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.
North Carolina Producer and Wisconsin Distributor to Pay Civil Penalties for Selling Misbranded Lawn Herbicide-Fertilizer. – EPA Press Release, October 4, 2010
A North Carolina manufacturer and registrant for the herbicide Barricade (prodiamine), and a Wisconsin company that served as an authorized distributor of a fertilizer product containing the herbicide, have agreed to pay civil monetary penalties to the United States to settle allegations that they sold a misbranded pesticide and altered labels on the pesticide product. Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc., of Greensboro, N.C., will pay a civil penalty of $9,152, and Eau Claire Co-op Oil Company, Inc., of Eau Claire, Wis., will pay a civil penalty of $6,864, according to separate but related administrative consent agreements filed by EPA in Kansas City, Kan. Syngenta is the official EPA registrant for Prodiamine Pro F 0.38% Herbicide. Eau Claire Co-op Oil is an authorized supplemental distributor of the herbicide in a herbicide-fertilizer product marketed as Award Turf Fertilizer with 0.38% Barricade.
Settlements at South Dakota ethanol facilities ensure air pollutant reductions, yield $225K in penalties. – EPA Press Release, October 1, 2010
In consent decrees lodged yesterday in the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached agreements with the operators of three South Dakota ethanol production facilities resolving Clean Air Act violations associated with emissions and testing requirements for volatile organic compounds (VOCs). “EPA expects ethanol production facilities to employ appropriate controls and testing procedures to manage air emissions,” said Jim Martin, EPA’s regional administrator in Denver. “The volatile organic compounds created in the ethanol refining process can contribute to ground-level ozone and create local and regional health concerns.” As a result of EPA’s investigation, the facilities have enhanced existing controls through repair and renovation of thermal oxidizers and improving scrubber operations. They have also agreed to conduct specific performance testing when demonstrating compliance with VOC limits.
Firing range cleanup agreement means Kincaid Park soccer field construction can move forward. – EPA Press Release, October 7, 2010
The Municipality of Anchorage, Kincaid Project Group, Land Design North and Roger Hickel Contracting, Inc., have agreed to complete the clean up of lead-contaminated soil at Kincaid Park in Anchorage, Alaska under a settlement announced today by the Environmental Protection Agency. According to Edward Kowalski, EPA’s Director of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle, today’s cleanup agreement will allow the construction of a new and safer soccer field at the site of a former firing range in the park. “This settlement is great news for Anchorage-area youth, for the environment, and for the community as a whole,” Kowalski said. “It means the cleanup will get done and ultimately children and their families will have a safe place to play without risk of exposure to lead-contaminated soil.” Today’s consent agreement requires the parties to submit a cleanup plan to EPA within 90 days. Once the plan is approved, it will be implemented as soon as practicable.
Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad pays $272,900 for diesel spill in Cow Creek derailment. – EPA Press Release, October 8, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Oregon and the U.S. Department of Justice have settled alleged violations of the Clean Water Act by Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad with a civil penalty of $272,900. The violations are associated with a train derailment that resulted in a 4,200 gallon diesel fuel spill to Cow Creek and its adjoining shoreline. The fuel spill occurred in October 2004 when two diesel locomotives derailed adjacent to Cow Creek near Riddle, Oregon. Cow Creek is a tributary to the South Fork of the Umpqua River, which provides habitat for salmon.“This spill threatened wildlife habitat and a city’s water supply,” said Edward Kowalski, Director of EPA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle. “Regardless of the cause, when oil is discharged to U.S. rivers, lakes or streams, EPA will seek a penalty.”
North America’s Largest Lead Producer to Spend $65 Million to Correct Environmental Violations at Missouri Facilities. – EPA Press Release, October 8, 2010
Doe Run Resources Corp. of St. Louis, North America’s largest lead producer, has agreed to spend approximately $65 million to correct violations of several environmental laws at 10 of its lead mining, milling and smelting facilities in southeast Missouri, the Justice Department, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced today. The settlement also requires the company to pay a $7 million civil penalty. As part of the settlement, Doe Run will pay a civil penalty of $7 million for violating a series of environmental laws, including the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Emergency Planning and Right-to-Know Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (known as Superfund), and the Missouri Air Conservation Law, Clean Water Law and Hazardous Waste Management Law. The penalty will be paid by Doe Run in a $3.5 million payment to the United States and a $1.5 million payment to the state of Missouri, with an additional $1 million plus interest to be paid to the state each year for the next two years.
The Doe Run Company Reaches Landmark Environmental Agreement. – Kansas City Star, October 8, 2010
The Doe Run Company has agreed to spend up to $7.5 million on several environmental improvement projects. In addition, the agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlines several major programs that will take place over the next three to five years, improving sites the company owns or operates, including its smelters, mines and mills in Missouri.“We all share common goals for vibrant communities, high-paying local jobs and improved environmental performance,” said Bruce Neil, president and chief executive officer of The Doe Run Company. “The agreement enables the company to address historical and more recent environmental issues, while still providing jobs for our employees, strategic metal to our customers and the $1 billion economic benefit we provide to the region.” As a part of the agreement, Doe Run will also pay a $3.5 million penalty to the U.S. Government and $3.5 million to the State of Missouri school funds for Iron County (50 percent), Reynolds County (30 percent), Jefferson County (15 percent) and Washington County (5 percent).The company will also discontinue operating its Herculaneum smelter by the end of 2013, rather than in 2016 as required by state regulation for sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions. Work at that site will continue as part of a cleanup and repurposing of the facility.
