EPA Proposes Measures to Address Direct Emissions of Fine Particulates

September 17, 2007

 Fine particle pollution can aggravate heart and lung diseases and has been associated with premature death and a variety of serious health problems including heart attacks, chronic bronchitis, and asthma attacks.

When an industrial facility applies for a permit to emit a regulated pollutant in an area that meets clean air standards, the state regulatory agency and federal EPA must determine if emissions of that pollutant will harm air quality. The PSD program uses three key measures to make this determination: increments, significant impact level (SIL), and significant monitoring concentration (SMC). 

EPA Releases List of High-Volume Chemicals

EPA has released the first set of Hazard Characterizations on 101 High Production Volume (HPV) chemicals. These characterizations are based on EPA’s scientific review of the screening-level hazard, or toxicity, data that was submitted by the U.S. chemical industry through EPA’s HPV Challenge Program or other information previously collected by the agency.

The HPV Challenge Program encouraged companies to provide the public with basic health and safety data on chemicals that are manufactured in excess of a million pounds a year. The hazard characterizations include a summary of the data submitted, EPA’s evaluation of the quality and completeness of the data, and an assessment of the potential hazards that a chemical or chemical category may pose. EPA will combine this information with human and environmental exposure information collected from EPA’s Inventory Update Reporting to develop a risk characterization and, based on that review, determine if additional action is needed to ensure the safety of the HPV chemicals’ manufacture and use.

The agency intends to use this approach to identify and assess risks as well as take needed action on 3,000 HPV chemicals by 2012. This was one of the elements of the North American chemical cooperation commitment announced by the United States, Canada, and Mexico at the Security and Prosperity Partnership North American Leaders’ Summit in Canada in August. 

EPA will continue to prepare and periodically post additional HPV chemical hazard characterizations as they are developed. The agency intends to post risk characterizations on chemicals when they are developed and completed, beginning later this year. To view the first set of hazard characterizations, visit http://iaspub.epa.gov/oppthpv/hpv_hc_characterization.get_report. 

Federal Court Ruling Upholding States' Rights to Adopt California Air Standards

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal hailed a federal court ruling in Vermont that upholds the rights of Connecticut and other states to protect citizens from pollution caused by vehicle emissions.
The U.S. District Court decision in Vermont involves one of three lawsuits brought by several auto manufacturers that challenges new emissions rules in California, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Connecticut is one of several other states that have adopted the same regulations of carbon dioxide (C02) emissions by vehicles that was challenged in Vermont. "This powerful historic victory sends a momentous message: When the federal government fails, states may protect their own citizens against harmful pollution," Blumenthal said. "The court affirms vital rights of states to regulate their own air and protect their own citizens. Connecticut is part of a national movement to mandate stronger emissions standards to protect public health, safety, and the environment.

"Connecticut's standards—modeled after California's—are feasible and affordable. They can be met with technology already in the market. The standards give automakers flexibility to apply any technology they choose to reduce global warming emissions, including production of vehicles that use lower carbon fuels. The federal government continues its willful failure to control greenhouse gases from motor vehicles, forcing states to take matters into their own hands."

Senator Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said: “Today’s decision in the Vermont case is a clear-cut victory for cleaning up the environment and combating global warming. It’s a good day for the American people.”

“This is a tremendous step forward for states trying to do everything they can to fight global warming,” said David Doniger, policy director of the Climate Center at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “The ruling affirms the right of any state to choose the emission standard first set by California. This is an essential tool in the fight to prevent the worst impacts of global warming.” NRDC joined with several states and other groups in defending the California rules in court.

After a three-week trial in which the automakers put forward their best witnesses, the court ruled that the companies “have not carried their burden to show that compliance with the regulation is not feasible; nor have they demonstrated that it will limit consumer choice, create economic hardship for the automobile industry, cause significant job loss, or undermine safety.”

Governors Call on Auto Industry to Work Toward Clean Cars

Thirteen governors from across the United States sent a letter to automotive corporations asking the industry to support the governors’ commitment to address climate change.

“The public is demanding that states, in the absence of federal action, take real and meaningful steps to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases,” the governors wrote in the letter. “Ensuring that our automobiles have a lower carbon footprint is an essential piece of our greenhouse gas reduction strategy.”

The letter further explained that the U.S. passenger vehicle/light-duty truck sector is second only to the electricity sector in the amount of greenhouse gases emitted. California was the first state to adopt clean tailpipe standards, followed by 11 other states, leading to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 74 million metric tons by 2020.

The governors asked the automotive leaders to withdraw the legal challenges to clean vehicle standards and work with the states to reverse the threat of global warming. “We do not believe it is productive for your industry to continue to fight state implementation of clean tailpipe standards,” the governors said. “We would prefer to follow a path that encourages innovation not litigation.”

“Your companies are on record as supporting efforts to combat climate change,” remarked the governors. “Selling cars that meet the clean car standards is a major step in fulfilling your commitment. It is time for us to work together to reduce the transportation sector’s contributions to global warming in our states and provinces.” States involved include: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington. Five Canadian provinces also have committed to adopting these standards.

