EPA Announces Regulatory Priorities

December 17, 2007

 Moving to an online agenda saves resources and provides users with a more useful, searchable mechanism for accessing regulatory information. It also helps meet e-Government objectives, while saving taxpayers money by significantly reducing printing costs.

Hard copies of EPA’s agenda are available by calling 1-800-490-9198  E-mail requests should include the requestor's name and address and display "Regulatory Agenda Hard Copy" in the subject line.

Some of the more interesting items on the agenda are listed below:

EPA Clarifies New Source Review Program Is Applied Appropriately


The rule clarifies that facilities must keep records and report emissions when a "reasonable possibility" test shows that projected emissions increases could equal or exceed 50% of the Clean Air Act's NSR significant levels for any pollutant. This rule does not change permitting requirements.

The "reasonable possibility" test examines the difference between a project's baseline emissions and the sum of emissions projected to result from the project and emissions attributable to independent factors, such as growth in market demand.

NSR significant levels are pollutant-specific emission rates (in tons per year) that are used to determine when a project is subject to NSR permitting requirements. This rule will help EPA and state and tribal permitting authorities track projects, using information on emissions that could exceed significant levels.

OTC Says Stricter Power Plant Controls Needed

The Ozone Transport Commission (OTC), an organization of 12 northeastern and mid-Atlantic states plus the District of Columbia, announced the preliminary results of a study showing that additional health benefits would be achieved by reducing power plant emissions beyond levels currently required by EPA. These results, together with other modeling work released by the OTC last spring, demonstrate that additional reductions in power plant emissions will yield significant health benefits at a reasonable additional cost.

Recent analyses conducted by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), in collaboration with the OTC, show that reducing power plant emissions achieves reduced mortality, fewer respiratory and heart-related hospital admissions and emergency room visits, decreases in school absences, and higher worker productivity.

“The science is clear; we can save lives by reducing power plant emissions,” said OTC Chair, Lisa P. Jackson, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. “It is time for the federal government to work with the states to immediately implement national controls that put the health of people before the wealth of industry.”

Cutting sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) power plant emissions by approximately 20% from levels currently required by EPA provides $1.7–$2.0 billion in annual health benefits in the OTC states by 2018. The results show benefits in the eastern U.S. will range between $6.7–$7.8 billion annually. Additional health benefits are expected to accrue outside the geographic scope of this analysis.

In May 2007, OTC released the results of a modeling analysis showing that power plants could achieve this level of emission reductions in 2018 for $2.6 billion in incremental total production costs nationally. Based on this recent information, the OTC reiterated its call for EPA to require deeper emission reductions from power generators, above and beyond those provided in the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR).

“In light of this compelling evidence that the benefits of further reducing emissions from the power sector far outweigh the costs, it is time now for EPA to require the power sector to implement the latest pollution-reducing technology to prevent further unacceptable and avoidable health effects,” said Jared Snyder, assistant commissioner of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and vice chair of OTC. Many OTC member states, including New Hampshire, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Maryland, are requiring advanced controls on power plants by as soon as 2010, showing that additional levels of control are achievable in the very near future.

The OTC was established under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 to address the transport of ground-level ozone and its precursors, NOx and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), into and through the region. NOx and VOCs are generated by power plants, cars and trucks, and other industrial business sources.

OTC member jurisdictions are: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

Sears/Kmart Become Latest Retail Giants to Phase Out Toxic PVC Plastic

Sparked by a national campaign led by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), together with a coalition of health and environmental organizations, Sears Holdings (Sears and Kmart) has announced its plans to begin phasing out products and packaging containing the toxic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, commonly known as vinyl. Sears and Kmart join Wal-Mart and Target in reducing and phasing out PVC in products and packaging. Target's policy was just announced last month. Sears Holdings, the publicly traded parent of Kmart and Sears, Roebuck and Co., is the nation's sixth-largest retailer with more than $50 billion in annual revenues and approximately 3,800 retail stores in the United States and Canada.

Sears Holdings has announced it is working to reduce and phase out PVC in its packaging and merchandise, including encouraging vendors to label their PVC-free merchandise. Additionally, Sears is working to identify safer, more sustainable, and cost-effective alternatives to PVC and incorporate them into the design and manufacturing process for private label merchandise and packaging.

Recent reports indicate that the world stock of PVC in use contains 3.2 million tons of lead. Lead can damage the brain and nervous system; cause behavior, learning, and developmental disabilities; and cause a decreased IQ. Previous testing has detected lead in a broad range of PVC consumer products, including toys, lunchboxes, baby bibs, jewelry, garden hoses, mini blinds, Christmas trees, and electronics.

