Approximately 50 of the largest degreasing facilities will reduce air toxics emissions under tighter EPA standards, which will prevent an additional 1,700 tons of solvent emissions and save the industry more than $1 million per year. Degreasers, also known as the halogenated solvent cleaning industry, use solvents to remove soils such as grease, oils, waxes, carbon deposits, and tars from metal, plastic, fiberglass, and other surfaces.
Most degreasing facilities are well-controlled and already meet the amended standards. For theses degreasers, the Environmental Protection Agency is requiring facilities to reduce emissions of the solvents methylene chloride, perchloroethylene, and trichloroethylene. The emission limits will provide affected facilities with the flexibility to reduce their emissions using any traditional methods available.
EPA issued a national rule to limit emissions of air toxics from degreasing operations in 1994. This rule is one of 96 rules called maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards that require 174 industry sectors to eliminate 1.7 million tons of 187 air toxics. Congress listed these toxic air pollutants in the Clean Air Act. There are nearly 1,900 degreasing operations in the United States. EPA estimates that the 1994 standards prevent nationwide emissions of air toxics by 85,300 tons per year.
The rule addresses the residual risk and the eight-year technology review provisions in the Clean Air Act. These provisions direct EPA to review existing control technology standards and tighten them if needed to protect health or if improvements are made in emissions reduction methods.
EPA Publishes National U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory
The Environmental Protection Agency has released the national greenhouse gas inventory, which finds that overall emissions during 2005 increased by less than one percent from the previous year.
"The Bush Administration's unparalleled financial, international, and domestic commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is delivering real results," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "As America's economy continues to grow, our aggressive yet practical strategy is putting us on track to reach President Bush's goal to reduce our nation's greenhouse gas intensity 18 percent by 2012."
Total emissions of the six main greenhouse gases in 2005 were equivalent to 7,260 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. The report indicates that overall emissions have grown by 16 percent from 1990 to 2005, while the U.S. economy has grown by 55 percent over the same period.
EPA prepares the annual report in collaboration with experts from multiple federal agencies. This report is the latest in an annual set of reports that the United States submits to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is responsible for setting an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change.
The inventory tracks annual greenhouse gas emissions at the national level and presents historical emissions from 1990 to 2005. The inventory also calculates carbon dioxide emissions that are removed from the atmosphere by "sinks," e.g., through the uptake of carbon by forests, vegetation, and soils.
Small Engine Rule to Bring Big Emissions Cuts
"From the largest locomotives to the smallest lawn mowers, EPA's current and planned clean air regulations will continue environmental progress, keeping the air cleaner than a generation ago," said EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum.
The proposal is groundbreaking in several areas. To meet the new exhaust emission standards, manufacturers are expected to use catalytic converters for the first time ever in many types of small watercraft, lawn, and garden equipment. After rigorous analysis and extensive work with diverse stakeholders, EPA determined that such a strategy was feasible and safe. This proposed rule also includes the first ever:
- Fuel evaporative standards for all types of equipment and watercraft covered in the rulemaking
- National standards for vessels powered by sterndrive or inboard engines
- Carbon monoxide standards for gasoline-powered engines used in recreational watercraft
Americans spend more than three billion hours per year using lawn and garden equipment. Currently, a push mower emits as much hourly pollution as 11 cars and a riding mower emits as much as 34 cars. With this proposed rule, non-road gasoline-powered engines, such as those used in lawn and garden equipment, would see an additional 35 percent reduction in hydrocarbon (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions beyond a 60 percent reduction that was phased in last year under an earlier rulemaking. Those engines would also see a 45 percent reduction in fuel evaporative emissions.
Additionally, recreational watercraft can emit as much as 348 cars an hour. By 2030, recreational watercraft powered by gasoline engines would see a 70 percent reduction in smog-forming HC and NOx, a 20 percent reduction in carbon monoxide (CO), and a 70 percent reduction in fuel evaporative emissions. When fully implemented, the rule would result in annual emission reductions of 630,000 tons of HC, 98,000 tons of NOx, 6,300 tons of direct particulate matter, and 2.7 million tons of CO.
The total estimated public health benefits of this rule are about $3.4 billion by 2030. It is projected that these benefits would prevent 450 premature deaths, 500 hospitalizations, and 52,000 work days lost annually. When fully implemented, EPA expects that technology needed to meet the standard will have the added benefit of saving about 190 million gallons of fuel annually. The estimated costs of the new standards range from $9.5 million in 2008 to $620 million in 2037. These control costs are partially offset by estimated annual fuel savings of about $360 million in 2037, once the standards are fully implemented. As a result, the net cost of the program in each year ranges from $6.4 million in 2008 to $260 million in 2037.
