The following is a summary review of articles from all over the nation concerning environmental law settlements, decisions, regulatory actions and lawsuits filed during the past week. These were all first posted, in abbreviated form, on http://twitter.com/smtaber. This Newsletter also appears as a post on our website Taber Law Group every Monday. Archives can be found there and on our blog, The Environmental Law and Climate Change Law Blog. For more information about the Taber Law Group, please visit our website at taberlaw.com.
City settles with EPA over PCB disposal. – Associated Press, September 19, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency has reached a $2,900 settlement with the city of Ketchikan to resolve violations of improper disposal of PCB waste two years ago. The federal agency says workers from Ketchikan Public Utilities in August 2007 removed about five gallons of oil containing PCBs from a transformer and improperly incinerated the liquid. An EPA pesticides and toxics program manager in Seattle said disposing of PCB waste improperly can be harmful to human health and the environment. The agency said PCBs were once widely used as a nonflammable coolant for transformers and other electrical equipment. In 1976, Congress enacted a law that authorized EPA to strictly regulate their use, manufacture, cleanup and disposal. The agency says PCBs have been demonstrated to cause cancer and other health problems.
Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. – Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, September 17, 2010
We determine whether federal courts have subject-matter jurisdiction to conduct review of administrative compliance orders issued by the Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1319(a)(3), before the EPA has filed a lawsuit in federal court to enforce the compliance order. We join our sister circuits and hold that the Clean Water Act precludes pre-enforcement judicial review of administrative compliance orders, and that such preclusion does not violate due process.
U.S. EPA conducts surprise inspections targeting SoCal, NoCal, metal finishers. – EPA Press Release, September 23, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is pursuing enforcement against California metal finishing companies for violations of federal hazardous waste laws. The violations were discovered during inspections conducted in Los Angeles, Rosemead, Sun Valley, Compton, Van Nuys, South El Monte and Santa Clara during the current fiscal year. As a result of these enforcement actions, all nine companies returned to compliance with federal law and paid fines ranging from $2,000 to $48,500. One company also agreed to attend Compliance School in which employees are trained in appropriate on-site hazardous waste management techniques. “Hazardous wastes pose a danger to residents and can cause serious environmental damage,” said Jeff Scott, director of the EPA’s Waste Management Division for the Pacific Southwest region. “EPA is committed to aggressive enforcement of federal law to protect communities and workers from the potential impacts of improperly managed hazardous waste.”
Rosemead, South El Monte companies fined for hazardous waste violations. – Rebecca Kimitch, Whittier Daily News, September 24, 2010
Two metal finishing companies. in South El Monte and Rosemead, were fined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for illegally handling hazardous waste, the agency announced this week. Hermetic Seal Corporation, 4232 Temple City Blvd. in Rosemead, was fined $28,000. Vaga Industries, at 2505 Loma Ave. in South El Monte, was fined $35,000. The companies were caught in an EPA crackdown on plating companies that violate hazardous waste laws. Nine metal finishing companies were caught over the past fiscal year. Violations were also discovered at companies in Los Angeles, Sun Valley, Compton, Van Nuys and Santa Clara. Improperly handled hazardous waste can lead to spills and, subsequently, exposure to employees and nearby residents and serious environmental damage, according to the EPA. The type of potential damage varies depending on the waste, explained hazardous waste enforcement officer John Schofield, who conducted some of the local investigations. Metal finishers, like those in the crackdown, generate various hazardous wastes, including: solutions containing metals or cyanides, acids and sludges containing heavy metals such as lead, flammable liquids, and alkaline and acidic corrosive liquids.
EPA Takes Penalty Action against Manheim Farm for Unpermitted Waste Discharges. – EPA Press Release, September 21, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has issued an Administrative Penalty Order in the amount of $6,000 to Melvin and Moses Petersheim of Manheim Pa. for illegally discharging pollutants from their Manheim farm to a nearby stream without a required Clean Water Act permit. On April 1, EPA inspected the farm of Melvin Petersheim, who owns farmland on which he operates an egg-laying operation with approximately 36,000 hens. His brother Moses has a dairy operation with about 80 dairy cows on the same property. The inspection determined the Petersheims did not have a permit, but were discharging pollutants, including nitrogen and phosphorus from animal manure and milkhouse washwater into a tributary of Chickies Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River. On June 1, EPA ordered the Petersheims to cease discharging pollutants to the waters, or obtain the required permits, and comply with the permits by implementing the required pollution reduction measures.
Polidori Corp. cited for damages to Panguitch Lake (Utah). – EPA Press Release, September 21, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a compliance order to the Polidori Corporation, Inc. (PCI) and Poli-Gold, LLC (Poli-Gold) for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act at Panguitch Lake in Garfield County, Utah. EPA alleges that PCI and Poli-Gold discharged dredged or fill material to the lake and adjacent wetlands during the construction of a marina and RV park. PCI’s and Poli-Gold’s actions were conducted without a required Clean Water Act permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “Unauthorized construction at the Panguitch Lake Adventure Resort degraded more than seven acres of the lake and nearby wetlands,” said Mike Gaydosh, EPA’s enforcement director in Denver. “Those taking actions that impact surface waters and wetlands must secure appropriate permits to protect water resources and the functions they provide.” EPA alleges that PCI and Poli-Gold, or persons acting on their behalf, discharged dredged or fill material to approximately 7.5 acres of Panguitch Lake and adjacent wetlands during the construction of a marina and RV park in 2007 and 2008. The unauthorized work included construction of a coffer dam in the lake, dredging and filling a large portion of an existing marina, and placement of large rocks along the perimeter of the new marina. Additional activities associated with the development of an RV park included construction of a rock wall, the discharge of large amounts of earthen fill, and placement of large rocks along a portion of the lake’s southern shoreline.