New Fundamentals of Urban Runoff Management Document Now Available

This document revises a 1994 edition and was prepared with support from EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management and the Nonpoint Source Control Branch in EPA’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds. The update is important because of the tremendous amount of new information available, as well as the significant shift in stormwater program direction from the historic mitigation-based approach to a more source-based approach.

Romic Fined $20,000 for Failing to Immediately Report Spill

EPA recently fined Romic Environmental Technologies Inc. $20,000 for failing to immediately
notify the National Response Center after approximately 1,105 pounds of catechol were released to the air on June 5, 2006. Emergency responders arrived on scene at the East Palo Alto, California facility, located at 2081 Bay Road, immediately after the release. The shelter-in-place order was lifted an hour after the problem was contained and no longer a threat to the surrounding community. Romic notified the National Response Center 16 hours later.

“Companies working with toxic chemicals have a responsibility to their employees and the surrounding neighborhood to immediately report these releases,” said Keith Takata, the EPA's Superfund director for the Pacific Southwest region. “When a business fails to quickly provide critical information to authorities, a community's ability to respond during an emergency may suffer.”

Approximately 4,000 gallons of a chemical mixture that contained hydroxylamine, monoethanolamine, toluene, acetonitrile, and included approximately 1,105 pounds of pyrocatechol released to the environment in the form of a fine mist that settled approximately over more than two acres, including an adjoining empty lot, Bay Road, a PG&E substation, and the Laumeister and Faber Tract marshes.

Federal law requires immediate notification of a reportable release in order for emergency response teams to evaluate the nature and extent of a hazardous substance release, prevent exposure, and minimize consequences. The reportable quantity for catechol is 100 pounds.

Pyrocatechol, or catechol, is a hazardous substance under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The substance is a phenol, a group of chemicals that are toxic poisons to humans, being corrosive and irritating to mucous membranes and the respiratory tract.

Romic is a hazardous waste recycling facility that has been in operation since 1964. The company treats hazardous waste at the facility in tanks and other containers and transports materials into and from the facility in tanker trucks and drums.

EPA Pushes Procurement of Materials From Recovered Waste

The EPA is revising the list of items designated in the Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPG), landscaping products category, to promote the use of materials recovered from solid waste. The agency is expanding the description of “compost” from yard trimmings and food waste to include compost from biosolids and manure, but it does not limit the designation to specific types of organic materials. In addition, EPA has added fertilizer made from recovered materials as a designated landscaping item.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requires procurement officials to buy products containing recovered materials when the agencies spend more than $10,000 a year on that item. Procuring agencies are federal, state, and local agencies, and their contractors that use appropriated federal funds. For example, if a county agency spends more than $10,000 a year on an EPA-designated item and part of that money is from appropriated federal funds, then the agency must purchase that item made from recovered materials. Agencies are required to purchase the product with the highest recovered material content level practicable, given reasonable competition, product price, performance, and availability. 


New Mexico Environment Department Gets EPA Inspection Credentials

Formal credentials were recently issued to the New Mexico Environment Department to perform inspections on behalf of the EPA.

The credentials are for inspections conducted under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System () program, which controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into U.S. waters.

“The state of New Mexico has worked side-by-side with EPA for years to achieve our shared goal of ensuring clean, safe water for all of its residents,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “These credentials are meant to strengthen that partnership well into the future.”

Since its start in 1972, the NPDES permit program has been responsible for significant improvements to the nation's water quality. NMED staff will conduct compliance evaluation, compliance sampling, confined animal feeding operation, and stormwater inspections. The department plans to credential seven state inspectors who are expected to conduct more than 140 inspections annually.

"The credentials allow NMED to work directly with local governments, residents, and other entities to ensure water quality is protected for the health of residents and the environment," said New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ron Curry. "Our good relationship with EPA has allowed this process to flow smoothly."

Although NMED staff members have been conducting inspections on behalf of EPA for more than 12 years, the new, formal credentials are expected to increase the reach and scope of enforcement within the state. The credentials will result in more facilities being inspected, and NMED staff will have the authority to assess federal provisions not covered by state law.

Vanderhoef Builders Fined $14,125 for Storm Water Violations

Vanderhoef Builders, a construction company based in Boise, Idaho, has resolved a federal Clean Water Act enforcement case with EPA by paying a $14,125 penalty.

The EPA discovered the alleged violations when it conducted a storm water inspection at Vanderhoef Builders’ 1.5 acre construction site on Payette Lake near McCall last April. EPA inspected the site after receiving complaints that muddy water was leaving the site and entering the lake.

According to Kim Ogle, manager of EPA’s NPDES Compliance Unit, because the Vanderhoef site is close to Payette Lake, one of Idaho’s “Special Resource Waters,” construction managers need to be especially vigilant.

“Being this close to Payette Lake, builders need to take special care,” Ogle said. “Payette Lake and all of Idaho’s waters deserve our protection. Storm water from construction sites must be responsibly managed or enforcement action will be taken.”