The new standards would apply as early as 2011 for most lawn and garden equipment (under 25 horsepower) and 2009 for watercraft. Comments are due Aug. 3, 2007.
New EPA Tool to Accelerate Watershed Planning
The tool will help local watershed organizations develop integrated watershed plans to meet state and EPA requirements and promote water quality improvements.
Practitioners from watershed organizations, federal and state agencies, tribes, universities, and local governments will use the Watershed Plan Builder to address polluted runoff, the largest contributor to water quality problems nationwide.
Once the data are entered, the tool produces an outline of a comprehensive watershed plan tailored to a specific watershed. It features links to EPA, other federal agencies, and state water programs. The Watershed Plan Builder walks the practitioner through various watershed planning steps:
- Watershed monitoring and assessment
- Community outreach
- Selection and application of available models
- Best management practices
During the next six months, the Watershed Plan Builder will be available to watershed organizations, federal and state agencies, tribes, universities, and local governments to beta test the application and provide feedback. A team of experts from EPA's water programs developed the tool, with input from state, tribal, and local agency experts as well as other local watershed practitioners.
Philadelphia Management Co. Pays $47,278 to Settle Lead-Based Paint Violations
The Philadelphia Management Corporation has paid a civil penalty of $47,278 to settle alleged violations of federal lead-based paint disclosure requirements in 11 lease agreements involving rental units at two properties built before 1978 in Philadelphia. The company has also taken the necessary steps to comply with EPA’s lead disclosure rule.
These failures resulted in numerous violations of federal lead-based paint disclosure requirements.
"EPA’s goal is to ensure that renters and buyers receive adequate information necessary to protect public health, especially children’s health, from potential lead-based paint hazards," said Abraham Ferdas, EPA’s director of waste and chemicals management.
An estimated three-quarters of housing in America built before 1978 contains some lead-based paint. Lead-based paint endangers the health of American children in as many as four million homes. Lead poisoning in children can have serious, long-term consequences, including intelligence deficiencies, learning disabilities, hearing impairment, hyperactivity, and behavioral problems. Children under six years of age are among the most vulnerable to adverse health risks from lead-based paint and dust and lead-contaminated soil.
The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act helps prevent exposure—especially the exposure of children—to lead-based paint hazards by requiring disclosure and notification when selling or leasing housing.
EPA, State, Environmental Groups Promote "Green Infrastructure" Solutions to Water Pollution
"Earth Day is an annual reminder to all Americans that environmental responsibility is everyone's responsibility," Johnson said. "EPA is pleased to join our water infrastructure partners to help communities understand the environmental and economic benefits of going 'green.'"
The statement formalizes a collaborative effort among EPA, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Association of States and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators (ASIWPCA), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the Low Impact Development (LID) Center to assist state, city, and local governments in implementing and evaluating innovative and effective green infrastructure approaches.
Through green infrastructure techniques, stormwater and its pollutants are managed using natural systems to help absorb, infiltrate, evaporate, or reuse excess stormwater instead of using traditional infrastructure that collects, stores, and transports water through large, buried sewer systems. Rain barrels and cisterns, roofs that are covered with vegetation and plantings, tree boxes, rain gardens, and pocket wetlands are just a few examples of common green infrastructure approaches. Water is treated as an important resource rather than a waste product.
A variety of initiatives are included in the statement of intent. EPA and its partners plan to offer technical assistance, training, and outreach to potential users of green infrastructure, including states, cities, counties, utilities, environmental and public health agencies, engineers, architects, landscape architects, planners, and nongovernmental organizations.
The creation of a Web-based green infrastructure resource center will assist communities in complying with requirements for combined sewer overflows and municipal stormwater permits. EPA also seeks to recognize the most effective and innovative uses of green infrastructure through awards and recognition programs to meet the Clean Water Act goals, while making models of green infrastructure techniques available nationwide.
EPA Orders Ship Repair Facility to Comply with Clean Water Act
“We will ensure (that) Bay Ship and Yacht will take the steps needed to protect San Francisco Bay from industrial runoff,” said Alexis Strauss, water division director for EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “We will continue to monitor industrial and construction activity to ensure (that) adequate pollution controls are in place.”
