Senators Joseph I. Lieberman (ID-CT) and John W. Warner (R-VA) unveiled a detailed proposal for the climate bill that they will introduce this fall, America's Climate Security Act. Lieberman and Warner, who are the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Subcommittee on Private Sector and Consumer Solutions to Global Warming and Wildlife Protection, requested comment on the 15-page document from Senate colleagues and all interested stakeholders. They reiterated their plan to introduce a bill based on their proposal, and to bring that bill to a vote in their subcommittee after the August recess.
The document released last week spells out a mandatory, market-based cap-and-trade program that would cover 80 percent of US greenhouse gas emissions and that would reduce those emissions to current levels by 2012, to 10 percent below current levels by 2020, and to 70 percent below current levels by 2050. The document describes a robust set of measures to sustain US economic growth, protect American jobs, and ensure international participation in emissions reductions.
On June 27, Lieberman and Warner announced that they had begun drawing upon existing proposals and new ideas to draft a comprehensive bill to address global climate change.
Shell and Luminant to Build the World's Largest Wind Farm in Texas
Shell WindEnergy Inc. and Luminant announced on July 27 that they plan to build a 3,000-megawatt wind power plant in the Texas Panhandle. That's more than four times the size of the largest wind farm currently in operation. The proposed wind facility would be located in Briscoe County to take advantage of excellent wind resources and a relatively low cost of transmitting the wind power to wholesale markets. The two companies will also explore using compressed air energy storage, which uses electric fans to force air into underground caverns, compressing it, and usually involves employing the compressed air as an oxygen source for a gas turbine. The companies did not announce a timeline for either project. Luminant was formerly called TXU Power and is a subsidiary of TXU Corporation.
Texas already holds the record for the world's largest wind farm, the 735-megawatt Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, which was completed by FPL Energy, Inc. in late 2006. It also is the site for the nation's second-largest wind farm, the 504.8-megawatt Sweetwater wind project, the fourth phase of which attained commercial operation in May. And Colorado will soon host the nation's third-largest wind farm with the construction of the 400-megawatt Peetz Table Wind Energy Center in northeast Colorado.
EPA Recognizes Top 25 Green Power Purchasers
EPA has updated its Top Green Power Purchasers list highlighting organizations committed to purchasing green power. The National Top 25 list of Green Power Partners accounts for more than 6 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year of green power purchasing, more than 60% of the total kWh in the Green Power Partnership; reducing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of more than 700,000 vehicles.
America is shifting to a 'green culture,' with more and more businesses understanding that environmental responsibility is everyone’s responsibility,” said Marcus Peacock, EPA’s Deputy Administrator. “EPA commends the leading Green Power Partners for making a long-term commitment to protecting the environment.”
EPA’s National Top 25 list ranks two of Pepsi's three independent bottlers at fourth and 13th. Kohl’s Department Stores increased its green power purchases to raise its ranking to eighth nationally, and Mohawk Fine Papers places on the list at 22nd.
The Pepsi bottler purchase demonstrates that a group of companies, tied together by a supply chain, can help protect the environment by buying green power. The total aggregate purchase of the three independent bottlers is nearly 629 million kWh per year. Two of the three bottlers rank on EPA’s National Top 25 list, and all three found placement on EPA’s 100% Green Power Purchaser list, while one bottler also ranks among the more than 45 Fortune 500 corporations participating in EPA’s Fortune 500 challenge.
EPA's Green Power Partnership launched in 2001 and works with more than 750 partner organizations that voluntarily buy green power as a way to reduce the environmental effects associated with conventional electricity use and to promote the development of new renewable generation resources nationwide. Overall, EPA Green Power Partners are buying more than 10 billion kWh of green power annually, an increase of nearly 163 percent since January 2006. Green power is generated from eligible renewable resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and biogas, as well as low-impact hydropower.
EPA updates its Top Partners lists quarterly. Below is the updated list of EPA's National Top 25 list, listed in descending order of purchase size as of July 2007.
