During recent inspections of a Clean Harbors facility in Braintree, Mass., representatives from both EPA and the Massachusetts Deptartment of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) discovered several potentially serious concerns regarding the facility’s handling and storage of solid wastes and hazardous wastes. The company has been ordered to immediately correct the hazardous conditions found during the inspections.
“It is critical that companies and individuals who handle hazardous materials carefully follow established methods for handling, storing, and tracking these substances,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England region. “These procedures help reduce the chance of a potentially dangerous accident. Preventing an accident is the best remedy.”
“Those in the environmental cleanup industry must be held to the same standards as everyone else,” said MassDEP Acting Commissioner Arleen O’Donnell. “We rely on firms like Clean Harbors to assist in cleaning up the environment, and their own compliance is critical to that mission. MassDEP will continue to work with EPA to ensure that the company has adequate waste management systems in place.”
EPA has issued an administrative order against Clean Harbors Inc. detailing conditions that could pose a danger to health or the environment. The order is issued under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal statute that governs safe handling, transport, and disposal of hazardous wastes. Inspections that occurred in late June documented:
- Improper storage of acidic, alkaline, and organic hazardous wastes
- Use of storage tanks exhibiting evidence of deterioration which compromised their structural integrity
- Use of storage tanks in which internal monitors/alarms were not operating properly
- Use of storage tanks with evidence of air emission leaks
- Secondary containment systems surrounding numerous hazardous waste storage areas were found to have cracks and other conditions which compromised the reliability of such systems
- Inadequate waste tracking system to accurately monitor type and location of hazardous wastes stored at the facility
EPA’s order requires Clean Harbors to take immediate action (within three days of receipt of the order) to abate the immediate dangers posed. These steps include separating hazardous wastes in the drum storage areas and preparing revised building diagrams that show each separate containment area and list each type of waste to be allowed to be stored in those areas.
Clean Harbors also is required to have an independent third party test and repair all high level alarms, test and verify that such tanks are vapor tight, and have an independent registered professional engineer test the structural integrity of the tanks and provide a written report attesting to the structural integrity of such tanks. Secondary containment systems also must be cleaned, assessed, and have necessary repairs made to ensure they are in full operational order. Lastly, Clean Harbors is required to make modifications to the waste tracking system to ensure it is capable of accurately tracking the type and location of all hazardous wastes present at the facility.
If the company should fail or refuses to comply with any requirement of this order, EPA may begin a civil action in the U.S. District Court to require compliance and to assess a possible penalty of up to $6,500 for each day during which failure or refusal occurs.
Update on DHS Chemical Security Requirements
Any facility that manufactured, used, stored, or distributed certain chemicals above a screening threshold quantity (STQ) must complete and submit a CSAT Top-Screen. The list is expected to be signed on August 9. Although the proposed list of STQs identifies some chemicals as being subject to the rule at “any quantity,” it is anticipated that these will have a quantity associated with them.
Even if a facility does not have chemicals at or above STQs, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also may notify facilities – either directly or through a Federal Register notice – that they need to complete and submit a CSAT Top-Screen. DHS has made available the following guidance materials to help you prepare for the Top-Screen:
Initial CSAT Top-Screens are due within 60 calendar days of the effective date of a final "Appendix A: DHS Chemicals of Interest" or within 60 calendar days of coming into possession of any such Chemical of Interest at or above the STQ.
Once a Top-Screen has been completed and submitted, it cannot be recalled and edited. Therefore, you should enter Top-Screen data carefully and proofread entries before submitting.
Failure to complete a CSAT Top-Screen within the timeframe provided may result in civil penalties, a DHS audit and inspection, or an order to cease operations.
EPA Issues Notice of Noncompliance to Chemical Waste Management in California
On June 26, EPA issued a notice of noncompliance to Chemical Waste Management at Kettleman City, Calif., for procedural discrepancies with federal PCB requirements. The EPA issued the notice after an inspection and a review of the company's documents revealed inconsistencies in its analytical procedures measuring PCBs in leachate, stormwater run-off, and incoming waste at the Kettleman Hills facility. Steps to calibrate analytical equipment were not regularly performed. The notice of noncompliance requires the facility to address the minor violation, and generally does not require a penalty.
Senators Introduce Low Carbon Economy Act of 2007
Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced legislation last week that intended to reduce U.S. global warming pollution. On his blog, Senator Bingham said that the bill “will dramatically reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions while also spurring new energy technologies, protecting the American economy, and engaging developing nations in their efforts to address climate change. It’s a bipartisan approach that strikes the right balance and would return the U.S. to a position of global leadership.”