Exposure to phthalates have been linked with premature birth delivery, early puberty in girls, impaired sperm quality and sperm damage in men, genital defects, and reduced testosterone production in boys. More than 90% of all phthalates are used in PVC products and are often found in many toys such as rubber ducks and bath books.

"PVC plants have contaminated the air and water of surrounding communities with highly hazardous chemicals such as vinyl chloride and dioxins," said Professor Peter Orris, MD MPH, professor and chief of service at the University of Illinois Medical Center Chicago. "These chemicals can cause cancer and other serious health problems for neighbors in surrounding communities."

Sears and Kmart are joining a growing list of dozens of companies including Target, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Nike, and Apple that are eliminating or reducing their PVC products and packaging. In addition to Target's recent announcement, Wal-Mart reached its two-year deadline in October to eliminate PVC from the packaging of its private brand products.

City Fined for Sewer Overflow Violations

The town of South Hadley, Mass., faces a proposed fine of up to $157,500 for violations of the federal Clean Water Act related to the operation of its wastewater treatment facility and its combined storm water and sanitary sewer system. During heavy rain events, water flows in the sewer system exceed its capacity and excess flow is discharged from three Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) outfalls into tributaries of the Connecticut River.

According to EPA’s New England office, the town violated the terms of its water permit from January 2003 to July 2005 when it failed to measure and record all discharges from the system’s CSO outfalls. Although the discharges from the CSO outfalls themselves are not prohibited by the town’s water permit, South Hadley is required to closely monitor and record all discharges from the outfalls.

“These Clean Water Act violations prevented the EPA and the town from knowing the quantity of pollutants being discharged into the Connecticut River and its tributaries,” noted Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Furthermore, all permit holders must ensure that they are complying with their annual certification requirements.”

The town has been under order from EPA since 1995 to work towards separating its sanitary sewers from its storm water sewers and eliminating all discharges from the CSO outfalls. The town has steadily eliminated 12 of the original 15 CSO outfalls since that time and is on schedule to completely eliminate discharges from the three remaining CSO outfalls by the end of 2007.


Developer Fined $43,000 for Injection Well Violations


PTP, Inc., violated an EPA-issued permit that authorizes subsurface injection of wastewater from the company’s treatment facility located at Pineview Estates. The regulation of subsurface injection protects underground aquifers that are potential drinking water sources.

“The EPA’s permit for this development was designed to protect underground sources of drinking water, and public health, within the community,” said Alexis Strauss, Water Division director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “PTP must comply with all permit terms and conditions to ensure the protection of water resources in this area.”

The EPA inspected the development several times between 2003 and 2007 and discovered effluent surfacing in the drainfield and other conditions that violated PTP’s UIC permit. The 63-acre site, now in its final phase of development, is located six miles south of Gardnerville, and is an individually owned Indian trust allotment administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The EPA oversees underground injection on tribal lands that do not have approved programs in place. PTP is now working closely with the EPA to come into compliance with UIC permit requirements.

Companies must comply with underground injection control regulations of the Safe Drinking Water Act for wastewater treatment and disposal systems that have the potential to impact subsurface waters. The Safe Drinking Water Act regulates all water sources that could reasonably expect to supply drinking water to the public in the future.

New Exchange Will Offer Contracts for Carbon, Renewable Energy, and Other Major Environmental Commodities

 The new exchange will offer a comprehensive range of environmental futures, options, and swap contracts for markets focused on solutions to climate change, renewable energy, and other environmental challenges.

The Green Exchange products are expected to begin trading during the first quarter of 2008 and will be cleared by NYMEX. The Green Exchange venture is expected to launch as a U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)-regulated exchange during the first quarter of 2009, pending regulatory approval.

NYMEX Chairman Richard Schaeffer said, "The broad slate of new environmental products will perfectly complement NYMEX's energy complex, enabling The Green Exchange customers to efficiently manage the cost of reducing their 'carbon footprint.' The Green Exchange expects to focus on both global and regional compliance trading, while also building liquidity and demand for the highest quality voluntary standards in the market. Underlying all this will be the ability for all market participants to manage risk and take positions in environmental derivatives markets.”

Initially, The Green Exchange intends to offer trading in global carbon-based contracts, such as carbon allowances (EUAs) under the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, carbon credits (CERs) under the U.N. Clean Development Mechanism, and verified greenhouse gas emission reductions (VERs/VCUs) used in accordance with voluntary carbon standards. The Green Exchange will also offer contracts for U.S. SO2 and NOx emissions allowance trading programs, as well as contracts for national Green-e(TM) certified voluntary renewable energy certificates (RECs).