Rank Partner Organization Green Power(kilowatt – hours / year)
1. PepsiCo 1,105,045,154
2. Wells Fargo & Company 550,000,000
3. Whole Foods Market 509,104,786
4. The Pepsi Bottling Group, Inc. 457,851,838
5. U.S. Air Force 457,500,000
6. Johnson & Johnson 400,702,978
7. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 329,880,513
8. Kohl's Department Stores 201,396,000
9. Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts 196,003,000
10. Starbucks 185,000,000
11. DuPont Company 180,000,000
12. U.S. Department of Energy 157,964,000
13. PepsiAmericas, Inc. 157,062,875
14. Vail Resorts, Inc. 152,000,000
15. Cisco Systems, Inc. 128,204,000
16. HSBC North America 124,544,000
17. Staples 121,800,000
18. New York University 118,616,000
19. The World Bank Group 114,735,000
20. University of Pennsylvania 112,000,000
21. IBM Corporation 110,103,000
22. Mohawk Fine Papers Inc. 100,200,000
23. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs 90,000,000
24. NatureWorks LLC 89,000,000
25. Sprint Nextel 87,600,000
14 States Express Concerns about Energy Bill Language that Would Limit California’s Ability to Regulate Greenhouse Gases
Led by California Attorney General Jerry Brown, the AGs warned that the plan circulated by Reps. Baron Hill (D-IN) and Lee Terry (R-NE) “contains troublesome language that may be used to eliminate existing Clean Air Act authority to address global warming, including California’s greenhouse gas emission standards.”
Paper Mill Signs on to Partnership Project That Will Measure Environmental Footprint
How does an industrial facility measure its effect on the surrounding community? And with a voluntary commitment to sustainable practices, can it improve its environmental, economic, and social “footprint” over time?
These are the questions the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) and Nippon Paper Industries USA, Co. will explore under a new partnership called the “Industrial Footprint Project.” The Port Angeles, Wash., subsidiary has volunteered, along with three other pulp and paper mills in the state, to provide baseline data to Ecology on a range of environmental, economic, and social indicators.
Working with a consultant, stakeholders, and the participating mills, Ecology will use the data to create a scoring system to establish a “footprint” measurement for each facility. The footprint will serve as a baseline to help companies set targets for improving over time.
“We hope to provide good environmental results that make sense for the mill and the community,” said Cullen Stephenson, manager of Ecology's Solid Waste Program. “These facilities are partnering with us voluntarily. We are advisors, helping encourage more sustainable practices and communities. This is a laboratory for a new way of doing business.”
“We are very proud of our corporate efforts here at NPIUSA. This includes the use of recycled paper in our products, our efforts to maximize biomass use in order to reduce fossil fuel in our steam generation, and our community involvement,” explained Nippon Paper's senior vice president, Tom Sawamura. “We are exceptionally pleased that our efforts are being included in this important project.”
Environmental data to be collected includes waste streams, recycling, emissions, water consumption, and purchase of raw materials. One part of the project will be an energy challenge asking each facility to voluntarily reduce its energy usage. On the economic side, some data analyzed will include jobs provided and the costs of good and services. Social indicators may include community involvement, health and safety records, or good neighbor efforts.
“We are looking for a model that measures the whole picture and the interactions,” said Stephenson. “If the company changes an environmental practice that then has an economic or social impact, it could be important for the business and the community to know that.”
“Clean air, water and soil – and healthy communities and work places – are essential to Washington's success in the global economy,” said Governor Chris Gregoire. “I am pleased that this public-private partnership is ensuring that Washington remains a great place to live and do business.”
Nippon Paper Industries USA produces telephone directory paper, shipping to customers in North America and Australia. The mill's pulping systems consist of refined mechanical pulp and recycled paper. Formerly Daishowa America Co., Ltd, the mill was originally built in 1920 at the base of Ediz Hook on the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Port Angeles. A de-inking facility was constructed in 1992 and annually processes more than 80,000 tons of recycled paper.
The mill employs 244 employees and produces about 160,000 tons of telephone directory paper a year. Nippon Paper is currently undergoing ISO 14001 certification, demonstrating the company's commitment to high standards of environmental stewardship and to continuously improving its environmental activities.
Three other pulp and paper mills are also joining Ecology in similar partnerships. The others will be formally announced later this month.
Washington State to Delay Issuing Revised Industrial Stormwater Permit
As an interim move, the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) will re-issue its Industrial Stormwater General Permit through May 2008 to maintain permit coverage while improvements are made to the new permit. The current permit is set to expire Sept. 20, 2007; Ecology expects to issue the improved permit in spring 2008.