David Doniger, NRDC climate policy director, said that “the bill is another sign of growing political support for federal legislation to cut heat-trapping emissions. Unfortunately, the targets in the Bingaman-Specter bill will not cut emissions fast enough and deep enough to prevent dangerous global warming. Two-dozen major companies in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership support faster reductions than this bill would accomplish.”
Doniger added that “achieving the bill's targets are not assured, because the bill allows industries to buy as many extra pollution rights as they want. The bill does contain constructive provisions to support deployment of new technology, assist low-income citizens, and assure American competitiveness.”
Eileen Claussen, president, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said her organization is “encouraged to see that the bill is more protective of the environment than the most recent recommendations of the National Commission on Energy Policy from which the legislative proposal evolved, especially in establishing a tighter emissions cap (as long as the safety valve is not triggered) and in providing strong incentives for the deployment of climate-friendly technologies, most particularly geologic carbon storage.” She said that the Pew Center is “concerned, however, about the low “safety valve” or price cap contained in the bill. The allowance price is capped at $12 per ton of CO2 in 2012, rising to around $23 (in 2012 dollars) in 2025. Intervening in the market through a low price cap could both render the emission levels established in the bill meaningless and undermine investment in the next generation of climate-friendly technologies. We will be studying the proposal further to determine more specifically the effects of the price cap on both overall emission levels and investment in new technologies.”
Europe Bans Sale of Mercury Measuring Instruments
The European Parliament approved a ban on non-electrical mercury thermometers and other mercury instruments for general sale to the public, thereby dropping its earlier call for an open-ended derogation for barometer manufacturers and accepting council's proposal for a two-year exemption instead. The draft directive prohibiting the sale on the EU market of these devices is part of a broad strategy on mercury, a metal which is highly toxic to humans, ecosystems, and wildlife.
Last month the European Parliament adopted another report on the export, import, and storage of mercury that is also part of the strategy.
Electrical measuring devices containing mercury are already covered by existing EU legislation (the RoHS directive). The main product group not yet dealt with by community law was non-electrical or non-electronic measuring and control equipment, hence this latest directive.
The ban will apply to new fever thermometers for both professional and private use, and also to "other measuring devices intended for sale to the general public (e.g., manometers, barometers, sphygmomanometers, thermometers other than fever thermometers)".
The ban covers only the sale of new devices. Existing instruments can still be repaired or bought and sold second-hand.
Antiques exempted but barometer makers must switch to non-mercury devices.
The legislation has to be enacted in national law no later than one year after the directive enters into force (which is expected to happen in the coming weeks or months) and must take effect no later than 18 months after the directive has entered into force. Traditional barometer manufacturers have an additional six months after that point, meaning their exemption could end in late 2009.
Environmental Law Institute Lays Out Congress’s Constitutional Authority for Clean Water Protection
Recent Supreme Court rulings have called into question federal Clean Water Act coverage for certain wetlands and streams. Legislation recently introduced in the House of Representatives would amend the act to restate and clarify Congress’s intent to regulate the waters of the United States to the fullest extent of its legislative power.
The Supreme Court rulings in question (Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 2001, and Rapanos v. United States, 2006) were limited to interpreting Congressional intent in 1972, when Congress used the terms “navigable waters” and “waters of the United States” to assert federal jurisdiction under the Act. The Court has never decided the underlying constitutional question: What is the scope of Congress’s constitutional authority to protect the nation’s waters? ELI’s legal analysis is intended to inform this debate.
A key source of Congressional power to regulate streams and wetlands is the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. Congress’s interstate commerce power is often misunderstood as being limited to including only navigable bodies of water, such as rivers, when in fact a long and unbroken line of Supreme Court cases establishes that Congress can regulate a wide range of activities that “substantially affect” interstate commerce. ELI’s white paper lays out the historical context of court rulings in this area, emphasizing the role of the commerce power as the basis for nearly every major environmental and public health law passed by Congress. Despite repeated legal challenges, neither the Supreme Court nor the federal courts of appeals have ever struck down an environmental statute under the Commerce Clause.
The ELI white paper also points to at least three other separate sources of constitutional authority for protecting water resources:
- Treaty power: Congress’s power to implement existing international obligations of the United States provides an independent basis for regulating “isolated” wetlands or similar bodies of water as a means of safeguarding migratory birds and their habitat
- The Property Clause: grants the federal government “the powers both of a proprietor and of a legislature” over federal lands—powers that can extend to conduct occurring on non-federal lands that affects federal lands and their resources
- The Spending Clause: allows Congress to expressly condition the grant of federal funds on states’ agreement to protect certain categories of waters
The document also underlines Congress’s power to make all laws that are necessary and proper for carrying out the powers listed above.
