California Sues EPA to End Delay of Greenhouse Gas Limits

November 12, 2007

 The lawsuit, filed in Washington D.C., charges the EPA with an unreasonable delay in reaching a decision on California’s landmark law, known as the Pavley bill, which mandates a 30% reduction in motor vehicle emissions by 2016.

“Despite the mounting dangers of global warming, the EPA has delayed and ignored California’s right to impose stricter environmental standards,” Brown told a news conference at the state capitol with Governor Schwarzenegger and California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols. “We have waited two years and the Supreme Court has ruled in our favor. What is the EPA waiting for?”

Under the Clean Air Act, passed in 1963, California can adopt environmental standards that are stricter than federal rules if the state obtains a waiver from the U.S. EPA. Congress allowed California to impose stricter laws in recognition of the state’s “compelling and extraordinary conditions.” After a California waiver request is granted, other states are permitted to adopt the same rules.

In the Act’s 40-year history, EPA has granted approximately 50 waivers for innovations like catalytic converters, exhaust emission standards, and leaded gasoline regulations. In this lawsuit, California asserts that EPA has failed to act in a reasonable length of time.

In 2002, California passed AB 1493, which requires a 30% reduction in global warming emissions from vehicles by 2016, starting with model year 2009. In December 2005, the California Air Resources Board applied for a waiver to implement the law. Governor Schwarzenegger wrote to the EPA in April 2006 and in October 2006, requesting action on California’s application.

Sixteen other states—Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington—have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, California’s emissions standards.

The state asserts that EPA does not need any additional time to review the facts—the California Air Resources Board submitted a detailed 251-page assessment in 2005 and the U.S. Supreme Court already issued a decision that greenhouse gases are pollutants. In September, a Vermont District Court ruled in favor of the state regulations, rejecting a challenge from the automobile lobby.

There are 32 million registered vehicles in California, twice the number of any other state. Cars generate 20% of all man-made carbon dioxide emissions in the United States and at least 30% of such emissions in California. If California’s landmark global warming law—and the corresponding 30% improvement in emissions standards—were adopted nationally, the United States could cut annual oil imports by $100 billion dollars, at $50 per barrel.

Last year, Governor Schwarzenegger signed the landmark Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32, which sets a goal to cut California greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020. To meet this target, California must reduce emissions by 174 million metric tons. If California’s motor vehicle emissions law is implemented, it will account for 17% of this reduction target.

Climate research shows that global warming is having a profound effect on California’s temperature, weather, air quality, and mountain snowfall. Last year, Southern California experienced its driest year since recordkeeping began 130 years ago. Between 1949 and 1999, average temperature in California increased 1.03 Fahrenheit, and mountain snow accumulation declined 10%. By 2099, there will be virtually no snow below 3,280 feet.

Fourteen other states are expected to support California as interveners in the lawsuit.

Ohio Revises TRI Regulations

Ohio EPA has completed new draft language and draft amendments for rules in Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Chapter 3745-100, “Toxic Chemical Release Reporting.” Existing OAC rules 3745-100-01, -09, -11, -14, and -15 are being amended and new OAC rules -05 and -17 are being promulgated as a result of two new rules finalized by the U.S. EPA during reporting year 2006 for reporting year 2006. U.S. EPA Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) finalized the "“TRI NAICS Rule,” which requires TRI facilities to report North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes on their submissions instead of Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Codes.

In addition, TRI also finalized the TRI Burden Reduction Rule, which expands the eligibility for using the Form A Certification Statement in lieu of the more detailed Form R.

The following summarizes these changes by rule:

Rule 3745-100-01: Definitions. Amended to include the new definitions of the “previously classified SIC codes.” Previously classified means “properly classified,” according to OAC 3745-100-05(B) under a given Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code, as identified in the Standard Industrial Classification Manual, 1987, Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget.