Ecology received many comments on draft revisions to the permit and wants to be responsive to the full suite of comments. Ecology will consider and develop new approaches that will address the comments.
Major elements of the current permit, such as a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan and monitoring, will remain as core elements of the current permit and the next permit. Permittees should continue monitoring and submitting DMRs.
Ecology anticipates having a new re-worked draft permit out for public comment by the end of October. It plans to issue the final permit in spring 2008. The re-worked permit will then supersede the extended, interim permit.
EPA Orders Six Southern California Dairies to Comply with Federal Clean Water Act
The EPA recently ordered six dairies located in the Southern California cities of Chino, Ontario, and Mira Loma to comply with federal wastewater discharge regulations or face fines up to $32,500 per day per violation.
The EPA issued the orders to the Legend Dairy #1, Legend Dairy #3, Sun Valley Jersey Dairy #1, Miersma Dairy #1, Tom Alger Dairy, and Venegas Dairy for failing to comply with their wastewater discharge permit requirements, violations of the federal Clean Water Act. Runoff from their facilities could pollute the Santa Ana River.
“These six dairies were cited for failing to comply with basic permit requirements addressing manure waste, which can pollute streams, rivers, and groundwater,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA’s water division for the Pacific Southwest. “Protecting public health and the environment is our primary goal and through participation in the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program,” a program that has made significant progress improving the environmental performance of dairies statewide. “We trust dairies will return to compliance promptly.”
At the request of the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, the EPA inspected these dairies in March 2007. The dairies are being cited for violations of state-issued permits, including failure to execute waste management plans; failure to contain on-site manure waste; failure to properly design, construct, and manage manure containment structures; and failure to monitor and report to the state.
In 2000 and 2001, the EPA fined numerous dairies in the Chino area for similar Clean Water Act violations. In 2003, the EPA issued similar orders to five dairies in the Chino area. To address these violations and to prevent future violations, the EPA, along with 14 other signatories from the dairy industry, academia, environmental, and other state and federal agencies, formed the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program to provide compliance assistance to dairy producers and operators.
Through the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program, a voluntary environmental stewardship program, dairy operators learn how to meet all federal, state, regional, and local requirements related to manure and nutrient management and protect surface and groundwater.
In California, compliance with the Clean Water Act’s permit program is overseen by the state’s Regional Water Quality Control Boards.
Two Massachusetts Towns Fined for Clean Water Violations
Two towns in southeastern Massachusetts, Dighton and Rehoboth, are being fined for violating the federal Clean Water Act.
Dighton and Rehoboth each face a penalty of $3,000 for discharging storm water into several tributaries of the Palmer River and the Taunton River, respectively, without submitting an annual report that is essential for state and federal authorities to monitor compliance with the Clean Water Act. Several of these tributaries in each town are listed on the Massachusetts impaired water bodies list.
Towns that are permitted to discharge storm water to waters of the United States are required to submit an annual report evaluating the status of permit compliance by May 1 of each year. Both towns initially failed to submit the first annual report due in 2004.
Despite the formal requests for the overdue reports by EPA, both towns also failed to submit reports due in May 2005 and May 2006. Of the 278 municipalities in New England, Dighton and Rehoboth are the only two that failed to submit the 2005 and 2006 reports after receiving a formal information request. As such, each town has been in violation of the CWA from May 1, 2005 to April 2007 when each town submitted its overdue reports.
Contractor for Groton, Conn. Submarine Base Faces EPA Fine for Clean Water Violations
Two contractors for a construction site at the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in Groton, Conn., are liable for $17,000 in penalties for violations of the federal Clean Water Act.
The two contractors, M.A. Mortenson Co., based in Minneapolis, Minn., and Pettini Contracting Corp., based in Mystic, Conn., violated storm water discharge requirements by failing to conduct and/or document storm water inspections, failing to implement and maintain storm water controls required by the site’s storm water pollution control plan and failing to update or amend the plan as needed.
Storm water from the construction site discharges to the existing Submarine Base storm water drainage system that eventually discharges into the Thames River.
“Controlling storm water runoff from construction sites is necessary to protect the quality our rivers, streams, and lakes,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. “Simple and effective controls need to be in place at construction sites to help keep our environment healthy and clean.”