Penalty for Distributing Unregistered Pesticide
The EPA recently reached a $4,680 settlement with Karabetian Import and Export, Inc., an importer and distributor of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean products, to resolve the alleged import and distribution of the unregistered pesticide, Dettol Antiseptic Germicidal.
The EPA alleged that Karabetian Import and Export, Inc., located at 2450 Crystal St. in Los Angeles imported and later sold the pesticide Dettol Antiseptic Germicidal to a Lincoln, Neb., retailer in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.
“Selling unregistered pesticides is a significant violation that can result in harm to public health and the environment” said Katherine Taylor, associate director of the EPA’s Community and Ecosystems Division for the Pacific Southwest Region. “Companies must register pesticides with the EPA before distributing and selling such products.”
The EPA regulates the manufacture, import, sale, and use of pesticides. Distributors and retailers are responsible for ensuring that all pesticides distributed and/or sold fully comply with federal pesticide regulations.
Congress to Force EPA to Decide on California’s Ability to Regulate Auto Greenhouse Gases
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, along with Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), last week announced legislation that would force EPA to rule quickly on California’s request for a waiver under the Clean Air Act to allow the state to regulate global warming pollution from cars.
The legislation includes the following provisions:
- The administrator of EPA must issue a decision within 30 days of the bill’s enactment, and no later than September 30, 2007, on any pending request for a waiver of federal preemption submitted by California for motor vehicles.
- All future requests for waivers for California’s motor vehicle program must be decided within 180 days of receipt.
EPA and Refinery Reach Agreement to Address Coffeyville Oil Spill
The EPA and Coffeyville Resources Refining & Marketing, LLC, reached formal agreement to address contamination from an oil spill that began at the refinery on July 1, 2007. The oil spill resulted from a record-setting flood that occurred in Coffeyville and southeastern Kansas.
The company has agreed to contain and secure oil discharges on and off of the facility and to recover as much oil as is practicable. EPA will oversee the work of the company as it moves forward with containment and recovery efforts. The agreement also requires the facility to
- Sample and monitor any oil discharge resulting from the pumping of flood waters from the facility into the Verdigris River
- Assess facility inventories and provide updated estimates of the quantity of oil released
- Inventory and assess areas affected by the discharge of oil from the facility, including residential areas, and develop a strategy for cleaning up those areas
- Take action to protect the public water supply intakes for the towns of Lenapah, Delaware and Nowata in Oklahoma
- Take action to prevent oil from reaching Lake Oologah in Oklahoma
- Comply with all reporting requirements
Prior to signing the agreement, the company had already hired and dispatched environmental response contractors to the area to respond to the oil spill.
Selling Horrible Spooky String Leads to $120,000 Fine
EPA last week announced that Target Corporation will pay a civil penalty of $120,000 for distributing and selling Horrible Spooky String; a children’s product harmful to the environment in violation of the Clean Air Act. EPA had previously ordered five national retail chains to pull from their shelves cans of illegally imported confetti string products that contain banned hydrochlorofluorocarbons (). These substances deplete the earth's protective stratospheric ozone layer and increase the risk of skin cancer. Millions of cans of these novelty items, many imported from other countries and known by various names such as Horrible Spooky String, Zany String, Crazy String, and Party Streamer, etc., have been sold illegally in the United States. Not all string confetti products are harmful.
"Importers of consumer products containing illegal substances beware,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA regional administrator. “EPA banned HCFC propellants in most spray cans more than a decade ago and importers must be careful to guard against bringing in products that could harm human health or the environment. We are pleased that Target cooperated with EPA’s enforcement actions to ensure that these products will not be available to consumers and the ozone-depleting substances they contained will never make it into our environment."
Target followed EPA's directives by taking the banned products off their shelves and shipping them to a commercial incinerator for destruction. A total of 785,516 cans, representing all of Target’s inventory, were incinerated pursuant to EPA's prior compliance order. The company has also agreed to audit its operations and adopt new policies to ensure that these problems do not arise again. EPA’s Region 2 office in New York led agency efforts in this national settlement with Target.
Two Companies Fined $36,400 for Selling Unregistered Mexican Pesticide
EPA fined a Los Angeles distributor and San Diego retailer $36,400 for allegedly distributing and selling “El Rendidor Cloralex,” in violation of federal pesticide laws.
Dos Amigos Distributors, Inc. of Los Angeles will pay $10,400 for importing the product illegally from Mexico and selling it to San Diego Based Shims Bargain, Inc. which in turn sold it to multiple stores. Shims Bargain Inc. was fined $26,000.