Landowners ordered to restore wetlands in Ocean Shores, Washington. – EPA Press Release, September 23, 2010
Ralph Burgess and John Kilcup have been ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency to remove fill material and restore damaged wetlands on their property in Ocean Shores, Washington. EPA alleges that Burgess and Kilcup violated the Clean Water Act in 2007 when they placed fill material into nearly an acre of dune wetlands at their condominium development site without the required permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Contractors for Burgess and Kilcup placed fiberboard plywood and sand over wetland vegetation prior to constructing two driveways at the site. Wetlands need protection in part because they are essential for water quality, groundwater recharge, and aquatic life, according to Michael Szerlog, EPA’s Aquatic Resources Unit Manager in Seattle. “Landowners who plan to work in wetlands must obtain the proper permits before they begin,” said EPA’s Szerlog. “Coastal wetlands are fragile ecosystems and unpermitted construction can be very damaging to them.”
LAWSUITS AND ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS FILED
Texas Files Legal Action To Block Imposition Of EPA Regulations That Threaten Texas Jobs. – Texas Attorney General Press Release, September 16, 2010
The State of Texas today filed four motions to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing new federal regulations that threaten the Texas economy and jeopardize Texas jobs. Specifically, Texas petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to stay the EPA’s greenhouse gas Endangerment Finding, the Light-Duty Vehicle Rule, the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Interpretive Rule, and the Tailoring Rule. Court documents filed by the State explain that the EPA’s Endangerment Finding is legally unsupported because the agency outsourced its legally mandated “scientific assessment” to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which had the objectivity, reliability and propriety of its scientific assessments called into question after a scandal erupted late last year. The State explained that the IPCC – and therefore the EPA – relied on flawed science to conclude that greenhouse emissions endanger public health and welfare. Because the Administration predicated its Endangerment Finding on the IPCC’s questionable reports, the State is seeking to prevent the EPA’s new Rules – and the economic harm that will result from those regulations – from being imposed on Texas employers, workers and enforcement agencies.
Texas Files Four More Suits Against EPA. – Stan Powers, The Austinist, September 17, 2010
The ongoing battle between the state government and the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) continued yesterday when Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed four new motions against the EPA. The suit, filed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, petitions the court to stay the EPA’s greenhouse gas Endangerment Finding, the Light-Duty Vehicle Rule, the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Interpretive Rule, and the Tailoring Rule (see the Texas Tribune’s post for a breakdown of each rule). In late July, the Attorney General had sued the agency in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals federal court to preserve the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (“TCEQ”) flexible permit system. The system, popular with industry emitters, had been around since the early 90’s, before the EPA ruled it violated the Federal Clean Air Act. Similar to that previous motion, the basis for the current salvo was the preservation of Texas’s economy and its 10th Amendment rights (a favorite of Governor Perry, as well). From the press release: “[T]oday’s court filings challenge the EPA’s attempts to ignore federal law, impose their federally mandated deadlines and force Texas to spend millions of dollars advancing the Administration’s regulatory agenda.” An EPA response is most certainly expected — as are more suits from the state of Texas.
Mining association sues US EPA, Army Corps over permit guidance. – Amena Saiyid, Platt’s Energy, September 20, 2010
The National Mining Association asked a federal district court Friday to block the authority of the US Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to deny Clean Water Act permits for Appalachian coal mining operations on some water quality grounds. In a motion filed with the US District Court for the District of Columbia, NMA, which represents the nation’s coal mining interests in Washington, said the injunctive relief was sought for two sets of regulatory guidance that the two agencies issued in June 2009 and then in April of this year. NMA said the two sets of guidance set new water quality standards for conductivity, thereby circumventing the normal rulemaking process in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. Although still in draft form, the April 1 guidance designed to improve EPA’s review of Appalachian surface mining operations under the Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act and the Environmental Justice Executive Order, went into effect upon release. This draft guidance is aimed at the practice of mountaintop mining operations and called upon permit writers in the agency’s regional offices to deny pollutant discharge permits under Section 402 of the Clean Water Act if they find that mining activity will cause conductivity levels, or the concentration of salts in water, in headwater streams to exceed 500 microsiemens/centimeter.
