kill a Climate Bill. – Lee Watherman, The New York Times, July 25, 2010
IF President Obama and Congress had announced that no financial reform legislation would pass unless Goldman Sachs agreed to the bill, we would conclude our leaders had been standing in the Washington sun too long. Yet when it came to addressing climate change, that is precisely the course the president and Congress took. Lacking support from those most responsible for the problem, they have given up on passing a major climate bill this year. It’s true that passing legislation to rebuild our fossil fuel-based economy was always going to be a momentous challenge. Senators and representatives feel in their bones (and campaign accounts) the interests of utilities and the coal and oil industries. Even well-intentioned members of Congress struggle to balance the competing needs of energy-intensive industries, coal workers and American families.
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Carbon Pricing and Regulatory Uncertainty. – Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, July 26, 2010
Bloomberg writes today about the months-long effort by utility companies to get Congress to pass a climate bill that includes a cap-and-trade component. Industry lobbyist Ralph Izzo is discouraged: “I don’t know what more you can do,” Izzo said. “We are essentially volunteering to be the first to be regulated and people don’t want to do it.” ….“The odds are still very long,” said David Brown, senior Vice President for Federal Government Affairs at the Chicago- based utility Exelon Corp., who estimates he’s held hundreds of meetings with senators and staff on the issue. “Everybody’s just exhausted.”
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California’s climate change law backer donates $5 million to fight Prop 23. – Ricky Daysog, Miami Herald, July 27, 2010
Thomas Steyer, a San Francisco hedge fund manager and a big backer of Democratic candidates, will donate $5 million to a group opposing the ballot measure to roll back California’s landmark climate change law. Steyer, founder of Farallon Capital Management LLC, has joined George Shultz, former U.S. secretary of the state, as co-chairman of the No on 23 committee, giving the group’s leadership a bipartisan mix. California’s greenhouse gas reduction law, or AB 32, aims to cut emissions to 1990 levels statewide by 2020. Backed by Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp. of Texas, Proposition 23 seeks to suspend AB 32 until the statewide unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters. With Steyer’s donation, the No on 23 committee has raised more than $7 million. Proponents of a rollback collected more than $3 million. “Proposition 23 really boils down to one thing,” Steyer said in a news release. “Do we want California to continue moving forward as a leader in a clean energy economy, including continuing to create new jobs, new economic development and new investment, or do we want to allow two Texas-based oil companies … to take our state backward and see the clean energy jobs, business and investment in our state go offshore to (a) place like China?”
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Global warming: battle over California ballot initiative heats up. – Margot Roosevelt, The Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2010
The fight over California’s aggressive law to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other planet-heating pollutants is kicking into high gear.  Backers of Proposition 23, a November ballot initiative to suspend AB 32, California’s 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, filed suit in Sacramento Superior Court Tuesday against Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown for what they called “false, misleading and unfair” language that would describe the measure on voters’ ballots. Under the current description, the ballots, which must be printed by mid-August, would say that the measure “Suspends air pollution control laws requiring major polluters to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming until unemployment drops below specified level for full year.”
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Dirty Power: Attack on Clean Air Protections Planned in Senate. – John Walke, Switchboard, July 27, 2010
NRDC has obtained a copy of amendments  that Senator Voinovich (R-OH) appears poised to lodge next week in the Senate Environment Committee to wage a sweeping attack on the Clean Air Act on behalf of dirty power plants. The amendments repeal, delay and significantly weaken clean air safeguards that reduce power plant emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide (pollutants that cause smog and soot), as well as toxic mercury, arsenic, lead, hydrogen cyanide and other acid gases. The 35-page Voinovich amendments represent a complete re-write of bi-partisan, strengthening legislation on the Clean Air Act co-sponsored by Senator Carper (D-DE) and Senator Alexander (R-TN), a bill entitled the “Clean Air Act Amendments of 2010” that could be brought to a vote in the Senate Environment Committee next week. Senator Voinovich’s amendments not only would drastically weaken, delay and repeal crucial clean air and public health protection programs that EPA is carrying out to clean up dirty power plants that burn coal, oil and natural gas. Adoption of these irresponsible amendments also would cripple the Carper-Alexander legislation, and in fact represent several giant steps backwards from the existing, stronger Clean Air Act.