EPA’s storm water General Construction Permit authorizes storm water discharges from construction sites, and it requires construction site operators (usually developers and general contractors) to plan, implement, and monitor storm water controls to prevent pollutants from reaching Idaho’s lakes, rivers, and streams. Without proper controls, common construction site pollutants, like sediment, oil and grease, and concrete washout, can easily wash into nearby waterways anytime it rains.

During the inspection, EPA found that Vanderhoef Builders failed to:

  • Include required information in its Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan
  • Conduct regular self-inspections
  • Properly install and maintain storm water controls

As part of the settlement, Vanderhoef Builders must send EPA information demonstrating compliance with the permit and pay the $14,125 penalty. Prior to EPA’s enforcement action, the inspected site was also subject to close scrutiny by the City of McCall for failing to comply with local erosion and sediment control ordinances.

TI Logistics Faces Penalty for EPCRA and Clean Water Act Violations

A general warehousing and storage facility located in Worcester, Mass., faces a penalty of up to $157,500 for Clean Water Act (CWA) violations and up to $32,500 per day for Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) violations.

According to EPA, TI Logistics, Inc., and a closely related warehousing and storage company illegally discharged styrene into U.S. waters due to a trailer rollover, failed to prepare and implement a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan in violation of Oil Pollution Prevention regulations, and failed to file a hazardous chemical inventory form to the proper authorities in violation of EPCRA.

On Sept. 5, 2006, a company-owned trailer rolled over on Interstate-95 in New Haven, Conn., discharging between 4,000 and 5,400 gallons of hazardous chemical styrene. An unknown quantity of the styrene that was released from the trailer, estimated at about 200–500 gallons, flowed into storm water drains and traveled into New Haven Harbor.

Federal, state, and local authorities, including the New Haven Fire Department, Connecticut Department of the Environmental Protection (CT DEP), U.S. Coast Guard, and EPA responded to the accident. Sheens of styrene were observed near a storm water outflow in New Haven Harbor in an area inhabited by fish and other wildlife. A contractor initially hired by CT DEP performed cleanup operations at the spill site, including excavation of contaminated surface soils, containment booming, and product recovery at the impacted storm water outflow in New Haven Harbor.

Following an investigation of the truck rollover, the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles cited the truck driver for failing to drive in the proper lane and driving with inadequate brakes.  

EPA and City of Parkersburg Settle Environmental Violations

Residents in the city of Parkersburg, Pa., will get the chance to properly discard used motor oil, old tires, antifreeze and other items regarded as household hazardous waste, thanks to an agreement between the city and the EPA.

Parkersburg has agreed to hold a special collection of household hazardous waste and pay a $7,083 penalty to settle alleged violations related to underground storage tanks (USTs) at the city’s public works service center, 2507 Camden Ave. EPA alleges the city failed to perform tests from May 2001 through March 2005 that were necessary to detect possible releases of petroleum from three USTs at the service center. The city has since removed the storage tanks.

“The city’s collection event will be beneficial for us all since the community will be able to safely dispose of things they can’t include in the normal curb-side trash pickup, and we’ll be preventing other possible problems, such as old tires that can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes,” said Donald S. Welsh, EPA’s mid-Atlantic regional administrator.

Under the agreement, Parkersburg must spend at least $16,000 for the collection project and hold the event before June 2008. Other materials to be collected include propane tanks and computer components. The city plans to increase community awareness about the proper disposal of household hazardous waste.

With millions of gallons of gasoline, oil, and other petroleum products stored in USTs nationwide, leaking tanks are a major source of soil and groundwater contamination. 

Connecticut Landlords Agree to Settle Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Case

The EPA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have announced that a Connecticut property management company and several affiliated property owners in New Haven have agreed to pay a $32,000 fine for failing to inform tenants that their apartments may contain lead-based paint. In addition, the landlords agreed to render those units lead safe at a cost of more than $400,000.

According to EPA and HUD, Renaissance Management Company, Inc., BHP Associates Limited Partners, GAB Hill Limited Partners, Renaissance Hill LP, and Beechwood Gardens, LP, violated the federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act (Residential Lead Act) by failing to inform tenants that their homes may contain potentially dangerous levels of lead.

“Lead paint is still one of the most serious and avoidable public health threats for children in New England,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Property managers and property owners have an important role in preventing lead poisoning and need to follow all lead paint disclosure requirements so that families are aware of potential lead hazards.”

HUD’s Deputy Secretary Roy A. Bernardi said, “The law is clear. Landlords and home sellers must inform their tenants and homebuyers if there’s a possibility their homes may contain potentially dangerous lead. This joint agreement should send a strong signal to everyone that both HUD and EPA will work together to protect the health and safety of families.”

According to the settlement, the parties noted above will spend more than $400,000 in testing for lead-based paint hazards, replacing or abating all windows, and abating all lead-based paint hazards in every property owned and/or managed by them.

The case is among more than 25 lead-related civil and criminal cases EPA New England has taken since launching an initiative to make sure landlords, property owners, and property managers are complying with federal lead disclosure laws. The initiative has included inspections, some conducted jointly with HUD, around New England, as well as compliance assistance workshops.