Evolution Markets President and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Ertel said, "Leveraging financial markets is an essential part of addressing environmental challenges such as global warming, and The Green Exchange is the right financial marketplace at the right time. We've identified a set of contracts that address climate change, encourage renewable energy development, and tackle air quality. The Green Exchange will be more than a financial marketplace. It will be an engine behind global efforts to improve the environment."

Nancy King, managing director and head of U.S. Emissions at Morgan Stanley, said, "We believe the global emissions markets represent huge growth potential and are excited to be part of the development of this important exchange."

NYMEX, Evolution Markets, and their partners have worked extensively with utilities, investment banks, environmental brokers, environmental groups, and institutional asset managers to establish a set of contracts that enable market participants to effectively manage risk and gain direct exposure to the global carbon market and other U.S. environmental markets. The group has also consulted with environmental groups to select the highest quality voluntary carbon and renewable energy offset standards as the basis for products.

The Green Exchange venture is in discussions with additional strategic partners from a broad cross section of market participants including banks, brokers, hedge funds, and energy and industrial corporations. It anticipates announcing additional strategic partners in the near future.

Products will be listed for trading on the CME Globex(R) electronic trading platform and for clearing on the NYMEX ClearPort(R) platform. All contracts will be cleared through the NYMEX clearinghouse as regulated futures contracts. In order to ensure broad global market participation, The Green Exchange will have:

  • Established links with NYMEX clearing and trading platforms to provide market participants the opportunity to cross-hedge risk and cross-margin positions between established energy and emerging environmental markets
  • Opportunities for all market users to earn equity in the Green Exchange venture by helping to create liquid and transparent markets in its products
  • Highly competitive transaction fees

In keeping with its mission to assist in protecting the environment through market-based approaches, The Green Exchange venture intends to offset all of its electricity use with Green-e(TM) certified renewable energy credits and intends to offset its remaining non-power related carbon emissions through the purchase of voluntary carbon credits, making the exchange fully carbon neutral.

Merck Settles Clean Water Act Violations Related to June 2006 Fish Kills in Wissahickon Creek

U.S. Attorney Pat Meehan, the EPA, and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection have announced a settlement with Merck in a federal-state lawsuit over violations of federal and state water pollution control regulations at a pharmaceutical plant in Pennsylvania. On June 13, 2006, Merck discharged potassium thiocyanate in the Wissahickon Creek, causing extensive fish kills on June 14 and 15 and also resulting in the Philadelphia Water Department temporarily closing its Schuylkill River drinking water intake.

In one of the most comprehensive remediation settlement agreements for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Merck will pay $10 million to put into place systems that will prevent future dangerous discharges at their facility. Merck will spend approximately $9 million for extensive environmental projects. A consent decree requires Merck to pay $1,575,000 in penalties for past violations divided as follows: $750,000 to the United States; $750,000 to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and $75,000 to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

“Perhaps more than anything else, this settlement says to every company that discharges dangerous chemicals as part of its operations that it is accountable to the environment and to the community,” Meehan said. “Because when you get right down to it, no one should have to wonder, when they walk into the kitchen for a glass of water, if what they are about to drink is going to make them or their children sick.”

“Merck’s actions led to an extensive fish-kill and caused the Philadelphia Water Department to temporarily shut down its drinking water operations,” said Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General Ron Tenpas. “This settlement ensures that Merck will take steps to prevent future illegal discharges including installing an early warning system to protect drinking water.”

The Merck facility, a pharmaceutical plant located in West Point Montgomery County, houses pharmaceutical and vaccine research as well as the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products and vaccines. The facility consists of approximately 400 acres, 110 buildings employing approximately 8,500 employees. Merck discharges pollutants from this facility to the Upper Gwynedd Township Publicly Owned Treatment Works (UGT POTW). The treated effluent is discharged into the Wissahickon Creek, a tributary of the Schuylkill River.

The federal court complaint, filed along with the settlement papers, alleges that Merck violated the Clean Water Act with several discrete discharges that caused numerous pass through and interference violations at the UGT POTW.

