The following is a summary review of articles from all over the nation concerning environmental law settlements, decisions, regulatory actions and lawsuits filed during the past week.  These were all first posted, in abbreviated form, on http://twitter.com/smtaber.  This Newsletter also appears as a post on our website Taber Law Group every Monday. Archives can be found there and on our blog, The Environmental Law and Climate Change Law Blog.  For more information about the Taber Law Group, please visit our website at taberlaw.com.

SETTLEMENTS

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.


Other Articles on the Same Topic:

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.

DECISIONS

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.”


E. Providence Company Faces Fine for Ammonia Violations. – EPA Press Release, October 5, 2010

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.


US Ecology to pay nearly $500,000 for hazardous waste violations. – EPA Press Release, October 5, 2010

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 Orders Whately, Mass. Farmer to Restore Damaged Wetlands. – EPA Press Release, October 7, 2010

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.


EPA says Boardman Coal Plant Violates Clean Air Law. – Chris Thomas, Public News Service, October 6, 2010

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.”


Other Articles on the Same Topic:

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.


Groups claim mines polluting water in eastern Ky. – Associated Press, October 7, 2010

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.


State EPA asks attorney general to investigate Venice factory explosion. – Belleville News Democrat, October 7, 2010

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.


Gov. Manchin announces state will sue EPA. – Huntington News, October 7, 2010

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.


Other Articles on the Same Topic:

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.

REGULATORY ACTIONS

Air

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.


Other Articles on the Same Topic:

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.


Water

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.


US EPA: Fix sewage pipe: GWA has 2 weeks to stop leak. – Laura Matthews, Pacific Sunday News, October 3, 2010

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.


EPA Issues Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Sustainability Policy. – EPA Press Release, October 4, 2010

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 Approves Iowa Rules to Protect High Quality Waters. – EPA Press Release, October 4, 2010

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.


IEPA in hot water with feds. – Steve Tarter, Peoria Star Journal, October 4, 2010

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.


Environmental group seeks tougher pollution protections for Everglades restoration. – Andy Reid, Orlando Sun Sentinel, October 4, 2010

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.


Bay ‘diet’ giving farmers indigestion. – Rusty Denned, Free Lance Star, October 8, 2010

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.”


Other Articles on the Same Topic:

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.


Options exist to improve sewer treatment. – Dave Choate, Sea Coast Online, October 10, 2010

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.


Waste

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.”


Other Articles on the Same Topic:

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.


Residents criticize EPA on Koppers cleanup. – Chad Smith, The Gainesville Sun, October 6, 2010

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.


Climate Change

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.


Wolfram: EPA’s rules would hurt economy. – Gary Wolfram, The Detroit News, October 5, 2010

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.


Environmental Protection Agency climate doc held up over costs. – Robin Bravender, Politico, Ocotber 8, 2010

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.


Other

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.


EPA Lays Out Five-Year Plan on Agency Priorities. – EPA Press Release, October 7, 2010

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.


Other Articles on the Same Topic:

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:

ENERGY

Oil

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.”


Coal

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.”


Coal Plant Would Get New Controls. – Felicity Barringer, The New York Times, October 6, 2010

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.


EPA’s role becoming political issue in Appalachia. – Andrew Schenkel, Mother Nature Network, October 10, 2010

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.”


Nuclear

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.


BIG TOWER POWER: New ‘twins’ at Somerset’s Brayton Point dominate region’s skyline. – Grant Welker, Herald News, October 9, 2010

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.


Biofuels

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.


EPA expected to increase ethanol levels. – Rick Plumlee, Wichita Eagle, October 8, 2010

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.


New ethanol-gasoline blend raises questions for retailers. – Dan Piller, Des Moines Register, October 10, 2010

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

Air

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.”


Climate Change

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.”


Other

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.

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.


EPA says Boardman Coal Plant Violates Clean Air Law. – Chris Thomas, Public News Service, October 6, 2010

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.”


Other Articles on the Same Topic:

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.


Groups claim mines polluting water in eastern Ky. – Associated Press, October 7, 2010

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.


State EPA asks attorney general to investigate Venice factory explosion. – Belleville News Democrat, October 7, 2010

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.


Gov. Manchin announces state will sue EPA. – Huntington News, October 7, 2010

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.


Other Articles on the Same Topic:

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.