Rule 3745-100-05: Identifies covered facilities that are subject to the new reporting requirements. The rule is modified to require TRI facilities to report North American Industry Classification System
(NAICS) codes on their submissions instead of Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Codes. Because the changes exceed more than 50% of the rule, the rule is being rescinded and reintroduced as a new rule.

Rule 3745-100-09: Requires a person who owns or operates a facility or establishment to supply the following information to each person to whom the mixture or trade name product is sold or otherwise distributed from the facility: the chemical name, CAS number, and the percent by weight of each toxic chemical in the mixture or trade name product. The rule is amended to address the change from Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes.

Rule 3745-100-11: Toxic chemical release form and instructions. The rule is amended to address the change from the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes, the availability of the reporting form and instructions, and where to get that information from the U.S. EPA website.

The rule was also amended to address additional reporting for dioxin and dioxin-like compounds. Finally, the rule was amended to remove the latitude and longitude coordinates, as well as facility identifiers like RCRA I.D., NPDES, and underground injection well code (UIC) numbers from being reported on the form.

Rule 3745-100-14: Alternate threshold and certification. Amended to address incorporated references and include a statement about the “Incorporation by Reference” section at the end of rule 3745-100-01.

Rule 3745-100-15: Alternate threshold certification and instructions.
The rule is amended to allow expanded eligibility for TRI reporters to use Form A, a simpler form with less detailed information, in lieu of the more detailed Form R. Reporting facilities are allowed to use Form A for non-PBT (Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic) chemicals, so long as releases or other disposal is not greater than 2,000 pounds as part of the total waste management limit for the chemical, which is not more than 5,000 pounds. Form A may be used for certain chemicals of greater concern (i.e., persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals) when there are no releases or other disposal and no more than 500 pounds of other waste management (e.g., recycling or treatment).

Rule 3745-100-17: SIC and NAICS codes. This is a new rule. This rule contains three listings. Paragraph (A) of this rule lists the SIC codes to which this chapter applies. Paragraph (B) of this rule lists the NAICS codes that correspond to SIC codes 20 through 39 to which this chapter applies. Paragraph (C) of this rule lists the NAICS codes that correspond to SIC Codes other than SIC codes 20 through 39 to which this chapter applies.

As part of the rule-making process, DAPC is required by Section 121.39 of the Ohio Revised Code to consult with organizations that represent political subdivisions, environmental interests, business interests, and others affected by the rules. The DAPC is offering your organization the opportunity to comment on these rules before the division formally proposes them.


Washington State Repeals Old Spill Rules, Amends Other Rules to Match State Law

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) repealed six oil spill prevention and preparedness rules that were superseded when the agency adopted new oil transfer and spill contingency plan rules. Ecology also amended several existing spills rules, including an expanded definition of oil, to be consistent with statutory changes effective in July 2007.

The department adopted a new definition of oil that now encompasses biologically derived plant oils and fuels such as biodiesel, making the state’s definition consistent with the federal definition of oil.
Another amended rule increased the state’s authority to assess natural resource damages caused by an oil spill by increasing the ceiling amount from $50 to $100 per gallon. This new ceiling is intended to better compensate Washington residents for the true cost of injuries to state natural resources caused by an oil spill.

Dale Jensen, Ecology’s manager for spill prevention, preparedness, and response, said that the changes in plan rules and the increase in assessment makes the department’s rules consistent with new state laws. 

Governors Announce Energy Efficiency Partnership With Climate Savers Computing Initiative


“The average desktop PC currently wastes half of the power it receives,” said NGA Chair Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. “Having states increase the energy efficiency of their computing equipment will save consumers and taxpayers money, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. This is another great opportunity where states can help lead the way to a more clean and secure energy future.”

By joining forces, these groups believe states can achieve up to a 50% reduction in current energy consumption from state-owned computing equipment over the next four years. As co-chairs of the SCEF Initiative, Gov. Pawlenty and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius will be the first governors to commit their states to this partnership and will be sending a letter to all governors encouraging them to join the program as well.