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Obama: ‘Our current energy policy is unsustainable’.The Oval, July 27, 2010
President Obama continued to stump for energy and climate change legislation today, despite the collapse of Senate talks on a comprehensive bill. After meeting with congressional leaders today, Obama endorsed a scaled-down Senate bill that addresses the Gulf Coast oil spill and “new clean energy jobs,” but called it “only the first step.” “I intend to keep pushing for broader reform, including climate legislation,” Obama said, “because if we’ve learned anything from the tragedy in the Gulf, it’s that our current energy policy is unsustainable.” Obama cited the need to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, as well as eliminate “deadly pollutants that threaten our air and our water and the lives and livelihoods of our people.”
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Congress Moves to Restrict Drilling, Shelves CO2 Cap. – Jim Efstathiou Jr. and Simon Lomax, Bloomberg Businessweek, July 27, 2010
Congressional Democrats proposed tougher rules for offshore drilling in response to the worst oil spill in U.S. history, while spurning calls to place a price on carbon emissions. House and Senate leaders presented legislation yesterday rewriting oil and natural-gas drilling rules more than three months after a rig leased by BP Plc exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. The bills would strengthen safety and environmental standards for exploration in federal waters, give Congress direct oversight of offshore energy production, and require companies that cause spills to pay all damages. Pleas from environmental groups and some companies that the Senate bill include limits on emissions that contribute to global warming were rejected after Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said there weren’t enough votes for the climate provisions. The House passed a cap-and-trade bill last year that would set limits on carbon dioxide linked to global warming and create a market in pollution allowances. “We’re extremely disappointed that Big Oil and their allies in the Senate have for now blocked comprehensive clean- energy legislation,” Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, said in an interview. “Our job is to make sure that voters understand which candidates stood with big oil and which candidates stood for clean-energy jobs, reducing our dependence on oil and cutting pollution.”
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Hydro-fracking fight hijacks spill bill. – Coral Davenport, Politico, July 28, 2010
The fight over the Senate offshore drilling “spill bill” shifted Wednesday from the Gulf of Mexico to the mountains of western Pennsylvania, as Republicans slammed the last-minute inclusion of language to regulate a controversial technique to extract onshore natural gas. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) added the language Tuesday requiring natural gas drillers to disclose the chemicals they pump into the ground as part of the hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, process. Republicans are wary of the addition, which comes on Page 404 of the 409-page spill response bill that Reid wants the Senate to take up before the recess. The language is not in the bill the House will vote on by Friday.
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Senators Say EPA Dust Regulation Proposals Defy Common Sense.Hoosier Ag Today, July 25, 2010
A group of Senators led by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson Friday calling on her to use common sense on future dust regulations and reminding her of the Administration’s focus on rural America and the negative impact the regulations could have on Main Street. The Senators say the second draft recently released would establish the most stringent and unparalleled dust regulation in U.S. history if approved. Though they respect the efforts for a clean and healthy environment, the Senators say that shouldn’t come at the expense of common sense.
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Opinion: Why exempting NFL stadiums from environmental laws is a bad idea. – Mark Massara and Deborah Sivas, The Capitol Weekly, July 28, 2010
What does the California budget process have to do with a new NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles?  The talk on the political street is that stadium proponents Tim Lieweke and his company AEG are pressing the Governor and the Speaker of the Assembly to exempt their project from the state’s most fundamental and effective environmental law – the California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA – as part of any budget deal.  Such an exemption would allow AEG to avoid evaluating and mitigating the project’s environmental impacts, like air pollution and traffic congestion, or even disclosing them to the public.  At least 112 of California’s leading environmental organizations have now joined together to oppose the effort. This kind of end run around CEQA should matter to everyone.  It certainly matters to the communities directly affected by the AEG project.  But it also matters to the continued integrity of CEQA itself.  In the 40 years since California Governor Ronald Reagan signed CEQA into law in August 1970, CEQA has more than fulfilled its promise as ‘California’s Environmental Bill of Rights’ by insuring comprehensive environmental review, mitigation of project impacts, consideration of less damaging alternatives, and transparent public participation at every step along the way for new projects and development.
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‘Clean Ports Act’ introduced; could have impact on trucking beyond ports. – Dorothy Cox, The Trucker, July 30, 2010
Congressman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the senior Northeastern Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced the Clean Ports Act of 2010 on Thursday, according to a statement on his website. The bill, which has 57 original co-sponsors, would amend the Federal Motor Carrier Act to allow ports to enact and enforce clean truck programs and implement environmental programs “above the current federal requirements.”  “This change to federal law would confirm that port cities like Los Angeles, New York, Newark, Oakland and Seattle have the authority to set the standards needed to replace diesel trucks with clean diesel and alternative energy vehicles in order to reduce pollution in a manner that has negligible effect on consumer prices, lowers public health costs for taxpayers, and does not unfairly burden the workers who haul cargo to and from U.S. seaports,” the statement said.