Elam Construction, 4B Land and Livestock ordered to mitigate damage to Yampa River (Colo.) wetlands. – EPA Press Release, October 5, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a compliance order to Elam Construction and 4B Land & Livestock, LLC (owned by Scott and Sheila Brennise) for impacts to wetlands at a gravel mining site adjacent to the Yampa River near Craig, Colo. Elam Construction’s and 4B Land and Livestock’s actions were conducted without a required Clean Water Act permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). “EPA is requiring Elam Construction and 4B Land and Livestock to complete projects to compensate for unauthorized mining activities that affected wetlands along the Yampa River,” 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.”
Tanner Industries, an East Providence, R.I., company that distributes ammonia, faces a $149,080 penalty for violating federal regulations meant to prevent chemical accidents, according to a recent complaint by EPA. Tanner operates ammonia distribution facilities across the country, including one in East Providence, and is subject to the Clean Air Act’s risk management planning requirements because ammonia is an extremely hazardous substance. Although Tanner has a risk management plan, EPA’s New England office is proposing to fine Tanner for a deficiency in its plan concerning the failure to anticipate the problems that could arise if an ammonia release occurred at the East Providence facility during periods when the facility is unstaffed. In a separate administrative order issued in June 2009, EPA New England ordered Tanner to correct these deficiencies, and Tanner is cooperating, according to EPA.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today fined US Ecology $497,982 for 18 counts of hazardous waste violations. US Ecology operates a commercial hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility in Nye County, Nev., on the outskirts of Beatty. EPA inspectors found numerous violations at a hazardous waste unit designed to thermally treat contaminated materials, like soils, to remove the hazardous components. On two occasions, US Ecology reports showed that the unit was “smoking,” releasing hazardous components to the air. The treatment unit has been permanently shut down by US Ecology. “We impose strict environmental controls to make sure hazardous waste is actually treated and not simply released into the air,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our goal is to safeguard worker health and nearby communities, so it’s imperative for facilities like US Ecology to properly manage their waste.”
Other Articles on the Same Topic:
US Ecology fined $500,000 for violations in Nevada. – The Associated Press, October 5, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined a hazardous waste treatment and disposal company nearly $500,000 for violations at a facility in the Nye County community of Beatty. The federal agency announced Tuesday that it fined publicly traded US Ecology Inc. for 18 violations. The EPA says a unit designed to thermally treat contaminated materials was found to be smoking and releasing hazardous materials into the air. The agency says US Ecology has shut down the unit. US Ecology is based in Boise, Idaho. It also runs facilities in Richland, Wash., Robstown, Texas, and Grand View, Idaho.
U.S. EPA orders GWA to repair broken sewer main to Northern District Wastewater Plant. – EPA Press Release, October 4, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yesterday issued a compliance order to the Guam Waterworks Authority to take immediate steps to repair a broken sewer force main located near the Southern Link Sewage Lift Station in Dededo, Guam. GWA has two weeks to repair or replace the broken 36-inch diameter force main and eliminate any wastewater spills resulting from the break. The utility needs to ensure all wastewater from the force main is contained and properly treated, and monitor a nearby drinking water well for impacts of spilled sewage. “This is a major break, with the potential for a large volume of raw sewage to leach into the ground or flood the road,” said Alexis Strauss, water director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “GWA’s delay in reporting the break and its lack of timely response has exposed the public to untreated sewage. They need to move as fast as possible to fix this public health hazard.”
EPA has ordered the restoration of more than 17 acres of freshwater wetlands in Whately, Mass. The forested and scrub wetlands were altered in the course of preparing land for new farm fields. The farmer, James Pasiecnik, owns J. M. Pasiecnik Farms on about 157 acres of land in Whately. Beginning in 1984 and continuing through 2005, Mr. Pasiecnik and workers operating under his direction grubbed, graded, filled, and altered approximately 17.3 acres of wetlands next to farm fields at several locations on his farm. Mr. Pasiecnik failed to obtain a federal permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) authorizing the discharges of dredged and fill material into the wetlands. Under the CWA, persons wishing to discharge dredged and/or fill material into wetlands must obtain federal permits from the Army Corps of Engineers in most cases, including when expanding farm fields.
LAWSUITS AND ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS FILED
Leominster Mass. Plastics Manufacturer Ordered to Comply with Hazardous Waste Laws. – EPA Press Release, October 5, 2010
EPA recently issued a Complaint and Compliance Order against Hudson Color Concentrates, a division of L&A Molding, Inc., for violating state and federal hazardous waste management requirements. Hudson Color, of Leominster, Mass., produces custom color plastic pellet concentrates for the plastics industry by blending, mixing, melting, extruding, quenching, drying and chipping processed mixtures of color pigments. EPA’s complaint alleges that that Hudson Color violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by failing to conduct an adequate hazardous waste determination of waste pigment powders containing high concentrations of lead found in the Facility’s raw material storage areas, pigment room and blending area. In addition, the EPA inspectors found that the company did not handle universal waste in accordance with state and federal regulations by not properly managing mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs in a way that would prevent bulbs from breaking, potentially releasing of mercury into the environment.
It’s been the subject of plenty of protests and hearings, and now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the coal-fired power plant in Boardman is violating the Clean Air Act. The agency notified plant owner Portland General Electric (PGE) by letter. It came as a surprise, even to groups that have long contended the plant is causing hazardous haze and acid rain in the Columbia Gorge. Cesia Kearns, regional representative for the Sierra Club in Portland, says PGE might now have to rethink its plan to keep the plant running until 2020. “This move by the EPA is demonstrating that PGE’s proposal to continue operating at these unacceptable levels is just simply irresponsible. It’s time for PGE to stand up and make up for the mistakes of the past, and transition this plant as soon as possible.”