EPA regulations require a permit for construction sites that disturb more than one acre of land. The construction on the submarine base disturbed less than three acres. The storm water permit seeks to protect waters from harmful pollutants that typically run off such sites and discharge into nearby waters. The permit has requirements that operators of a construction site develop a detailed management plan for mitigating the effects of storm water runoff.
Contractors, developers, and others who are responsible for day-to-day operations at a construction site are required to certify that they will properly implement these plans, called storm water pollution prevention plans. The permit also requires personnel who are on the sites to perform regular inspections of storm water controls and to employ management techniques that will minimize the effect of their activities on nearby waters.
A New Era in Environmental Chemical Testing: ToxCast™ Phase I Chemicals
Riding the wave of the future, EPA's ToxCast™ program looks to revolutionize the agency's chemical toxicity evaluation procedures.
EPA's National Center for Computational Toxicology has released a list of 340 chemicals that will be evaluated under Phase I of the ToxCast research program. This three-phased program sets priorities for toxicity testing of environmental chemicals in order to more efficiently obtain critical information necessary to protect people and the environment.
“When complete, the ToxCast Program will allow EPA to test thousands of environmental chemicals quickly for harmful effects. EPA will enter a new era of environmental chemical testing, which will allow the agency to better protect human health and the environment,” said Dr. George Gray, assistant administrator for the Office of Research and Development.
Under Phase I of ToxCast, the chemicals will be examined in hundreds of different rapid computer tests referred to as high throughput screening (HTS) bioassays. Phase I will be used to create chemical signatures of compounds. These chemical signatures will then be compared to known toxicity data in this proof-of-concept phase. It is expected that patterns will emerge that are predictive of compounds that could cause harm to people and the environment. Results of Phase I are expected in 2008, and will be posted on the ToxCast Web site.
Phase II will involve a larger, more diverse set of chemicals to test the predictability of patterns identified in Phase I. In Phase III, ToxCast will expand the list to thousands of environmental chemicals, delivering an affordable, science-based system for decision-makers.
In May 2007, the National Academy of Sciences released a report calling on EPA and other federal scientific agencies to use advances in computers, genomics, and cellular biology to speed up toxicity testing. The ToxCast Program, which began in 2006, implements many of the report’s recommendations.
EPA Issues Analysis of Potential Benefits and Costs of Proposed Revisions to Air Quality Standards for Ground-Level Ozone
The EPA issued its assessment of the potential benefits and costs of meeting the standards in its proposed revisions to the nation's air quality standards for ground-level ozone. EPA has proposed to strengthen the standards based on the most recent scientific evidence about the health effects of ozone, the primary component of smog.
This assessment, known as a Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA), provides general estimates of the nationwide benefits and costs of reaching a standard in the EPA-proposed range, which is 0.070 to 0.075 parts per million (ppm). The current ozone standard is 0.084 ppm. The RIA also looks at the benefits and costs of reaching a standard at two other levels within the range of standards that EPA has requested comment on, 0.065 ppm and 0.079 ppm.
To estimate the benefits of meeting alternative standards, EPA uses peer-reviewed studies of air quality and health and welfare effects, sophisticated air quality models, and peer-reviewed studies of the dollar values of public health improvements.
The RIA is intended to inform the public about the relative magnitude of the potential benefits and costs of reducing pollution to meet alternative ozone standards. It also illustrates emissions control strategies states might consider adopting to meet the revised standards in an efficient and cost-effective manner. For some urban areas, the analysis assumes that future innovation and technological advances will enable states to achieve the proposed standards by 2020.
EPA did not use this analysis in selecting the proposed ozone standards; the Clean Air Act bars the agency from considering costs in setting any national ambient air quality standard. EPA conducted the analysis under other requirements that the agency analyze the benefits and costs of any major regulation.
EPA Releases the Draft of 2007 Report on the Environment: Highlights of National Trends
The draft 2007 Report on the Environment (ROE): Highlights of National Trends (2007 ROE HD) was released for public comment and independent review. First issued in 2003, the ROE is a plain, easy-to-understand guide that provides the average citizen a resource to follow national trends in the condition of the air, water, and land in the United States.
The ROE is also part of EPA's commitment to be transparent to citizens, and to encourage citizen participation. Through the ROE, the public will have a complete picture of where the most environmental progress has been made, and where America needs to do better.