  • On June 13, 2006, Merck discharged potassium thiocyanate (“KSCN”), which reacted with the chlorination at UGT POTW and after discharge caused extensive fish kills in the Wissahickon Creek on June 14 and 15; also resulting in the Philadelphia Water Department to close its Schuylkill River drinking water intake on June 14 and 15; and resulting in the Pennsylvania DEP and Montgomery County to issue health advisories to ban all recreational uses on the Wissahickon Creek from June 14, 2006, to  July 10, 2006.
  • On Aug. 8 and 9, 2006, Merck discharged a large batch of spent substrate used for vaccine production, which when treated at UGT POTW caused extensive foam discharge into the Wissahickon Creek.
  • On Aug. 16, 2006, Merck discharged a large amount of cleaning agents, which when treated at UGT POTW, caused extensive foam discharge into the Wissahickon Creek.

The proposed consent decree includes interim measures undertaken already to: prevent discharges without preapproval; create a tracking system for waste handling; create a task force to assess the system throughout the facility; and impose increased testing and assessment tools for waste stream. The decree contains Merck’s commitment to long-term remedial measures including: a prevention program; enhanced wastewater management program; and chemical management accountability system for the facility. The estimated cost of these measures is in excess of $10 million.

“The resolution of this case and its special projects will bring both short- and long-term environmental benefits to the community and the Wissahickon,” said Donald S. Welsh, EPA's mid-Atlantic regional administrator. “When you consider that the source of 40% of Philadelphia's drinking water is just downstream of this facility, these improvements and Merck's environmental accountability has implications extending beyond the boundaries of its facility.”

“This spill of dangerous chemicals last year left its mark on communities and waterways from Upper Gwynedd Township all the way to Philadelphia,” said DEP secretary Kathleen McGinty. “We're pleased that Merck has agreed to measures that will improve operational oversight at its facility and has responded in a responsible manner. This settlement will help return the Wissahickon watershed to environmental health, provide the public with access to new areas of open space, and help restore the quality of life to the community.”

Additionally, the secretary noted, “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is grateful for the partnership we enjoyed with our federal counterparts at the Department of Justice and EPA in reaching this important settlement.”

The proposed consent decree also includes extensive environmental projects designed to improve the water quality and/or protect the Wissahickon as a source of drinking water. Merck has committed to: restoration of a segment of the Wissahickon Creek to improve the water quality of this key tributary of the Schuylkill River; creation of a wetlands on a 10-acre parcel of property adjacent to the creek; purchase and installation of an aquatic biomonitoring system that monitors fish activity to give the Philadelphia Water Department an early warning system regarding materials in the Wissahickon Creek that may constitute a threat to the drinking water; the purchase and installation of an enhanced Automated Dissolved Oxygen Controls at the Upper Gwynedd Treatment Plant.

Each SEP is designed to improve water quality and/or protect the Wissahickon as a source of drinking water.

In addition, the decree calls for Merck to contribute $4.5 million toward the purchase of a parcel of land adjacent to the creek, which will have restricted use and open space easements in perpetuity.

The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret L. Hutchinson handled the case for the United States, with attorney Chris Day representing the EPA, and Martha Blasberg, Supervisory Counsel, PADEP, representing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The matter was investigated by EPA Region III Water Protection Division, PADEP, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office.

Attorney General Calls Court Greenhouse Gas Decision a Victory

On December 12, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal hailed a federal court decision affirming the right of states to regulate vehicle greenhouse gas emissions, calling it a major victory in the fight against global warming. Blumenthal's office filed a friend of the court brief in the case.

"This decision is a sweeping and significant victory to regulate vehicle greenhouse gas emissions," Blumenthal said. "I'm very pleased that the court pointedly and powerfully affirmed the right of states to enact their own greenhouse gas emission standards for cars and trucks. This decision means that Connecticut and other states can force reductions in pollutants that cause global warming.

"The federal government needs to stop its shameful stonewalling and address this growing and grave threat to the environment and human health. Recent events, including dramatic and potentially disastrous decreases in Arctic ice, further demonstrate the urgent need for decisive action. The Bush administration must cease sticking its head in the sand and act immediately against global warming.

The plaintiffs, including automobile dealers and manufacturers, challenged the authority of California and other states to regulate vehicle CO2 emissions under the federal Clean Air Act.

Sewer District Fined for Sending Biosolids to Tree Farm

The Karcher Creek Sewer District near Port Orchard will help improve fish passage along Cool Creek, south of Port Orchard, as part of a settlement agreement with the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) for violating a state law on biosolids management.

The Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board approved the settlement last week. Karcher Creek had appealed the $10,500 penalty issued last March by Ecology, along with an order to remove biosolids sent illegally to a tree farm nursery, a topsoil producer, and a sand-and-gravel mine.

Under the settlement, Karcher Creek will contribute $8,400 to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) project to replace the Cool Creek Culvert on Phillips Road to enhance fish habitat. The district will pay the rest of the penalty amount—$2,100—to Ecology.