EPA Claims PGE’s Boardman Plant Violates Clean Air Act. – Geoff Norcross, OPB News, October 7, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency says Portland General Electric has been operating its Boardman coal-fired power plant in violation of the Clean Air Act since 1998. The company got a notice last week threatening penalties of up to $37,500 for every day the plant has been operating without adequate pollution controls. Here to talk about this is Cassandra Profita, OPB’s environmental news blogger. What exactly does the EPA say PGE is doing wrong at Boardman? Cassandra Profita: “The EPA says PGE made two boiler upgrades at Boardman since 1998 that increased the rate of sulfur dioxide emissions coming from the plant and triggered requirements for new air pollution controls. Sulfur dioxide contributes to acid rain, and it’s linked to respiratory diseases like asthma. To reduce sulfur dioxide pollution over time, the Clean Air Act requires coal-fired power plants to install some pretty pricy new emission controls when they make certain kinds of upgrades. The EPA says PGE broke the law by not installing new controls when it upgraded its Boardman facility in 1998 and 2004, and that the plant has been operating in violation of the law ever since.”
Coal Plant Pollution Controls Increased Emissions EPA Complaint Alleges. – Environmental Leader, October 8, 2010
The U.S Environmental Protection Agency has notified Portland General Electric that its Boardman coal-fired plant has been out of compliance with federal pollution rules since 1997 — but Oregon state officials disagree, KGW-TV reports. “It did pretty come out of the blue we hadn’t any notification it was coming,” PGE Spokesperson Steve Corson said. “We don’t believe there were violations. This is not something we somehow did in secret… we worked with our regulators… they knew what we were doing.”
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality agreed. “We haven’t taken any enforcement on the company… we haven’t issued a notice and we didn’t see any violation of a requirement,” DEQ spokesman Andrew Ginsburg told KGW-TV. The eight-page order from the EPA contends that attempts to curtail pollution at the plant in Eastern Oregon actually increased pollution. PGE has denied the company is out of compliance with EPA rules. It continues a permitting and review process that keeps the plant running through 2020.
Saco, Maine Metal Finisher Faces EPA Fine for Hazardous Waste Violations. – EPA Press Release, October 7, 2010
EPA has proposed a penalty of $54,397 against a metal finishing and electroplating facility in Saco, Maine, for five counts of violating state and federal hazardous waste laws. According to EPA, Southern Maine Specialties violated state hazardous waste laws as well as the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by improper storage, labeling and other management of hazardous waste, as well as by not providing adequate employee training. The EPA complaint outlines that Southern Maine stored containers of hazardous waste next to incompatible material; failed to provide required hazardous waste management training for employees; exceeded the limit of 55 gallons of one type hazardous waste in one place by storing two 55-gallon containers of sodium hydroxide sludge together; and failed to comply with tank management standards by having a tank of hazardous waste that was not designed to hold hazardous waste, was not labeled with the words “hazardous waste,” and was not being managed according the required tank operating standards. The complaint filed last month grew out of a January inspection of the facility by EPA.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has blocked 11 state-issued permits related to water discharge at coal mines over concerns they don’t protect waterways from pollution, a Kentucky newspaper reported. The EPA sent objection letters to Kentucky officials citing the state’s own assessment of poor water quality in the region where the permits are being sought. The EPA said state regulators failed to conduct analyses to determine whether the discharge proposals would violate the state’s water quality standards, The Courier-Journal reported Wednesday. Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bruce Scott said the EPA’s action could lead to the federal government taking control of permit approval and enforcement actions in the state. Scott said the state would likely ask for a public hearing on the matter before submitting revised permits to the EPA.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has asked the attorney general to investigate a Venice factory that suffered a series of explosions Monday. The Magnesium Elektron plant was rocked with a series of explosions and fire late Monday night, originating with one of the coil reheating furnaces. According to the IEPA, the fire was apparently caused by a water line rupturing over the furnace, which allowed water to contact molten magnesium. The explosions released a large plume of magnesium oxide particulates, according to the IEPA. In a statement Thursday, the agency said it has asked the Illinois Attorney General’s office to proceed with an enforcement action, alleging that Magnesium Elektron endangered human health and the environment. Exposure to magnesium and magnesium oxide can cause short-term eye irritation or burning in the lungs, but does not accumulate in the body. A nearby elementary school was closed Tuesday due to the conditions around the plant, which is located partly in Venice but has a Madison mailing address.
Governor Joe Manchin announced today that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is filing a lawsuit against the United States Environmental Protection Agency over the process the federal agency has used to block mining permits in West Virginia and the Appalachian region. In this morning’s announcement, the Governor said, “Through a series of questionable and unlawful actions, the U.S. EPA has implemented policies and procedures that have delayed the permitting process and halted the issuance of new mine permits. He said the federal agency has usurped the authority of the State and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to oversee and regulate important aspects of the state’s environment. “Despite our efforts, the EPA has continued to overreach. They have proven that they are trying to regulate what they can’t legislate,” Manchin said. The lawsuit states that the U.S. EPA has violated regulations of the Administrative Procedures Act, the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act regarding the creation of policy by making decisions based on its Enhanced Coordination Process instituted in June 2009, and its April 1, 2010 guidance on mining activity in the Appalachian region. The suit contends that using these documents to regulate coal mining is outside of the law because these documents were developed without the procedural safeguards that are required for rulemaking in accordance with federal law.
W.Va. to Sue Feds Over Holding up Mine Permits. – Walt Williams, WVNS 50, October 5, 2010
Gov. Joe Manchin announced Oct. 6 the state is suing the federal government for allegedly holding up the permitting process for mountaintop mining operations across the state. At press conference attended by coal industry representatives, Manchin said the lawsuit was an option the state didn’t want to pursue but was left no choice by uncooperative federal regulators. The U.S. Senate candidate also used the occasion to distance himself from President Barack Obama, whose unpopularity in the Mountain State may be hurting Manchin among voters. Manchin said his office has fought the Obama administration’s “attempts to destroy the coal industry.” He also said the timing of the lawsuit was not a political maneuver timed to boost his popularity as Election Day nears. “I’m a governor first,” he said. “That’s my first and foremost job: being governor. We’ve been working diligently on this for some time.” At issue are 79 surface mine permits the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held back in 2009 due to concerns about the environmental impacts of the operations. Twenty-three permits were in West Virginia. Two of them have since been issued while the others have been withdrawn or are still pending.