Both Shims Bargain, Inc. and Dos Amigos Distributors, Inc. sold and distributed “El Rendidor Cloralex,” an unregistered Mexican pesticide. In Spanish, the label for “El Rendidor Cloralex,” claims that it can be used for “desinfeccin,” which translates to “disinfection” in English.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation conducted inspections of both facilities in 2006 and turned the case over to the EPA for enforcement.
Disinfectants are considered pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, which regulates the production, distribution, and use of pesticides within the United States. Before selling or distributing any pesticide in the United States, a company must register it with the EPA. As part of the registration process, the company must ensure that the pesticide meets the claims made on its label.
EPA Holds First-Ever Dialogue with Agriculture Leaders
As part of a new and closer relationship EPA seeks with the farm community, Administrator Stephen L. Johnson in Washington presided over the agency's first-ever dialogue with leaders of the agriculture industry. Johnson discussed three primary issues with attendees: (1) environmental issues facing agriculture in the next 10 years; (2) how the changing face of agriculture will impact the environment; and, (3) how EPA can improve its relationship with agricultural producers and get them more involved in environmental protection.
At the meeting, representatives of the farming industry offered a wide variety of insights and suggestions in response to the issues Johnson raised. They ranged from energy, to science-based decision making, to means by which producers can have more productive interaction with the agency. Participants offered support for EPA's idea of establishing a permanent advisory group to advise the administrator on regulations and policy from a rural perspective. The leaders also expressed enthusiasm for the role they are beginning to play in domestic energy production (ethanol, wind power, etc.) and their desire to see this opportunity develop in an environmentally sustainable manner. Finally, they expressed support for science-based, transparent, and economically feasible regulations and decisions, and offered their collaboration to bring these about.
The strategy sets forth an EPA vision for agriculture that looks at the industry as a producer of environmental solutions engaged through collaboration, innovation, and voluntary programs in addition to the traditional regulatory approaches the agency uses.
One goal of the strategy is to secure greater coordination of environmental protection efforts, and EPA hopes that the dialogue will move the agency and producers in that direction.
Groups represented at the meeting included: American Farm Bureau Federation, American Farmland Trust, American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association and many others.
Energy Star Training Online
EPA will be holding a series of web trainings for local governments on the ENERGY STAR Challenge. The ENERGY STAR Challenge is a national call-to-action to improve the energy efficiency of America’s commercial and industrial buildings by 10 percent or more. Local governments that partner with EPA and take the ENERGY STAR Challenge demonstrate their commitment to taxpayers as well as the environment.
The web courses listed below will be available.
ENERGY STAR Change a Light, Change the World Campaign
Find out about an immediate opportunity to involve your community in meeting your energy improvement goals by taking advantage of a simple, turnkey national campaign platform to help focus your community on saving energy by changing their lights.
Thursday, July 19, 1:00-2:00 pm, EDT
ENERGY STAR Challenge: Getting Started
Learn about the tools and resources found in the ENERGY STAR Challenge Toolkit that will help you improve the energy performance of your buildings and help you promote energy efficiency to the broader community, including schools, commercial offices, retailers, health care organizations, small businesses, congregations, and others.
Wednesday, July 25, 2:00-3:00 pm, EDT
Thursday, August 9, 2:00-3:00 pm, EDT
Improving Your Own Facilities: Measuring and Tracking Your Energy Use
This session will review the online tool, Portfolio Manager. This tool allows you to measure and track energy use and carbon emission reductions in all buildings and helps your city or county lead by example with improved energy performance. Use Portfolio Manager to establish baseline energy use, prioritize investments, set goals, and track energy use improvements over time. In addition to tracking energy use, you also can use the tool to track and manage water consumption.
Wednesday, August 22, 2:00-3:00 pm, EDT
Thursday, September 6, 2:00-3:00 pm, EDT
Promoting Energy Efficiency to Your Community
Learn how to accelerate energy efficiency activities in your community. You can leverage ENERGY STAR brochures, public service announcements, press releases, posters, event ideas, and templates to help spread the word about saving energy and protecting the climate.
Wednesday, September 12, 2:00-3:00 pm, EDT
Thursday, September 20, 2:00-3:00 pm, EDT
Energy Efficient Homes Continue to Produce Savings
The 15 leading states are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Utah, and Vermont.
"Consumers don't have to limit their smart energy choices to energy efficient cars and appliances," said Bob Meyers, EPA's principal deputy assistant administrator for Air & Radiation. "EPA is pleased to see builders in so many states leading the effort to offer their customers high-efficiency, low-emission choices in new homes."