“This closes the case in an innovative way that benefits local water quality and salmon runs,” said Marietta Sharp, a biosolids specialist at Ecology’s Northwest Regional Office in Bellevue. “We look forward to working with the Karcher Creek staff as they develop a plan for the beneficial reuse of their biosolids.”

Biosolids are the residual solid material generated during the wastewater treatment process. Biosolids that meet state and federal disinfection standards can be applied to land as a fertilizer. Only state-permitted farms or forests can take Class B biosolids, the most commonly produced grade. Class A biosolids, which are more extensively treated and tested, may be used anywhere.
Karcher Creek sent biosolids—produced under a new process developed by the district—to the local businesses as Class A material, without Ecology approval. Ecology determined the biosolids had not passed the necessary requirements to meet Class A. Further testing and review of the analytical data established that the material met Class B requirements. The district complied with Ecology’s order to recover the biosolids.

Karcher Creek has taken steps to obtain a Class A rating for the new process from the EPA.

Pennsylvania DEP Fines Uncertified Radon Testing Firm

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined John Wilson and his company, Wilson Home Inspectors, $16,275 for violating the state’s Radiation Protection and Radon Certification acts. The department documented numerous violations during a May 31, 2006, inspection of the company’s offices on Lockerbie Lane in West Chester.

The Radiation Protection Act stipulates that a person may not test for radon or advertise radon-related services or products until receiving valid certification from DEP. Regulations also require radon testing companies to submit radon sampling results to DEP within 45 days of performing this work—a requirement not met by Wilson or his company.

Under the Radon Certification Act, DEP certification is required to sample for radon prior to offering testing services. During the course of the 2006 inspection, DEP discovered that Wilson was not certified to perform alpha track or long-term radon testing and that activated charcoal-adsorption devices and alpha-track detectors were being used to measure indoor radon concentrations.

The department’s records indicate that neither Wilson nor his company is certified to perform radon testing using these devices.

DEP also found that the company's quality assurance plan had not been updated since 1999 and did not reflect current testing activities. Quality assurance plans ensure that testing devices are calibrated routinely and properly.

Additionally, the company failed to follow the required protocol of using “spiked” samples and performing the duplicate tests needed to ensure valid sample results and analysis. DEP's radon measurement protocol requires 3 in every 100 radon samples to be subject to a “spiked” sample—a charcoal detector with a known radon exposure that ensures accurate testing and analysis.

“It is unacceptable that Mr. Wilson and his company advertised and performed radon services they were not certified to perform,” said DEP Regional Director Joseph A. Feola. “Residents and businesses need to know that the radon testing company they hire is properly certified and doing everything required by law.”

Electronics Manufacturers Must Register With State to Sell Their Brands in Washington

Under Washington’s electronics recycling law, manufacturers of televisions, computers, and computer monitors must register annually by January1 with the state Department of Ecology (Ecology) to continue selling these products in Washington state.

Retailers of these products are required by law to sell only registered brands of these products. 

If an unregistered manufacturer continues to sell its products after the January 1 deadline, it may be subject to fines of up to $1,000 for the first violation. Beginning Jan. 1, 2009, a statewide program for the collection, transportation, and recycling of computers, monitors, and TVs will be available free-of-charge to consumers. Ecology is working with manufacturers to keep the estimated 1.1 million computers and TVs that will be disposed in 2009 out of our landfills.

Manufacturers must register, so they participate in Washington’s program and will be responsible for recycling their brand products at end-of-life. “New manufacturers join the marketplace throughout the year, and we want to make sure they’re aware that they must be registered to place their product on store shelves in Washington or sell them over the Internet into our state,” said Laurie Davies, acting program manager for Ecology’s Solid Waste Program.

“Electronics seem to be particularly popular gift items this year, so retailers are stocking plenty of them to keep up with demand. Also, the January pre-Super Bowl period is one of the biggest TV sales times of the year,” she added.

Washington residents can recycle their unwanted electronics while the new law is phased in.  Most services currently available do have a cost. Recycling electronic products keeps toxic metals such as lead out of landfills and the environment. Electronic products contain heavy metals and other chemicals at hazardous levels that make them difficult to recycle or dispose of safely. For example, there is an estimated four to eight pounds of lead in every cathode ray picture tube. By recycling televisions and computers, Washington's citizens contribute to a safer, cleaner environment.

Reducing toxic threats is one of the priorities in Ecology’s four-year action plan. Ecology is working in partnership with the state Department of Health to reduce or eliminate those chemicals that pose significant health threats to protect the health of our citizens and our environment.

