EPA Considers Banning Use of Mercury in Certain Products

February 16, 2009

Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) authorizes EPA to take regulatory action to protect against unreasonable risk of injury to human health or the environment due to the manufacture, import, processing, distribution in commerce, use, or disposal of a chemical substance or mixture. EPA used Section 6 of TSCA to set stringent controls on the use and manufacture of products containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and asbestos.

EPA is now evaluating whether an action (or combination of actions) under TSCA Section 6(a) is supportable for mercury used in products for which available information indicates that effective and economically feasible alternatives exist, including switches, relays, flame sensors, button cell batteries, manometers (other than natural gas manometers), barometers, and psychrometers/hygrometers. As appropriate, such an action(s) would involve a group(s) of these products. The agency will determine whether the continued use of mercury in one or more of these products would pose an unreasonable risk to human health and the environment.

EPA has conducted both a preliminary analysis and a Risk-Based Prioritization of Mercury in Certain Products. By compiling data pertaining to the stated costs, advantages, and disadvantages associated with mercury-free alternatives to certain mercury-containing products, EPA made a preliminary judgment that effective and economically feasible alternatives exist. These products include switches, relays/contactors, flame sensors, button cell batteries, and measuring devices (e.g., non-fever thermometers, manometers, barometers, pyrometers, flow meters, and psychrometers/hygrometers).

Mercury is well-documented as a toxic, environmentally persistent substance that demonstrates the ability to bioaccumulate and to be atmospherically transported on a local, regional, and global scale. In addition, mercury can be environmentally transformed into methylmercury which biomagnifies and is highly toxic.

EPA to Reconsider New Source Review Aggregation Policy



New Source Review is a pre-construction permitting program to ensure air quality is maintained when factories, industrial boilers, and power plants are built or modified. The program ensures that state-of-the art emission control technology is installed at new plants or existing plants that are undergoing a major modification. Aggregation refers to the grouping of multiple, related physical, or operational changes into a single project for evaluating requirements under the New Source Review program. 

Brian Karnofsky Jailed for Muscular Dystrophy

Brian has been arrested and will be put in jail for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) lock-up. We need to collect $2,000 for the MDA to help bail him out. Your tax deductible donation will help MDA continue research into the causes and cures for 43 neuromuscular diseases.

If you enjoy reading the Environmental Tip of the Week, now is the time to help us give hope to kids and families that need our help. 

Brian is the President of Environmental Resource Center. Many of you helped bail him out in 2007 and 2008, but he’s on his way back to jail this year. Don’t bother asking what crimes he’s committed—just know that we need your help bailing him out.

EPA to Propose In-Use Emissions Testing for Nonroad Diesel Engines

EPA is proposing to establish an in-use emissions testing program for nonroad equipment diesel engines produced in 2013 and later. The new program will be manufacturer-led and will assess in-use gaseous and particulate exhaust emission rates from these engines using portable emission measurement systems.

Manufacturers will be required to monitor compliance with the applicable maximum emission standards by testing in-use diesel engines during their normal operational mode. If potentially non-complying engines are identified, the manufacturer will then be required to test more engines for the purpose of determining if any further action is necessary.

EPA will likewise evaluate the in-use emissions data to make independent determinations about the possible need to pursue further testing or to initiate remedial actions. The in-use test data will not only be used by EPA to assure that emission standards are being met, but also by manufacturers to improve their engine designs. This program will address a long-standing need for “real-world” in-use testing data to gauge the performance of engine emission controls.

EPA Reconsiders California’s Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Standards and Greenhouse Gas Regulations

The Clean Air Act preempts States from adopting emission standards for new motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines but requires EPA to waive this preemption for California unless EPA makes certain findings. Acting at the direction of the California legislature, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted greenhouse gas emission regulations for passenger cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles beginning with the 2009 model year. CARB submitted a letter to EPA dated December 21, 2005 to request that EPA grant a waiver for these regulations. EPA denied this request on March 6, 2008.

