March 14, 2022
The EPA recently released new and updated resources to support states as they work to address the climate crisis and reduce climate pollution. These resources include new state-level data
on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and sinks, updates to EPA’s existing State Inventory Tool to help states compile their own emission and sink estimates, and information on state-level opportunities to reduce emissions of highly-potent greenhouse gases.
“Tackling the climate crisis requires action across all levels of government, and our partnership with states has never been more important to reduce emissions and deliver solutions,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The high-quality, peer-reviewed data and analyses released today will support our state partners as we work to track climate trends and confront this challenge together.”
Many states are working to improve their state-level greenhouse gas data to help identify opportunities to reduce emissions. The resources EPA released will complement and supplement official state data and provide states more information to identify pathways to reduce highly potent greenhouse gases. EPA’s peer-reviewed data sets provide comprehensive, consistent, and comparable data for every state — providing state governments, the public, and stakeholders with high-quality information for policy assessment and development. EPA will also continue providing technical assistance to help states develop inventories of GHG emissions and execute strategies that reduce those emissions.
The data released will also allow researchers and the public to better understand emissions and mitigation potential in their state. While climate change is a national and international issue, states play a vital role in helping advance solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The new data and updated tools announced recently include the following:
- State-level data on greenhouse gas emissions and sinks: The Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks by State provides state-by-state emission and sinks data consistent with the national greenhouse gas inventory, and with international standards. The state-level GHG Inventory provides annual emissions estimates from 1990 through 2019 and will be updated each year.
- Updates to the State Inventory Tool: EPA’s existing State Inventory Tool helps states to compile and analyze their own estimates of GHG emissions and sinks. The new version of the tool updates and extends calculations through 2019 and better aligns the tool with the new Inventory by State estimates.
- Information on state-level opportunities to reduce emissions of potent greenhouse gases: The U.S. State-level Non-CO2 Mitigation Analysis provides states with improved data to better understand the costs and opportunities for reducing emissions of potent greenhouse gases, including methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. This report looks at projected emissions of these gases through 2050 and provides comprehensive technical and economic data on the opportunities and costs for reducing emissions.
These data and supporting technical reports draw on data and findings from EPA’s Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks. EPA works in collaboration with numerous experts from other federal agencies, state agencies, research and academic institutions, and industry associations to compile the Inventory.
OSHA Inspections to Assess Facilities' Readiness to Address COVID-19 Surges
OSHA recently announced a short-term inspection initiative focused on high-hazard healthcare facilities such as hospitals and skilled nursing care facilities that treat or handle COVID-19 patients. During a three-month period, from March 9 to June 9, 2022, such facilities can expect an increase in “highly focused inspections” that OSHA says are intended to “emphasize monitoring for current and future readiness to protect workers from COVID-19.” Another goal of the agency’s initiative is to prepare for any new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
for OSHA regional administrators and state plan designees outlines instructions and guidance to federal OSHA area offices regarding the initiative. According to Doug Parker, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, the agency is “using available tools” while it works to finalize a standard that will protect healthcare workers from COVID-19 hazards. OSHA stated in December
that it “intends to continue to work expeditiously” to issue a final standard in this area.
OSHA’s new COVID-19 inspection initiative in healthcare supplements its revised National Emphasis Program
(NEP) for COVID-19. The NEP originally focused on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 and on employers that retaliated against workers who complained about unsafe or unhealthy work conditions or exercised other rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The revised NEP targets industries with the most risk of SARS-CoV-2 exposures, such as meat and poultry processing, and includes both healthcare and non-healthcare workplaces.