Truck Driver Arrested for Illegal Dumping

Jeffery Brown was arrested on Friday on charges of illegal disposal of solid waste. Brown, a driver for Bisteneau Trucking, was caught on video on April 7 at the Range Avenue, I-12 East onramp dumping part of a load of urea, an industrial agricultural product, in an effort to lighten his overloaded truck. Brown was later cited at the truck scales just east of Denham Springs for an overweight load a few minutes later.

This is the second such incident in Livingston Parish in as many years. Livingston Parish Police Department and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality personnel responded to both of these incidents. Brown is subject to a maximum fine of $25,000 and up to one year in jail. “It’s not uncommon for truckers to try to lighten their load or to illegally dump residual substances left in their trucks from a previous shipment,” said Peter Ricca, DEQ Criminal Investigation Division manager. “We have found many of the people who dump illegally are doing so to save money. However, they need to know that there are hefty fines and possible jail time if they are caught and that’s not worth the little bit of money they can save.”

J & G Foods of Sutton Pays $6,400 Penalty for Hazardous Waste and Industrial Wastewater Violations

J & G Foods, Inc., which operates a meat processing plant at 1 Blackstone Street in Sutton, Mass., has been assessed a $6,400 penalty by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for violating Hazardous Waste Management and Industrial Wastewater regulations.

During a routine inspection conducted by MassDEP personnel in April 2007, it was determined that the company operated its wastewater pretreatment system without a licensed wastewater treatment plant operator and that it failed to comply with numerous other hazardous waste/waste oil management requirements. In a recently finalized consent order, the company agreed to comply with all applicable regulations and pay the $6,400 penalty.

"Companies pre-treating industrial wastewater must have a licensed wastewater treatment operator to ensure proper treatment of the wastewater," said Martin Suuberg, director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester. "The company was very cooperative in working with MassDEP to come into compliance with applicable regulations."

Newspapers Encouraged to Use Recycled Paper

Missouri newspapers fell short of using at least 50% of recycled content in their newsprint during 2006. As 2007 is ending, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources encourages all newspapers to help reduce the amount of energy consumed in Missouri by reaching or exceeding the 50% goal, established in 2000.

According to the EPA, producing recycled paper requires about 60% of the energy used to make paper from virgin wood pulp. Recycling one ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, three cubic yards of landfill space, two barrels of oil, and 4,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity. This is enough energy to power the average American home for five months.

"We applaud the newspapers who have achieved success and encourage all Missouri newspapers to use as much recycled content as possible every year," said Doyle Childers, director of the Department of Natural Resources. "We must continue as Missourians to make recycling a priority so we use less energy, which in turn benefits the environment."

The department will begin receiving reports for 2007 after the first of the year. For 2006, however, there were 105 newspaper publications reporting recycled newspaper content to the department's Solid Waste Management Program. Of the 169,219 tons of newsprint used by these newspaper publications, 83,431 tons contained recycled content. Of the 105 publications, 54 reported they met or exceeded the 50% recycled content usage goal. Of those 54 publications, 37 reported using 100% recycled newsprint content. In 2005, newspapers reported using 52% recycled content for their publications.

Some of the larger newspapers listed in the report include the St. Louis Post-Dispatch using 65% recycled content, the Columbia Daily Tribune using 99%, the Jefferson City News Tribune using 96%, and the Joplin Globe using 77%. Two larger newspapers did not meet the 50% minimum of recycled material required. Those papers included the Springfield News-Leader using only 5% and the Kansas City Star using 30%. Both papers indicated there was not an adequate quantity of newsprint available during the reporting period.


Ohio EPA Settles With Sherwin-Williams for Hazardous Waste Violations

The Sherwin-Williams Company has agreed to pay Ohio EPA a $50,000 penalty to settle hazardous waste violations at seven Sherwin-Williams facilities located in Cuyahoga, Medina, and Franklin counties. The company has addressed the violations and now operates in compliance with Ohio's hazardous waste laws.

Between 2003 and 2005, Sherwin-Williams caused multiple containers of hazardous waste to be transported to a facility not permitted to accept hazardous waste. Sherwin-Williams' facilities cited with the violation are located at: 4440 Warrensville Center Road, Warrensville Heights; 10740-A Broadway Avenue, Garfield Heights; 601 Canal Road, Cleveland; 15020 Puritas Avenue, Cleveland; 20611 Center Ridge Road, Rocky River; 855 North Court Street, Medina; and 2121 New World Drive, Columbus.