Written for a general audience, the ROE HD features a subset of the findings from the more comprehensive report, EPA's 2007 Report on the Environment: Science Report which was released in draft for public comment and review in May 2007. The final 2007 ROE report will consist of both the science and highlights documents. The information will also be available on an interactive, searchable Web site called the “e-ROE.”
EPA Reports Significant Energy Efficiency Opportunities for U.S. Servers and Data Centers
A new EPA report shows that data centers in the United States have the potential to save up to $4 billion in annual electricity costs through more energy efficient equipment and operations, and the broad implementation of best management practices. The “Report to Congress on Server and Data Center Energy Efficiency” recommends priority efficiency opportunities and policies that also can lead to additional savings using state-of-the-art technologies and operations.
Data centers are facilities that contain IT equipment (computing, networking, and data storage equipment), as well as power and cooling infrastructure. They are part of our critical national infrastructure, found in nearly every sector of the economy, including banking and financial services, media, manufacturing, transportation, education, health care, and government.
Findings from the report include:
- Data centers consumed about 60 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 2006, roughly 1.5% of total U.S. electricity consumption.
- The energy consumption of servers and data centers has doubled in the past five years and is expected to almost double again in the next five years to more than 100 billion kWh, costing about $7.4 billion annually.
- Federal servers and data centers alone account for approximately 6 billion kWh (10 percent) of this electricity use, at a total electricity cost of about $450 million per year.
- Existing technologies and strategies could reduce typical server energy use by an estimated 25 percent, with even greater energy savings possible with advanced technologies.
As the U.S. economy increasingly shifts from paper-based to digital information management, data centers have become a vital part of business, communication, academic, and governmental systems. Over the last five years the increase in use of these systems, and the power and cooling infrastructure that supports them, have doubled energy use, increased greenhouse gas emissions and raised concerns about power grid reliability.
In December 2006, Congress requested that EPA develop the report to examine market trends in the growth and energy use of servers and data centers. The report complements EPA's ongoing efforts to develop new energy efficient specifications for data center equipment as well as explorations into a new Energy Star building benchmark for data centers that reflects whole building operations.
Buckeye Terminals Fined for Risk Management Plan Violations
Buckeye Terminals, LLC, of Lima, Ohio, will pay a $15,442 civil penalty for violations in the risk management plan for the 1500 West Buckeye Road facility. The company has corrected the plan's deficiencies.
The company operates a bulk gasoline storage and pipeline facility and a separate butane blending operation. The facility was owned by Shell Pipeline Co. until July 2004.
State regulations require facilities that have more than a threshold quantity of a regulated substance to have a risk management plan. Federal law requires users of hazardous chemicals to write risk management plans detailing how they will reduce the risk of accidents and promptly respond if an accident occurs.
Ohio EPA previously addressed deficiencies in the risk management plan with Shell, who agreed to correct the deficiencies and pay a $27,560 penalty in January 2005.
In June 2006, Ohio EPA audited Buckeye's risk management plan and found six deficiencies, including failing to provide process safety information, failing to develop and implement a process hazard analysis, failing to create an emergency shutdown procedure for the butane injection process, and failing to perform inspections and tests on process equipment.
The company will pay $12,354 to Ohio EPA's Environmental Education Fund and air pollution control programs. The remaining $3,088 will be paid to Ohio EPA's Clean Diesel School Bus Program.
Oil Company Fined for Groundwater Discharges
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Director Steven E. Chester has announced that the DEQ has entered into an administrative consent order with J & H Oil Company in Kent County to resolve civil violations of Michigan's water protection laws and violations of its Groundwater Discharge Permit that occurred at the company's aboveground sewage disposal system. These violations include an unauthorized discharge of wastewater to the storm sewer, unauthorized discharges to the ground, failure to submit sanitary sewer overflow forms, and failure to employ a certified operator to operate and maintain the aboveground sewage disposal system.
“Michigan's groundwater provides a source of safe, clean drinking water for almost half of our state's citizens,” said Director Chester. “When unlawful discharges threaten groundwater supplies, the DEQ will take action to resolve the violations and ensure our waters remain protected.”