Under the terms of the agreement, these states have committed to reducing energy consumption from a majority of their computing equipment by:

  • Pledging to purchase high-efficiency computer equipment that meets or exceeds federal ENERGY STAR ratings
  • Optimizing existing computer systems by educating employees about more efficient and effective computer power management strategies, such as better using hibernation and sleep modes
  • Ensuring in subsequent years that states purchase computing equipment with increasing levels of efficiency.

“State governments across the country use significant amounts of computer equipment,” said SCEF co-chair Gov. Sebelius. “By taking actions to reduce the energy demands of our own equipment, we can effectively leverage the purchasing power of states to achieve improvements in our energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction efforts.”

In a typical desktop PC, nearly half the power coming from the outlet never reaches the processor, memory, disks, or any other computing components. The wasted electricity is dispersed as heat and increases the cost of powering a computer, as well as the emission of greenhouse gases. In offices, homes, and data centers, the added heat from inefficient computers can increase the demand on air conditioners and cooling systems, making the computing equipment even more expensive to run. Servers are more efficient than desktops, but still typically waste 30% to 40% of the input power. Additional energy is often sacrificed because of poor power management settings. Even though most of today’s desktop PCs are capable of automatically transitioning to a sleep or hibernate state when inactive, about 90% of systems have this functionality disabled.

Bill Weihl, cochairman of the CSCI Board of Directors and Google’s Green Energy Czar, commented on the impact states can bring to the effort. “By implementing the Climate Savers Computing Initiative purchase-and-use criteria, states will achieve significant reductions in their own computing energy consumption. More importantly, their actions will provide leadership for residents and local businesses looking to implement effective emission reduction policies. We’re very excited to be working with NGA on this program.”

Launched in July, NGA’s SCEF Initiative enlists the efforts of all governors to enact meaningful clean energy policies at the state level. Under the initiative, NGA will develop and distribute a number of tools—including guides, reports, regional workshops, and national summits—to help governors understand the specific energy challenges in their states and implement policy solutions that address these challenges. The initiative specifically emphasizes the role of public-private partnerships—such as this agreement with CSCI—to generate increased use of clean energy and advanced energy technologies.

CSCI, an initiative started by Google and Intel, brings together manufacturers, businesses, organizations, and individuals to significantly increase the energy efficiency of computers and servers. CSCI is led by representatives from nine board of director companies, including NGA Corporate Fellows Dell Inc.; Electronic Data Systems Corporation; Hewlett-Packard Company; Intel Corporation; and Microsoft Corporation. NGA Corporate Fellow Unisys serves as an associate member of the initiative.


Pennsylvania to Give Energy Conservation Grants to Businesses

With energy costs continuing to rise, Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell said the state will persevere with its work to help small businesses reduce electricity and fuel consumption. The governor said 89 small businesses across the state will receive a total of $521,000 in grants to incorporate innovative technologies that improve energy efficiency and reduce pollution.

“From electricity to natural gas, gasoline and diesel fuel, energy prices are going up and that can have a drastic impact on the bottom lines of small businesses,” said Gov. Rendell. “Conserving energy and reducing pollution makes sense not only for the environment, but also economically.”

With more than 264,000 small businesses in the commonwealth that employ nearly 2 million people and annually pay more than $19 million in salaries, the governor said helping these firms reduce energy expenditures is key to growing the economy and achieving energy independence.

The Small Business Advantage Grants program provides a 50% match of up to $7,500 for equipment or processes that reduce energy consumption, promote pollution prevention, and increase profitability. Examples include high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, motion sensors that shut off lights when rooms are empty, and auxiliary power units that allow long-haul truckers to turn off engines during layovers and still have heat and electricity.

Since Gov. Rendell launched the Small Business Advantage Grants program in July 2004, more than $3.3 million has been awarded to almost 600 businesses across the state. This year’s grants will leverage almost $1.5 million in private investments.