EPA believes there are significant issues regarding the Agency’s denial of the waiver. The denial was a substantial departure from EPA’s longstanding interpretation of the Clean Air Act’s waiver provisions and the history of granting waivers to California for its new motor vehicle emission program. Many different parties—including California, states that have adopted or are interested in adopting California’s standards, members of Congress, scientists, and other stakeholders—have expressed similar concerns about the denial of the waiver. EPA believes there is merit to reconsidering its decision denying California’s waiver. 

EPA Proposes Revision of NESHAP Standards for Aluminum, Copper, and Other Nonferrous Foundries

 At the same time, EPA is proposing national emission standards for the Aluminum Foundries, Copper Foundries, and Other Nonferrous Foundries area source categories. These proposed emission standards for new and existing sources reflect EPA’s proposed determination regarding the generally available control technology or management practices for each area source category.

Comments must be received on or before March 11, 2009 unless a public hearing is requested by February 19, 2009. If a hearing is requested on the proposed rule, written comments must be received by March 26, 2009.

Green Roofs Webcast Registration Now Open

Many communities across the country are struggling to address impacts from stormwater runoff on their water resources due to increased development. Innovative low impact development practices such as green roofs can help manage stormwater runoff very effectively and provide communities with beautiful amenities. In addition to capturing runoff, they help slow it down, thereby reducing the overall volume of runoff that can lead to flash flooding and streambank erosion. Aside from water quality benefits, green roofs add beauty and habitat in urban areas. They also help conserve energy, mitigate urban heat islands, and reduce a community’s carbon footprint. Three expert speakers will discuss the benefits of green roofs and share their experiences as leaders/pioneers in the green roof movement in the United States and North America

Three Refineries Will Pay More than $141 Million to Settle Alleged Clean Air Act Violations

EPA and the Justice Department have announced that two petroleum refiners have agreed in separate settlements to spend a total of more than $141 million on new air pollution controls at three refineries in Kansas and Wyoming. In total, the settlements are expected to reduce harmful air emissions by 7,000 tons per year.

Frontier Refining and Frontier El Dorado Refining (Frontier) have agreed to pay a civil penalty of $1,230,000 and spend approximately $127 million in pollution control upgrades for alleged violations at refineries in Cheyenne, Wyoming and El Dorado, Kansas. Separately, Wyoming Refining Co. (WRC) has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $150,000 and spend approximately $14 million on similar upgrades for alleged violations at its Newcastle, Wyoming refinery.

The three refineries are required to install advanced control technologies that, when fully implemented, will reduce annual emissions of sulfur dioxide by approximately 3,775 tons, nitrogen oxide by approximately 2,100 tons, and other pollutants by approximately 1,200 tons. The refineries have a combined production capacity of approximately 168,000 barrels per day.

In addition, each refinery will upgrade leak-detection and repair practices to reduce harmful emissions from pumps and valves, implement programs to minimize the number and severity of flaring events, and adopt new strategies for ensuring continued compliance with benzene waste requirements under the Clean Air Act. Flaring is the process by which byproduct-gas from the refining process is burned off.

As part of its settlement, Frontier agreed to implement environmentally beneficial projects valued at more than $1.3 million, including the installation of dome covers on refinery storage tanks to reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. VOCs are a prime ingredient in the formation of smog.

Under the Clean Air Act, facilities that handle large amounts of chemicals are required to develop a risk management program to assess hazards associated with dangerous chemicals. The program must include an accident prevention program and an emergency response plan to deal with accidental releases.

The settlement also requires Frontier to correct deficiencies in the refinery’s risk management program that were identified during a 2006 EPA inspection. These deficiencies included overdue inspections and tests of storage vessels containing toxic and flammable substances.