The consent order entered into between the DEQ and the company resolves the violations and requires J & H Oil to pay a civil fine in the amount of $18,632 and reimburse the DEQ for enforcement costs associated with resolving the violations. As part of the compliance program contained in the consent order, the company has agreed to update the Operation and maintenance manual for the aboveground sewage disposal system and submit to the DEQ any modifications proposed for the system.
US Climate Action Report Submitted to UN
The report was developed through an interagency process led by the State Department and reflects comments from the general public.
The Climate Action Report focuses on actions that the United States is taking to address climate change. As required by Framework Convention guidelines, it provides information about the effects of our programs on overall U.S. greenhouse gas emission trends. It also identifies actions that the U.S. is taking to better characterize and respond to these trends. The report takes into account activities through the conclusion of 2006.
Reports from other countries:
Citizen Reports Company Pouring Industrial Waste into Parking Lot Drain
On July 16, 2007, Federal Industrial Services, Inc. of Warren, Mich., pled guilty before the Honorable Judge Charlotte L. Wirth in the 17th District Court, Wayne County, Michigan to the discharge of liquid industrial waste into a drain or sewer in violation of Michigan's environmental protection laws. The guilty plea is the result of an agreement negotiated by Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Charles Davis.
The court ordered Federal Industrial to pay a $995 fine, $255 in court costs, $75 in probation costs, $75 to the state's Crime Victim Fund, and $175 to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Environmental Trust Fund. In addition, Federal Industrial was placed on six month's non-reporting probation after which the charge will be dismissed upon payment of all fines and costs and no further violation of environmental laws. Federal Industrial also has paid the Redford Township Fire Department $2,896 for costs associated with emergency response to the violation.
This case is the result of a complaint reported to the Department of Environmental Quality's Pollution Emergency Alert System (PEAS) Hotline and investigated by the DEQ's Office of Criminal Investigations. The witnesses reported that they observed a worker for Federal Industrial dumping the contents of a large container into a parking lot drain. The Redford Township Fire Department and the Wayne County Regional HAZMAT Team responded to the location and detected a strong solvent odor coming from the drain. Upon investigation, a Federal Industrial employee admitted to dumping the liquid industrial waste into the parking lot drain.
“I appreciate the alert actions of the citizen who reported this violation,” said DEQ Director Steven E. Chester. “These types of incidents are unfortunate but demonstrate that we must all play a role in protecting our environment.”
Oregon DEQ Announces Penalties Totaling $489,992
Coca-Cola Bottling Fined $528,500 for Diesel Emissions
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced last week that it has negotiated a settlement with Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Los Angeles for $528,500 as a result of failure to properly inspect its diesel truck fleet for smoke emissions.
ARB documented violations of the Periodic Smoke Inspection Program, which requires annual smoke opacity tests of California-based fleets. The program, in conjunction with ARB's roadside smoke inspection program, is used to ensure that all of California's heavy-duty vehicles are properly maintained, tamper-free, and free from excessive smoke.
“The best way for corporations to avoid penalties is to keep their vehicles maintained to engine manufacturers' specifications,” said Tom Cackette, ARB acting executive officer. “ARB also encourages fleet maintenance personnel to attend training programs to become skilled on vehicle inspection requirements.”
The California Air Pollution Fund will receive $396,375 and Peralta Community College District will receive $132,125 to distribute to campuses offering diesel education and technology courses. Coca-Cola will require staff responsible for compliance with smoke inspection programs to attend this training class, and is committed to compliance with clean air programs.
Diesel soot accounts for 70 percent of Californians exposure to toxics. Los Angeles residents are at particular risk since the region has the state's most pressing air quality problems.
2007 Montana Nonpoint Source Management Plan Released
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently received approval from the EPA for the “2007 Montana Nonpoint Source Management Plan: A Watershed Approach.”
According to DEQ Director Richard Opper, “Addressing water pollution from inadequately controlled runoff is one of Montana’s greatest water quality challenges.”
Sources of polluted runoff include bacteria from pet and animal wastes, pesticides and fertilizers from lawns and fields, sediment from roads and disturbed soils, and nitrogen and phosphorus from septic systems. This polluted runoff is called “nonpoint source” (NPS) pollution, because it comes from diffuse runoff, seepage, drainage, or infiltration, rather than discharging from a pipe, or a “point source.” NPS pollution is responsible for the vast majority of the documented pollution problems in Montana’s creeks, streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and wetlands.