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Port trucking bill draws congressional backers. – Jill Dunn, Rotor News, July 29, 2010
Fifty-seven congressional representatives are co-sponsoring a bill that would amend federal law to allow ports new authority over trucking. On July 29, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler introduced the Clean Ports Act of 2010. The current motor carrier statue enacted as part of the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 allows state and local entities to regulate trucking companies for safety-related programs. Several labor and environmental groups support the New York Democrat’s bill. A temporary injunction is in place against the Port of Los Angeles from enforcing aspects of its concession agreement because of a lawsuit filed by the American Trucking Associations. The most controversial piece of the Los Angeles port’s program is drivers who regularly serve the port must be employees, not owner-operators, of carriers. Backers of this say the only way they will achieve the port’s environmental goals is through barring owner-operators from regular port service.
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ENERGY

Oil

Oil Industry Rethinks Cost, Risk Of Drilling In U.S. – Tom Gjelten, NPR, July 29, 2010
The BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico is bound to have repercussions for the oil industry and America’s energy future, but experts say it could be a while before they are all sorted out — and the final consequences could prove surprising. At a minimum, the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and the subsequent spill underscored the extent to which energy companies are now searching for oil in hard-to-reach areas. “The easy oil is gone,” says Michael Klare, author of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet. “From now on, we’re going to have to dig deeper into the earth, farther offshore, farther north into the Arctic. We’re relying on these extreme energy situations.”
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Gulf spill lacks societal punch of Santa Barbara. – Frederic J. Frommer, Associated Press, July 28, 2010
In 1969, Sen. Gaylord Nelson was so moved after seeing the devastation of an oil spill off the California coast near Santa Barbara that he called for a national teach-in on the environment. The resulting “Earth Day” the following year kick-started the modern environmental movement and shaped the way Americans thought about their air, water and soil. Forty years later, the magnitude of the Gulf oil spill far exceeds Santa Barbara’s spill of up to 100,000 barrels, but there hasn’t been a comparable societal transformation. Last week, legislation imploded in the Senate to reduce greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, derailing environmentalists’ top goal, and no national consensus has emerged to move America off oil and other fossil fuels into clean energy.
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Give EPA input on oil and gas refinery pollution. – Jesse Fruhwirth, Salt Lake City Weekly, July 29, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is under court order to issue new pollution limits on oil and gas production facilities by January 2011. Tomorrow is the last day to pre-register as a speaker at a Denver meeting organized to hash out the new, stiffer regulations. With all of Utah’s five refineries located on the Wasatch Front, you may want to give some input. I’ve written considerably about safety conditions at those facilities, but their emissions are also a point of contention between the industry and locals. The people have power to influence decisions about our air. Remember May 2009 when plans were scrapped to build a 109-megawatt petro-coke power plant adjacent to the Holly Refinery? That came after wide protests in Davis County and at the Capitol which demanded stiffer clean-air laws in Utah.
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EPA to Hold Public Meeting on Air Regulations for the Oil and Gas Industry.EPA News Release, July 30, 2010
On Monday, August 2, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a public meeting to provide an update on the Agency’s review of several air regulations covering the oil and gas industry and to solicit public comments from the public. EPA is reviewing air toxics standards for oil and gas production facilities, air toxic standards for natural gas transmission and storage facilities, and two new source performance standards for onshore natural gas processing plants: one focused on emissions from equipment leaks of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and the other for sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions. EPA is under a court-ordered deadline to issue proposals by January 31, 2011; and to take final action by November 30, 2011.
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Natural Gas

Natural gas drilling coming to N.C.? – Bruce Henderson, Charlotte Observer, July 27, 2010
Worlds away from the drilling debacle in the Gulf of Mexico, a natural gas boomlet is underway in a little N.C. county near Raleigh. Exploration companies are snapping up mineral rights among the tobacco fields and chicken houses of Lee County. They’re drawn by the possibility of enough natural gas to meet demand for decades. But drilling would also carry environmental risks, as it does in the Gulf. The method that would be used, called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” injects water and chemicals underground at high pressure to crack open shale. It can contaminate groundwater and deplete water supplies, and it currently is illegal in North Carolina, which produces no gas or oil.