 

The following is a summary review of articles from all over the nation concerning environmental law settlements, decisions, regulatory actions and lawsuits filed during the past week.  These were all first posted, in abbreviated form, on http://twitter.com/smtaber.  This Newsletter also appears as a post on our website Taber Law Group every Monday. Archives can be found there and on our blog, The Environmental Law and Climate Change Law Blog.  For more information about the Taber Law Group, please visit our website at taberlaw.com.

SETTLEMENTS

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.

DECISIONS

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.

REGULATORY ACTIONS

Air

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.”


Water

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.

Other Articles on the Same Topic:

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.

Other Articles on the Same Topic:

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.


Waste

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.


Climate Change

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.

Other

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.

Other Articles on the Same Topic:

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.

ENERGY

Natural Gas

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?”


Wind Power

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.

Other

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.

Other Articles on the Same Topic:

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

Waste

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.


Other

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.

Posted by: Steven M. Taber | September 21, 2010

GAO Issues Glowing Report on Airports and the Environment

On September 21, 2010, the Government Accountability Office issued its report entitled “Aviation and the Environment: Systematically Addressing Environmental Impacts and Community Concerns Can Help Airports Reduce Project Delays.” This is a topic that is not unfamiliar to readers of this blog, (see Why the Airports and the Aviation Industry Need to Be Concerned About Climate Change: Part One, Facts about Aviation and Climate Change), however, GAO’s approach was a little different.

What the GAO found was that almost all the airports it surveyed had taken some actions to address their environmental impacts, at least in four areas that they believed were relevant to airports: reducing noise levels, controlling water pollution, reducing emissions, and using environmentally sustainable practices. These included voluntary actions, such as asking pilots and controllers to use aircraft operational procedures that lower noise levels, as well as actions required by federal and state laws, such as in the areas of controlling water and air pollution.

Larger airports, which can have more environmental impacts because of such issues as deicing pads, co-generation facilities, traffic to and from the terminals, were more likely than other surveyed airports to take a wider range of actions, such as soundproofing homes or installing loading bridges that supply aircraft with electric power to lower engine usage and emissions (“supplied power”). Finally, GAO found that airports were moving toward a more holistic approach to environmental management, including following environmentally sustainable standards and implementing an Environmental Management System.

Surprisingly, the GAO found that less than half of the surveyed airports believed that addressing environmental issues somewhat or greatly delayed a development project (35 percent) or operational change (42 percent) at their airport over the last 5 years, even though the vast majority had undertaken a capital development project or operational change during this time period. Both the reported delay and the extent and significance of delay were determined by the responding airport. Likewise, less than half similarly believe that addressing environmental issues will cause delays in the next 5 years.  Addressing water issues and noise issues was the most commonly cited environmental issue that led to delay in implementing development projects and operational changes, respectively.

The GAO reported that a number of airports have adopted strategies to systematically address environmental impacts and community concerns, which can help both mitigate environmental impacts and anticipate and reduce problems with communities and other stakeholders that can lead to delays. Airports told the GAO that they are integrating environmental considerations into their planning process, including 7 of the 10 airports GAO visited. Some airports are also finding success in streamlining the federal environmental review process and in integrating their environmental management processes with the federal environmental review process. Finally, effective community outreach that solicits stakeholder input, fosters interactive communication with local communities, and evaluates its outreach efforts can help airports better anticipate and deal with community opposition.

September 20, 2010, Volume 2, Number 27

The following is a summary review of articles from all over the nation concerning environmental law settlements, decisions, regulatory actions and lawsuits filed during the past week.  These were all first posted, in abbreviated form, on http://twitter.com/smtaber.  This Newsletter also appears as a post on our website Taber Law Group every Monday. Archives can be found there and on our blog, The Environmental Law and Climate Change Law Blog.  For more information about the Taber Law Group, please visit our website at taberlaw.com.