The settlement announced is the third such judicial consent decree or administrative agreement in New England among HUD, EPA, the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the U.S. Department of Justice.  More than 10,570 rental units have been or will be made lead safe for tenants by landlords and management companies found to be in violation of the Residential Lead Act. Moreover, the landlords and management companies involved in these three settlements have paid civil fines totaling $153,223, and paid more than $4 million to eliminate or reduce lead hazards. 

EPA Fines Shell Corporation $26,000 for Las Vegas Pesticide Violation

The EPA has fined the Shell Corporation of Las Vegas $26,000 for allegedly selling and distributing “Roof-ReNEW,” an unregistered pesticide, in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

The EPA alleges that in 2006, the Shell Corporation, located at 4620 S. Valley View in Las Vegas, Nev., sold and distributed “Roof-ReNEW,” a product that it claimed prevented mold on roofs, decks, and wooden shingles, to firms in Colorado and Tennessee.

“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 Communities and Ecosystems Division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Office. “Companies must register pesticides with the EPA before distributing and selling such products.”

The Nevada Department of Agriculture discovered the violations during an inspection conducted at the request of EPA Region IX in July 2006.

Distributors and retailers are responsible for ensuring that all pesticides distributed and/or sold fully comply with federal pesticide regulations. 

191 Countries Work Together to Heal the Ozone Layer

The Earth's ozone layer is on track to heal, thanks to the work of dozens of countries that signed a landmark international environmental agreement initiated 20 years ago.

Known as the "Montreal Protocol," this ambitious treaty requires countries to phase out production and use of compounds that deplete ozone in the stratosphere. Initially signed by 24 countries on Sept.16, 1987, in Montreal, this treaty now includes 191 countries and is widely hailed as the most successful international environmental agreement to date.

"Twenty years ago, the community of nations came together to adopt a global strategy for the global challenge of ozone depletion. Today, we at EPA join our international partners in celebrating the anniversary of the Montreal Protocol—a shining example of how human ingenuity, leadership, and determination can create a healthier, better world," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.

Each of the countries that signed the Protocol has measurable goals and actions for achieving success. These include phasing out production and use of ozone-depleting substances, such as chlorofluorocarbons, halons, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform. Scientific evidence demonstrates that these compounds significantly deplete the stratospheric ozone layer, which shields the planet from damaging ultraviolet radiation.

The United States has implemented key parts of the Montreal Protocol more rapidly and at significantly less cost than originally anticipated. With the help of many partners, EPA has also approved more than 300 alternatives to ozone-depleting substances for industrial, commercial, and consumer uses. Many of these new technologies also save energy and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

As a result of U.S. efforts, combined with those worldwide to phase out ozone depleting substances, the ozone layer has not grown thinner since 1998 over most of the world. Antarctic ozone is projected to return to pre-1980 levels around 2060 to 2075. EPA estimates that between 1990 and 2165, an estimated 6.3 million U.S. lives will be saved as a result of these international actions to protect and restore the ozone layer.

The United States and various partner countries around the world are meeting in Montreal to discuss the importance of continuing the progress made to protect the ozone layer and to celebrate the important achievements of the past 20 years and the people and programs that work to protect the Earth's ozone layer.  

EPA Fines Shasta Beverages, Inc. $11,900 for Chemical Reporting Violations

EPA fined Shasta Beverages, Inc., over violations of the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA) at its soft drink manufacturing facility, located at 301 S. 29th Street in Phoenix, Ariz.

To settle the case, Shasta Beverages, Inc., will pay a penalty of $11,900 for failing to file annual chemical inventory forms with state and local emergency response agencies for chlorine and ammonia stored at its facility in 2003 through 2005.

“It is essential that facilities storing hazardous chemicals provide timely and accurate information about the risks posed by these chemicals,” said Daniel Meer, branch chief for emergency response prevention and preparedness for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Without this information, state and local emergency planners and responders cannot be adequately prepared to protect our communities in the event of an accidental or intentional release of those chemicals.”

Following the inspection, the S. 29th Street facility filed the required forms and brought the company into compliance with their reporting requirements.


Web-Based Compliance Tool Available for Tribes

The center can help tribal environmental professionals and facility owners comply with environmental regulations and obtain information on topics including waste management, air and water resources, drinking water, and public safety. Viewers can report a complaint to EPA, find out the compliance status of facilities in Indian country, learn how to apply for federal grants, and locate specific personnel at EPA and other federal agencies.


Manke Lumber Fined $16,000 for Storm Water Violation

The Washington Department of Ecology fined Manke Lumber of Tacoma $16,000 for violating terms of its stormwater permit, which may have led to further contamination of the Hylebos Waterway.

The company is a sawmilling and wood pellet manufacturer operating on the industrial tideflats. It is subject to the terms of an industrial storm water permit, which requires the company to develop a storm water pollution prevention plan and use best management practices to keep pollution from entering the storm water system and the nearby Hylebos Waterway.

The fine results from the findings of two Ecology inspections conducted in September 2005 and June 2007. Both visits uncovered evidence that important actions to contain soil, wood debris, and industrial fluids were not taken; proper stormwater monitoring and reporting was not being done; and oil staining on the ground was evident at several locations throughout the worksite.

An administrative order and penalty were issued in 2002 requiring the company to address some of the same issues.