Ship Serial Polluter Ordered to Pay $4 Million for Covering up the Deliberate Discharge of Oil and Plastics. – Department of Justice Press Release, September 21, 2010
U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz sentenced Irika Shipping S.A., a ship management corporation registered in Panama and doing business in Greece, today to pay a $4 million penalty, which includes a $3 million criminal fine and $1 million in organizational community service payments that will fund various marine environmental projects. Judge Motz also sentenced Irika to serve the maximum of five years probation, subject to following a compliance program that includes audits by an independent firm and oversight by a court appointed monitor. Judge Motz further ordered today that four crew members that notified authorities about illegal discharges of oil and plastic from the M/V Iorana, a Greek flagged cargo ship, should be awarded $125,000 each under the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships which provides that whistleblowers may receive an award of up to one-half of fines collected under that statute. Irika Shipping pleaded guilty on July 8, 2010, as part of a multi-district plea agreement arising out of charges brought in the District of Maryland, Western District of Washington and Eastern District of Louisiana, including felony violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, related to port calls in Baltimore; Tacoma, Wash.; and New Orleans by the M/V Iorana, and obstruction of justice charges based upon false statements to the Coast Guard, destruction of evidence and other acts of concealment.
EPA head to explain Everglades cleanup delays. – Associated Press, September 22, 2010
The top boss of a federal environmental agency will have to show up in a Miami federal courtroom to explain delays to clean up the Everglades. Five months ago, U.S. District Judge Alan Gold ordered environmental officials to show up in court. The Miami Herald reports that the judge reaffirmed his order on Tuesday, rejecting a request from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to provide a substitute. The EPA argued that someone else oversaw the cleanup efforts, not Administrator Lisa Jackson who was too busy to make the Oct. 7 hearing. The judge said the EPA had not “demonstrated any showing of a matter of national importance, issue, or great significance to preclude” Jackson’s attendance. An EPA spokeswoman says they’re working with the Department of Justice to respond to the order.
Iowa City joins federal lawsuit against EPA. – Alicia Kramme, The Daily Iowan, September 23, 2010
Local officials cited objections to both the new Environmental Protection Agency regulations and the way the agency enacted them as reasons for supporting the Iowa League of Cities’ federal lawsuit against the agency. The Iowa City City Council approved a resolution to provide $25,000 for the lawsuit, which will help pay for court costs, this week. The lawsuit is based on the EPA’s alleged failure to follow its administrative procedures and allow for public review and comment on something that Rick Fosse, the Iowa City Public Works director, said affects “virtually every wastewater plant out there.” Councilor Susan Mims said that while she doesn’t agree with the EPA’s changes in wastewater regulations, the lawsuit is specifically dealing with the way the EPA passed the new regulations. “We disagree with the EPA putting procedures in without following due process,” she said. Representatives from the EPA could not be reached. As of Tuesday, Iowa City was among seven cities in the state that have backed the lawsuit since the case was filed in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on July 23.
EPA agents serve three warrants in Dothan Thursday. – Lance Griffin, The Dothan Eagle, September 23, 2010
Federal agents served search warrants at two wastewater treatment plants in Dothan as well as the city’s Information Technology department on Thursday as part of an unspecified investigation, the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed Thursday. The agents arrived at the Little Choctawhatchee Wastewater Treatment Plant off Murphy Mill Road and at the Beaver Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant off Flowers Chapel Road around 8 a.m. Federal agents were posted at each gate and recorded identification information from those coming in and out of the facilities. EPA spokesman James Pinkney declined to say much about what the agents were seeking at the plant and city officials haven’t been told much either, but did confirm the warrants had been served. According to a news release issued by the City of Dothan, city officials have not been offered an explanation, but the assumption is that the search warrant is related to the ongoing investigation and negotiations over violations at the Beaver Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.
EPA Issues Notices to Five Mid-Atlantic States to Cut Pollution. – Alexander Stewart, TopNews United States, September 25, 2010′
On Friday, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warned that it will take legal action against five mid-Atlantic states, because these states have not been able to meet the deadlines to cut pollution. The EPA told Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, and New York that their plans to decrease the pollution are not very efficient and described their plans to have ‘serious deficiencies’. The EPA mentioned that some states are way behind the 2025 deadline to cut pollution, and threatened that those states failing to meet the deadline will face higher property taxes or new rules for farms. According to the Washington Post, to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, the Federal and State Governments have spent over $5 billion. Several fish, crabs, and oysters live in the bay and the pollution has put their lives in great danger. Over 70% of the pollution that has caused ‘dead zones’ in the bay has been because of these five states, which have been unsuccessful to cut the pollution. The bay is contaminated with pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus that has come from the sewerage, fertilizer, and manure. The bay is also full of unnatural algae blooms and using up oxygen that is actually for other inhabitants.
EPA emissions rules could hinder ethanol. – Philip Brasher, Des Moines Register, September 19, 2010
Biofuels producers don’t like to think of themselves as a cause of global warming, but that’s how they could be regulated under the Obama administration’s regulations on greenhouse gases. The regulations, due to take effect in January, would count as greenhouse gases the carbon dioxide that’s released when corn is fermented into motor fuel or when corn stalks, straw and other sources of biomass are burned to make electricity. That means a paperwork and financial burden for most of the state’s 39 ethanol plants. The regulations won’t require polluters to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but could in the future. The ethanol industry is appealing to the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider how it counts biofuel emissions. A typical Iowa ethanol plant would release about 300,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year – if the emissions from fermentation are included – three times the 100,000-ton level that triggers the agency regulations, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The DNR estimate includes greenhouse gas emissions from the coal or natural gas used to run the plant.