SETTLEMENTS

U.S. EPA settlements require investigation of uranium Contamination on Southwestern tribal lands. – EPA News Release, September 13, 2010
This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency entered into two enforcement actions, both of which will contribute towards cleaning up uranium contamination at the Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation. In one settlement, Rio Algom Mining LLC, a subsidiary of Canadian corporation BHP Billiton, has agreed to control releases of radium (a decay product of uranium) from the Quivira Mine Site, near Gallup, N.M. In addition, the company is to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the levels of contamination at the site. The total cost for this work is estimated to be approximately $1 million. Under the terms of a separate settlement, the United States Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), will begin a comprehensive investigation of the levels of uranium and other contaminants in the waste, soils and groundwater at the Tuba City Dump Site in Arizona. They will also evaluate the feasibility of a range of cleanup actions.
Click Here

Read More…

Posted by: Steven M. Taber | September 17, 2010

Biggest Lessons Learned from the Gulf Spill

By Guest Blogger Ron Delfs of Environmental Science Degrees

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill was the world’s largest accidental marine oil spill in history. Approximately 4.9 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf from April 20th to July 15th, killing thousands of marine animals and severely damaging the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries. BP is looking at an estimated fine of $5.4 billion or more if negligence led to the spill, but there is still a great deal of explaining and learning to do. While the event is fresh on our minds and deep in our hearts, we should take this horrible catastrophe and learn something positive from it now and forever. Here are the biggest lessons learned from the Gulf oil spill:

  1. A move to alternative forms of energy is inevitable
    Alternative forms of energy are no longer a chic business venture or a catchy political slogan. Alternative forms of energy are an essential part of preventing the environmental devastation caused by the oil spill, and an inevitable consequence of the United States’ dependence on foreign countries to extract a limited resource. The question is not if we will move away from oil, but when, and the sooner the better.
  2. The economy of the Gulf is fragile
    While Hurricane Katrina now seems a distant memory, the Gulf region is still feeling the effects of the devastation caused by the storm. The economy, while substantially rebuilt, is still inherently vulnerable to natural disasters and man-made catastrophes such as the Gulf oil spill. The area is also economically dependent on the oil industry. It’s important for the region to expand its interests, in order to shield itself from further disasters.
  3. Corporations are convenient scapegoats
    It’s hard to remember a corporation that has been hated or vilified more than BP. Much of this anger and distrust is the product of reprehensible conduct and negligent management in normal operation and disaster response; however it can be argued that much of the criticism is undeserved. BP would not be attempting incredible feats of engineering or enjoying enormous profits, without the high demand and consumption of oil by the same Americans who are protesting BP. While BP may be a convenient scapegoat, we should spend less time blaming and more time learning as a whole, so that we can prevent another disaster like this.
  4. The Government is still poorly prepared to deal with major catastrophes
    As with Katrina, the government has been criticized for its delayed response, poor management and lack of preparation concerning the Gulf oil disaster. While it is unreasonable to expect the Government to solve every problem, it’s clear that Americans turn to the Government during catastrophes and the government is often unprepared to deal with such disasters.
  5. The average American takes a great deal for granted
    There was a clear disconnect during the Gulf oil spill. Many Americans expect their lives to be a certain way and have lost the knowledge of how such a lifestyle is attained. During the Gulf oil spill, Americans and, perhaps, the government seemed surprised that BP was attempting to drill in more than a mile of water. Many people fill up their gas tanks and expect gasoline to be there without question. Only when the system is disrupted do Americans actually care where something comes from or how it is created. As a whole, we need to take on more responsibility for our behavior, our consumption and our actions in order to prevent disasters such as the Gulf oil spill. Only when we are aware of the consequences of our way of life will we be able to properly address prevention.

Originally posted on the Environmental Science Degrees blog at http://www.environmentalsciencedegrees.net/blog/2010/biggest-lessons-learned-from-the-gulf-spill/

September 13, 2010, Volume 2, Number 26

The following is a summary review of articles from all over the nation concerning environmental law settlements, decisions, regulatory actions and lawsuits filed during the past week.  These were all first posted, in abbreviated form, on http://twitter.com/smtaber.  This Newsletter also appears as a post on our website Taber Law Group every Monday. Archives can be found there and on our blog, The Environmental Law and Climate Change Law Blog.  For more information about the Taber Law Group, please visit our website at taberlaw.com.

SETTLEMENTS

Edge Tech Industries of Davenport, Iowa, to Pay $26,000 Penalty for Failure to Report Annual Toxic Release Inventory for Lead. – EPA News Release, September 9, 2010
Edge Tech Industries, a printed circuit boards and contract manufacturer in Davenport, Iowa, has agreed to pay a $26,000 civil penalty to the United States to settle claims that it failed to submit necessary annual reports listing the quantities of toxic lead that it manufactured, processed or otherwise used during 2006, 2007 and 2008. An EPA Region 7 representative inspected the Edge Tech Industries facility located at 908 East 59th Street in Davenport in August 2009, and discovered the violations of the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Under EPCRA regulations, companies of certain size are required to submit their annual reports to EPA and state authorities by listing the amounts of regulated chemicals that their facilities release into the environment through routine activities or as a result of accidents. The reports, also known as Form R Reports, include additional information regarding waste management, recycling and reduction of these toxic chemicals. The reports provide an important source of information to emergency planners and responders, and residents of surrounding communities.
Click Here