"Ecology is concerned by these repeat violations," said Garin Schrieve, a manager for Ecology's Water Quality program. "Stormwater permits are intended to safeguard the environment because they provide clear steps for how to properly manage waste and by-products that have the potential to pollute storm water systems and the bodies of water to which they drain. Hopefully, this penalty will be taken seriously by Manke, and the company will make the needed changes." 

Pennsylvania DEP Fines Clarion Boards Inc. $90,000 for Air Quality Violations

Clarion Boards Inc. has paid a $90,000 penalty to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to address past air emission violations from its medium-density fiberboard facility in Paint Township, Clarion County.

DEP and Clarion Boards have finalized a consent order and agreement that calls on the company to submit operational testing documentation and an application for a new air quality plan approval to address volatile organic compound, or VOC, emissions.

“After several months of negotiation, we now have a legally binding agreement that tackles Clarion Boards’ VOC emission limit violations,” said DEP Regional Director Kelly Burch. “This settlement is an opportunity for the company to find the most efficient way to operate its emissions control devices and bring VOC emissions in line with where they should be.”

DEP issued notices of violation to Clarion Boards for failing to demonstrate compliance with the emission limits in its plan approval. The company also failed to certify the nitrogen oxide continuous emission monitoring.

Clarion Boards’ noncompliance with the VOC emission limits has resulted in the emission of approximately seven tons of excess compounds since the fiberboard plant’s start-up in September 2004.

The consent order and agreement includes a schedule for Clarion Boards to install and certify the required nitrogen oxide continuous emission monitor and a requirement that the company conduct testing on the air streams that feed the regenerative thermal oxidizer, which will help determine the streams that can be exhausted directly to the atmosphere.

The settlement also requires that Clarion Boards provide a detailed schedule for testing each alternative control that they have identified. The $90,000 penalty was deposited in the state’s Clean Air Fund, which supports air quality improvement projects throughout Pennsylvania.

In June 2004, Temple Inland sold the medium density fiberboard plant to Aconcagua Timber Corporation, which became Clarion Boards in 2005. 

Carbon Footprinting

The Carbon Fund has produced a guide that provides an explanation of key footprinting concepts, a definition of the term ‘carbon footprint,’ an overview of the key issues in calculating an organization’s carbon impact, and an introduction to established corporate emissions reporting approaches, such as the GHG Protocol, produced by WRI and WBCSD.

The guide explains key concepts such as a definition of the organizational boundary and how to classify different direct and indirect emissions sources, helping build a complete picture of an organization’s carbon impact. 

Ohio Proposes Emission Reduction Credits

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Division of Air Pollution Control (DAPC), has proposed new draft rules for the creation of an emission reduction credit (ERC) trade and banking program for the purpose of offsets. 

New Source Review regulations require major sources to acquire offsets before obtaining a permit to construct in nonattainment areas. The purpose of the ERC trade and banking program is to have an official method for Ohio companies to register unverified and verified ERCs into an Ohio EPA ERC banking system for future internal use or to trade for the purpose of offsets. Currently, Ohio EPA conducts ERC verification on a case-by-case basis only at the time a ‘major’ facility needs to use ERCs for emission offsets. Ohio EPA anticipates that these new draft rules will reduce the risk of finding emission offsets at the time of need by creating a clear registration and banking system in addition to publishing available ERCs on the Ohio EPA website.

The new draft rules provide provisions for a robust ERC open market trading program for the purpose of offsets with the following elements: ERC generation techniques, quantifications methods, baseline determinations, and ERC expiration periods. It also outlines the information facilities must submit when generating, transferring, or using ERCs. Lastly, the new draft rules clarify the requirements for meeting the four federal ERC criteria; quantifiable, permanent, surplus, and federally enforceable. The new draft rules will refer back to OAC Chapter 3745-31 referencing applicable offset rule requirements promulgated under the New Source Review rules implemented in OAC Chapter 3745-31.

As part of the rule-making process, DAPC is required by Section 121.39 of the Ohio Revised Code to consult with organizations that represent political subdivisions, environmental interests, business interests, and others affected by the rules. The DAPC is offering interested parties the opportunity to comment on new draft OAC Chapter 3745-111 before the division formally proposes them. 

ConocoPhillips Agrees to Groundbreaking Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan

California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced last week that ConocoPhillips has agreed to an “unprecedented global warming reduction plan” to offset greenhouse gases caused by the expansion of its Northern California oil refinery. Brown said that the oil company has agreed to offset greenhouse gas emission increases until the carbon-cutting regulations of AB 32 take effect in 2012.

“This agreement is a groundbreaking step in California’s battle to combat global warming and gives the state an early edge in meeting the greenhouse gas reduction goals of AB 32,” Brown told a news conference with ConocoPhillips at the Attorney General’s Office in San Francisco.

ConocoPhillips has proposed an oil refinery expansion at its Rodeo facility in Contra Costa County, including a hydrogen plant to make cleaner-burning gasoline and diesel fuels from the heavy portion of crude oil. Brown appealed to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, challenging the environmental documentation for the project and the failure to mitigate the increased greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the operation of the hydrogen plant.