Farmers fear dust rules won’t reflect rural life. – Rick Callahan, Associated Press, September 20, 2010
As they begin the fall harvest, wary farmers are watching a federal debate over whether to clamp down on one of rural life’s constant companions — the dust clouds that farm machinery kick up in fields and along unpaved roads. Farming groups have urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to retain its current standards for dust, soot and other microscopic particles, arguing that tighter restrictions would be unworkable and that dust isn’t a real pollutant. Grain farmer Charles Schmitt, who farms about 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans near the southwestern Indiana town of Haubstadt, called the possibility of tougher rules on dust “ridiculous.” The 59-year-old, who’s farmed for more than four decades, said there’s little farmers can do to reduce dust, especially after a dry summer like this year’s that left his fields parched. “Mother Nature has more to do with it than we do — there’s going to be dust and dirt no matter what,” Schmitt said.
EPA Announces Voluntary Program for Flexible Permit Holders. – EPA Press Release, September 20, 2010
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its voluntary Audit Program to help companies with Flexible Permits obtain air quality permits that meet state and federal requirements and the protections of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The TCEQ’s Flexible Permits program was never approved by EPA into the state implementation plan (SIP). “Our main objective is to get each and every permit holder a federally approved permit issued by the TCEQ,” said Regional Administrator Al Armendariz. “The program benefits companies by providing liability protection, and benefits communities by identifying clear enforceable pollution limits and developing projects to mitigate past environmental impacts. It’s a real win-win.” The Audit Program will offer a covenant from civil enforcement by the federal government, for instances where companies with Flexible Permits operated outside of federal requirements provided that companies agree to and complete the proposed audit program. In addition, companies who enter the audit will no longer be subject to EPA’s use of Title V tools for permits issued that do not contain all CAA requirements.
EPA offers Texas firms an out from permit fight. – Randy Lee Loftis, Dallas Morning News, September 20, 2010
While talks grind on between Texas and the Environmental Protection Agency about changing the state’s federally disapproved air permits system, the EPA is about to offer Texas businesses that have the disputed permits a way out. The EPA’s regional office in Dallas said Monday that it is rolling out a voluntary audit program that will let industrial plants with state-issued flexible permits keep operating while federal and state officials seek a permanent solution. Under the EPA program, a business with a flexible permit can voluntarily sign up to have a third-party auditor review past operations, modifications and permitting activities. The findings would serve as the basis for a legal agreement with the EPA. The EPA would agree not to launch civil enforcement for Clean Air Act violations discovered in the audit, provided the company completed the audit process. Terms of the agreement would eventually become enforceable limits in a future state-issued permit, once the EPA and the state have worked out a deal on a new permit system.
Almost 300 come out for EPA coal ash hearing in Charlotte. – John Marks, Lake Wylie Pilot, September 20, 2010
Almost 300 people gave their opinions last week as the Environmental Protection Agency heard arguments for and against stricter regulation of coal ash, a byproduct of coal-burning power plants. As a part of its evaluation of the material, the EPA set up public meetings like the one Sept. 14 in Charlotte throughout the country to take public comment on whether coal ash should remain classified as a non-hazardous waste or instead be considered hazardous. Coal ash, according to the EPA, contains contaminants like mercury, cadmium and arsenic associated with cancer and various other serious health effects. Yet coal ash, also according to the EPA, has many beneficial, industrial uses. The material can be used in cement, concrete, grout, road base, snow and ice traction control, roofing granules, wallboard, agriculture and more. “From the Duke Energy perspective, it’s not whether to regulate, but how to regulate,” said Erin Culbert, spokeswoman for the company that operates three coal stations on or just north of Lake Wylie with ash ponds.
EPA to Contribute $6 Million to Life-Saving International Project for Clean Cookstoves / Indoor smoke from cooking fires leads to about 2 million deaths each year. – EPA Press Release, September 21, 2010
Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson joined Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and a number of partners to announce the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. The public-private alliance addresses one of the greatest threats facing developing countries and their populations — extraordinarily high exposures to toxic smoke from indoor fires and inefficient cookstoves that lead to nearly 2 million deaths each year, primarily in young children and women. The U.S. government pledged $53.32 million over the next five years to support the initiative, with EPA contributing $6 million. “EPA is proud to partner with the State Department, our administration colleagues, the United Nations Foundation, and the other alliance partners to address one of the greatest environmental health risks facing the international community today. As a first step in this new partnership, EPA will invest $6 million over the next five years to enhance efforts at stove testing and evaluation, cookstove design innovation and assessments of health benefits,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “For more than eight years, EPA has been a leader in this field, and we will bring our expertise, our lessons learned and our global network to launching and leading the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.”