These agreements are the most recent in a series of comprehensive, company-wide settlements under an EPA initiative to reduce air pollution from refineries nationwide. Including these settlements, 99 refineries operating in 29 states, or 88% of the nation’s refining capacity, are required to reduce emissions under company-wide enforcement agreements. 

New EPA Guidance on Transportation Control Measures for Approved State Air Quality Plans

. Transportation control measures, such as public transit and carpooling, can provide alternatives to the public that reduce motor vehicle emissions. This document supersedes the section of the February 14, 2006 interim guidance on implementing the Clean Air Act amendments that addressed this provision.

Two Operators of Asbestos Abatement Companies Sentenced to Prison for Environmental Crimes

A federal judge has sentenced two operators of asbestos abatement companies to prison for environmental crimes related to the illegal removal and disposal of asbestos in upstate New York. John Wood and Curtis Collins were sentenced on February 6, 2009, to four years and two years in prison, respectively.

Wood was further sentenced to pay restitution $854,166 to victims and was placed on supervised release for three years following the completion of his prison term. Collins was ordered to pay $114, 903 in restitution to victims and ordered to serve three years of supervised release.

Both defendants pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act and the mail fraud statute. Wood further pleaded guilty to contempt of court based on numerous new asbestos crimes that he committed while awaiting trial on the original charges. In 2005, after being released from prison for unrelated felonies, John Wood began operating an asbestos abatement company known as J & W Construction, Inc. Wood thereafter directed his employees to perform “rip and run” asbestos removals that, rather than removing all asbestos, instead dispersed and left substantial quantities behind, significantly contaminating numerous businesses and homes. Some of the asbestos was buried on a farm in Willsboro, New York that required funding from EPA’s Superfund to clean up the contamination.

To deceive clients into believing that all of the asbestos had been removed and that their businesses and homes were safe to reoccupy, Wood utilized the services of Mark Desnoyers, a licensed air monitor. Desnoyers falsified air samples so that laboratory results appeared to prove that all asbestos had been removed from homes and businesses when in fact they remained seriously contaminated. Wood testified against Desnoyers at trial last September.

Curtis Collins worked for Wood and also ran his own asbestos abatement business. Collins pleaded guilty and cooperated with the United States by testifying against Desnoyers at trial.

Desnoyers was convicted of all counts of an indictment charging him with a Clean Air Act and mail fraud conspiracy and related substantive violations. Desnoyers is scheduled to be sentenced on March 13, 2009 in Utica, New York.

Asbestos has been determined to cause lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, an invariably fatal disease. EPA has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.

New York DEC Fines Jurgielewicz Duck Farm $776,000 for Excessive Pollution Discharges and Wetland Violations

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has taken enforcement action against Jurgielewicz Duck Farm for exceeding the discharge limits of its permit, failing to move forward with an upgrade of its treatment facility, and multiple wetlands violations. DEC’s complaint against Jurgielewicz Duck Farm seeks penalties totaling $776, 687.

DEC’s action is based on repeated discharges by Jurgielewicz which exceeded limits contained in its State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit, and the farm’s failure to move forward to upgrade its treatment facility as required under a permit issued by DEC in December, 2007.

International Steel Services, Inc. and Re-Gen, Inc. to Pay $70,000 for Violating Ohio’s Air Pollution Control Laws

The Pittsburgh-based owners and operators of a Trumbull County, Ohio, production plant will pay a $70,000 penalty to settle a lawsuit filed by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at the request of Ohio EPA.

International Steel Services, Inc. (ISS) and Re-Gen, Inc., agreed to the settlement after Ohio EPA alleged violations of air pollution control regulations at its production plant Warren Township. ISS and Re-Gen were cited for operating equipment that emits air pollution without applying for or possessing the proper permit. In addition, the companies failed to file annual fee emission reports and pay emission fees from 1999 to 2006.