West Virginia Sues U.S. EPA Over Mountaintop Mining Permits. – Environmental News Service, October 8, 2010
The state of West Virginia has field a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for blocking the permitting of surface coal mining permits. The civil lawsuit “seeks relief from a series of actions taken by EPA and the Corps that unlawfully seek out and target surface coal mining in West Virginia and five other Appalachian states” – Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia. West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, a Democrat, announced the lawsuit at a news conference Wednesday attended by representatives from the West Virginia Coal Association, the United Mine Workers of America and families from the mining community. “I’ve asked our stakeholders to come together today because over the past year and a half, we have been fighting President Obama’s Administration’s attempts to destroy our coal industry and way of life in West Virginia,” the governor said.
EPA proposes pollution controls for nation’s largest source of NOx: Four Corners Power Plant. – EPA News Release, October 6, 2010
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed requiring additional pollution controls for the Four Corners Power Plant located on the Navajo Nation near Farmington, New Mexico to improve visibility and human health. EPA’s proposal will require plant operators to install the most stringent pollution control technology available for this type of facility. These controls will reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from approximately 45,000 tons per year to 9,000 tons per year. Every year over 280 million people visit our nation’s most treasured parks and wilderness areas. Yet, many visitors aren’t able to see the spectacular vistas because of the veil of white or brown haze that hangs in the air, reducing visibility and dulling the natural beauty. There are 16 national parks and wilderness areas in the vicinity of the Four Corners Power Plant, including the Mesa Verde and the Petrified Forest. These controls are estimated to reduce the visibility impact by an average of 57% at these areas.
Local advocates hail EPA proposal. – Dale Rodebaugh, The Durango Herald, October 7, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal to require that the Four Corners Generating Station reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 percent is tremendous news, the director of the San Juan Citizens Alliance said Thursday. “It represents a significant step toward improving air quality in the Four Corners,” Megan Graham said. Two plants west of Farmington, Four Corners and the San Juan Generating Station, “have significant impact,” she said. Graham said it shows that citizen groups and advocates are being listened to at all levels of the administration. Mesa Verde National Park near Cortez and the Weminuche Wilderness north of Durango are expected to see a noticeable improvement in visibility as a result. The EPA’s proposal would force the plant to install the latest pollution-control technology on five generating units at the 45-year-old Four Corners plant, said Mike Eisenfeld, the San Juan Citizens Alliance representative in New Mexico.
EPA Urged to Test All Schools for Carcinogens. – Diane Hubert, Epoch Times, October 7, 2010
The safety of public school buildings was under scrutiny this Thursday as many elected officials and over 100 supporters came out to demand the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) test all New York public schools for high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s), a carcinogenic chemical once used in construction. “We don’t want to be alarmist or scare people but we need to know the facts,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. Two letters signed by all 13 members of New York City’s House Delegation were recently submitted urging the EPA to take action on investigating whether the more than 700 schools in all five boroughs contain harmful levels of PCBs.
EPA mandate could cost taxpayers billions. – Jon Campbell, October 2, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week unveiled a strict plan to control pollution in the Chesapeake, whose watershed stretches across six states — including New York and Pennsylvania — and the District of Columbia. The plan calls for steep reductions in nitrogen and phosphorus discharge in New York’s portion of the watershed, which includes all of Broome and Tioga and most of Chemung and Steuben counties. There are problems, critics say: The limits could be impossible to reach and would require billions of dollars in equipment and infrastructure improvements in New York alone, which would almost entirely be passed on to the taxpayers. “We don’t feel the EPA’s limits are achievable by any means,” said Chip McElwee, executive director of the Broome County Soil & Water Conservation District. “You could take the sewage treatment plants off line, we could go live in the woods, and then eliminate half of our farms; that’s how you would have to get there.” McElwee is not alone in his beliefs. A number of local and state sewage and farm representatives say the EPA’s plan has the potential to cause incredibly difficult economic conditions.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yesterday ordered the Guam Waterworks Authority to repair a broken sewer pipe that’s leaking untreated sewage in Dededo. The agency issued a press release yesterday stating it has issued a compliance order for GWA to take immediate steps to repair a broken force main near the southern link sewage lift station. GWA has two weeks to fix or replace the broken 36-inch-diameter force main and remove any wastewater spills resulting from the break, the release stated. Force mains are pressurized pipes that carry sewage from residential, commercial and industrial sources to wastewater treatment plants. They operate under pressure, and even a small break can result in a large spill and a lengthy repair job, according to the U.S. EPA. The release noted also that the order requires GWA to submit plans to U.S. EPA for repairing or replacing the force main. GWA needs to ensure all wastewater from the force main is contained and properly treated, and monitor a nearby drinking water well for impacts of spilled sewage, U.S. EPA stated.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing a Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Sustainability Policy with the goal of increasing the sustainability of water and wastewater infrastructure in the United States. Communities across the country are facing challenges in making costly upgrades and repairs to their aging water infrastructure, which include sewer systems and treatment facilities. Making this infrastructure last longer while increasing its cost-effectiveness is essential to protecting human health and the environment, and maintaining safe drinking water and clean water bodies. The new policy is part of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priority to protect America’s waters. “Through cost-effective, resource-efficient techniques – like green water infrastructure alternatives – this policy aims to make our communities more environmentally and economically sustainable,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “These smart investments in our water infrastructure, along with increased awareness of the importance of these investments, can keep our water cleaner and save Americans money.”