GVEA is OK with a delay on the Healy coal plant. – Christopher Eshleman, Daily News Miner, September 23, 2010
The Golden Valley Electric Association said delaying the state-led effort to permit the Healy Clean Coal plant represents a sign regulators will ultimately approve a restart. Tuesday’s announced delay will essentially restart the Environmental Protection Agency’s project review later this fall. A previous review by the state Department of Environmental Conservation cleared Golden Valley’s plan for the idle plan. Brian Newton, Golden Valley’s president, said the issue is complex and it’s understandable if federal agencies want more time. “We were satisfied with ADEC’s (review),” Newton said in a release Tuesday. “The draft was thorough, and it presented a balanced approach that met everyone’s needs.” The state’s decision Tuesday to pull its recommendations for the plant came at the end of a 45-day review by the EPA. After that review, federal regulators would have decided whether a more rigorous review would have been required, given the plant’s decade-long hibernation. Opponents of Golden Valley’s restart effort would also have had the chance to file petitions.
Nelson, Farm Bureau say EPA actions endanger state’s ag industry. – The Grand Island Independent, September 25, 2010
Both U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Nebraska Farm Bureau have recently expressed concern over a series of actions and proposals by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concerning agriculture. Nelson recently brought up his concerns at a Senate hearing with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Nebraska Farm Bureau is asking the state’s congressional delegation to work with their colleagues to halt EPA’s “non-stop regulatory assault on the state’s farmers and ranchers and their counterparts nationwide.” In addressing Jackson, Nelson said he agreed with a number of Nebraska producers who have told him that agriculture’s perspective is not being considered in EPA’s decision making, especially “EPA overreaching with proposed regulations for carbon emissions, atrazine, dust standards, applying clean water rules on pesticide use and greenhouse gas reporting for livestock operations.” “Many in the agricultural community are rightly concerned about EPA’s actions because the agency’s rules typically are implemented in a top-down fashion with too little consideration for their impact,” Nelson said. “These rules often are costly and time-consuming for Nebraska farmers and ranchers. In contrast, the U.S. Department of Agriculture works more cooperatively when it implements new rules.”
EPA grants water discharge permit for Ariz. mine. – Associated Press, September 17, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it has reissued a water discharge permit for a coal mining operation in northern Arizona. The EPA had withdrawn the permit late last year after an appeal by environmentalists, who contended the discharge of heavy metals and pollutants threatens water resources for nearby tribal communities. The EPA held additional public hearings on the Navajo and Hopi reservations. The EPA says the permit for Peabody Energy’s Black Mesa mine complex was signed Thursday and allows for the continued discharge of treated storm water generated from the mining area. The mining complex sits on nearly 65,000 acres that Peabody leases from the Navajo and Hopi tribes and has been in operation since the 1970s.
EPA approves new standards for N.D.’s Sheyenne River. – Associated Press, September 17, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved changes to North Dakota’s water quality standards for the upper Sheyenne River. Dave Glatt of the state Department of Health says the changes were part of a normal review of the standards and included a new sulfate limit for river. From the river’s headwaters to just downstream of Baldhill Dam, the sulfate standard will now be 750 milligrams per liter, up from 450 milligrams. A release from North Dakota’s congressional delegation says the changes on the Sheyenne will increase operation of the west end outlet at Devils Lake and help efforts to reduce the water level.
New water well hooked up in Bally; Residents no longer need bottled water. – EPA Press Release, September 23, 2010
The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that a new drinking water well has been hooked up to the Bally Borough public water system, and that residents no longer have to rely on bottled drinking water. A contractor has been supplying about 1,000 residents with bottled water since 2003 because the Bally water system was contaminated with an industrial solvent, 1,4-dioxane, that EPA believes came from the Bally Groundwater Superfund Site. EPA considers 1,4-dioxane to be a probable human carcinogen. The groundwater contamination is attributed to past operations at the former Bally Engineered Structures (BES) manufacturing plant that operated in Bally from the 1930s to 1995. To alleviate the contamination problem, officials completely disconnected the contaminated well from the water system, and hooked up a new well located in an uncontaminated area about one mile away. The new well is now connected, and officials flushed the entire water system to remove any contaminated water that may have been left from the old well.
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EPA says Bally residents can drink their water. – Eileen Faust, The Mercury, September 23, 2010
In a letter sent out Tuesday, the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced that a fourth municipal well was issued a permit for use on Aug. 19 and it was brought online on Aug. 21. The borough’s entire water system was tested on Sept. 3 and found that it no longer contains the contaminant that shut down the borough’s water supply in 1982. “The new well is in an uncontaminated location, and will continue to be monitored moving forward,” the EPA said. “Bottled drinking water is no longer needed and the tap water can be used as drinking water at this time.” Sunbeam Products Inc., which is called the potentially responsible party by the EPA, has been trucking in bottled water and water dispenser to residents of the borough. This action will cease next Tuesday, according to the EPA. It will pick up the bottled water dispensers in the near future.
Watershed groups discuss water quality concerns. – Ben Adduchio, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, September 23, 2010
Representatives of watershed groups in northern West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania met Wednesday to discuss concerns about water quality. The meeting was the second in a little more than a month for the watershed groups. Representatives of the Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency also attended. The focus was on the process of natural gas drilling, and what concerns watershed groups are hearing from the areas they represent. Barry Pallay is the Vice President of the Upper Monongahela River Association, which organized the two meetings. He says concerns include water withdrawals. “We have experienced drought conditions, in fact what we’re hearing is withdrawals continue in a lot of streams,” he said.