The Small Business Advantage grant program is open to small business owners whose business or facility is located in Pennsylvania. An eligible applicant must be a for-profit business enterprise that is a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, sole proprietorship, or other legal entity that has no more than 100 employees and is a separate legal business entity at the time the application is submitted. Applicants may be manufacturers or service providers.


Pennsylvania Joins Lawsuit to Urge Regulating Greenhouse Gases From Cars

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, along with 13 other states, is pursuing legal action to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to act on California’s waiver request for better regulating greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, Governor Edward G. Rendell announced. California filed its suit last week.

The EPA’s inaction, said Gov. Rendell, is stalling Pennsylvania’s efforts to reduce these climate-changing pollutants, which will protect the environment and the public’s health. “The fundamental ability for the commonwealth and other states to go above and beyond the EPA’s regulations should be encouraged, not delayed, by the federal government,” Rendell said. “Waiting nearly two years for this waiver is too long. I am calling on the EPA to fulfill its obligations and promptly grant California’s waiver request to allow it to implement its greenhouse gas regulations for automobiles.”

Joining Pennsylvania in the lawsit are Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Maine, Oregon, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Washington, Illinois, Vermont, and Arizona. These states have filed requests with the court to allow them to intervene in California’s lawsuit as plaintiffs.

On Dec. 21, 2005, California requested a waiver from EPA to implement its greenhouse gas regulation. Now, almost two years later, EPA has yet to act on the request. Pennsylvania and other states cannot enforce these regulations under the Clean Air Act until the EPA grants a waiver to California’s greenhouse gas regulation.

California, arguing that the EPA has “unlawfully withheld and unreasonably delayed” action on its waiver request, filed two legal actions seeking to order the federal agency to act on the waiver petition by December 31. One lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and the second was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Pennsylvania has adopted the stricter California emission rules, but will not realize GHG reductions from the rules unless the Golden State is permitted to enforce that portion of its clean vehicle program. Brand new cars and light trucks starting with model year 2008 sold, titled, and registered in Pennsylvania must be certified by the California Air Resources Board.

This certification requirement is not affected by EPA's waiver decision or the litigation announced today, because EPA already has approved California’s smog-related standards.

The federal Clean Air Act gives California the unique authority to set its own more stringent air pollutant regulations for cars and allows other states like Pennsylvania to adopt those regulations rather than the federal governments version. However, the federal act requires that EPA provide California with a waiver before these state regulations can be enforced by other states.

California adopted its greenhouse gas regulations on Aug. 4, 2005, requiring reductions in fleet-average, greenhouse-gas emissions for most new passenger motor vehicles sold in California, beginning with the 2009 model year.

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty testified before the EPA in May in support of the waiver to California. During her remarks, the secretary noted that California has met all the legal obligations prescribed by the Clean Air Act; therefore the EPA is obligated to grant the waiver.

“The country needs California’s leadership right now—EPA should not and cannot stand in its way,” said McGinty. “With about 25% of greenhouse gases in Pennsylvania attributed to transportation, we are urging the EPA to grant California its waiver as soon as possible so that automakers can get on with the job, as they always have, of providing the technology to make our transportation system as clean as possible.”

A statement from the Pennsylvania DEP charged that the Bush administration has resisted regulatory approaches to controlling greenhouse gases. In April, the U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark ruling against the administration, deciding that EPA has the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, as air pollutants. This decision paved the way for states to adopt regulations controlling greenhouse gas pollutants from automobiles sold there.

Since the Golden State adopted its greenhouse gas regulations for cars, 14 states have either adopted, or are in the process of adopting, California’s regulation, including Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Clinton Climate Initiative to Retrofit Buildings Nationwide

President Bill Clinton announced several new partnerships to improve the energy efficiency of hundreds of millions of square feet of public and private real estate throughout the United States.  CCI will also partner with GE Real Estate to identify and implement building retrofit projects across GE Real Estate’s global portfolio. In addition, along with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), CCI will create a Green Schools Program to retrofit schools and universities across America.