In addition to paying the penalty, the settlement requires the companies to submit an approvable air permit application and past due emissions fees totaling $8,000. The Warren Township facility is a hydrochloric acid regeneration and iron oxide production plant. Because the facility emits hazardous air pollutants and particulate emissions, it is required to be permitted and submit emission reports so that Ohio EPA can ensure it operates in a manner that protects human health and the environment.

BP America to Pay $66,850 Penalty for Air Pollution Control Violations at Two Lake County, Ohio Gas Stations

BP America Inc. has agreed to pay Ohio EPA a $66,850 penalty to settle air pollution control violations at two of its gas stations in Lake County, Ohio. BP failed to properly operate and maintain “Stage II” vapor control systems on numerous gas station pumps located Wickliffe, Ohio gas station and at a station in Willoughby, Ohio. The company allowed gasoline to be dispensed from those pumps even though the vapor control systems failed to pass testing requirements. The violations date to 2007 and were corrected by March 2008.

Uncontrolled gasoline vapors released to the atmosphere contribute to ozone pollution and may prevent the area from meeting the national ozone standard. Ohio’s emission control regulations require Northeast Ohio gas station owners to install and maintain vapor control systems to capture displaced vapors at the vehicle fill neck and route them back to the underground storage tank. Ohio EPA and local air agencies inspect gas stations and monitor testing to ensure that vapor control systems are properly operated and maintained.

The penalty includes $23,740 to support state and local air pollution control programs, $23,740 to the Ohio Environmental Education Fund, and $13,370 to Ohio EPA’s clean diesel school bus program.

Mohawk Estates Penalized $22,425 for Wastewater Violations in Heath, Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) assessed a $22,425 penalty to Mohawk Estates Property Owners Association (Mohawk Estates) in Heath, Massachusetts for violations of Title 5 regulations.

The Board of Health discovered that Mohawk Estates failed to repair leaking septic system tight tanks. The leaks caused the discharge of untreated sewage to the groundwater. Mohawk Estates later made repairs before a permit was approved and began installing and using new tanks without final approval or inspection from MassDEP.

A consent order requires Mohawk Estates to submit documentation from its consultant that the tight tank is installed in compliance with the state regulations and that Mohawk Estates completed the required permit process and requested a certificate of compliance for the repairs. The negotiated agreement suspends $18,425 of the penalty contingent upon full compliance with the order.

Antelope Valley Transit Authority Fined $17,500 for Air Quality Violations

In January, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) fined Antelope Valley Transit Authority $17,500 for excessive diesel emissions and recordkeeping violations. An ARB investigation showed that the southern California transit authority failed to test, measure, record, and maintain records. Additionally, the transit authority was cited for excess diesel particulate matter emissions from their fleet. The law requires owners of California-registered truck and bus fleets to regularly inspect their vehicles to ensure their engine emissions meet state air quality standards.

MassDEP Penalizes Shetland Properties $11,500 for Waste Site Cleanup Violations

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has penalized Shetland Properties Inc. $11,500 for violations involving the cleanup of petroleum-contaminated soil at a site in Salem, Massachusetts.

The contamination was first detected and reported to MassDEP on August 10, 2005 during the removal of a 30,000-gallon underground storage tank. On August 24, 2008, Shetland submitted a report to MassDEP that noted certain cleanup actions had taken place, without first obtaining the required approval and in violation of stockpiling requirements.

Unless Shetland finds that the remaining contamination has an off-site source, a final cleanup outcome report is due no later than August 17, 2011. Shetland is also being required to submit cleanup status reports every six months until the cleanup action is complete.

MassDEP has agreed to suspend $6,500 pending full compliance with all terms of the order.

City of Council, Idaho Pays $11,000 for Wastewater Violations

In its settlement with the EPA, the City of Council, Idaho, agreed to pay $11,000 for alleged Clean Water Act violations at the City’s wastewater treatment plant. The City owns and operates the permitted plant that discharges treated wastewater into the Weiser River.