EPA Region 7 has issued its approval of Iowa’s Antidegradation Policy and Implementation Procedures, which are to be used by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to protect high quality Iowa waters. High quality waters are those with pollutant levels lower than what is required by state regulations. “Implementation of the rule will yield great water benefits to the residents of Iowa and people who visit the state,” said Karl Brooks, regional administrator. “The rule helps guarantee Iowa’s waters to be safe for aquatic life and recreational activities.” Iowa is obligated under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to develop and adopt a statewide antidegradation policy and to identify procedures for implementing the policy. Antidegradation refers to federal regulations designed to maintain and protect high quality waters and existing water quality in other waters from unnecessary pollution. It also provides avenues for the public to engage in determining acceptable levels of pollution.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is in hot water because of the way it’s been handling federal clean water regulations. After an investigation of more than two years, the U.S. EPA found Illinois to be “in serious noncompliance” with requirements of the Federal Clean Water Act. The Illinois EPA said it is still reviewing the federal report and is working with the federal EPA to improve the state’s programs. The investigation stems from the state EPA’s failure to enforce clean-water regulations against large-scale industrial livestock operations, said Danielle Diamond, a DeKalb attorney and co-founder of Illinois Citizens for Clean Air & Water, the environmental group that petitioned the EPA to take action. “Only 40 permits have been issued in Illinois since the 1970s despite the fact that there are 3,500 large-scale livestock operations in the state,” she said. Under the clean water act, the EPA is supposed to issue a permit before any large-scale operations can do business. The citizens group had urged the U.S. EPA to strip Illinois of its authority to issue pollution control permits since it had failed to regulate the discharge of waste at large-scale operations.
With one legal showdown delayed, another is brewing in the fight over slow-moving Everglades restoration and the future of a land deal with U.S. Sugar Corp. that would cost South Florida taxpayers $197 million. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Alan Gold delayed a Thursday hearing where he had called for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to answer for her agency’s enforcement of the Clean Water Act when it comes to polluted storm water discharges to the Everglades.
On Monday, the environmental group Friends of the Everglades, filed a measure calling for Gold to reject the EPA’s newly revamped plan to start enforcing water quality requirements. The group also called for the judge to bring the South Florida Water Management District into the legal fight. Friends of the Everglades called for the EPA to take action against the water management district “to stop poisoning the Everglades.” This additional legal wrangling over restoration comes as the water management district gets ready on Oct. 12 to close on a $197 million land deal to use U.S. Sugar farmland to store and treat more storm water bound for the Everglades. Lingering legal cases could still scrap the deal.
EPA Extends by One Year the Compliance Date on Spill Prevention Rule for Certain Facilities / Offshore drilling, production, workover, and certain onshore facilities are not eligible for extension. – EPA Press Release, October 7, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is extending 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 some 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. Types of facilities not eligible for the extension must comply by November 10, 2010: Drilling, production or workover facilities that are offshore or that have an offshore component, or onshore facilities required to have and submit facility response plans (FRPs), due to the threats these facilities could pose of significant oil spills to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines.
A tough new “pollution diet” for the Chesapeake Bay will hit Virginia farmers in the pocketbook. And a representative of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation said yesterday that the Environmental Protection Agency, which is preparing the rules, should not be telling Virginians how to achieve bay water-quality improvements. Speaking before the Potomac Watershed Roundtable meeting at Westmoreland State Park, Wilmer Stoneman said the plan will place unnecessary new regulations and costs on farmers already hit hard by the economic downturn. “We think the EPA is certainly asking the state to regulate agriculture, and I mean all of agriculture,” said Stoneman, who serves on the Farm Bureau’s government relations staff. He said the pollution diet, known as a total maximum daily load, or TMDL, was best described in a sign a Culpeper farmer recently carried at a meeting on the topic in Fredericksburg: “Taking Mom, Dad’s Land.”
EPA’s Bay Plan Hearings Heading To Md., Del. – Associated Press, October 8, 2010
Environmental Protection Agency public hearings on Chesapeake Bay restoration are coming to Maryland and Delaware. Virginia hearings drew hundreds and meetings are planned in Delaware and Maryland, starting Monday in Georgetown, Del. Other hearings are scheduled Tuesday in Easton, Wednesday in Annapolis and Thursday in Hagerstown. The Georgetown and Hagerstown hearings will also be viewable online. The restoration strategy has prompted Virginia officials to question its cost and at a Monday meeting in Harrisonburg, Va., hundreds of farmers and business owners also said they were worried about the cost. EPA officials say supporters have also attended the hearings, which give the public the opportunity to influence the final strategy.
Leak from proposed mega-dairy triggers EPA action Corn byproduct leaks into Apple River near Galena. – Robert McCoppin, Chicago Tribune, October 9, 2010
A leak from a proposed giant dairy in northwest Illinois has prompted environmental regulators to seek legal action against the operators, officials said Friday. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has asked the state attorney general’s office to take action against Traditions South Dairy for leaking a pollutant into the South Fork of the Apple River in Jo Daviess County near Nora, about 30 miles from Galena. The EPA said the site leaked a purplish-pinkish liquid called corn silage leachate. Silage is a common livestock feed made of chopped, stored and fermented corn plants. Leaks can kill fish, though that was not reported in this case. The EPA was notified of the leak Oct. 1, and took samples that day and on Monday, by which time the liquid was mostly clear, EPA spokeswoman Maggie Carson said.
Secondary treatment is of primary concern to the city these days. The level of treatment is mandated in the consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that Portsmouth is seeking to comply with. While many city residents struggle with the enormity of the bill they may have to foot for a new treatment plant — $100 million-plus in many estimates — comparatively few may understand what it is the city is being asked to do. EPA engineer David Pincumbe said many different technologies can be used to achieve secondary treatment, but it’s essentially the addition of a biological component into the treatment of the wastewater that flows from homes to the city’s treatment plants. It’s also required from all wastewater treatment plants without a waiver, and Portsmouth no longer has one. “Secondary treatment is the minimum technology requirement of the Clean Water Act,” he said. Pincumbe said secondary treatment also sets minimum levels for oxygen and suspended solids in the wastewater, both of which are not to exceed 30 milligrams per liter of water on average.