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Colorado GOP to EPA: Keep your noses out of our fracking fluid. – David O. Williams, The Colorado Independent, July 27, 2010
Eighteen Republican members of the Colorado State Legislature Monday sent a letter (pdf) to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  demanding the federal agency refrain from regulating the natural gas drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” no matter what a two-year EPA study of the process reveals. Landowners and environmentalists around the country are increasingly concerned about instances in which they claim fracking has contaminated streams and drinking water sources. Oil and gas industry officials mostly resist attempts to further regulate the process, which was granted an exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act during the Bush administration. “The EPA shouldn’t stick its nose into the regulation of fracking or other oil and gas industry practices in states,” state Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, said in a release. “Once the EPA completes its study, states should maintain jurisdiction over oil and gas operations.” While the letter was addressed to the EPA, the matter is actually up to Congress, where U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, and Jared Polis, D-Boulder, introduced the FRAC (Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals) Act in 2009. The bill requires full public disclosure of the chemicals used in the fracking process, which industry officials say amount to trade secrets.
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Biofuels

EPA: 800 million gallons of biodiesel.National Biodiesel Board, July 26, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency has announced it will require the domestic use of 800 million gallons of biodiesel in 2011. This is consistent with the renewable goals established in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which expanded the Renewable Fuels Standard and specifically requires a renewable component in U.S. diesel fuel. RFS2 provides specific volume requirements for advanced biofuels such as cellulosic biofuels, biomass-based diesel and undifferentiated advanced biofuels. According to EPA, biodiesel produced from waste greases, animal fats and agricultural oils reduces greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 86 percent compared to petroleum diesel. The RFS2 program, consistent with the EPA announcement, requires a minimum of 800 million gallons of biomass-based diesel, which included biodiesel, to be entered into the commercial marketplace in 2011. “We applaud EPA for this announcement and for reaffirming the common-sense notion that we should displace petroleum diesel fuel with advanced biofuels like biodiesel,” said Manning Feraci, vice president of federal affairs for the National Biodiesel Board.
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36 Groups Ask Senate Leaders to Reject Increasing Ethanol in Gasoline.News Blaze, July 26, 2010
Thirty-six environmental and industry groups signed a letter that went to the majority and minority leaders of the Senate today urging opposition to any amendment to the upcoming energy bill that would authorize the sale of gasoline with more than 10 percent ethanol. NPRA, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, was among the signatories. Some in the ethanol industry are seeking approval in Congress of proposals to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline by 50 percent – from the current 10 percent to 15 percent. The text of the letter is below:
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NACS Opposes Potential Senate Amendment to Authorize Mid-Level Ethanol Blends.NACS Online, July 27, 2010
In a a coalition letter, NACS yesterday urged the Senate to reject a potential amendment that would legislatively authorize ethanol blends higher than 10 percent (mid-level blends) for use in conventional gasoline-powered engines. The Senate is tentatively scheduled to consider limited energy policy legislation in the near future and rumors have circulated concerning a potential effort to amend this legislation to bypass ongoing consideration by the Environmental Protection Agency of a waiver to authorize the use of E15. The letter explains that any such action would contradict existing EPA, Department of Energy and industry research projects currently underway studying the effects of higher ethanol blends. The research was initiated in compliance with the Clean Air Act and in direct response to a petition filed in 2009 to authorize the use of E15. “Sound science, environmental protection and consumer safety — not politics — must guide this important decision,” the letter reads, citing section 211(f) of the Clean Air Act that mandates a detailed review before any new fuel blends are introduced into commerce.
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Ethanol subsidies and climate-change skeptics.Herald Tribune, July 27, 2010
Congress finally is starting to recognize the high cost of filling up gas tanks with ethanol, the motor fuel made from corn. Billions of dollars in federal subsidies are on the chopping block. It’s about time. With the national debt soaring, the government needs to wean the biofuel industry from its dependence on federal subsidies. Biofuels have always sounded better during the Iowa caucuses than they have performed in reality. Taxpayers have bankrolled biofuel research and a boom in ethanol production. Aggressive mandates have hiked the amounts of ethanol blended into the gasoline supply, and the industry is pushing for even higher levels of the corn-based fuel in each gallon. At the same time, trade barriers have kept out cheaper ethanol produced from sugar in Brazil and other countries. Those heavy-handed government policies were intended to develop a big new domestic industry that would reduce American dependence on oil, improve the environment and bring jobs to rural communities. The goals are worthy, but for all the expensive coddling, American taxpayers have little to show for their money. Consider corn: When ethanol factories were popping up all over the heartland four or five years ago, livestock producers and food processors warned that using grain to make fuel would raise grocery prices. Not to worry, the biofuel industry responded, since corn would be phased out and inedible cellulose would be used instead. But the industry failed to deliver. “Cellulosic” ethanol, as it’s called, looks like it may never roll out on a commercial scale, despite Uncle Sam bending over to make it happen.