From May 2004 through April 2008, the City’s plant had over 4000 effluent limit violations. The City’s permit violations included exceeding their set discharge limits for Escherichia coli (E. coli), biochemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, pH and total residual chlorine.

The City’s treatment plant is part of a sanitary sewer system that receives domestic wastewater from residential and commercial sources. The plant serves a community of approximately 698 people. To address the effluent permit violations, the City has improved their chlorination system and installed a cover over one of the treatment lagoons to prevent algal blooms.

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System () permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources such as pipes or man-made ditches that discharge pollutants to surface waters. Industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters.

Massachusetts Property Owners Fined $5,000 and Ordered to Repair Wetland Damage

Property owners of two different sites on Lake Boon in Hudson entered into a consent order with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to resolve violations of the Wetlands Protection Act.

In June of 2008, at the request of the Hudson Conservation Commission, MassDEP inspected property owned by H. Patrick Thornton and Erica Bigelow, and property owned by William and Linda Parker. MassDEP inspectors determined that clear-cutting of trees and site-grading activities had occurred within a wetland buffer zone that exceeded the scope of work allowed under a determination issued by the local Conservation Commission.

Placement of dredge material from the hydro-raking of Lake Boon had also caused alteration along the bank of the lake and adjacent wetlands buffer zone. This activity was conducted in violation of an order of conditions issued to the property owners. Inadequate and ineffective erosion controls at the site allowed erosion of unstable soils into Lake Boon.

Following the inspections, MassDEP ordered that all violations of the Wetlands Protection Act stop. Under the negotiated settlements, the property owners must establish a schedule to complete restoration of altered wetland areas under a plan approved by MassDEP. The property owners were also assessed penalties totaling $5,000.

Pennsylvania’s DEP Fines Del Monte Almost $3,500 for Industrial Wastewater Discharge Violations

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined Del Monte Corp. nearly $3,500 for industrial wastewater violations last fall at its plant in South Centre Township.

“Del Monte took its 8 million gallon wastewater lagoon out of service last September to replace a torn liner,” said DEP Northcentral Regional Director, Robert Yowell. “The company’s interim treatment plan was approved by DEP, but the process resulted in 20 exceedances of their discharge permit limits.”

Del Monte’s treatment plan involved treating wastewater through its dissolved air flotation unit and clarifier treatment units while bypassing the lagoon aeration process and then discharging the treated wastewater to the Susquehanna River.

The 20 exceedances, which included those for oil and grease, biochemical oxygen demand, and ammonia, were also violations of the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law. That law prohibits unauthorized discharges of industrial wastewater to the waters of the commonwealth.

EPA Issues Administrative Orders to Arkansas Egg Company

EPA has issued administrative orders to three Arkansas Egg Co. facilities in Arkansas for violations of the Clean Water Act. The facilities, Blair Farm in Benton County, and Summers Farm and Appleton Farm, both in Washington County, were found to be out of compliance with their Clean Water Act discharge permits.

In February 2008, EPA and Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) inspectors observed that all three facilities had used chicken litter in amounts exceeding those designated in their waste management plans. The facilities had also failed to operate their liquid animal waste collection and containment systems properly. Summers and Blair Farms were also cited for failure to dispose of dead animals appropriately and maintain their carcass incinerators. Additionally, the Appleton Farm had failed to maintain the required 35 feet setback distance from streams at waste application sites.

Other violations noted included failure to maintain proper levels in waste collection systems, failure to maintain records indicating locations of fields where animal waste has been applied, and failure to properly dispose of liquid and solid animal wastes.

Based on these findings, EPA has ordered Arkansas Egg Co. to immediately remove all animal carcasses, begin utilizing proper carcass incineration and liquid waste procedures, properly remove non-contained liquid manure, and initiate application of liquid and solid wastes to land application as required by their discharge permits and waste management plans.