Nearly 200,000 new homes nationwide earned the Energy Star in 2006, bringing the total number of Energy Star qualified homes across the nation to almost 750,000. To date, these homes have locked in annual savings of more than $180 million for homeowners by saving over 1 billion kWh of electricity and 100 million therms of natural gas.
Homes that earn the Energy Star offer homeowners all the features they want in a new home, plus energy-efficiency improvements that deliver better performance, greater comfort, and lower utility bills, all while helping to protect the environment.
To earn the Energy Star, homes must be independently verified as meeting EPA's strict guidelines for energy efficiency. These homes are least 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code, and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20 to 30 percent more efficient than standard homes.
Home energy use accounts for nearly 17 percent of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and 21 percent of energy consumption nationwide. For more than a decade, EPA has been working with the housing industry, utilities, states, and independent energy efficiency home ratings professionals to bring increased energy efficiency to the homebuilding industry. Today, more than 3,500 builders are committed to building Energy Star qualified homes. And there are Energy Star qualified homes in every state across the country.
EPA started the Energy Star program in 1992 as market based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. In 2006, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved $14 billion and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 25 million vehicles.
California Department of Toxic Substances Control Working to Eliminate Heavy Metals from Consumer Packages
The California Department of Toxic Substances (DTSC) Control last week announced the Toxics in Packaging outreach program designed to provide information and resources to over 3,400 California suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors whose packaging for consumer products may exceed state standards for heavy metals. The outreach program includes public workshops, DTSC Web site postings and informational mailers.
“Our new program goal is to help manufacturers eliminate heavy metals in consumer packaging by adjusting their production process,” said DTSC Director Maureen Gorsen. “We plan to work with manufacturers, provide scientific testing, listen to concerns, and develop strategies and screening criteria specifically designed for our state’s needs,” Gorsen added.
Discarded packaging from consumer products is a significant portion of waste disposed of at municipal and solid waste landfills. Packaging that contains heavy metals can release those contaminants and pose a threat to soil, groundwater, and the environment.
The Toxics in Packaging Prevention Act (AB 2021) was approved by the California Legislature and became law in January 2006. The law is based on a national model and prohibits the sale or distribution of packaging containing intentionally added heavy metals (cadmium, lead, mercury, and hexavalent chromium) and sets limits on the incidental concentration of these materials in packaging. The law seeks to reduce the amount of these heavy metals in consumer packages including unsealed receptacles, carrying cases, crates, cups, pails, rigid foil and other trays, wrappers and wrapping films, bags, and tubs. Under the act, consumer products in packages cannot be sold in California if the sum total concentration levels of the metals exceed 100 parts per million (ppm) by weight.
“Packaging components” – individual or assembled parts of a package that are used to block, brace, cushion, weatherproof, coat, dye, or stabilize the interior or exterior of the consumer product – also are included under the legislation.
In 2005, DTSC joined eight other states as a member of the national Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse (TPCH). The clearinghouse actively participates in national outreach and compliance screening activities and has just released its report of a compliance screening project. The report concludes that 16 percent of retail packaging failed a screening test and are likely in violation of various state laws. Their report notes that flexible plastic bags made of polyvinylchloride (PVC) were among the packaging types most likely to contain lead and cadmium.
Historically, these metals were used as inexpensive stabilizers to retard the degradation of plastics exposed to heat and ultraviolet light. The study found that over 60% of this packaging type did not comply with state toxics in packaging laws. Almost all of the flexible PVC samples were from products imported from Asia, according to the product label. This “heavy duty” plastic is frequently used to package home furnishings, cosmetics, inexpensive toys, and pet supplies. Many of the samples analyzed by TPCH were from distributors to nationally recognized retailers that have retail centers in California. DTSC will take enforcement action on California-based retailers that cannot demonstrate compliance.
Inks and colorants used on plastic shopping and mailing bags were the other packaging materials with frequently detected heavy metals. Lead was most often found in the shopping bags that failed the screening test, but mercury and chromium also were detected in some samples. DTSC will use the results of the TPCH study to guide its toxics in packaging program, including the investigation of packages most likely to be non-compliant, as well as research of appropriate screening and confirmation testing methods.
DTSC’s program will include presentations at conferences, trainings, and workshops for manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers held at selected locations throughout the state. DTSC’s program also will include random screening tests of packaging materials. “Companies can be expected to undertake action to eliminate heavy metals in their packaging or face more aggressive enforcement of California’s Toxics in Packaging Prevention Act,” said Maureen Gorsen.