MassDEP Fines Nasoya Foods USA for Hazardous Waste Violations
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has assessed a $19,092 penalty to Nasoya Foods USA, LLC for violating the Massachusetts Hazardous Waste regulations at its tofu manufacturing facility located at 1 New England Way in the Town of Ayer. Following a tip from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, MassDEP learned that Nasoya had shipped approximately 150 gallons of hazardous waste
to a company in New Jersey that can only accept empty containers and did so by using a common carrier without the correct hazardous waste
shipping papers. The company also exceeded the amount of hazardous waste it is authorized to generate under its registered waste generator status with MassDEP.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the company will pay a penalty of $19,092. The company will also use $14,319 of the penalty for a Supplemental Environmental Project, which will pay 50 percent of the hazardous materials
disposal costs for residents dropping off materials at the Devens Regional Household Hazardous Products Collection Center. The discounted rate will be offered to residents in the towns of Ashby, Ayer, Clinton, Lancaster, Lunenburg, and Townsend. The funding also pays for lawn signs in these towns to promote the discounted drop-off fee.
“The hazardous waste regulations require companies to properly manage their hazardous waste from generation to disposal to protect public health and the environment,” said Mary Jude Pigsley, director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester. “The company has demonstrated good faith by addressing the violations and by funding a discounted rate for disposal of household hazardous materials that will make it easier for area residents to properly discard these potentially dangerous items.”
New Jersey Serial Violator Ordered To Pay $2M in Penalties
One of New Jersey’s most flagrant violators of federal workplace safety laws – who continually puts workers at risk of serious injuries or worse – is personally liable for $2 million in penalties assessed by OSHA, a federal administrative law judge has ruled.
The judge, with the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, granted the department’s motion for summary judgment against Palisades Park contractor Juan Quevedo-Garcia
, owner and principal of BB Frame LLC, following five OSHA inspections at four Bergen County worksites beginning in December 2019. Violations found during these inspections led OSHA to propose $2,004,225 in penalties against BB Frame LLC, and Quevedo-Garcia individually.
Earlier in 2019, Quevedo-Garcia had dissolved his previous framing company, Frame Q, LLC, after having racked up over $700,000 in unpaid OSHA penalties for similar prior violations; but he nonetheless continued to do business under the Frame Q trade name.
In December 2019, OSHA conducted two inspections of BB Frame, LLC dba Frame Q. The first was in response to a complaint at a worksite in Cliffside Park that resulted in nine safety violations and a $520,860 penalty. The second, at a Fort Lee location, resulted in five citations and a proposed penalty of $426,785.
In January 2020, as part of the agency’s local emphasis program for fall hazards, OSHA opened an inspection at another Cliffside Park location and issued five safety citations with a $405,588 proposed penalty.
OSHA completed two additional inspections in February 2020 at a Palisades Park site. The agency initiated one as part of the local emphasis program for fall hazards and issued three citations with a proposed penalty of $274,892. The other inspection, initiated in response to a complaint, resulted in eight violations and a $369,000 proposed penalty.
From the five inspections, OSHA identified eight willful, 10 repeat, and 12 serious violations for hazards that included failure to use fall, head and eye protection; unsafe use of stepladders; scaffolding, housekeeping and fire safety deficiencies; lack of stair rails and lack of forklift training.
After Quevedo-Garcia contested the citations, the department filed complaints with the commission on Aug. 27, 2020. The judge granted summary judgment in a decision issued on Feb. 25, 2022, holding Quevedo-Garcia personally liable for the citations and for payment of a total combined penalty of $2,004,225 for all violations.
The judge’s decision found that Quevedo-Garcia “dominated BB Frame and abused its corporate form to circumvent the OSH Act,” and therefore holding Quevedo-Garcia “personally liable for the company’s violations and resulting penalties is necessary to prevent the continued or renewed circumvention of the OSH Act and avoidance of the Act’s expressed legislative purpose and policy.”
“Among construction industry employers, Juan Quevedo-Garcia and his shell companies have been the most prominent OSHA scofflaws in New Jersey in the past decade. The administrative law judge’s decision stops this employer from ignoring safety in the future and sets a critical precedent that the U.S. Department of Labor will use every enforcement and legal tool available against serial violators who attempt to evade federal safety laws with corporate shell games,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda.