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Wind

1st U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Gets Approval in Massachusetts.WP Party, July 25, 2010
The U.S. wind industry has been a world leader, installing an impressive 5,244 megawatts  in 2007. the U.S. offshore wind industry is another story, with no offshore wind farms yet developed. the tides may be changing however 4.7 miles off the coast of Cape Cod in Nantucket Bay. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) helped moved this proposed wind farm forward by approving the undersea cable that would transmit the generated power from 130 turbines to land. In a letter notifying Cape Wind of their decision, a DEP official wrote, “the Department determines that the proposed project serves a proper public interest which provides greater public benefit than detriment to the public’s rights in said tidelands”. Developers of the $1 billion project are still waiting on a composite state and local permit, as well as federal approvals by the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of the Interior and the Federal Aviation Administration, said mark Rogers, a spokesman for Cape Wind Associates LLC. The project would power 75% of the electricity that Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island use under average wind levels. This would displace electricity from the controversial Cape Power Plant, which runs off of oil and natural gas. The proposed wind farm has been the source of great controversy. one of the greatest concerns is that the 247 foot turbines may be visible from upscale beach homes and could hurt the tourism industry. Cape Winds expects the permitting process to be complete by March, 2009. If developed, Cape Wind would be the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. As of 2007, there were 1165 megawatts of offshore wind generating capacity globally. Denmark and the U.K. have been the global leaders of this industry, followed by Sweden and the Netherlands.
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Wind farm ‘mega-project’ underway in Mojave Desert. – Tiffany Tsu, Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2010
The Alta Wind Energy Center — with plans for thousands of acres of turbines to generate electricity for 600,000 Southern California homes — officially breaks ground Tuesday. It’s being called the largest wind power project in the country, with plans for thousands of acres of towering turbines in the Mojave Desert foothills generating electricity for 600,000 homes in Southern California. And now it’s finally kicking into gear. The multibillion-dollar Alta Wind Energy Center has had a tortured history, stretching across nearly a decade of ownership changes, opposition from local residents and transmission infrastructure delays.
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DE gets authority from EPA for offshore wind permitting. – Mari Lou, WGMD, July 22, 2010
Delaware has been given the authority by the EPA to enforce and implement offshore wind permitting related to air quality – after adopting the federal requirements back in June.   This is the first time that a state program has been delegated authority of the rule.  The first action that will be subject to these regulations in Delaware – a proposed meteorological tower associated with the Blue Water Wind project.
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EPA says some contaminated sites good for wind farm.Cleanpowerdrive, July 30, 2010
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have done that by joining forces in their evaluation of sites that could be used for renewable-energy production. These can be Superfund and brown field sites, as well as former landfills and mines. Although there are many such sites, 12 in particular will get a close look for development. They are in California, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
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Report details factors in pick for wind site. – Melanie Brandert, The Daily Republic, July 30, 2010
A new report on the PrairieWinds project shows that two federal agencies chose the Crow Lake site near White Lake over a site near Winner because of factors including proximity to a substation and environmental impacts. A public notice appeared in Wednesday’s Daily Republic stating that the Western Area Power Administration and the U.S. Rural Utilities Service had published the final version of an environmental impact statement for PrairieWinds. Basin Electric in Bismarck, N.D., wants to build up to 111 turbines in parts of Aurora, Brule and Jerauld counties for the $363 million, 165-megawatt project. Dusty Johnson, state Public Utilities Commission chairman, of Mitchell, said the commission had done its own environmental assessment and credited the federal government for making the right choice for the site. PUC approved a state permit for the project in June.
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OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS

Water

Conservationists conflicted over Obama’s National Ocean Policy. – Jean Williams, Examiner, July 24, 2010
The world’s oceans have shown increasing signs of distress in the form of floating garbage islands, a growing number of dead zones, and a climate change symptom known as acidification. Dead whales have washed ashore this summer, that showed signs of malnutrition from a dwindling food chain in some ocean regions. On July 19, President Obama issued an Executive Order to establish a policy to protect oceans, coastlines, and the Great Lakes. Ocean Champions claimed the president’s pen-stroke established a policy for oceans similar to the Clean Air act for air and Clean Water Act for water.