Ohio EPA inspectors also found other hazardous management violations at Sherwin-Williams' Warrensville Center Road, Broadway Avenue, and Canal Road locations. Some of the violations included storing one container of hazardous waste for greater than 90 days, thereby establishing and operating a hazardous waste storage area without a permit; improperly labeling hazardous waste containers; inadequately inspecting storage areas; and failing to train employees that handle or manage hazardous waste. All three facilities are large quantity generators of hazardous waste.

The settlement includes $40,000 to Ohio's hazardous waste cleanup fund and $10,000 to Ohio EPA's clean diesel school bus program for the purpose of installing diesel particulate filters on public school buses.

California Attorney General, Environmental Groups Challenge Weak Energy-Efficiency Standards

Environmental groups and the state of California are filing lawsuits urging the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to adopt stronger energy-efficiency standards for electricity distribution transformers, the gray boxes mounted on utility poles all over the country.

Public interest law firm Earthjustice is filing the lawsuit on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), arguing that the standards DOE adopted in October are too weak, in part because DOE illegally failed to account for the monetary benefits of reducing carbon dioxide pollution when setting the standards. As a result, these weak standards will lead to excessive energy consumption and unnecessary global warming pollution.

"These standards allow a huge waste of energy to continue," said Earthjustice attorney Tim Ballo. "As world leaders struggle to agree on solutions to global warming, we can cut carbon emissions now, simply by following our nation's energy laws and switching to more efficient technology that's already available. Energy efficiency is vital to curbing global warming, which is what we are urging today."

The nation's 40 million distribution transformers are crucial cogs in the energy system, reducing electricity voltage to the levels needed to power homes and businesses. Because of their ubiquity and because all power travels through one or more transformers, the energy savings offered by greater efficiency is enormous. According to DOE estimates, requiring all new transformers to achieve the same efficiency levels as the best units currently on the market would eliminate the need for nearly 20 large new power plants by 2038.

"Massive amounts of power flowing through our national power grid are lost when these inefficient electric transformers leak energy. Like preparing a drafty house for winter, we need to seal these leaks in the system," said Bruce Nilles, director of the Sierra Club's National Coal Campaign. "Making these simple improvements can make new, expensive coal plants unnecessary."

Adopting the more stringent standards would also avoid the emission of 700 million tons of carbon dioxide—more than what is emitted annually by all U.S. passenger cars.

"The Bush administration has rejected mandatory limits on global warming pollution in favor of solving the problem through other means, such as energy efficiency standards," said David B. Goldstein, co-director of NRDC's energy program. "And yet DOE's efficiency standards for distribution transformers are incredibly weak, in part because DOE did not take into account the benefits of reducing global warming pollution. DOE is missing a huge opportunity to reduce pollution at a profit. Given what we know about the dangers of global warming, we can't afford to miss any opportunities to reduce heat-trapping emissions, much less an opportunity this big."

Utility companies, the primary purchasers of these transformers, have also called for more efficient standards, citing the more than $11.1 billion the industry could save. But DOE disregarded stronger standards supported by both utility and environmental groups when it adopted its regulations. "DOE has just left money on the table," said Goldstein.

Consumers also stand to benefit from efficiency standards, which reduce costs and improve system reliability. Each year, inefficient, overheated transformers are responsible for countless power outages across the country.

DEP Decides to Leave $700,000 Penalty Against Magic Disposal Company Unchanged

A shuttered solid-waste facility with a history of running afoul of state environmental laws must pay $700,000 for persistent violations its owner could have easily corrected, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson announced last week.
Upholding an administrative court judge’s initial ruling, Commissioner Jackson decided Magic Disposal Company Inc. should be held responsible for the full penalty the DEP had imposed for chronic disregard of its permit to operate a materials recovery facility on Ridge and Jefferson avenues in Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic County.

“For at least two years, this facility’s sloppy operation unnecessarily exposed the community to the risk of a serious environmental event. Time and again, Magic Disposal refused to obey environmental laws, mistakenly believing its accountability to public health and safety might somehow disappear,” Commissioner Jackson said.

From February 2002 through December 2004, Magic Disposal repeatedly violated its solid-waste permit by bringing in far more waste than allowed and by storing and processing waste outside of its building. Tons of waste routinely piled in front of Magic Disposal’s facility and throughout its property attracted rats and other vermin and created health and safety hazards. In addition, Magic Disposal failed to clear its floors of waste every 24 hours, risking the possibility of fires sparked by a residual buildup of heat within certain waste materials.

Further, Magic Disposal degraded air quality by failing to use its air-pollution-control equipment during operating hours and failing to maintain adequate wastewater control, which caused polluted water to pond in the facility.