City eyesore full of cancer causing chemicals, community wants action. – Maggie Crane, KMOV St. Louis, October 4, 2010
The old Carter Carburetor building in north St. Louis is an eyesore that’s full of cancer-causing chemicals – and it may finally come down, thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency. The contaminated site sits right across the street from the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club. Clean up comes with a $26 million price tag. The site once employed hundreds of St. Louisans, but has sat vacant for the last 25 years. Neighbors want to erase the polluted blight of the abandoned property. “It’s a distraction and deterrent to any further development, and it’s the kind of place that attracts vagrants,” said Flint Fowler, president of the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club. Fowler says he has been fighting for clean up for a decade. Karl Brooks, regional administrator for the EPA says clean up is a complicated project. “There’s a lot of different forms of pollution that require some pretty technical approaches to it.”
EPA airs plan to clean up former St. Louis plant. – The Associated Press, October 5, 2010
The federal government says it has a $26 million plan to clean up a long-vacant and tainted St. Louis site where carburetors once were made. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the former Carter Carburetor property next to a youth center has unacceptable levels of dangerous chemicals and asbestos. The factory operated from the 1930s until it closed more than a quarter century ago. The cleanup, expected to start next year, would include removing contaminants and demolishing some buildings. The property owner, Tom Kerr, wants a say in how much of the building remains, insisting he’s hoping to sell the property to someone wanting to put in a food bank warehouse. The EPA will be accepting public comment on the matter until Oct. 27.
Additional Cleanup Decision Finalized at Camp Edwards. – EPA Press Release, October 5, 2010
EPA has signed a final decision document to address contamination near the “L Range” at the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR) on Cape Cod. The decision addresses both the groundwater contamination and its source. The majority of the L Range groundwater contamination is located on the eastern portion of the base, abutting the Town of Sandwich boundary, and sampling and monitoring efforts have shown that it does not threaten public or private drinking water supplies. Monitored natural attenuation, or natural reduction in the environment, with land-use controls will serve as the remedy for groundwater contaminated from former military training activities at the L Range. Land-use controls will ensure there is no future use of the contaminated water as long as groundwater contamination levels remain over the state action level.
Outside a community center on East University Avenue on Wednesday evening, a group of minstrels — with an acoustic guitar, an electric bass and a dulcimer — claimed in song that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is pushing “snake oil” in the form of its cleanup plan for a Superfund site four miles away. “Ask a tough question, and they’ll just shrug,” the lyrics went. “They’d rather sweep that problem under the rug.” At the EPA’s so-called “availability session” inside, Scott Miller, the agency’s official in charge of the cleanup of the Cabot-Koppers Superfund site, was taking criticism for his plan, which calls for leaving the contaminated soil on site and treating it with a relatively unproven chemical process.
Comment of the Federal Trade Commission regarding Confidientiality of Climate Change Reporting. – Federal trade Commission, September 30, 2010
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) appreciates the opportunity to submit this
comment to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its proposed rule concerning confidentiality determinations for greenhouse gas (GHG) data. On October 30, 2009, the EPA issued rules mandating that certain industries report data related to their GHG emissions. The EPA now proposes to group that data into 22 categories and designate the confidentiality status of each category through rulemaking. Three categories of data that the EPA proposes to make public contain potentially sensitive competitive business information: “inputs to emission equations,” “unit/process ‘static’ characteristics that are not inputs to emission equations,” and “unit/process operating characteristics that are not inputs to emission equations.” These three categories include data on production, throughput, raw material consumption, capacity, and future operations. Public disclosure of such facility- and firm-specific sensitive business information may make it easier for reporting companies to either tacitly or explicitly coordinate their pricing decisions. This is especially true when certain market conditions are present, such as transparency, high concentration, impediments to entry, homogeneous products, and low elasticity of demand.
The Environmental Protection Agency is finalizing climate-change regulations under the Clean Air Act that epitomize the ambivalence with which the Obama administration feels toward U.S. business.These rules will require power plants and major industries to control greenhouse-gas emissions, using EPA’s archaic and burdensome command-and-control approach to regulation and adding a new element of uncertainty to an already shaky economic recovery. But it’s not even clear why such controls are needed, given questions about the validity of the scientific case for blaming global warming on fossil-fuel emissions. Congress needs to take prompt action to prevent the EPA from promulgating the regulations, possibly by withholding appropriations for the agency. There is no question that the cost of complying with rules that limit carbon dioxide emissions will make the nation’s unemployment problem even worse than it already is.
A contentious climate change policy is being held up at the White House as Obama administration officials spar over the costs of installing pollution controls, according to a source close to the negotiations. The Environmental Protection Agency was expected to unveil long-anticipated guidance this week on how large polluters like power plants and refiners will be forced to slash their greenhouse gas emissions, but that release has been stalled amid an inter-agency brawl, said Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. The “guidance document is being delayed indefinitely,” said Becker, who was informed about the White House negotiations. He said some officials are trying to set federal cost caps on pollution controls against the will of EPA, although it is unclear who is pushing the provision. The EPA policy arrived at the White House Office of Management and Budget last month but is languishing there as administration officials hash out the details.