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Cutting corners in ocean protection. – Jim Martin, Times Standard Online, July 26, 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. Recently, the legally required CEQA review process got underway in Southern California in connection with adopting new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). And many expected this scientific analysis to be completely transparent. Instead, the Department of Fish and Game decided it didn’t need to hold an open “scoping” meeting. It didn’t need to allow other public agencies, special districts, or interested public the opportunity to discuss and share ideas surrounding the range of issues that must be covered in an Environmental Impact Report (those famous EIRs).
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Whale sharks are under study, protection. – Susan Cocking, The Miami Herald, July 29, 2010
The thing approaching me off Isla Mujeres in Mexico’s Caribbean looked just like a front-end loader except that it was alive. Probably four feet wide, the cavernous mouth was wide open and near enough that I could see the small fish cleaning its gums. The creature’s body was as thick around as a giant Sequoia, brown and dotted with white circles — and easily 20 feet long. Instead of being afraid, I giggled happily into my snorkel, tried to snap a photo, and moved aside to let it pass. It ignored me and kept going. This little pas de deux happened amid what Sarasota shark scientist Bob Hueter calls “the world’s largest concentration of whale sharks known to science”. And it was fun.  Of course, I was far from alone. At least 30 small boats — some from nearby Isla Mujeres and others from as far away as Isla Holbox (a two-hour boat ride away) — drifted with the pod of nearly 50 whale sharks cruising the blue surface. From each boat, a guide and several snorkelers jumped into the warm waters every few seconds to share space with the largest and gentlest fish in the world.
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Gulf of Mexico Has Long Been Dumping Site. – Campbell Robertson, The New York Times, July 30, 2010
Loulan Pitre Sr. was born on the Gulf Coast in 1921, the son of an oysterman. Nearly all his life, he worked on the water, abiding by the widely shared faith that the resources of the Gulf of Mexico were limitless. As a young Marine staff sergeant, back home after fighting in the South Pacific, he stood on barges in the gulf and watched as surplus mines, bombs and ammunition were pushed over the side. He helped build the gulf’s very first offshore oil drilling platforms in the late 1940s, installing bolts on perilously high perches over the water. He worked on a shrimp boat, and later as the captain of a service boat for drilling platforms. The gulf has changed, Mr. Pitre said: “I think it’s too far gone to salvage.”
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Climate Change

Reliable Information Needed To Guide U.S. Climate Response Says Scientists. – Peter Fowler, Newsroom America, July 24, 2010
A comprehensive national response to climate change should be informed by reliable data coordinated through climate services and a greenhouse gas monitoring and management system to provide timely information tailored to decision makers at all levels, says a report by the National Research Council. The report recommends several mechanisms for improving communication about climate science and responses and calls for a systematic framework for making and evaluating decisions about how to effectively manage the risks posed by climate change. “Global climate change is a long-term challenge that will require all of us to make many decisions about how to respond,” said Diana Liverman, co-chair of the panel that wrote the report, co-director of the Institute of Environment at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and a senior research fellow at Oxford University. “To make choices that are based on the best available science, government agencies, the private sector, and individuals need clear, accessible information about what is happening to the climate and to emissions. We also need information on the implications of different options — especially to assess whether policies are effective.”
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White House Ends Climate Change Gag Order EPA Whistleblowers Now Free to Speak Out.Common Dreams, July 28, 2010
The Government Accountability Project (GAP), counsel for EPA and climate change whistleblowers Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel, sent a letter to President Obama yesterday thanking the White House for causing the EPA to withdraw its censorship orders that effectively gagged the two enforcement attorneys. Williams and Zabel had challenged “cap-and-trade” as a climate change solution in their personal capacities by, among other actions, posting a video on YouTube late last year. The EPA accused them of violating ethics rules simply by listing and referencing their government positions and experience to strengthen their credibility.
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Critics of EPA’s Jackson say she bows to both extremes. – Justin Anderson, Legal Newsline, July 29, 2010
Soon after President Barack Obama tapped Lisa P. Jackson to take the reins at the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the agency announced it would be re-reviewing the commonly used farming pesticide atrazine and its potential health effects. This after the EPA, during the term of President George W. Bush in 2006, declared that atrazine posed no such health risks. Some critics of the re-review say it’s an activist-driven action. So what’s the story? Who, if anyone, is guiding Jackson’s decisions? The EPA says proper stewardship of public health and new scientific research that points to potential health effects of atrazine is the reason for the re-review.
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