Washington State Revises Two Water Quality Funding Programs
The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has made changes to the rules that govern two key funding programs that protect water quality in Washington.
The funding programs are the Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund, a loan program, and the Centennial Clean Water Program, a grant and loan program.
"These changes help direct the state's limited grant and loan funds to our highest priority water quality needs," said Dave Peeler, manager of Ecology's water quality program. "The changes also protect the long-term financial health of the loan programs so the state can continue to give funding to local governments to build or improve sewer and stormwater treatment plants 20 years from now."
The changes reflect existing and new funding priorities set by Ecology, the EPA, and interest groups.
Peeler said Ecology used an inclusive process in making the changes. Ecology conducted public meetings and asked for public comments about the changes.
The proposed changes to Washington Administrative Code (WAC) are for Chapter 173-98 WAC, "Uses and Limitations of the Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund," and Chapter 173-95A WAC, "Uses and Limitations of the Centennial Clean Water Fund."
Some of the changes include:
- Incorporate and clarify federal requirements and intent of state statute
- Modify loan interest rates for hardship construction projects to ensure long-term health of the loan program
- Update hardship-funding criteria for financially challenged communities
- Redistribute program-funding allocations between facilities and activities projects
- Update requirements for the design-build process (alternative contracting)
- Evaluate new best management practices for funding consideration
- Enhance the current on-site septic system local loan program by introducing hardship grants
- Introduce hardship grants for certain storm water projects
- Provide flexibility in the application process
The proposed revisions will be implemented for the FY 2009 funding cycle, which begins on Sept. 1, 2007.
The state-funded Centennial Clean Water Program provides grants and low-interest loans for water quality projects, such as education and outreach and water quality monitoring. It also funds the construction of wastewater treatment facilities in financially distressed communities.
The federally funded Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund provides low-interest loans for water quality facilities and activities projects. For example, the fund helps pay for planning, design, and construction of wastewater treatment plants and stormwater facilities. This fund also pays for activities geared to reduce pollution that is caused by people and people's land uses, also known as nonpoint pollution. Activities available for funding through this fund include agricultural best management practices, stream restoration and local government loan programs to fund residential and small business on-site septic system repair and replacement.
Public bodies, such as counties, cities, tribes, and special purpose districts, may apply to these funding programs for projects that prevent and control water pollution to our state's surface and ground water.
St. Louis Developers to Pay $590,000 Penalty for Polluting Waterways with Runoff from Three Construction Sites
Several St. Louis-area developers responsible for polluting streams and lakes with runoff from three construction sites will adhere to a strict compliance program at future construction projects, clean up past pollution, and pay one of the largest environmental penalties of its kind in state history under a consent decree reached with the United States, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon, and the city of Wildwood, Mo.
The consent decree, filed in federal district court in St. Louis, requires J.H. Berra Construction Co. Inc. and several other defendants to pay a civil penalty of $590,000, the largest penalty for a land disturbance case in Missouri. The other defendants in the case include JHB Properties Inc., J.H. Berra Holding Co. Inc., JMB No. 2 LLC, and CMB Rhodes LLC. All are connected to J.H. Berra Construction, one of the largest developers in the St. Louis area.
“This consent decree contains both strong requirements for future construction sites that will reduce pollution as well as a hefty penalty, and also demonstrates the important role that the federal, state, and local government each play in reducing the pollution of our lakes and waters,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.
“Stringent steps must be taken in the construction of these developments to ensure they don’t pollute our streams and lakes,” Nixon said. “In this case, Berra’s clearing and grading at all three of these sites caused substantial problems with sediment. A record penalty and tough requirements for cleaning up the pollution and for future projects were appropriate.”
“Developers must realize the importance of keeping harmful sediment from reaching the waters of the state,” said John B. Askew, EPA regional administrator. “The strict erosion controls required of Berra by this settlement and the size of this penalty reflect the seriousness of the violations.”
Half of the penalty will go to the United States and the other half will go to the state of Missouri. In addition, the defendants will implement remedial plans for the pollution caused by the runoff and reimburse more than $52,000 to the state of Missouri and the City of Wildwood for their costs of investigation and enforcement.
The consent decree resolves the concerns of EPA, the state of Missouri, and the city of Wildwood about sediment pollution from the Enclaves at Cherry Hills, a 130-acre residential development located in Wildwood; the Countryshire Development, a 150-acre residential development in O’Fallon; and Seckman Lake Estates, a 120-acre construction site in Jefferson County.