Arkansas Egg Co. has also been ordered to provide maps of all owned or leased liquid animal waste or solid waste application fields showing field locations, soil sample analyses for the last five years, cropping schemes, copies of calculations used for waste application, applications records, and liquid and solid manure sample analysis.

Massachusetts Is First-in-Nation to Go Paperless With Site Cleanup Document System

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup is the first cleanup program in the nation to implement an all electronic file submittal and review system. MassDEP expects as many as 25,000 reports to be submitted electronically this year.

This latest shift from paper to e-filing—known as “eDEP”—will now allow online access for any individual computer user to review the material within 10 minutes of submittal.

Manufacturers Responding to EPA’s Challenge to Recycle TVs

EPA is challenging electronics retailers and television manufacturers to increase the collection and responsible recycling of discarded TVs. Americans discarded nearly 27 million TVs in 2007 and an additional 99 million piled up in closets, basements, and garages. Recycling TVs helps to conserve natural resources and reduce energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and other pollutants related to the extraction and processing of virgin materials.

Later this fall, EPA will select a winner based on criteria that include cooperative partnerships, innovation, longevity, consumer outreach, accessibility, pounds of TVs collected, and ability to ensure that responsible recycling practices were followed.

Several industry leaders, including Samsung, Sony, and Panasonic, Sharp, and Toshiba (through the Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Company, a recycling consortium), have already accepted the challenge and are expanding their current recycling opportunities.

Plug-In to eCycling is a partnership between EPA and leading consumer electronics manufacturers and retailers that fosters opportunities for consumers to donate or recycle their used electronics. Since the program’s inception in 2003, Plug-In partners have recycled more than 200 million pounds of electronics.

Rubicon LLC Successfully Completes Goal for EPA Partnership Program

Rubicon LLC, a joint venture between Huntsman and Chemtura Corporation, located in Geismar, Louisiana, is being recognized by EPA for completion of their National Partnership for Environmental Priorities () goal and reducing the quantity of benzene and aniline incinerated at the facility by 1.2 million pounds.

NPEP is an EPA program that promotes the voluntary reduction of hazardous chemicals. Through work with EPA, both public and private organizations identify activities that will reduce the use of these chemicals, preventing their ability to be released into the environment and threaten public health. With over 220 partners across the country, the program continues to promote alternatives to hazardous chemical use, including recycling, substituting less hazardous alternatives, or reducing the quantities of these hazardous chemicals being used.

Rubicon joined the NPEP program in 2005 and committed to reduce waste benzene and aniline used in their polyurethane operations. Rubicon implemented a waste minimization program in 1995, and since 1997 has been able to reduce the amount of aniline incinerated at the facility by 48 percent. The project for NPEP enrollment involved system upgrades that resulted in 720,000 pounds of aniline reductions and 500,000 pounds of benzene reductions. The facility has been active in Louisiana’s Environmental Leadership Program since 1998.

“More and more top facilities are finding smart, simple ways to conduct business and care for the environment at the same time,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Larry Starfield. “It is even more inspiring when industry members not only stick with their commitments to the environment, but expand on them.”

Cow Waste Converted to Fuel for Dairy Trucks

Representatives of Hilarides Dairy have announced a system that converts cow waste into fuel for trucks and generators while minimizing pollution. Rob Hilarides, the dairy owner, earned a $600,000 grant from the California Air Resources Board’s Alternative Fuel Incentive Program which subsidizes projects facilitating greater use of non-petroleum fuels.

“It’s energy projects like this that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and get us off our dependency of foreign oil,” said Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols. “It also addresses sources of long term air and water pollution problems.”

Dairy farm owner, Rob Hilarides, converted two heavy-duty diesel trucks to run on clean-burning bio-methane produced from his cows’ manure. Using an anaerobic-lagoon digester that processes the run-off of nearly 10,000 cows, the project generates 226,000 cubic feet of bio-gas per day and enough fuel to run two heavy duty trucks that make daily runs. This has reduced the dairy’s diesel consumption by 650 gallons a day. Rob intends to convert five pick-up trucks to use the same fuel.