Notes from the Stunning Final Climate Leaders Meeting. – Paul Baier, GreenBiz, October 7, 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last month that it would suspend its Climate Leaders program, which helped companies take greenhouse gas inventories, set emissions reduction goals, and share best practices. The Climate Leaders’ annual conference previously scheduled for this week ended up being the final meeting. I attended the event and left with the following observations. It is pretty clear that the EPA has zero interest in receiving input from large companies about this program. Obviously there has been some change at the EPA level on how they want to work with large companies in voluntary programs.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued its fiscal year (FY) 2011 to 2015 strategic plan, which provides a blueprint for advancing EPA’s mission and Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priorities. This plan presents five strategic goals for advancing the agency’s environmental and human-health mission, accompanied by five cross-cutting fundamental strategies that seek to adapt the EPA’s work inside and outside of the agency to meet the growing environmental protection needs of the day. The plan will guide the agency to foster a renewed commitment to new possibilities for achieving the vision of a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable environment. The five-year plan includes new benchmarks that track progress against Administrator Jackson’s seven priorities such as taking action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and adapt to climate change, protecting America’s waters, increasing the use of smart growth and sustainable development strategies in communities, building and maintaining strong state and tribal partnerships, working for environmental justice, and ensuring that chemical health and safety information is available to the public.
EPA Outlines Five-Year Plan. – Environmental Leader, October 8, 2010
Five strategic goals will help the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) meet its plans for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, protecting U.S. waters, advancing sustainable development, reducing chemical risks and enforcing environmental laws under the agency’s new five-year plan. The fiscal year (FY) 2011 to 2015 strategic plan is focused on five strategic goals for advancing the agency’s environmental and human-health mission. These are: Taking action on climate change and improving air quality; Protecting America’s waters; Cleaning up communities and advancing sustainable development; Ensuring the safety of chemicals and preventing pollution; Enforcing environmental laws. These goals are accompanied by five cross-cutting fundamental strategies, which set clear expectations for changing the way EPA does business in achieving its results including:
President Obama Signs Executive Order Officially Forming Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force / EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson to oversee national transition from emergency response to coastal recovery in the gulf. – EPA Press Release, October 5, 2010
With an executive order in place setting up the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force to continue the recovery after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, EPA Administrator and Task Force Chair Lisa P. Jackson today started a series of meetings in the region to focus on the next steps. “The president has made clear that he wants restoration plans to come from the gulf coast, and not be imposed on the gulf residents by Washington. We’re counting on the people who know these areas best — the people who call the gulf home — to shape our work,” Administrator Jackson explained during her meetings on Tuesday. “As someone who grew up here, I know the ecosystem is the key to our future. Our economy, our health and our culture are built on the coastline and the gulf waters. I know this, the president knows this, and we are going to stand with you.”
One man’s fight against mountaintop removal. – Peter Slavin, Los Angeles Times, October 3, 2010
Few homeowners in Appalachia dare to stand up to coal companies. But Bo Webb did, and achieved the unthinkable: He forced a company to move blasting on a mountaintop-removal strip mining site away from his hollow. Webb recently went to Washington, D.C., to press the government to shut down mountaintop removal — the practice of blowing up mountains to reach coal seams. Since May, Webb has worked as a leading organizer of Appalachia Rising, the first national mobilization against mountaintop removal. Then last Monday, an estimated 2,000 people, including several hundred from Appalachia, marched in protest through the capital, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the White House, some with placards bearing the names of decapitated mountains. At the EPA, which enforces laws governing mountaintop removal, they trooped around the building shouting, “Do Your Job, EPA.”
The Environmental Protection Agency signaled on Wednesday that it would require an Arizona power plant, one of the largest coal-fired ones in the nation, to install $717 million in pollution controls to curb emissions that spread haze over the Four Corners region of the Southwest, home to national parks like Mesa Verde. The proposal to install the equipment on the oldest three units of the massive 2,250-megawatt plant is likely to have a long-term effect on both the territory and the economy of the Navajo Nation, which covers an area three times the size of Vermont across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The Four Corners Power Plant and the coal mine on the Navajo reservation that supplies it with fuel employ more than 1,000 people, industry officials who oppose the costly controls say.
The Environmental Protection Agency continues to be entangled in a feud with the mining industry in Appalachia. The latest news out of the region is that the EPA is opposing water discharge permits for eleven Kentucky coalmines. The Louisville Courier Journal reports this is the “first time such an action has been taken in 20 years.” The same report explains that this could lead to the federal government claiming more power over the state’s permitting process. This is something Bruce Scott, the Kentucky Commissioner for Environmental Protection, described as frustrating. “The states would like to know, ‘Where is this going? The worst-case scenario is that the EPA objects to every permit and they become the permitting authority for all coal mining,” Scott said in the report. He went on, ”absent a change of course, that seems to be where this train wreck is going.”
More tritium trouble at VT Yankee. – Adam Sullivan, WCAX, October 9, 2010
More radioactive Tritium has been detected at Vermont Yankee. On Friday Vermont Health officials announced that tritium has been found in a drinking well on the property. However the well has not been used since March. The Environmental Protection Agency says the tritium levels fall within — what it calls — a safe range. But now the candidates for governor are weighing in on what THEY feel this new discovery means for the future of the plant. Republican Candidate for Governor, Lt. Governor Brian Dubie commented Saturday, “The recent developments are troubling. We need to hold Entergy management responsible. We need to ask the tough questions.” Dubie says he wants his questions answered BEFORE he can take a definitive position on the future of the power plant. On the other hand, Decomcrat Peter Shumlin says the new discovery of tritium is another example of why the plant should be shut down. Democratic Candidate for Governor, Sen. Peter Shumlin said, “How many lies, how many leaks, how many contaminated wells is it going to take?” Health officials are now looking into whether ongoing testing at Yankee may have cross- contaminated the well.