The Attorney General said he would now withdraw the state’s appeal based on the significant greenhouse gas emission offsets agreed to by ConocoPhillips. Brown added, “Under this unprecedented global warming reduction plan, ConocoPhillips becomes the first oil company in America to offset greenhouse gas emissions from a refinery expansion project. This is a breakthrough.”

The hydrogen project will initially emit approximately 500,000 metric tons of C02 per year. ConocoPhillips will take the following actions as part of its efforts to offset these emissions:

  • Audit all of its California refineries and identify all greenhouse gas emission sources and reduction opportunities.
  • Conduct an energy efficiency audit at Rodeo to identify feasible energy efficiency measures.
  • Fund a $7 million offset program that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District will use to support offset projects in the Bay Area.
  • Fund $2.8 million for reforestation efforts in California, with an estimated sequestration of 1.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases over the life of the reforestation projects.
  • Fund $200,000 for restoration of the San Pablo wetlands.
  • Surrender the operating permit for the calciner at the Santa Maria facility, which ConocoPhillips estimates emitted 70,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually.
  • If ConocoPhillips reduces its greenhouse gas emissions at the Rodeo facility, it will get credit towards its contribution to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District offset fund.

ConocoPhillips also agrees to offset any C02 emissions in excess of 500,000 metric tons per year from the hydrogen unit if it increases its use of hydrogen. The company may apply to receive offsets credits for reductions achieved through the projects and activities funded through this agreement, under AB 32, or any equivalent state or federal law or regulation.

In 2005, ConocoPhillips proposed a project, known as the Clean Fuels Expansion Project, designed to make cleaner-burning gasoline and diesel fuels from the heavy gas oil already produced at the refinery. The expansion included a hydrogen plant to produce steam and electricity for these refinery processes. ConocoPhillips estimated that the project would increase the supply of cleaner burning fuels by approximately one million gallons per day in California.

Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Contra Costa County prepared an Environmental Impact Report on the project and accepted public comments. After concluding that the report adequately addressed greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, the County Planning Commission certified the report. Attorney General Brown appealed to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors in May 2007 on grounds that the impact report did not adequately address the greenhouse gas emissions and the associated climate change impacts of the project.

According to the California Attorney General’s Office, scientists throughout the world overwhelmingly agree that global warming is real, is here now, and will get worse. At current emissions levels, temperatures in California will increase by 4 to 10 degrees during this century. In 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 32, a landmark global warming legislation that commits the state to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020—a 25 percent reduction. But AB 32 regulations do not take effect until 2012, and there are no current limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

The agreement with ConocoPhillips comes on the heels of a landmark agreement with San Bernardino County to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the county level. These actions join a growing movement at the local level to combat climate change. As of June 2007, more than 540 mayors from 50 states have signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, a pledge to reduce global warming pollution in cities by 7 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2012.

In California, the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties have partnered with the Institute for Local Government to launch a California Climate Action Network. The network proposes a variety of actions—from conserving energy to using lower carbon fuels—that can be taken by local jurisdictions to cut greenhouse gas emissions. 

Jazz Semiconductors Fined for Hazardous Waste Violations

Under the terms of a recent settlement agreement with the EPA, Jazz Semiconductors of Newport Beach, Calif., will initiate a project promoting awareness of hazardous waste air emissions requirements in the semiconductor industry.

Jazz Semiconductors will spend at least $22,500 to sponsor educational training for the semiconductor industry, as well as pay $3,750 to resolve alleged instances of non-compliance with federal hazardous waste requirements.

“The EPA is pleased that Jazz Semiconductors has agreed to undertake these efforts to promote awareness,” said Nancy Lindsay, Waste Management Division Acting Director for EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “We are optimistic that Jazz’s outreach will help semiconductor firms comply with federal regulations.”

Under federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subpart BB air emissions standards, equipment that contains or contacts hazardous wastes must be distinguishable from other equipment, must be monitored using specific devices to detect any emissions, and detailed records must be  maintained.

In August 2005, the EPA inspected Jazz Semiconductors to verify compliance with federal hazardous waste regulations. Based on this inspection, the EPA alleges that Jazz Semiconductors failed to comply with the air emissions standards for equipment leaks by not monitoring with the proper devices and not properly labeling the equipment that contains or contacts hazardous waste. The EPA also alleged that Jazz failed to maintain the firm’s contingency plan with up-to-date information.

Jazz Semiconductors has since updated its contingency plan, labeled the subject equipment, and instituted procedures to ensure the appropriate records are kept, demonstrating the facility’s full compliance with the air emissions standards for equipment leaks.


Ozone Treaty's Role in Combating Climate Change Tops Environment Ministers’ Meeting in Canada

An accelerated freeze and phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), chemicals that were used to replace more ozone-damaging substances known as CFCs, is to be considered by governments at an international meeting in Montreal, Canada.

New science and technical assessments indicate that speeding up a freeze and phase-out of HCFCs and their related by-products could not only assist in the recovery of the ozone layer. An acceleration could also play an important role in addressing another key environmental challenge—namely climate change.