“The tools we need to dramatically reduce our carbon emissions exist today,” said President Clinton. “When it comes to climate change, the hurdles we face aren’t technological, they’re organizational, which is why my foundation is partnering with cities, businesses, nonprofits, and schools alike to design systems and programs that reduce energy consumption. I’m grateful to them all for working to show the world that the solution to the climate crisis isn’t far off in the future— it’s in the buildings we inhabit, our civic infrastructure, and the way we organize our lives.”

President Clinton and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announced three joint projects between the City of Chicago and CCI’s Energy-Efficiency Building Retrofit Program, an effort launched in May 2007 that enables cities to implement cost-effective, green retrofits of existing buildings. "Chicago has always led by example when it comes to protecting the environment,” said Mayor Daley. “The Clinton Climate Initiative will play a major role in helping us reach our goal of making Chicago the most environmentally friendly city in the country.”

CCI and the City of Chicago will work with the Merchandise Mart, the world’s largest commercial building and largest wholesale design center, and the Sears Tower, the tallest building in America, to complete audits and subsequent overhauls to increase their energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprints. In addition, CCI is developing a targeted program for energy retrofits of privately owned, multi-tenant housing in Chicago. Under the auspices of the city’s Department of Housing, building owners will jointly contract for energy performance contracts and use future energy savings to finance the project implementation.

Partnership With GE Real Estate
GE Real Estate is one of the world’s most significant commercial real estate companies, with more than $72 billion and more than 385 million square feet in assets in 31 countries throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia/New Zealand. CCI is partnering with GE Real Estate to identify and implement building retrofit projects across their global portfolio. Work will begin in CCI’s partner cities where GE Real Estate owns significant property.

“The Clinton Climate Initiative and GE Real Estate share the view that improving the environmental performance of existing properties is essential toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing property efficiencies, positively impacting the health of tenants, and thereby improving the value of our properties,” said Ron Pressman, president and CEO, GE Real Estate. “As one of the world's largest owners of commercial properties with thousands of buildings in our portfolio, and more added each year, we believe we can make a significant, positive impact on the environment while benefiting our business. This is another great example of GE's ‘green is green’ strategy.”

Green Schools Program
CCI and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) will work with K-12 schools throughout the nation to establish a Green Schools Program to reduce the energy consumption of school buildings. “We are honored to have partnered with the President’s Climate Initiative to convene this historic effort to green our nation’s schools,” said Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC’s president, CEO, and founding chair. “Green schools are a powerful demonstration of our commitment to our children's future, and it’s a powerful way to show the next generation how we can all make a difference in this world.”

CCI and the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) will also work together to retrofit hundreds of U.S. colleges and universities and meet their commitment to attain climate neutrality while lowering their energy bills.

Additional partners in the Green Schools Program include Allegheny College, American Federation of Teachers, Arizona State University, Association of Sustainability in Higher Education, Chicago Public Schools, College of the Atlantic, Council of Educational Facilities Planners International, Dakota County Technical College, EcoAmerica, Earth Day Network, Illinois Association of School Board Members, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, LA Community College District, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Middlebury College, National Association of School Boards, National Education Association, Ohio School Facilities Commission, Rio Rancho Public Schools, Second Nature, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Idaho, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Public Schools.

Building on his long-term commitment to preserving the environment, President Clinton launched the Clinton Foundation’s Climate Initiative in August 2006 with the mission of applying the foundation’s business-oriented approach to the fight against climate change in practical, measurable, and significant ways. In its first phase, CCI is working with cities around the world to accelerate efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In May 2007, President Clinton announced the creation of a global Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit Program, a project of the Clinton Climate Initiative. This program brings together 8 of the world’s largest energy service companies, 5 of the world’s largest banks, and 17 of the world’s largest cities in a landmark program designed to reduce energy consumption in existing buildings. The program provides both cities and their private building owners with access to the necessary funds to retrofit existing buildings with more energy-efficient products, typically leading to energy savings between 20% to 50%.