The 2007 Montana NPS Plan provides an updated strategy to improve water quality by evaluating NPS pollution impacts on water resources and recommending “best management practices” to minimize those effects. Best management practices are scientifically documented and well-accepted actions or changes in activities that minimize water pollution from urban development, construction, forestry, agriculture, mining, etc. Examples include regular maintenance of septic systems, stormwater detention ponds, improved road maintenance, building setbacks from streams, precision farming, improved irrigation water management, and riparian area grazing management. The plan also targets multiple audiences through education and outreach to all Montana’s citizens.
The Nonpoint Source Management Plan directs federal funding provided to Montana under the Clean Water Act to address nonpoint source pollution. The DEQ is the lead state agency for the nonpoint source pollution program and provides about $650,000 each year in grants to state and local agencies and nonprofit groups.
The Nonpoint Source Management Plan is available to the public in three formats: 1) on the DEQ website at www.deq.mt.gov, 2) on CD or 3) hardcopy.
For more information on Montana's nonpoint source management program contact Robert Ray, DEQ Water Quality Planning Bureau at 406-444-5319 or
Spear USA Fined for Hazardous Waste Violations
Ohio EPA has reached a settlement with Spear USA, LLC, for hazardous waste violations at the company's 5510 Courseview Drive, Mason, facility. Spear creates hazardous waste as part of its process in which it prints pressure-sensitive labels on clear film. The settlement outlines steps the company must take to ensure future safe hazardous waste handling. The agreement also includes a $6,720 civil penalty and $1,680 payment to the Ohio EPA Clean Diesel School Bus Program.
No release of hazardous waste was observed during the inspections and Spear is now in compliance with applicable hazardous waste storage regulations.
On April 29, 1999, Ohio EPA inspected the facility and found that the company failed to conduct and document weekly inspections of emergency equipment and failed to conduct and document weekly hazardous waste storage area inspections. By June 29, 1999, the facility had corrected the violations.
However, on May 30, 2006, an inspection determined that Spears failed to
- Maintain and test, as necessary, all communication and emergency equipment at the facility.
- Conduct and document weekly inspections of the hazardous waste storage facility.
- Include a list of all emergency equipment at the facility in the hazardous waste contingency plan.
Stronger Whistleblower Protections Ordered by Pentagon
In certain respects, the new rules, which go into immediate effect, are stronger than existing protections for non-Defense civil servants.
In a Department of Defense (DOD) Directive dated July 23, 2007, Deputy Secretary Gordon England mandates a series of procedural and substantive safeguards for agency whistleblowers, including:
- Punishment for officers or civilian supervisors found to have restrained or reprised against whistleblowers. Regulations are being prepared to make whistleblower retaliation explicitly punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice as an act of insubordination.
- Mandatory investigations of whistleblower complaints by service inspector general offices within 180 days. The rules provide for oversight of all such investigations by the DOD Inspector General. In addition, any decision flowing from these investigations may be appealed to the Secretary of Defense.
- Explicitly extending whistleblower protection regulations to cover disclosures made within the military chain-of-command, as well as disclosures made to Congress or inspector generals. Under current law, non-DOD civil servants are not protected for whistleblower disclosures made within their chains-of-command, although legislation pending in both houses of Congress would extend coverage to these intra-agency reports.
Rhode Island to Revise Rules for Operation and Maintenance of Wastewater Treatment Plants
The RI Department of Environmental Management(DEM) will hold an informational education workshop on Wednesday, August 15 on proposed regulatory amendments regarding the operation and maintenance of wastewater treatment facilities. A public hearing on the proposed amendments will be held on Wednesday, August 29.
The proposed amendments update regulations that have not been revised since 1980, and concern facilities with surface water discharges only. They seek to better protect public health and water quality by improving oversight of privately owned wastewater collection and pumping systems, as well as clarifying DEM's oversight of wastewater collection and treatment systems. They also make clear the responsibilities of municipalities in policing private pumping stations and collections systems that are attached to their collection systems, a necessary clarification, given the growing number of private wastewater collection systems that are now attached to municipal systems.
The proposed regulations also spell out and call attention to current requirements for adequate capacity management and operation and maintenance of collection systems, given the expansion of public and private sewage collection systems, the state's aging sewer-collection infrastructure, and the trend of more frequent and intense rain events. They also include language looking to the future that would allow DEM to access facilities' operational real-time electronic data.