“Juan Quevedo-Garcia deliberately failed to pay the fines, and displayed a total disregard for the safety of his workers and for the law. This ruling sends a clear message that business owners who abuse the system to avoid responsibility will be held legally accountable when they fail to uphold their obligation to provide a safe workplace and think they can ignore federal fines,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker.
MassDEP Penalizes Safety-Kleen Systems for Violation of State Hazardous Waste Regulations
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has assessed Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc., of Norwell a $57,500 penalty following violations of the state Hazardous Waste regulations
that occurred at the company’s facility in the Town of Salisbury. The company operates a treatment storage and disposal facility at 90 Rabbit Rd. in Salisbury under a hazardous waste license issued by MassDEP. During a May 2021 inspection of the facility, MassDEP determined that the company had exceeded its on-site storage capacity of 16,500 gallons at any one time of hazardous and non-hazardous waste on seven different days between December 11, 2020, and May 14, 2021. The company also failed to properly train staff at the facility, failed to properly record inspection times for four occasions, failed to produce required information at the time of the inspection, and did not clearly label a hazardous waste container being utilized in the storage area.
As part of a consent order, Safety-Kleen must pay $20,125 of the assessed penalty, with the remaining amount suspended if the company does not violate the regulations for up to a year. The company has since reported to MassDEP that they have addressed all the violations found during the inspection.
“Companies that handle, store and treat hazardous wastes must ensure that they follow the regulations that are there to protect the environment and the health of workers and the public,” said Eric Worrall, Director of MassDEP’s Northeast Region Office in Wilmington. “This settlement ensures that the company is back into compliance with the regulations and will operate the facility with the proper safeguards in place.”
Green Plains Otter Tail Exceeds Wastewater/Stormwater Pollutant Limits
According to a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) enforcement investigation, Green Plains Otter Tail, LLC violated its combined wastewater and stormwater
permit numerous times over the last three years at its ethanol production facility near Fergus Falls, Minn.
Violations that occurred from 2018-2021 included:
- Chlorine discharges nearly three times the permit limit
- Arsenic discharges nearly twice the permit limit
- Incomplete wastewater monitoring
- Failure to complete monthly stormwater site inspections and failure to ensure that by-product material, such as dried distiller grains, were enclosed to prevent contact with stormwater
- Failure to immediately report an unauthorized discharge of whole stillage on its grounds
- Using chemical additives at rates higher than allowed by its permit, and failing to keep adequate records
In addition to paying a $14,812 civil penalty to the MPCA, the company has completed a series of corrective actions, including submitting:
- Plans to ensure stormwater inspections occur weekly, and describe steps to ensure effluent discharges will be compliant with permit limits
- Photographic proof that their by-product containment building has been repaired to eliminate exposure to stormwater
- Plans to ensure immediate reporting of any future spills or discharges, and actions the company will take to ensure proper application of chemical additives only at approved rates
MPCA rules and regulations are designed to protect human health and the environment by limiting pollution emissions and discharges from facilities. When companies do not fully comply with regulatory requirements, the resulting pollution can be harmful to people and the environment.
When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violations affected or could have affected the environment, and whether they were first-time or repeat violations. The agency also attempts to recover the economic benefit the company gained by failing to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.
California Labor and Workforce Development Agency and 61 Community-Based Organizations Across California to Launch Worker Week of Action
The California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) announced the upcoming Worker Week of Action as part of their California COVID-19 Workplace Outreach Project (CWOP). The weeklong affair aims to help workers understand how to continue to stay safe at this stage of the pandemic by providing outreach and education on workplace health & safety, worker leave and pay benefits, including 2022 supplemental paid sick leave, and anti-retaliation protections.
“As part of our Safer at Work campaign to reach workers most at-risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, LWDA has funded over 60 organizations in key regions of California, “said Natalie Palugyai, Secretary of the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency. These trusted messengers have augmented greatly our ability to reach and educate Californians on the protections and benefits to keep the workplace safe. The Week of Action is an opportunity to bring attention to the protections that remain in effect at this point of the pandemic and which are necessary to ensure our workforce knows that their workplaces can be safer from COVID-19.”