A record nine countries—developed and developing—have submitted six different proposals that will be on the table when up to 191 parties or governments meet in the Canadian city between September 17 and 21. The negotiations will occur during the 20th Anniversary celebration of the world's ozone treaty, the Montreal Protocol.

The Protocol was negotiated in response to growing international concern over the emergence of a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica from the use of ozone-depleting chemicals in products from hair sprays to fire-fighting equipment. HCFCs, promoted over a decade ago as less damaging replacements for the older CFCs, have now become widespread in products such as refrigeration systems, air conditioning units, and foams.

Under the Montreal Protocol, the United Nations ozone layer protection treaty, which was adopted in 1987, use of HCFCs is set to cease in developed countries in 2030 and in developing ones in 2040.
However, scientists and many governments are now studying a range of options for a more rapid freeze on consumption and production of these replacements and the bringing forward of the final phase-out by around 10 years.

It follows research indicating that acceleration could, over the coming decades deliver cumulative emission reductions over the equivalent to perhaps 18 to 25 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (18 gigatones–25 gigatonnes) depending on the success of governments in encouraging new ozone and climate-friendly alternatives. Annually, it could represent a cut equal to more than 3.5 percent of all the world's current greenhouse emissions. In contrast, the Kyoto Protocol, the main greenhouse gas emission reduction treaty, was agreed with the aim of reducing developed country emissions by just more than five percent by 2012.

The final benefits of an accelerated freeze and phase-out of HCFCs may prove to be even higher than the 18 to 25 billion metric tonnes, according to a just-released report from the Montreal Protocol's Technology and Economic Assessment Panel, which is designed to inform the negotiations at the international meeting in Canada. Rather, the panel believes the freeze and phase-out could be as close to the equivalent of 38 billion tons of carbon dioxide if the acceleration is accompanied by the recovery and destruction of old equipment and insulating foam and improvements in energy efficiency.

For example, a faster switch to alternatives to HCFCs may well stimulate technological innovation including a more rapid introduction of energy-efficient equipment that in turn will assist in reducing greenhouse gas emissions even further. The ozone layer and human health also will benefit. Under some of the accelerated phase-out scenarios, ozone levels could return to healthy pre-1980 levels a few years earlier than current scientific predictions.

Benefits would include a reduction in skin cancer, cataracts, and harm to the human immune system alongside reduced damage to agricultural and natural ecosystems. Achim Steiner, UN Undersecretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which is responsible for the Montreal Protocol, said: "The Montreal Protocol is without doubt one of the most successful multilateral treaties ever, and I look forward to celebrating, in mid-September, two decades of achievement in the Canadian city where it was born."

"The phase out of CFCs has not only put the ozone layer on the road to recovery. New research, published in March this year by Dutch and American scientists, also shows that the CFC phase-out has assisted in combating climate change. But the treaty's success story is far from over with new and wide-ranging chapters still to be written. Indeed, if governments adopt accelerated action on HCFCs, we can look forward to not only a faster recovery of the ozone layer, but a further important contribution to the climate change challenge," he said.

Mr Steiner added: "In doing so, the treaty will also underline the often-overlooked fact that multilateral environment agreements like the Montreal Protocol and the Kyoto Protocol have far wider environmental, social, and economic benefits than perhaps are fully recognized when they are initially agreed. In short, treaties working together can do far more, more rapidly and at a lower cost." 

This event, scheduled to take place at UN Headquarters in New York on September 24, is aimed at building consensus at the highest level on the need for climate action and a global emission reduction agreement to come into force when the Kyoto Protocol expires in five years.  

Volvo Environment Prize Foundation Awards the 2007 Prize to a Visionary in the Field of Energy

The Volvo Environment Prize Foundation is awarding the 2007 Volvo Environment Prize to Amory B. Lovins, of the Rocky Mountain Institute, for his exceptional breakthroughs in the field of energy. Over the past 30 years, his contributions have encompassed both new theoretical know-how and practical applications for ways of reducing energy use. In order to cut emissions of greenhouse gases and help resolve the climate issue, more efficient utilization of energy is vital.

Lovins has developed a number of groundbreaking technical and economic concepts as well as action plans for various measures. For a long time, he has been the leading proponent of the view that energy efficiency is the foremost means of resolving the energy issue. Additionally, he has:

  • Coauthored 25 books, written hundreds of scientific and general-interest articles, and held thousands of presentations and lectures focusing on energy.
  • Shown that climate-related measures can be profitable. In order to win support for his views, he has worked intensively with politicians and key industries and also served as advisor to companies and international organizations.
  • Developed a model (Natural Capitalism) that demonstrates investments in systematic, large-scale, energy-efficient measures promote both resource gains and financial profit.
  • Argued in favor of the United States becoming independent of oil by 2040 through market-driven measures and without negatively impacting the U.S. economy
  • Developed Hypercar®, an ultra-light concept car with low energy consumption and minimum emissions that was first unveiled in 1990. This concept has since then undergone continuous development by Hypercar Inc. in cooperation with others.
  • For 30 years, worked to systematize, develop, and introduce new market-driven and financially viable energy solutions that take into account the overall picture and complexity of the problems involved. The energy issue has been the main focal point and the applications have been shown in spheres such as construction and transportation, as well as in a number of other areas.