Inspections by the EPA and Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) were prompted by complaints from neighbors about heavy discharges into the surrounding waterways. The EPA and MDNR found multiple violations during these inspections at the Berra Construction development sites.
The consent decree containing the settlement was lodged in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Missouri. The public will be given 30 days to comment on the settlement.
Maine DEP Commissioner David Littell Comments on Issuance of the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment
In response to the issuance of the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment by the Union of Concerned Scientists and an interdisciplinary team of scientists from across the country, including Maine and New England, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner David Littell issued the following statement:
Global warming is the largest threat facing our environment today. The ecological and human health impacts are potentially devastating to Maine’s character and quality of life. As scientific study occurs, we are learning more about the impacts of global warming across the state and region, and the compilation and analysis released today advances the understanding of the environmental and economic impacts of climate change. The Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS) assessment illustrates the seriousness of this problem and the need to take cooperative national and international action to protect our planet.
Scientific analyses, like those contained in this report, no longer leave any doubt about the dramatic, and potentially catastrophic, impacts of global warming. From the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change addressing worldwide impacts to specific studies completed here in Maine, there is a need for substantive state, federal, and international action to address the threats from a significant sea level rise, a likely increase in storm frequencies and intensities, increased pest vectors in our region, a decrease in historic bird and tree species habitat, and dramatic changes from our forests to our coasts and fisheries. Our natural resource-based economy will suffer significant losses if we cannot seriously reverse the direction we are moving.
Here in Maine, we have taken our role in reducing global warming seriously. Governor Baldacci has made a commitment to be an active participant on the forefront of addressing the threats of climate change. Our efforts to reduce global warming emissions over the last decade have been numerous and diverse.
Governor Baldacci and Maine’s Legislature set greenhouse gas reduction goals that are consistent with the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers 2010 and 2020 regional goals, and directed the development of the Maine Climate Action Plan 2004. My department presented this plan to the legislature, and has already proceeded to implement many of its 54 action steps.
Among the top action steps is the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from mobile sources. We have adopted the so-called “Pavley” standards to control carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles, an action taken by eleven other states. We are also pursuing the development of carbon offsets for forestry and agricultural activities.
Maine is the first state in the nation to require that all sources that report air emissions to the DEP by law must now include reporting of their greenhouse gas emissions. We have taken this information, along with the calculated greenhouse gas emissions from all state-owned facilities, and have produced a Maine-specific greenhouse gas emissions inventory. Maine is also a charter participant in the 34-state Climate Action Registry which includes the voluntary reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from many Maine businesses.
The state of Maine has adopted a “Clean Government Initiative” and is leading by example. All state-owned buildings are powered by renewable energy purchased by renewable energy credits primarily based on emission-free hydropower generated here in Maine. Our state fleet of hybrid vehicles has increased from 1 to over 50 in the last 5 years. We have adopted a state government purchasing policy that favors energy efficient equipment, and the Maine Department of Transportation is upgrading traffic lights with very efficient LEDs across the state. All of these initiatives contribute to improved air quality and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
We work cooperatively with the very successful Efficiency Maine program at the Public Utilities Commission to reduce energy consumption to achieve carbon emission reductions (not to mention other pollutant reductions) as well as the economic benefit of reduced electrical bills. The DEP is participating in many educational efforts regarding climate change, including the Maine Energy Efficiency Partnership which provides scientific information about global warming to teachers across the state.
And this year, the Legislature enacted the Governor’s bill to formalize Maine’s commitment to participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, the first cap and trade program to regulate and reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. Along with 9 other states in the Northeast, RGGI will reduce pollution from this region’s largest power plants by 10% by 2019. This initiative builds on the Governor’s commitment to reduce our impact on global warming.
We commend the Union of Concerned Scientists on the development, research and compilation of much of the significant science on the ecological, economic and public health effects of global warming across the region.
2007 Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada Announced
"The 2007 Best 50 Corporate Citizens are using the unparalleled problem-solving ability of the modern corporation to take action that addresses our time's most pressing social an environmental struggles," said Toby Heaps, eEditor of Corporate Knights which conducted the survey.
"In particular, the core divisions of financial companies, retailers, and energy companies are starting to put their money where their mouths are when it comes to environmental responsibility and green energy in a carbon-constrained world," Heaps added.
This year's top-ranked companies:
- The top-ranked company was Royal Bank of Canada which distinguished itself through strong performance on the core baseline indicators (met 100 per cent of its statutory tax obligation paying $6.136 billion of cash tax over the past three years) and also excelled relative to its sector counterparts in sustainable finance with executed financial mandates of US $5 billion for alternative energy projects since 2003. These include 26 wind farms in North America, U.K., France and the Republic of Ireland and one gigawatt (GW) worth of green power projects in Europe in just 2005, which will displace greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from over 4 million cars.