Next Generation of Energy Star Computers Offers More Than $1 Billion in Energy Savings

Can surfing the Web help protect the environment and save you money? Yes, and it is as simple as buying one of the new Energy Star qualified computer products. With more than 500 newly qualified product models already on the shelves, there are many options for home and work that will reduce your energy bill and greenhouse gas emissions.

"As the driver of America's technology revolution, the innovative spirit of the computer industry is now powering our energy revolution," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "Thanks to the new Energy Star specifications for computers, today's consumers can be the link to a cleaner tomorrow."

Because the stringent new requirements for Energy Star computers became effective in July, more than 35 manufacturers have demonstrated their commitment to fight climate change by offering products that save energy. These newly qualified computers offer significant savings opportunities at home and in businesses. In fact, if every U.S. household and business replaced old computers with new Energy Star qualified models, we would save more than $1.8 billion in energy costs over the next five years and avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to more than 2.7 million cars.

The new specification establishes efficiency requirements for all modes of operation, which ensures energy savings when a computer is active and running basic applications, as well as when it is on stand-by. Newly qualified computers must also include an internal power supply that is at least 80% efficient. Under the new specification, only the most energy-efficient computer equipment, including desktop and notebook (or laptop) computers, game consoles, integrated computer systems, desktop-derived servers and workstations, can earn the Energy Star label.

When businesses and other organizations purchase computers in large numbers, the benefits stack up. For every 100 computers a business replaces with computers meeting the new Energy Star specification, it will save $175 per year on energy bills and more than $670 over the computers’ lifetime.

It will also be easier for consumers and businesses to find qualified computers and related equipment. Under the new specification, manufacturers must display the Energy Star label on the product and its packaging, in product literature, and on websites to clearly indicate which products meet the new specification. 

Computers were the first product to qualify for EPA's Energy Star label in 1992. The United States now has more than 180 million computers in use that consume nearly 58 billion kWh per year or about 2% of the nation's annual electricity consumption.

Energy Star was introduced by EPA in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy joined EPA in this effort, and today, the Energy Star label can be found on more than 50 different types of products. Products that have earned the Energy Star designation prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy-efficiency specifications set by the government. 

Greenhouse Gas Scoping Plan Meetings

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) staff is inviting interested parties to participate in a series of public workshops to discuss the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Scoping Plan (Plan). This workshop initiates the Plan development process. As such, ARB is seeking input into the overall structure of the Plan and the basic elements it must address.

The first meeting will be Nov. 30, 2007, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the South Coast AQMD, 21865 E. Copley Dr., Diamond Bar, CA 91765. 

EPA to Hold Hearing on Amendments to Petroleum Refinery Rule

EPA will hold a public hearing Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007, in Houston to receive comments on proposed amendments to the agency’s 1995 air toxics standards for petroleum refineries.

The amendments, proposed in August, address the residual risk and eight-year technology reviews required for air toxics standards. Air toxics, also known as hazardous air pollutants, are known or suspected to cause cancer and other health problems. The hearing will begin at 9 a.m. and continue until 9 p.m. at the Hartman Park Community Center, 9311 Avenue P. 

EPA also is providing additional time for the public to submit written comments on the proposed amendments. Comments must be received by Dec. 28, 2007. 

Administration Announces Marine Debris Initiative

On Friday, November 2, First Lady Laura Bush announced a new Marine Debris Initiative and designated the J.L. Scott Marine Education Center in Mississippi as the 21st Coastal America Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center. In 2004, as part of the Ocean Action Plan, President George W. Bush directed EPA and NOAA to cochair an Interagency Marine Debris Coordinating Committee that ensures the coordination of federal agency marine debris activities both in the United States and internationally. As part of the event, the Ocean Conservancy released a new EPA-funded five-year national study on marine debris, which sets a nationwide scientific baseline on the problem. The study found that general-source marine debris trash that comes from both ocean- and land-based activities increased across the United States by more than 5% each year. “Marine debris threatens the health and beauty of America's coasts and waterways,” said Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA's Assistant Administrator for Water. “This scientific report is a giant step to advance ocean stewardship, locally and globally. It will help raise public awareness to fight a pervasive and preventable problem and measure progress towards litter-free seas and cleaner coasts.”