During frequent visits to the facility, inspectors with the DEP and the Atlantic County Health Department issued citations for numerous environmental violations. Magic Disposal’s owner and operator, Steve Waszen, however, continued to resist inspectors’ efforts to bring the facility into compliance.

In January 2005, the DEP revoked Magic Disposal’s permit and a month later issued the $700,000 penalty in an administrative order. Magic Disposal appealed the DEP enforcement action, and the case was heard before Administrative Law Judge W. Todd Miller. In rendering his initial decision recently, Judge Miller noted that Magic Disposal could have easily rectified its mounting environmental violations by controlling and limiting its daily solid-waste intake, installing moveable barriers, and confining its operations to state-approved areas on site.

“Judge Miller showed remarkable insight in this case by recognizing Magic Disposal’s owner and operator as someone who ‘rejected important environmental safeguards as unnecessary, excessive, and unimportant,’” Commissioner Jackson said.

Under New Jersey’s Administrative Procedures Act, the Commissioner is empowered to adopt, modify, or reject the administrative law judge’s initial decision. "We take this kind of conduct very seriously, because it endangers communities and violates the law," said Attorney General Anne Milgram. "Permit holders who persist in ignoring the terms of their permits do so at their own peril. We are committed to working closely with the Department of Environmental Protection to investigate and prosecute violators of the state's environmental laws."

DHL, U.S. Postal Service Lead New Climate Counts Shipping Rating

You can "ship green" this holiday season thanks to Climate Counts' on-time delivery of a new shipping sector ranking. DHL (and its parent Deutsche Post World Net) and the U.S. Postal Service lead the rankings, with UPS and FedEx both lagging. Climate Counts also released a new "Holiday Shopping Guide" of 60 well-known companies’ climate commitment. 

"Unfortunately, not every gift can be delivered with the strength of just eight reindeer this holiday season—most need to be shipped on planes, trains, or trucks. The bottom line is that the shipping sector has an enormous role to play in the fight to stop the climate crisis, and our new ranking allows consumers to make informed decisions now and throughout the year," said Wood Turner, project director of Climate Counts.

DHL led the sector with a score of 45 (out of 100), followed by the U.S. Postal Service with a score of 43. UPS was next, scoring a 39, with FedEx lagging behind its competitors at a score of 28. This rating of the shipping sector brings the growing number of Climate Counts indexed companies to 60. Each company is rescored on an annual basis to regularly gauge their efforts to improve.

"While we're pleased the shipping sector has begun to take action on climate, they, like most of us in the business community, have a long way to go," said Gary Hirshberg, CEO of Stonyfield Farm and board chair of Climate Counts. "If I had ever come home from school with a 45, I would have been in trouble—even if it were the holidays."

Climate Counts' new "Holiday Shopping Guide" is a pocket-sized reminder of where 60 of the top companies rank on their climate commitment. Canon, Nike, and Unilever top the 60 companies scored on the inaugural Climate Counts Scorecard. The bottom of the index includes 17 companies with scores under 12, including Amazon.com, Jones Apparel, Apple, eBay, Limited Brands, and Levi Strauss.

"Consumers have gotten the message all year long about how to buy green, but our guide helps consumers shop—and ship—green," said Joel Makower, chair and executive editor of Greener World Media and a Climate Counts Board member. "Consumers have the power this holiday season to let companies know that 'climate counts' in their purchasing and shipping decisions."Holiday sh

oppers can also look up companies’ rankings using their cell phones, so they can make climate-friendly consumer decisions right from the shopping aisles. This cell phone tool, Climate Counts On-The-Go, is a partnership with CREDO Mobile, formerly Working Assets Wireless.

The companies were scored on a scale from 1 to 100, based on 22 criteria within the following four benchmarks: whether they measure and monitor their carbon footprint; whether they have taken meaningful steps to reduce their own climate impact; whether they have supported or opposed climate policy initiatives; and how comprehensively and effectively they have reported on their climate protection efforts to the public.

The Climate Counts Company Scorecard was developed with oversight from a panel of business and climate experts from leading non-governmental organizations and academic institutions. Criteria were chosen for their effectiveness at accomplishing a single goal—stopping global warming. Climate Counts researchers then used these criteria to rate companies based on a point system for climate-related actions. Companies were given an opportunity to confirm public data sources used by Climate Counts for scoring.

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Trivia Question of the Week

According to the New York State Energy Authority, what percentage of energy used to power home electronics and appliances is consumed while these products are turned off?

a.  25%
b.  33%
c.  50%
d.  75%