- The number two ranked company was Alcan Inc, which reduced its Canadian absolute greenhouse gases by 30 percent since 1990, while increasing production by 50 per cent, through energy efficiency programs and applying superior smelting technology to put reduce PFCs, which are 6,500 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
- Vancouver City Savings C.U. took third overall because of its targeted socially responsible investment offerings, in which its members and clients have invested $450 million. Vancity also offers Clean Air Auto Loan, a personal loan of up to $35,000 on the purchase of a new vehicle with interest rates that allow borrowers to save up to $3,000 over five years.
This year, in addition to generic citizenship indicators used in past years (pension fund quality, diversity, pollution, CEO-pay fairness, and tax dollar generation), sector-specific indicators such as renewable energy investments (for financial companies) and fleet efficiency (for auto companies) were factored in to produce the most in-depth ranking to date.
Florida Governor Crist Signs Executive Orders to Reduce Greenhouse Gases
Governor Charlie Crist signed three executive orders initiating Florida’s energy policy. The governor also signed partnership agreements with Germany and the United Kingdom outlining an agreement that focuses on climate policies and mutual economic benefits. The signing ceremony concluded the Serve to Preserve Florida Summit on Global Climate Change held in Miami on July 12-13, 2007.
“Florida is providing the moral leadership needed to preserve our state’s beautiful natural environment, and state government is leading by example by taking immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Governor Crist said. “However, our actions do not stop here. During the next few months, Florida’s Action Team on Energy and Climate Change will develop further recommendations for our state’s long-term climate-friendly efforts.”
The executive orders carry out Governor Crist’s commitment to reducing Florida’s greenhouse gases and increasing energy efficiency. As a result, Florida will pursue renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy, as well as alternative energy such as ethanol and hydrogen.
Governor Crist signed Executive Order 07-126, titled “Leadership by Example: Immediate Actions to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Florida State Government”; Executive Order 07-127, “Immediate Actions to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions within Florida”; and Executive Order 07-128, “Florida Governor’s Action Team on Energy and Climate Change.”
“Germany and the United Kingdom are recognized as worldwide leaders in actively addressing global climate change,” said Governor Crist. ”Florida is honored to join these great nations in calling for a post-Kyoto Protocol that protects the planet’s climate systems by reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses beyond 2012.”
Governor Crist signed two partnerships agreements, “Partnership on Global Climate Change, Action between the United Kingdom and the State of Florida,” and “Partnership on Global Climate Change, Action with the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Florida.”
State government will first measure greenhouse gas emissions and develop a Governmental Carbon Scorecard. State government will then work to reduce emissions 10 percent by 2012, 25 percent by 2017, and 40 percent by 2025. To achieve that goal, state buildings constructed in the future will be energy efficient and include solar panels whenever possible. Office space leased in the future must be in energy-efficient buildings as well. Any purchased state vehicles should be fuel efficient and use ethanol and biodiesel fuels when available. State government also will seek to partner with an energy-efficient rental-car company for the 2009 contract.
Governor Crist directed the adoption of maximum emission levels of greenhouse gases for electric utilities. The standard will require a reduction of emissions to 2000 levels by 2017, to 1990 levels by 2025, and by 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. Florida also will adopt the California motor vehicle emission standards, pending approval of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency waiver. The standard is a 22 percent reduction in vehicle emissions by 2012 and a 30 percent reduction by 2016.
Florida also will require energy-efficient consumer appliances to increase efficiency by 15 percent of current standards. Governor Crist also requested that the Public Service Commission adopt a 20 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard by 2020, with a strong focus on solar and wind energy.
Governor Crist committed to partnering with Germany and the United Kingdom to discuss and promote initiatives that broaden the Kyoto Protocol and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases beyond 2012.
The State of Florida will exchange delegations with Germany and with the United Kingdom to create a forum for sharing public policy experience and exchanging science and technology, placing a particular emphasis on the sharing of ideas and policies related to energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. The individual partnership agreements will increase climate-friendly trade between the State of Florida and the Federal Republic of Germany and between the State of Florida and the United Kingdom.
Three studies presented at the Florida Summit indicated that a growing number of industry leaders see corporate responsibility as essential to successful competition and can lead to higher stock prices.
All Seriousness Aside
Trivia Question of the Week
How many wire clothes hangers are disposed of in US landfills per year?
a. 3.5 million
b. 7 million
c. 7.5 million
d. 3.5 billion