The administration is furthering its commitment by increasing public education and awareness through educational events at Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers including interactive exhibits by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Gulf of Mexico Program Office at Gulf of Mexico centers, an informative ocean kiosk at the Smithsonian, coordinated outreach events on Earth Day 2008, websites, and public service announcements. The federal government will continue to work with regional and local partners to clean up marine debris, turn debris into energy, recover lost fishing gear, and recycle fishing lines. The United States will lead the global effort by working with international organizations to prevent fishing gear from becoming lost, developing environmentally friendly fishing gear, and promoting the annual International Coastal Cleanup in 100 countries around the world. 

EPA Reaches Agreement With Azimow and Culbertson for Failure to Test for Dioxins and Furans

EPA Region 5 has reached an agreement with Azimow and Culbertson Scrap Co. on alleged clean-air violations at the company's secondary aluminum production facility at 206 S. Curve St., Alexandria, Ind.
The agreement, which includes a $1,000 penalty, resolves EPA allegations that Azimow operated a furnace for melting scrap aluminum without testing the furnace for dioxin and furan emissions. In addition, the company failed to meet reporting, planning, and other requirements for the furnace.

Azimow ceased operating the furnace in January 2006 after the Indiana Department of Environmental Management informed the company that it was violating the Clean Air Act.  Azimow has since dismantled and scrapped the furnace. There is evidence that dioxins may cause liver damage and probably cause cancer in humans.

Ash Grove Cement Company Resolves Clean Air Act Violations

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has settled its enforcement action against Ash Grove Cement Company in Helena for violations of the Montana Clean Air Act. The enforcement action includes a $17,600 administrative penalty to resolve the violations.

In the spring of 2006, Ash Grove failed to submit their source test protocol to the DEQ at least 25 days prior to a source test, as required by their air quality permit. The company also exceeded the dioxin/furan limit during a partial source test and failed to perform a complete source test within the 30 months as required by their permit.

Ash Grove paid $4,400 of the administrative penalty in cash and is performing a pollution prevention supplemental environmental project (SEP) at the plant. Ash Grove will spend at least $26,500 to purchase components, construct, and install a new pulse jet dust collection system on the stone conveying unit to reduce particulate emissions.

Chad Anderson, DEQ Environmental Enforcement Specialist, said the SEP is expected to reduce airborne particulate matter emissions by up to 50% from the stone conveying unit.

Rocky Mountain Power Resolves Violations of the Clean Air Act

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently settled its enforcement action against Rocky Mountain Power, LLC (formerly known as Rocky Mountain Power, Inc.) concerning an air quality violation near Hardin, Mont., involving its Montana Air Quality Permit. The settlement included payment of a $450,800 penalty.

The DEQ issued Montana Air Quality Permit to Rocky Mountain Power on Jan. 24, 2006. The permit limited SO2 (sulfur dioxide) emissions from the boiler stack to no more than 182.6 lb/hr based on a one-hour average. The company's Excess Emission Reports from the third quarter 2006 to the fourth quarter 2007 documented a combined total of approximately 329 one-hour exceedances of the emission limit as measured by the company's certified continuous emission monitoring system.

Larry Alheim, DEQ Environmental Enforcement Specialist, said Rocky Mountain Power cooperated fully with the department throughout the enforcement action. In addition, the company requested and has obtained a modification to their air quality permit to address the conditions causing the violations.

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Trivia Question of the Week

The annual cost of heating a house with a 91% efficient natural gas furnace averages $1,768. How much would it cost to heat the same house with geothermal energy?

a. $47
b. $347
c. $747
d. $947