Port, Federal Agencies Celebrate Start of Major South San Diego Bay Restoration Project. – Marguerite Elicone, Unified Port of San Diego, September 23, 2010
The Port of San Diego has officially started its largest environmental project that, when completed, will result in improved fish and wildlife habitat in more than 280 acres in South San Diego Bay. Representatives from the Port and its partner agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the California Coastal Conservancy, formally launched the restoration at a ceremony held Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010, at the Chula Vista Wildlife Reserve on the San Diego Bay waterfront.
EPA Issues Draft Chesapeake Bay ‘Pollution Diet — Draft TMDL Contains Strong Federal Measures to Fill in Gaps in State Pollution Reduction Plans. – EPA Press Release, September 24, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released a draft Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), a mandatory “pollution diet” designed to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its vast network of streams, creeks and rivers. The Bay is a complex ecosystem and an economic engine for the region, supporting a variety of industries from fishing to tourism. The draft TMDL — which EPA is legally required to produce – sets limits on the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution discharged into the Bay and each of its tributaries by different types of pollution sources. It is designed to meet water quality standards that reflect a scientific assessment of the pollution reductions necessary to restore the health of the Bay ecosystem. The draft TMDL calls for 25 percent reductions in nitrogen and phosphorus and at least a 16 percent reduction in sediment to achieve a healthy Bay and local rivers. These reductions, which the science indicates are necessary to achieve a healthy watershed, would be achieved by a combination of federal and state actions.
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EPA puts bay states on notice. – David A. Fahrenthold, The Washington Post, September 25, 2010
Federal officials began a sweeping crackdown on pollution in the Chesapeake Bay on Friday – threatening to punish five mid-Atlantic states with rules that could raise sewer bills and put new conditions on construction. The move by the Environmental Protection Agency is part of the biggest shakeup in the 27-year history of the Chesapeake cleanup. Earlier, when states failed to meet deadlines to cut pollution by 2000 and 2010, nothing happened. Now, the deadline has been moved to 2025 – but the EPA is already threatening states that lag behind. On Friday, the agency went after Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware and New York, which together account for more than 70 percent of the pollution that causes “dead zones” in the bay. The agency told the states their plans contained “serious deficiencies” and said it could force them to make up the difference with expensive new measures.
EPA still reviewing W.Va. mountaintop mine permit. – Associated Press, Septemeber 24, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency says a decision on the fate of West Virginia’s largest mountaintop removal mine won’t be coming for a while. The EPA’s Region 3 administrator was to send a recommendation about Arch Coal Inc.’s Spruce No. 1 mine to headquarters in Washington, D.C., Friday, but an agency spokeswoman won’t say what it is. She says it’s part of the internal review process. The next stop is the Office of Water. A final ruling will come sometime this fall. EPA received more than 50,000 comments on its plan to veto a Clean Water Act permit that’s crucial to the Logan County project. EPA contends the nearly 2,300-acre mine would cause irreversible damage to the environment. The mine was permitted in 2007 but has been delayed by lawsuits.
South’s institutional investors silent on coal ash risks. – Sue Sturgis, Facing South, September 17, 2010
As the Environmental Protection Agency considers how best to regulate the disposal of toxic coal ash, a group of institutional investors representing over $240 billion in assets has sent a letter urging the agency to adopt strict rules to protect not only the environment and public health but also shareholders. However, investors in the South — a region that’s both heavily dependent on coal power and disproportionately impacted by poorly regulated coal ash disposal — have proven reluctant to speak out. “Unfortunately, none of the investors that signed onto the letter are from the South,” reports Emily Stone, a shareholder advocate with Green Century Capital Management, an investment advisory firm that organized the letter along with As You Sow, a group that promotes socially responsible investing. “Most are from the Midwest, Northeast and West Coast.”
City to seek grant for redevelopment of Whirlpool site. – Rick Norton, Cleveland Daily Banner, September 18, 2010
A federal program operated by the Environmental Protection Agency, known as “Brownfields and Land Revitalization,” could become an integral first step in what is considered by some to be one of the largest redevelopment strategies in Cleveland history. For the past couple of weeks the community buzz has been deafening over the announcement by Whirlpool Corporation that it will construct a new $120 million manufacturing plant just a short seven miles from the existing factory — parts of which have stood for almost a century, and one building’s history is even longer. The new 1.4 million-square-foot facility, to be energy-efficient and LEEDS-certified, will include the plant and an accompanying distribution center. It will be located on a 120-acre site near the corner of Benton Pike and Michigan Avenue Road.
EPA, D.C., Maryland Set Trash Limits for Anacostia Watershed. – EPA Press Release, September 20, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the District of Columbia, and the state of Maryland today announced a new Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) or “pollution diet” for trash in the Anacostia River, making the Anacostia the first interstate river in the nation with such a Clean Water Act trash limit. “Trash not only creates a nuisance and an eyesore, but also interferes with the people’s uses and enjoyment of their local river,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “This pollution diet is another critical milestone in the restoration of the Anacostia River and will aid in making the Anacostia a cleaner, safer watershed for all to enjoy. “ The federal Clean Water Act directs states to develop “pollution diets” for impaired water bodies, such as the Anacostia River. A TMDL establishes the amount of a pollutant – in this case trash – that a water body can receive without exceeding water quality standards. TMDLs provide the scientific basis for establishing water quality-based controls, reducing pollution from both point and nonpoint sources and restoring water quality.