Hawaiian County Agrees to Pay Restitution and Modify Operations to Resolve Endangered Species Act & Migratory Bird Treaty Act Violations. – EPA News Release, September 10, 2010
The county of Kauai, Hawaii, has entered into a plea agreement to resolve alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), the Justice Department announced today. The county today entered a plea of guilty to violating the MBTA by taking, that is killing or wounding, more than 18 migratory birds, specifically Newell’s shearwaters (known in the Hawaiian language as ‘a’o).  According to the court documents, the Newell’s shearwater (Puffinus auricularis newelli) is a seabird native to the Hawaiian Islands. The majority of the world’s population of Newell’s shearwaters nest on the island of Kauai, specifically in burrows on inland mountains. Young shearwaters leave these inland mountain nests and make their first flight to the sea in September through December each year, typically at night. The young birds use mountain air currents or physical drop offs to become airborne. If a young shearwater falls to the ground in a location without conditions such as those that occur in the inland mountains or at sea, it usually will be unable to regain flight.
Click Here

Read More…

The following is a summary review of articles from all over the nation concerning environmental law settlements, decisions, regulatory actions and lawsuits filed during the past week.  These were all first posted, in abbreviated form, on http://twitter.com/smtaber.  This Newsletter also appears as a post on our website Taber Law Group every Monday. Archives can be found there and on our blog, The Environmental Law and Climate Change Law Blog.  For more information about the Taber Law Group, please visit our website at taberlaw.com.

SETTLEMENTS

Wayne County, Neb., Landowner and Excavation Contractor to Pay $30,000 Civil Penalty for Building Unauthorized Dam. – EPA News Release, August 30, 2010
A Wayne County, Neb., landowner and a Madison, Neb., excavation contractor will pay a $30,000 civil penalty to the United States to settle allegations that they used earth-moving equipment to construct a dam on a tributary of Spring Branch Creek without first obtaining a necessary permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Bill Willers, of Norfolk, Neb., and Shannon Kurpgeweit, doing business as Custom Excavation, allegedly violated the federal Clean Water Act by discharging dredged or fill material into an unnamed tributary of the creek that runs through Willers’ property, creating the earthen dam. The dam was documented by a Corps of Engineers inspection of the site in October 2009. Construction of the dam impacted more than a quarter-mile stretch of the creek, and at least 1.13 acres of adjacent wetland, according to an administrative consent agreement and final order filed by EPA Region 7 in Kansas City, Kan.
Click Here

Judge OKs settlement over Hastings contamination. – The Associated Press, August 31, 2010
The city of Hastings will pay $1 million to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and provide $1.7 million in in-kind services toward contamination cleanup under a settlement approved Monday by a federal judge. The EPA filed a lawsuit, along with a notice of proposed settlement, last month in U.S. District Court seeking payment for federal costs from cleaning up the site of its old police station. The EPA spent $14.1 million to clean up the site, according to court documents. City documents outlining the settlement show Hastings will make five payments totaling $1 million by Jan. 10, 2014, and contribute $1.7 million in in-kind services toward cleanup efforts during the next 10 to 13 years. The services could include removing three buildings from the site, providing security at the site and attending planning meetings. The old Hastings police station, dubbed the Second Street Subsite, is one of at least six sources of contamination the EPA has identified in the city. The settlement applies only to cleanup at the Second Street Subsite.
Click Here

Read More…

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency denied a petition on Friday, August 27, 2010, calling for a ban on the production and distribution of lead hunting ammunition.  In a short response to the Petitioners, Assistant EPA Administrator Stephen Owens stated:

After careful review, EPA has determined that TSCA, does not provide the Agency with the authority to address lead shot and bullets as requested in your petition due to the exclusion found in TSCA sec. 3(2)(B)(v).  Consequently, we are denying that portion of your petition.