The public hearing will be held on August 29 at 1 p.m. at the same location. Written comments may be delivered at the public hearing or submitted by mail to DEM's Office of Water Resources, Operations and Maintenance Section, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908, where they must be received by 4 p.m. on Friday, August 31.
El Paso Natural Gas to Pay $15.5 Million Penalty and Perform Comprehensive Reforms to Pipeline System
The Justice Department and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced a settlement requiring comprehensive reform on El Paso Natural Gas Company’s (EPNG) entire 10,000-mile pipeline system. The action results from a tragic explosion of an EPNG pipeline that killed twelve people in Carlsbad, N.M., in August 2000.
In the first judicial settlement brought under the Pipeline Safety Act, EPNG will spend at least $86 million to implement widespread and comprehensive modifications of its Natural Gas Pipeline System, and pay a $15.5 million civil penalty to resolve the alleged violations. The complaint filed concurrently with the settlement agreement alleges that EPNG failed to employ personnel qualified in corrosion control methods; failed to investigate and mitigate internal corrosion in two of its pipelines transporting corrosive gas; and failed to suitably monitor those pipelines to determine the effectiveness of steps taken to minimize internal corrosion. “The comprehensive pipeline modifications EPNG will complete as part of this settlement will help to ensure that the severe internal corrosion that resulted in such a tragic accident will not be repeated,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Today’s settlement shows how the use of judicial enforcement by the Departments of Justice and Transportation can result in meaningful reform that will improve public safety and help to bring the industry into compliance.”
“We have been working for several years to provide enhancements to El Paso’s pipeline integrity management, especially in areas of assessment and corrosion control,” said Stacey Gerard, PHMSA assistant administrator and chief safety officer. “PHMSA remains committed to overseeing a pipeline system capable of servicing America’s vital energy needs as safely and reliably as possible.”
The cause of the 2000 explosion was determined to be a significant reduction in the pipe wall thickness due to severe internal corrosion. The settlement agreement requires EPNG to fully implement comprehensive reform focusing on internal corrosion on its entire interstate natural gas pipeline system extending from the San Juan, Permian, and Anadarko Basins to markets in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and northern Mexico. EPNG will be required to undertake the following actions:
- Modify its Natural Gas Pipeline System to enable certain segments to be inspected by in-line inspection tools to determine the wall thickness of the steel pipes.
- Remove pipeline drips that are not as effective as utilizing cleaning pigs on its system.
- Collect and analyze liquid samples for corrosive properties whenever a pipeline, vessel, pig trap, meter tube, or tank is opened on its system.
- Comply with Gas Quality Guidelines that require the monitoring of potentially corrosive gas quality constituents in the gas stream, and report semi-annually that it complied with operating procedures for enforcement.
- Conduct annual reviews of EPNG’s Site Specific Plans and review all of its non-destructive examination (NDE) records and high resolution magnetic flux leakage data to determine if any facility needs to be inspected, reinspected or monitored to determine if wall loss is occurring.
- Develop a training program for EPNG’s corrosion control specialists and engineers.
The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court in New Mexico, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.
New Energy Star Specifications for Commercial Dishwashers and Ice Machines
More efficient commercial kitchen equipment can save restaurants and food service facilities from 10 to 30 percent on commercial kitchen energy consumption.
“Energy efficiency is a top priority among restaurant owners and operators,” said Bob Meyers, EPA's principal deputy assistant administrator for Air and Radiation. “We are pleased to deliver more options to save on energy costs and help protect the environment through two new commercial food service products earning the Energy Star.”
The specifications cover several types of machines in both categories, requiring them to meet maximum energy and water efficiency savings. Other Energy Star commercial food service products include fryers, steam cookers, hot food holding cabinets, and solid door reach-in refrigerators and freezers.
Restaurant and commercial kitchen owners and operators will be able to purchase Energy Star-qualified commercial dishwashers starting Oct.11, 2007, and ice makers starting Jan. 1, 2008. Over the next five years, these new Energy Star products are expected to save restaurants $100 million in energy and water costs. These products will help improve the energy intensity of food service buildings, which consume roughly 2.5 times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings.
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Trivia Question of the Week
A change in the diet in which of the following is helping to clean up Delaware waterways?