The project is the result of a public-private partnership aimed at encouraging the use of renewable bio-methane produced from the waste of food processing and dairies. In June 2006, California’s legislature allotted $25 million dollars in grants to encourage the integration of alternative fuels into California’s market. Projects from the grants are now coming online and examples can be seen throughout the state.

The Hilarides project was supported by state officials because the process reduces volatile organic compounds and greenhouse gases, generates compressed natural gas, an alternative to diesel, and minimizes two sources of the valley’s air pollution problem. Redirecting the cow waste to produce natural gas and rededicating diesel engines to run on the alternative fuel is a replicable process and it is hoped that many farms throughout the state will embrace the option.

TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $657,752

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has approved penalties totaling $657,752 against 68 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations. Included in the total are fines against Valero Refining-Texas, L.P. of Galveston County, in the amount of $181,200, for unauthorized emissions on February 20, 2005. Of that fine total, a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) of $90,600 will be provided to the Houston-Galveston AERCO’s Clean Cities-Clean Vehicles Program, in Galveston County.

Fines were issued in the following enforcement categories: two agricultural, 20 air quality, two dry cleaner, one licensed irrigator, five multi-media, three municipal solid waste, six municipal waste discharge, nine petroleum storage tank, five public water system, four water quality, and two water right. There were three field citations. In addition, default orders were issued for the following categories: two licensed irrigator, one petroleum storage tank, one public water system, one wastewater operator certification, and one water right. Penalties were also assessed in a municipal solid waste action following a hearing at the State Office of Administrative Hearings.

The TCEQ’s next agenda meeting is scheduled for February 25. 2009. 

Ford to Offer First Battery Electric Commercial Vehicle on Global Transit Connect Platform

A battery electric-powered version of Ford’s global Transit Connect commercial vehicle, the first product in Ford’s new electric vehicle plan, will be offered in 2010. Ford is collaborating with Europe’s leading battery electric commercial vehicle upfitter—Smith Electric Vehicles, a unit of the Tanfield Group—to quickly bring this vehicle to market in North America

The initiative leverages the “One Ford” global strategy, delivering pure battery electric power for commercial applications on a global platform. It also supports Ford’s strategy of bringing scalable, affordable, and fuel-efficient solutions for millions while helping reduce American commercial vehicle dependence on oil.

Ford Motor Company has announced plans to market a pure battery electric-powered light commercial vehicle in North America, based on the all-new Transit Connect global commercial vehicle platform. A range of up to 100 miles makes the battery electric powered Transit Connect a useful hauler, with significantly reduced operation and maintenance costs over its life time.

Transit Connect with battery electric power is the initial offering in Ford’s aggressive new electric vehicle plan to bring pure battery-powered vehicles, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids to market. The plan includes the introduction of the following vehicles to North America:

  • Transit Connect battery electric commercial vehicle in 2010
  • A new battery electric small car in 2011
  • Next-generation hybrid vehicles in 2012
  • Plug-in hybrid versions in 2012

U.S Climate Change Summit March 30-31 in Washington, D.C.

. Top climate change experts will meet with members of Congress and the Obama administration, as well as with business leaders and representatives of nongovernmental organizations, to set the stage for national action on climate change.

To that end, they will focus on how to limit the magnitude of climate change and adapt to its impact. They will also consider what can be done to advance climate change science in order to increase our understanding of how human actions and nature interact to drive climate change, improve systems for modeling and observing climate change, and enhance the accuracy of warnings for regions that may be most vulnerable. Ensuring that climate change policy is informed by evidence-based advice will also be among the topics to be discussed.

Organizers hope the summit will kick-start an open dialogue among important voices on climate change as the country and world grapple with the issue and its implications to human health and the environment. Presentations at the summit will include a series of reports from the National Research Council. More than 90 experts have volunteered to serve on four study panels, and the project will culminate with a committee report on how the U.S. could most effectively respond to climate change.