The petition, which was filed earlier this month, argued that instances of lead poisoning from ammunition and fishing sinkers “present an unreasonable risk of injury” to both human health and the environment.  In an attachment to the petition, the petitioners present “nearly 500 peer reviewed scientific articles documenting the toxic effects of lead on wildlife species and conclude that the lead components of bullets, shotgun pellets, fishing weights and lures pose an unreasonable risk of injury to human and wildlife health and to the environment.” In addition, the petition specifically addressed the issue of the exclusion:

The petitioners understand that EPA is specifically prohibited from regulating ammunition or firearms under TSCA, but that toxic components of ammunition can be regulated if non‐toxic alternatives are commercially available. The petitioners have waited until non‐toxic alternatives have become available to submit this petition in an effort to clearly indicate that this petition is not an attempt to regulate ammunition or firearms.

The petition drew substantial fire (pun intended) from hunting and fishing organizations.  The EPA, already under siege amid claims of usurping authority to regulate greenhouse gases, decided that this is a battle it would rather not fight right now and ducked behind the TSCA exclusion.  Because the petition was filed under TSCA, the EPA was required to respond to it within 90 days.

The other part of the petition – regulating lead fishing sinkers – the EPA says it is still reviewing:  “we are reviewing the request in the petition regarding lead fishing sinkers and will respond to you when we have made a determination on that matter.”  In the press release that accompanied the letter, the EPA stated:

As there are no similar jurisdictional issues relating to the agency’s authority over fishing sinkers, EPA – as required by law – will continue formally reviewing a second part the petition related to lead fishing sinkers.

Those wishing to comment specifically on the fishing tackle issue can do so by visiting http://www.regulations.gov. EPA will consider comments that are submitted by September 15.

The following is a summary review of articles from all over the nation concerning environmental law settlements, decisions, regulatory actions and lawsuits filed during the past week.  These were all first posted, in abbreviated form, on http://twitter.com/smtaber.  This Newsletter also appears as a post on our website Taber Law Group every Monday. Archives can be found there and on our blog, The Environmental Law and Climate Change Law Blog.  For more information about the Taber Law Group, please visit our website at taberlaw.com.

SETTLEMENTS

New Jersey Landfill Owners Agree to Comply with Clean Air Act. – Department of Justice News Release, August 9, 2010
The second of two agreements to resolve longstanding problems with landfill gas emissions and their negative impacts on air quality at the Middlesex County and Edgeboro landfills in New Jersey has been reached to bring them into compliance with the Clean Air Act, the Justice Department and   Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today.  The two settlements together resolve all outstanding compliance issues at the landfill facilities. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection was also a party to the agreement. Under the agreements, both facilities will enhance environmental controls at the site, conduct regular monitoring and make other required infrastructure improvements to meet federal standards. Landfill gas collected by the separate Middlesex County Utilities Authority (MCUA) and Edgeboro Disposal Inc. (EDI) gas collection systems is treated and then used to generate electricity.
Click Here

Read More…

Vol. 2, No. 22, August 2, 2010

The following is a summary review of articles from all over the nation concerning environmental law settlements, decisions, regulatory actions and lawsuits filed during the past week.  These were all first posted, in abbreviated form, on http://twitter.com/smtaber.  This Newsletter also appears as a post on our website Taber Law Group every Monday. Archives can be found there and on our blog, The Environmental Law and Climate Change Law Blog.

SETTLEMENTS

Mobil Admits No Wrong Doing, But Will Pay $2.4 Million Penalty for Clean Air Violations. – Kevin Kerrigan, Pacific News Center, July 27, 2010
Guam – Mobil has agreed to pay a $2.4 million dollar civil penalty for violations of the Clean Air Act. The penalty is part of a consent decree filed in District Court today in which Mobil Guam and Mobil Marianas did not admit any liability or wrongdoing. Under the consent decree Mobil also agreed not to operate its fuel storage tanks in Saipan or on Guam until they comply with the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants [NESHAP]. The decree requires that Mobil destroy 2 of its fuel storage tanks. In addition Mobil has agreed to begin “continuous monitoring systems for both the Cabras Terminal and the Saipan Terminal loading racks and to begin preliminary installation of controls for both.” The consent decree filed today grows out of a complaint and settlement agreement filed in District Court on April 18th. The initial complaint alleged that Mobil Oil Guam and Mobil Oil Mariana Islands failed to install vapor pollution controls on thirteen storage tanks and all of their loading racks at gasoline storage facilities on the islands. Both also allegedly failed to comply with pollution limits, install pollution monitors, and submit required reports.
Click Here

Read More…

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories