EPA Proposes to Repeal Clean Power Plan

October 16, 2017

EPA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), proposing to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP). EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has proposed to determine that the Obama-era regulation exceeds the Agency’s statutory authority. EPA believes repealing the CPP will facilitate the development of U.S. energy resources and reduce regulations associated with the development of those resources, in keeping with the principles established in President Trump’s Executive Order on Energy Independence.

Resistance to the repeal has been strong. The Clean Power Plan is widely viewed as the most important step the United States has taken to curb the carbon pollution from power plants driving climate change.  It sets the country’s first-ever federal carbon pollution limits for the nation's electric power plants.

Earthjustice is part of the legal team defending the Clean Power Plan against lawsuits brought by fossil fuel interests and allied states. Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen said, “As millions of Americans are trying to recover from devastating hurricanes and wildfires, the Trump Administration is trying to dismantle our country's most important measures to combat climate change and attack the health benefits associated with them. It is an alarming failure of leadership and a profound affront to every person suffering in the wake of unprecedented disasters.

“But ignoring carbon pollution is not only disastrous policy, it’s against the law. The Supreme Court has ruled three times that EPA must protect Americans from carbon pollution that is driving climate change, with devastating consequences. As the Trump administration tries to derail progress on climate change, we will hold them accountable in court.

“Meanwhile, there is a dynamic transition from fossil fuels to clean energy that is already underway in states and cities around the country. It will now be even more important for states to step up and cut carbon pollution as Scott Pruitt’s EPA aggressively champions the nation’s biggest polluters.”

Many groups are also expressing concern over the lack of health protections for citizens that would come with repeal of the Clean Power Plan.

Mobile, Alabama, RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Mobile, AL, on October 24–26 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Atlanta RCRA/DOT Update, IATA, and SARA Training

Register for RCRA and DOT Annual Update and Refresher in Atlanta, GA, on October 31 and get the refresher training you need. Learn how to ship dangerous goods by air at IATA: How to Ship Dangerous Goods by Air on November 1, and learn your facility’s Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know reporting requirements at Environmental Resource Center’s SARA Title III (EPCRA) Workshop on November 2.  Click here to register or call 800-537-2372.

San Diego Hazardous Waste and DOT Training

Register for California Hazardous Waste Management and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in San Diego, CA, on October 31–November 2 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

New Law Strengthens Water Quality Protections for Oil and Gas Production

On October 13, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed into law Assembly Bill 1328, strengthening the state’s water quality protections for oil and gas production.

The bill, by Assembly member Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), provides additional authority to the State Water Board and regional water boards to obtain information about the chemicals present in wastewater from oil and gas production. This information will help the water boards set appropriate requirements to ensure that potentially hazardous chemicals do not pose a risk of contaminating water supplies.

“While California already has strict environmental regulations for oil and gas production, we are taking additional steps to make it even safer,” said California Secretary for Environmental Protection Matthew Rodriquez. “By addressing a gap in our ability to obtain information about chemicals in oil and gas wastewater, this bill will enable the water boards to better protect water quality and public health.”

The State Water Board’s enhanced ability to regulate the discharge of oil and gas wastewater is part of a wider effort by CalEPA’s boards and departments to strengthen environmental and health protection from the effects of oil and gas operations.

Starting next year, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment will launch a series of scientific evaluations to identify the chemicals used in well stimulation treatments, including hydraulic fracturing, that pose the greatest risk to public health and the environment. OEHHA’s assessments will include a look at potentially less hazardous alternatives to those chemicals.

In addition, the California Air Resources Board will soon conduct intensive air monitoring studies in communities located near oil and gas production operations to assess the levels of toxic air contaminants and other pollutants coming from those operations. Starting next month, CARB will hold meetings throughout the state to solicit public input on site selection, contaminants to measure and other aspects of the upcoming studies.

Both efforts are partly in response to recommendations from the California Council on Science and Technology, which in 2015 released an independent review of well stimulation in California and its impacts. The report identified a number of knowledge gaps and alternative practices that could avoid or mitigate those impacts.

CalEPA’s boards and departments work closely with the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources to ensure oil and gas operations comply with the state’s environmental and public health protections.

NESHAP for Chemical Recovery Combustion Sources at Kraft, Soda, Sulfite, and Stand-Alone Semichemical Pulp Mills

On October 11, EPA finalized its residual risk and technology review (RTR) conducted for the chemical recovery combustion sources at kraft, soda, sulfite, and stand-alone semichemical pulp mills regulated under the national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP). The Agency finalized its proposed determination that risks from the source category are acceptable and that the standards provide an ample margin of safety to protect public health.

EPA also finalized amendments to the NESHAP based on developments in practices, processes, and control technologies identified as part of the technology review. These final amendments include revisions to the opacity monitoring provisions and the addition of requirements to maintain proper operation of the electrostatic precipitator (ESP) automatic voltage control (AVC). Additional amendments have also been finalized including the requirement to conduct 5-year periodic emissions testing, and submit electronic reports; revisions to provisions addressing periods of startup, shutdown, and malfunction (SSM); and technical and editorial changes. These amendments are made under the authority of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and will improve the effectiveness of the rule. This final rule went into effect on October 11, 2017.

Electronic Notifications for Hazardous Waste EPA ID Numbers and Updates in Ohio

Wish you could file the RCRA Subtitle C Site ID Form electronically? Now you can use myRCRAid. Drastically cut down on the wait time to update an existing EPA ID number or receive a new one for a different location by using this service.

Register here for Ohio EPA's webinar on myRCRAid. Learn how to create an account, update an existing ID or request a new ID. The myRCRAid Demonstration Webinar will be on November 29, 2017 at 10:00 AM EST.

The myRCRAid component of the RCRAInfo Industry Application is the US EPA’s solution to allow RCRA sites (generators; treatment, storage, and disposal facilities; transporters, et. al.) to electronically submit Ohio EPA's 9029, the RCRA Subtitle C Site Identification Form.

To learn more, visit Ohio EPA's Notification of Regulated Waste Activity webpage and access the links associated with myRCRAid.

Total Reclaim Fined $67,500 for Violating Dangerous Waste Laws

The Washington Department of Ecology has fined Seattle-based electronics recycler Total Reclaim, Inc., $67,500 for illegally storing hundreds of thousands of pounds of flat screen TVs and monitors. Washington law requires e-waste to be either recycled or disposed of as dangerous waste in a timely manner.

This is the second recent dangerous waste penalty for Total Reclaim. In 2016, Ecology fined the company $444,000 after an independent investigation found the company was shipping e-waste to Hong Kong.

An Ecology inspection in February of this year found that, for more than a year, Total Reclaim stored thousands of flat screen TVs and monitors containing mercury in dozens of semi-trailers parked on Harbor Island. Washington’s electronics recycling policies and dangerous waste laws prohibit what is known as “speculative accumulation,” because it can lead to waste being abandoned, environmental contamination, or force taxpayers to pay for a cleanup.

“After receiving a very large penalty about a year ago, Total Reclaim knew it needed to fully comply with Washington’s recycling policies and dangerous waste regulations,” said Darin Rice, manager of Ecology’s Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction program. “Electronic waste contains toxic chemicals—it’s not good enough to simply store it for months or years. It needs to be properly and safely recycled in a timely manner.”

Since Ecology’s inspection, Total Reclaim has shipped flat screens stored longer than 180 days to a facility in South Carolina for recycling.

Washington residents can recycle TVs, monitors, computers and other electronics for free at participating E-Cycle Washington locations. For questions about where other items can be recycled, call or visit 1-800-RECYCLE.

Summit Labs to Pay $220,000 Penalty for Environmental Violations

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) collected a $220,000 penalty from Summit Labs in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, for violations related to testing drinking water samples and failure to notify DEP and public water suppliers in cases of MCL exceedances, among others.

“We rely on accredited, third-party labs for testing to ensure the safety and validity of drinking water treatment, and those labs must meet our standards and provide the proper notification,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

Among the violations Summit Labs was cited for include:

  • Failure to properly notify public water supplier and the Department of an MCL exceedance
  • Failure to control laboratory conditions, to identify and correct contamination
  • Failure to generate accurate and valid data
  • Failure of the laboratory supervisor to properly certify results
  • Failure to have proper staffing, management structure, quality assurance/quality control to ensure Summit generated accurate, valid data


DEP reached a settlement agreement with Summit Labs to address these violations, in which Summit Labs agreed to pay $220,000 in penalties.

“None of these violations are known to have affected public health, however that does not excuse the actions of Summit Labs,” said McDonnell. “Ensuring that accurate and timely information is made available to DEP and public water systems from labs like this is a crucial part of providing clean, safe drinking water to the people of Pennsylvania. 

Pennsylvania Wants Feedback on Enhanced Public Engagement

Feedback on Enhancing Public Engagement 

In order to enhance public engagement, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced its proposed improvements to three policy documents, and is seeking comments on the proposed updates. The policies focus on development and review of regulations, interaction with Advisory Committees, and development and publication of technical guidance. 

Originally developed in the 1990s, these policies provide an overview of how DEP implements the Commonwealth’s regulatory review process, the function of its advisory committees, boards and councils, and DEP’s Technical Guidance Document development process, respectively. 

The Policy for the Development and Review of Regulations illustrates the avenues an individual can take to engage with DEP during the regulatory process. Additional clarity was added to specify what, why and how DEP carries out its regulatory obligations under the Regulatory Review Act.

The Advisory Committee Guidelines reflect the integration of technology in advisory meetings, providing additional flexibility and transparency to the public and stakeholders. The policy will help provide consistency regarding expectations for DEP staff, committee members, and the public for all meetings.

The Policy for the Development and Publication of Technical Guidance improves readability, outlines DEP’s key considerations for the development of TGDs, and provides direction to individuals interested in providing or reviewing comments submitted to DEP during a public comment period. 

“These updated policies will provide a clearer path for the public to engage with DEP during the development of regulations and technical guidance documents,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “It’s essential that we have the best possible process to receive feedback from Pennsylvania’s residents and businesses in the development of policies that protect the environment.” 

DEP will accept comments on all three policies from October 14 through December 13. To view the draft policies and submit comments electronically using DEP’s eComment system, visit: www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/eComment

Written comments on the draft policies should be sent to Abbey Cadden, Technical Guidance Coordinator, Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Policy, Rachel Carson State Office Building, P.O. Box 2063, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063. Comments, including those submitted by email, must include the originator’s name and address.

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Trivia Question of the Week

California has some of the most stringent environmental regulations.  As a result of these rules, the number of Stage 1 and Stage 2 smog alerts in the state has gone from 239 in 1967, to how many last year? 

a. 239

b. 23

c. 9

d. 0


Answer: d