LWDA and 61 community-based organizations are joining forces with several other agencies including the California’s Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, California’s Department of Public Health, and the National Labor Relations Board to plan and execute the Worker Week of Action. Set to take place from March 7 to March 13, the Worker Week of Action will target seven regions with a higher concentration of at-risk workers. Multiple in-person and virtual events, such as vaccine and testing clinics, resource fairs, training opportunities, and caravans, are scheduled throughout the week to engage workers and help to clarify and increase accessibility to state and regional educational information, resources, and paths of intervention.
“An essential part of our mission is to provide outreach and education to workers about their rights, and to employers about their responsibilities. This is more important than ever,” said DIR Director Katie S. Hagen. “Partnerships with community-based organizations in California help us reach workers, to ensure they are aware of their protections and benefits, and to keep them safe on the job.”
"Community collaborations are critical to regaining public’s trust, said Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower. “As trusted partners, community-based organizations are a bridge to reach vulnerable communities and ensure they obtain information about workplace protections like Supplemental Paid Sick Leave."
This effort is a part of the CWOP, a statewide outreach effort led by LWDA and selected community organizations to conduct outreach and educate workers and employers in higher-risk industries on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Since February 2021, the CWOP campaign has tracked nearly 1.3 million interactive engagements with workers across the state via outreach efforts like events, trainings, booths and informational flyer distributions, community canvassing, phone and text banking, and door-to-door outreach.
The Worker Week of Action will commence on Monday, March 7 with a roundtable event in Sacramento featuring Labor Secretary Natalie Palugyai, DIR Director Katie Hagen, Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower, and California Labor Federation organizing director Aly Young. For a complete list of events and participating CWOP organizations, please visit SaferAtWork.ca.gov
Stay Safe During Storm Cleanup in Iowa
Sorting disaster debris after recent tornadoes is important—both to keep cleanup teams safe and to ensure debris is disposed of properly.
Many building materials such as “slate” or cement board siding, linoleum, tar paper and tar may contain asbestos. Disturbing those materials releases tiny fibers, which can increase long-term risks for cancer and lung disease. DNR recommends handling asbestos-containing materials cautiously and to be aware of federal requirements for commercial or non-residential buildings. When tearing down a building, keep asbestos-containing materials separate from other disaster debris. Generally, wetting the materials down reduces the risk of inhaling asbestos fibers, but check for possible electrical hazards first. For respiratory protection, avoid dusty areas and wear an N-95 mask. Contact the local landfill for disposal requirements. Avoid burning because it can release asbestos fibers.
Check with your county or city government for more information on debris and tree limb removal. Some communities offer hotlines and volunteer coordination.
After a disaster, there are several options for disposing of woody debris—excluding potentially asbestos-containing materials. It can be chipped and ground for a beneficial use such as fuel, composting, mulch or other uses. Trees and brush can be burned at a site controlled and supervised by a local government. DNR recommends landfilling woody debris be the last resort.
Depending upon the community, household waste from a disaster may be collected at curbside or through drop-off. Either way, it’s important to separate wastes into:
- Household Hazardous Waste such as paints, solvents, cleaners, household chemicals and lawn & garden chemicals
- White & Electronic Goods including appliances, TVs and computers
- Metals such as furniture and filing cabinets
- Garbage including mattresses, wood or plastic furniture, etc.
Stay safe during cleanup activities. Find more information on DNR’s disaster assistance
webpages, including a list of materials likely to contain asbestos. For general assistance, contact your local DNR field office
Free Amazon HD 10 Tablet with RCRA and DOT Training
Annual training is required by 40 CFR 262.17(a)(7). Learn how to complete EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest, and the more than 60 changes in EPA’s Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule. Environmental Resource Center’s Hazardous Waste Training
is available at nationwide locations, and via live webcasts. If you plan to also attend DOT Hazardous Materials Training
, call 800-537-2372 to find out how can get your course materials on an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet at no extra charge.
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