The scale of the massive $620 million cooling towers project at the Brayton Point Power Station is best told by the numbers. Two 497-foot-tall towers, a capacity to pump more than an Olympic-size swimming pool worth of water each minute, and the use of enough concrete in both towers to pave a sidewalk 250 miles long — farther than the distance from Boston to New York. The towers are 406 feet across the base — wide enough to fit a football field inside, with plenty of room to spare. They are 70 feet taller than Providence’s tallest skyscraper, and taller than any building in Massachusetts outside Boston. They are also as tall as two Braga Bridges, or nearly five Fall River Government Centers, and can be seen from some spots more than 30 miles away. The project costs more than double the price of the new Brightman Street Bridge, and even more than the I-way project that reconstructed Interstate 195 in Providence. The towers have reached their full height about a year after they started rising, but much more work needs to be done inside and around the towers before the project’s expected completion in May 2012.
More Than 22,000 E-mail President, Opposing New Ethanol Fuel. – The Log, October 6, 2010
In a 10-day period, more than 22,000 Americans e-mailed President Barack Obama, urging him to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from approving a 50 percent increase in the amount of ethanol in gasoline. In a campaign launched through the website followthescience.org, the e-mails asked that any action on approving a 15-percent ethanol fuel blend be delayed until comprehensive, independent and objective scientific testing could show that higher ethanol levels would not increase air pollution, harm engines or raise consumer safety issues. The e-mail campaign was organized by a diverse group of marine manufacturers, boating groups, environmental organizations and consumer groups that are often at odds on many issues, but are united in their opposition to higher ethanol levels in the nation’s fuel.
After a slumping market for ethanol in recent years, good news apparently is right around the corner for the industry. The potential market for ethanol would increase up to 45 percent with approval of a higher blend level the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce in two steps by the end of the year. The EPA has told Growth Energy, an ethanol trade group, that it expects to approve an increase of the blend limit to 15 percent — known as E15 — from the existing 10 percent, Dave Vander Griend said Thursday at the Ethanol Leader’s Summit at the Courtyard Wichita at Old Town. Vander Griend, a Growth Energy board member and president and CEO of Colwich-based ICM, said the EPA will approve E15 for vehicles 2007 and newer next week and for 2001-06 models by the end of the year.
Federal regulators are expected to approve a new blend of ethanol gasoline this month, but motorists may see little difference at the pumps. That’s because approval of the 15% ethanol blend, known as E15, may be limited to 2007 model-year cars or newer. The majority of the nation’s 270 million cars would still be restricted to the current 10% ethanol blend. Retailers would face difficult decisions about buying new dispensers and tanks for E15, especially when they would still need their current E10 pumps. The Environmental Protection Agency has indicated that while it is open to approval of E15 for newer model cars, it has questions about allowing the stronger blend of ethanol in tanks of older vehicles. No such split of the market exists for the 10% blend currently dispensed by almost every gasoline retailer in the U.S. About four of every five gallons of gasoline sold has the 10% ethanol blend. But if E15 is approved on a limited basis, gas stations must decide if they want to invest up to $25,000 for new tank and gasoline dispensing systems to accommodate the new fuel. One who already has made up his mind is Roz Jalali, owner of a Conoco station in West Des Moines, who said: “I’m not going to put in an E15 pump even if they legalize it. It’s too expensive. I’ll just keep selling the 10% blend.”
OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS
Study strongly links adult diabetes to air pollution. – Wendy Koch, USA Today, October 5, 2010
Adult diabetes is strongly linked to air pollution, even in areas where pollution levels are deemed safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, finds a new epidemiologic study by researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston. The report, among the first large population-based studies to link diabetes prevalence to air pollution, is consistent with prior laboratory research that found an increase in insulin resistance — a precursor to diabetes — in obese mice exposed to particulates. Researchers used data from the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Census to adjust diabetes prevalence for known risk factors, including obesity, exercise, ethnicity and population density. They still found a 1% increase in diabetes rates for every 10 microgram per cubic meter rise in fine particulate matter, such as that found in smoke and car exhaust. “We didn’t have data on individual exposure, so we can’t prove causality, and we can’t know exactly the mechanism of these peoples’ diabetes,” said study co-author John Brownstein. “But pollution came across as a significant predictor in all our models.”
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Lisa Jackson swings back at critics. – Darren Samuelsohn, Politico, October 6, 2010
Lisa Jackson is sticking to her guns. The Environmental Protection Agency finds itself constantly under attack from industry groups and Republicans who say the agency is overreaching on everything from climate change to microscopic soot. And with the failure of the White House and Congress to pass a climate bill, combined with a potential GOP takeover, now could be seen as the right time for the agency’s head to dial back the rhetoric. But at an event last month celebrating the Clean Air Act’s 40th anniversary, Jackson swung hard at industry groups, offending some officials in the room and potentially adding fuel to claims the Obama administration is anti-business. In an interview this week with POLITICO, Jackson showed no indication of backing down. “It’s definitely anti-lobbyist rhetoric,” Jackson said. “It’s definitely meant to reflect the fact that, when I go around the country, people want clean air. They are as passionate about clean air and clean water as any of a number of issues; they want protection for their families and their children.”
Environment Chief Caught in the Campaign Crossfire. – Stephen Power, The Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2010
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson isn’t on any ballots this November. But in some parts of the country, she might as well be. Ms. Jackson’s agency is becoming a foil for congressional candidates across the country. In South Dakota, Republican Kristi Noem has called for Ms. Jackson’s resignation, citing the EPA’s inaction on a request from ethanol producers to allow more ethanol in gasoline. In Arkansas, embattled Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln is blasting Ms. Jackson’s agency for promulgating “overreaching, burdensome” regulations on pesticides used by farmers. In these states and others, Ms. Jackson’s EPA has become a focal point of the argument about the role of federal regulation in the economy. Environmental and public-health groups that form an important part of the Democratic Party’s constituency say a vigorous EPA is vital when Congress is deadlocked on environmental policy issues such as climate change.