End of EPA program stings Monadnock Paper. – Kathleen Callahan, New Hampshire Business Review, September 22, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent announcement that it is shutting down its Climate Leaders Program is bad news for one New Hampshire company, Monadnock Paper Mills Inc. in Bennington. Monadnock was the only New Hampshire company taking part in the program, which has helped organizations nationwide reduce their greenhouse gas emissions since 2002. Monadnock – the oldest continually operating paper mill in the country – submitted its greenhouse gas inventory to the EPA just two weeks before receiving the news on Sept. 16 that the program was ending. “EPA has determined that climate programs operated by the states and NGOs are now robust enough to service our Partners and other entities that wish to continue to advance their climate leadership,” read the e-mail sent from EPA announcing the shutdown. “It’s just another one of those cases that is extremely disheartening,” said Michelle Hamm, manager of environmental services at Monadnock, which generates up to half of its energy from its hydroelectric facility on the Contoocook River.
Vilsack says US EPA may decide by mid-October on E15 waiver: report. – Beth Evans, Platt’s Energy, September 17, 2010
The US Environmental Protection Agency is expected to decide by mid-October on whether to allow higher ethanol-gasoline blends in conventional cars, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday. “I fully expect the Environmental Protection Agency sometime, probably in early to mid-October, to make a decision about the direction of E15,” Vilsack told reporters in Washington, according to Reuters. “I expect that they will see that E15 is appropriate fuel for some vehicles. I don’t know if they will necessarily say it is appropriate for all vehicles, but for some vehicles, which will help us expand the market,” Vilsack said. The Department of Agriculture, which Vilsack heads, had no further comment.
Blending less than 80 percent bio fuel makes petroleum dirtier. – Jon Anderson, Examiner, September 19, 2010
WillieDiesel, the Willie Nelson bio-diesel, is a scam as is all bio-fuel not meeting scientific purity standards when mixed with any petroleum product. Any thing less than what the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy call “Neat” bio-fuel which is 80% or more of Ethanol or Soy (Methanol is a carcinogen that poisons public and private groundwater drinking supplies and banned in the late 1990’s) makes the petroleum dirtier. Ethanol raises the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP), the volatility and evaporation rate of gasoline in a fuel tank, by a whopping 1.0 gram per mile according to the EPA emissions Modeling and Assessment Division (MAD) in the Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ). This has been known in air quality regulation circles for several decades and is scientific fact. Governor Mel Carnehan (deceased) Governor D-MO in 1993 could not believe it when I told him Missouri’s 10% ethanol gasoline blend caused most of the Missouri’s air pollution problems. But the politics of Midwestern Corn Growers is immense.
Administration vows to advance ‘environmental justice’. – Melanie Eversley, USA Today, September 22, 2010
The Obama administration has revived the intent of a Clinton-era executive order that directed federal agencies to make “environmental justice” part of their missions. Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House council on Environmental Quality, led a meeting Wednesday morning with four Cabinet secretaries and representatives from other federal agencies during which the group outlined a plan for hearing from the public. Attorney General Eric Holder, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar were there, along with representatives from other departments. “A good portion of the meeting was really just reporting out on all the environmental justice initiatives and results,” Jackson said in a telephone interview. “Now, it’s time to take it to the next level,” she said, adding the group also will focus on green jobs and technology, and providing green space in poor areas.
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EPA Kicks Up the Environmental Justice Fight. – Cynthia Gordy, Essence, September 23, 2010
In January of 2009, on her first day on duty, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson (second from left) granted her first interview to ESSENCE. During our conversation in her then bare-bones office, Jackson, the first African-American to lead the agency, listed a few of her goals: Set regulations based on science, and protecting people instead of corporations; Reach out to everyday people, to help them see how the EPA touches their lives; Elevate the issue of environmental justice within the agency. Jackson has since accomplished all of these, most notably shining a light on environmental challenges facing poor communities of color. She’s filled her staff with diverse officials who represent the Black and Hispanic communities hardest hit by pollution, including the agency’s first Senior Advisor for Environmental Justice. She has partnered with the Congressional Black Caucus to launch an environmental justice tour, meeting with impoverished communities in Mississippi, South Carolina and Georgia, to address toxic waste disposal, air pollution and poor water quality. She’s also awarded grants to environmental justice groups around the country.
Report: Chemicals found in NE Pennsylvania water wells. – Sarah Hoye, CNN, September 17, 2010
Water testing by a private environmental engineering firm has discovered toxic chemicals in wells in a township in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. Victoria Switzer, a resident of the northeastern Pennsylvania township of Dimock, revealed the results of the water tests from her well this week at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing on hydraulic fracturing in Binghamton, New York. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a controversial process used to extract natural gas from deep underground. Critics say chemicals used in the process can be injected into groundwater. How fracking works Farnham & Associates confirmed that ethylene glycol, propylene glycol and toluene were present in her water, Switzer said. “I’m fighting for my home,” Switzer said Thursday. “Hasn’t this proven that [fracking] hasn’t been done safely?”
State Narrows Down Possible Sites for Offshore Wind Farm. – Offshore Wind, September 26, 2010
State officials say they’ve narrowed the geographical area where a proposed 200-turbine wind farm could be built off the Maryland coastline and are moving quickly through the federal government’s lengthy permit process. State and federal planners have narrowed down viable areas where turbines could be built in the Atlantic Ocean. They also want to comply with Ocean City’s request that all turbines be located at least 10 miles off the resort’s coastline. There is no offshore wind active in North America, though several projects along the East Coast and Great Lakes are moving forward, including one east of Rehoboth Beach that would power 130,000 homes. “Offshore wind is not a demonstration project, it’s not a research project — it works,” said Dave Blazer, with developer Bluewater Wind. “Europe has been doing this since 1991. Our technology that Bluewater is copying to bring to the U.S. is what they’re doing. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel.” Bluewater’s proposal would build 200 turbines along the coast at a cost of $1.6 billion. Each 26-story-tall turbine would generate 3 megawatts of power. Nighttime lighting is mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration, though Blazer said not necessarily every turbine would be lit.
EPA Launches Green Power Community Challenge Nationwide/Local governments expand use of green power. – EPA Press Release, September 20, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is kicking off its national “Green Power Community Challenge,” a year-long campaign to encourage cities, towns, villages, and Native American tribes to use renewable energy and fight climate change. Purchases of green power help to prevent greenhouse gas emissions and also help accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity across the United States. To participate in the challenge, a local government must join EPA’s Green Power Partnership and use green power in amounts that meet the program’s purchase requirements. The local government must also conduct a campaign to encourage local businesses and residents to collectively buy or produce green power on-site in amounts that meet EPA requirements. More than 30 cities and towns in Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin have become green power communities, and are collectively buying more than 900 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) from the electricity use of nearly 80,000 average American homes.
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EPA’s Green Power Partnership: Helping Cities Fight Climate Change by Supporting Renewable Energy. – Alison Dennis, National League of Cities, September 27, 2010
For many municipalities, electricity usage is the primary source of their greenhouse gas emissions. To dramatically reduce these emissions and fight climate change, a growing number of cities are switching to green power. Since 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Power Partnership has been working with U.S. cities and towns to help them make this change. Partnering With EPA. The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program designed to promote and recognize the use of green power by leading U.S. organizations and communities. Green power is electricity generated from eligible renewable energy sources, such as solar photovoltaics, wind, biomass and low-impact hydropower. EPA works with organizations to help them procure green power by offering expert advice, technical support, tools and resources. Today, nearly 1,300 organizations are Green Power Partners, including more than 100 local government partners. These local government partners are collectively using 2.1 billion kilowatt-hours of green power — more than 10 percent of the partnership’s total.
OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS
Ohio Auto Recyclers Remove Mercury from Scrap Vehicles. – Ronnie Tanner, Geo Blog, September 18, 2010
Automobile recyclers all over the state of Ohio are taking part in a joint venture with the United States Environmental Protection Agency to recover up to 90 percent of the mercury switches contained in automobiles by the year 2017. This program is known as the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program, NVMSRP for short. On August 11, 2006 the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would launch the program that is designed to recover an estimated 40 million mercury containing light switches from scrap vehicles that are melted down to make new steel. The program is an effort to reduce the amount of mercury released from furnaces that routinely handle steel from salvage vehicles. At that time, these furnaces ranked fourth in leading the country in mercury emissions. Mercury emitted from the stacks of these furnaces quickly finds its way into groundwater, streams, lakes and air where it enters the food chain mainly through fish, which are then consumed by humans. Exposure to mercury can cause effects, which develop gradually. It may cause shaking of the hands, eyelids, lips, tongue, or jaw. It may cause headaches, trouble sleeping, personality change, memory loss, irritability, indecisiveness and loss of intelligence. It can also cause skin rash, sores in the mouth, or sore and swollen gums. Small children and pregnant women are a particular risk to the effects of mercury poisoning.
Keep Your Fingers Off Toxic Cash Register Receipts. – Lanning Taliaferro, Tarrytown-Sleepy Hollow NY Patch, September 18, 2010
New scientific studies have found the toxic component BPA on cash-register receipts—something consumers receive and workers handle many times a week. Now the Environmental Protection Agency has launched an initiative to find safer alternatives to endocrine-disrupting bisphenol-A in the thermal paper used in registers. The EPA plans to involve not only manufacturers and distributors of cash-register receipt paper, but also retailers, academics and non-profit organizations in its assessment of the danger and search for alternatives. Representatives from Staples, Target and Whole Foods are among the retailers already signed up. A spokesman for Mrs. Green’s Natural Markets, which is headquartered in Scarsdale, said the company is also planning to look into the issue. The stores, including locations in Larchmont, Katonah, Mount Kisco, Eastchester, Suffern and Yorktown, have not received any questions from worried customers, he said.