UN Calls on U.S., China, India, and Europe to Assume Leadership on Climate Change

In a February 10 press conference at UN Headquarters, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the United States, China, India, and the European Union (EU) to show “global leadership of the highest order” in tackling climate change.

He told reporters, “We have no time to lose. The United States, China, India and the European Union—all must show the way.”

The same day, the EU announced the signing of an agreement, by Mayors of 350 cities across 23 European countries, to cut carbon emissions by more than 20 percent by 2020. It is believed these cuts will save approximately $10.4 billion in energy costs.

The agreement commits cities, including London, Paris, and Brussels, to “go beyond” a two-year pledge by national governments to cut emissions by 20 percent, increase energy efficiency by 20 percent, and to increase the use of renewable energy sources to 20 percent of all energy used by 2020.

Addressing EU counterparts by video link during the signing ceremony, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg backed the EU plan and said his city would aim to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

Meanwhile, Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon welcomed US President Barack Obama’s commitment to work with partners at the international level to tackle issues of global concern, saying, “I’m very optimistic about his engagement; he is very proactively engaging policies on major issues.” The Secretary General added, “Reaching a new climate agreement this year will require direct involvement of world leaders. We need direct involvement at the highest level of Government.”

The Secretary General confirmed the UN is planning a high-level climate meeting with Heads of State on the margins of the General Assembly meeting, next September. The meeting will take place in the lead up to the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December, which aims to reach a global conclusive agreement on climate change.

3rd Annual Rachel Carson Contest

There are four categories: photography, essay, poetry, and dance. Dance is a new category this year.

Rachel Carson is considered to be the founder of the contemporary environmental movement through her landmark book, Silent Spring. Its publication is credited with reversing the nation’s pesticide policy. The contest seeks to spur and instill the same sense of wonder Carson had among all generations.

The deadline for contest entries is June 10, 2009. The winners will be announced in September 2009.

EPA Seeking Nominations for Environmental Justice Awards

EPA is accepting applications for the 2009 Achievement in Environmental Justice Awards. Nominations must be postmarked by May 13, 2009. Each multi-stakeholder partnership applying for an award must have reached a significant environmental justice milestone or accomplishment within the past 5 years (2004-2008). EPA will announce award winners in the fall of 2009.

Award winners will receive national recognition for their significant environmental justice achievements. Winners will also be featured on the EPA Office of Environmental Justice’s Website. National recognition may also open doors for the award winners to network and partner with other organizations across the U.S. that share a similar commitment to environmental justice excellence.

National awards for achievements in environmental justice will be given to multi-stakeholder partnerships for their achievement in addressing environmental justice issues or achieving the goals of environmental justice in a manner that results in positive impacts to a community. Multi-stakeholder partnerships bring together diverse organizations with multiple perspectives and interests to address these issues. Such partnerships refer to arrangements in which stakeholders work together to achieve common goals.

Multi-stakeholder partnerships must be made up of three or more of the following organizations:

  • Community-Based Organizations (required)
  • Academic Institutions
  • Business and Industry Organizations
  • Non-Governmental and Environmental Organizations
  • State and Local Government Organizations
  • Tribal Government and Indigenous Organizations


Multi-stakeholder partnerships will be evaluated based on how they addressed environmental justice issues in accordance with the following criteria:

  • Partnerships and Collaboration;
  • Innovation;
  • Community, Equity, and Public Involvement;
  • Integration;
  • Leveraged Resources/Capacity Building/Sustainability; and
  • Demonstrated Results/Effectiveness.

Environmental News Links


Trivia Question of the Week


Which category of municipal waste is growing the fastest?
a. E-waste
b. Household hazardous waste
c. Packaging materials
d. Industrial waste inappropriately diverted to municipal waste landfills