Human-induced climate change is perhaps the greatest challenge facing mankind today. This year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presented a report stating that greenhouse gases must be cut by 50–80 percent from 2000 to 2050 if the global rise in temperature is to be limited to 2.5 degrees Celsius compared with the preindustrial era. In order to meet international climate targets, the industrialized world must set the example and reduce its consumption of fossil fuels. This is only possible if we can improve the efficiency of our energy consumption.

This year’s award winner represents a particularly important area and the Volvo Environment Prize Foundation is particularly gratified that the jury chose to focus so firmly on this issue. Lovins’ views, suggestions, and technical solutions have often been called into question at the time of their presentation, although time has shown that he leads the way and is a remarkable forward-thinker. Ideas and solutions that seemed spectacular when originally unveiled later gained general acceptance and are standard today. Lovins has dedicated his entire professional life to energy efficiency. His pioneering work has opened the door for others to follow in his footsteps, prompting new research areas and practical applications. As the founder and head scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, he has created a platform for research and interaction that has done a lot for innovation in the energy sphere. 

This is the 18th consecutive year that the Volvo Environment Prize Foundation has made its award to internationally renowned experts and researchers. The prize was inaugurated in 1988 with the vision of supporting and drawing attention to research and development in the environmental area, and it is now regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious environmental awards.


New Study: Smog Poses Greater Health Risk Because of Global Warming

People living in 10 mid-sized metropolitan areas are expected to experience significantly more “red alert” air pollution days in coming years due to increasing lung-damaging smog caused by higher temperatures from global warming.

The analysis[1] was prepared by researchers at Yale, Johns Hopkins, and Columbia universities, in collaboration with researchers at State University of New York at Albany and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released the research findings last week.

The study uses data from the 2007 journal Climatic Change, which looks at climate change, ambient ozone, and public health in U.S. cities.

"The air in many of our nation's cities is already unhealthy. Hotter weather means more bad air days for millions of Americans," said NRDC Climate Center’s Science Director Dan Lashof. "People with asthma are especially at risk, but everyone is adversely harmed by breathing unhealthy air. This research provides another compelling reason to establish enforceable limits on pollution."

Smog is formed when pollutants from cars, factories, and other sources mix with sunlight and heat.

On “red alert” days—everyone—particularly children and people with asthma and other respiratory illnesses—is advised to limit prolonged outdoor exertion. For people with asthma, smog pollution can increase sensitivity to allergens. The EPA's blue ribbon panel of science advisers has concluded that the current ozone standard of 84 parts per billion (ppb) needs to be substantially reduced to between 60 and 70 ppb in order to protect public health.

"EPA should reduce the ozone standard to within the range recommended by its science advisers. A standard at the lower end of that range will save more lives. During warmer months, high ozone levels already create breathing problems for children, the elderly, and those with respiratory diseases," said Physicians for Social Responsibility's Environment and Health Programs Dr. Director Kristen Welker-Hood. "We know that global warming will lead to higher temperatures, especially in urban areas, and as this study shows, we can expect more and more suffering related to unhealthy air the longer we wait to address global warming."

In Washington, D.C., for instance, residents would see a 24 percent drop in clean air days per summer. The report looks at the following cities located in the eastern and southern half of the United States:

  • Asheville, N.C.
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Greenville, S.C.
  • Memphis, Tenn.
  • Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Raleigh, N.C.
  • Virginia Beach, Va.
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Wilmington, N.C.

These cities are highlighted because of their size, population, and geographical differences. Federal policy makers representing these areas will be faced with critical decisions about reducing global warming emissions, and it is important that they be made aware of the health implications of hotter temperatures.

Scientists say average temperatures will rise as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century unless we start cutting global warming emissions.

Researchers project that, unless action is taken to curb global warming, by mid-century people living in a total of 50 cities in the eastern United States would see:

  • A doubling of the number of unhealthy “red alert” days
  • A 68 percent (5.5 day) increase in the average number of days exceeding the current eight-hour ozone standard established by the EPA
  • A 15 percent drop in the number of summer days with “good” air quality based on EPA criteria because of global warming


Scientists say the Earth is warming faster today than at any time in history. Globally, 11 of the last 12 years rank among the 12 warmest on record since 1850. Better technology in our cars, trucks, and SUVs, and cleaner, more efficient energy choices like wind and solar power will help reduce carbon emissions that cause global warming, as well as smog forming emissions like nitrogen oxide (NOx) gases, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), sulfur oxide (SOx) gas, and particulates.

 [1] Bell ML, R Goldberg, C Hogrefe, PL Kinney, K Knowlton, B Lynn, J Rosenthal, C Rosenzweig, JA Patz., 2007. Climate change, ambient ozone, and health in 50 U.S. cities. Climatic Change 82:61-76.

Trivia Question of the Week

According to EPA, which of the following has the greater recycling rate?

a.  Major appliances
b.  Paper
c.  Aluminum beer and soft drink cans
d.  Plastic soft drink bottles