EPA is ordering Bay Ship and Yacht to perform regular inspections of industrial and construction activity areas, develop and implement an updated storm water pollution prevention plan, and submit weekly inspection reports to the EPA.
On February 28, EPA inspectors found that Bay Ship and Yacht had violated its discharge permit and the federal Clean Water Act by operating with inadequate storm water pollution controls and pollution prevention plans and failing to perform routine inspections and monitor storm water discharges.
Polluted runoff is the leading cause of water pollution in the San Francisco Bay. Storm water runoff can carry pollutants from industrial sources, such as metals, oil and grease, acidic wastewater, bacteria, trash, and other toxic pollutants, into nearby water sources. EPA requires industrial facilities to prevent water pollution by complying with federal and state water pollution requirements.
Failure to comply with the EPA order could bring penalties against the company for as much as $32,500 per day per violation.
EPA Announces Renewable Fuel Standard Rule
The blending of renewables into U.S. motor vehicle fuel will be required beginning this year and increased to at least 7.5 billion gallons by 2012. Oil use is slated to be cut by 3.9 billion gallons and annual greenhouse gas emissions by 13.1 million metric tons by 2012, or the equivalent of taking 2.3 million cars off the road. RFS promotes the use of ethanol and biodiesel (largely from domestic crops), and is a first step toward reducing gasoline use by 20 percent within 10 years and by growing our renewable and alternative fuel use to 35 billion gallons by the year 2017.
Website Provides Air Quality Information During Ozone Season
April 1 marked the official start of the 2007 ground-level ozone season for the mid-Atlantic region. Ground-level ozone (smog) is formed when volatile organic compounds and nitrous oxide emission particles in the air, react in the presence of sunlight and hot temperatures in the warmer months of the year.
ASARCO to Pay $77,500 Penalty for Air Quality Violations in
Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Director Steve Owens announced that ASARCO, Inc., will pay a $77,500 penalty under a consent judgment with ADEQ for air quality violations in Gila County.
In September 2005, ADEQ inspectors discovered that loose tailing dust had collected throughout an ASARCO mine tailing pond area and witnessed fugitive dust emissions from the Hayden Mill facility, a violation of the company’s air quality permit. ADEQ issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to ASARCO in October 2005, which required the company to keep the tailing pond area damp or encrusted to minimize fugitive dust emissions. Under the NOV, ASARCO has applied a dust suppressant designed to control future dust problems at the site.
The ASARCO-Hayden Mill facility mainly produces copper with some production of sulfuric acid for use in the mineral extraction process. This settlement resolves the fugitive dust violations at the facility from 2005 and 2006. The fugitive dust emissions exceeded the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for particulate matter in January of 2006.
"Production of dust from the mine site can cause respiratory and other health problems," Goddard said. "ASARCO and other dust-emitting industries are required to maintain these types of tailing ponds to protect Arizonans’ health and welfare. When they don't, they must face the consequences."
"ASARCO must operate its facility in accordance with the law and ensure that its tailings do not become airborne and present a risk for citizens who live near this facility," Owens said.
The consent judgment is subject to court approval.
New Washington Website Features Real-Time Stream Flows
Ecology is launching the new feature during Earth Week 2007 to underscore the challenges we face to effectively manage water resources for the benefit of people, as well as for fish and other aquatic species.
Currently, water users in five watersheds or Water Resources Inventory Areas (WRIAs) can take advantage of this new web feature. They are: Snohomish (WRIA 7), Lower Chehalis (WRIA 22), Upper Chehalis (WRIA 23), Wenatchee (WRIA 45), and Little Spokane (WRIA 55). Ecology will add the remaining 21 watersheds in the near future.
The new feature provides a reliable way for water users to monitor water availability and voluntarily cut back use when flows are low. "By seeing how these streams rise and fall, people are able to better understand why it's important to carefully manage our water supplies," said Ecology Director Jay Manning. "During periods of dry weather, many streams around the state drop below minimum levels— jeopardizing both people's water uses and fish survival." Stream flow rules establish how much water must be retained in a basin during particular times of the year. Water rights issued after adoption of the flow rules may be cut off or "interrupted" when stream flows are below the specified levels.
In many watersheds, low stream flows, especially in the late summer months, can contribute to the decline of many threatened fish populations, including salmon and steelhead.
More Than $133,000 in Penalties for Asbestos Violations
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has levied more than $133,000 in fines against several area individuals and companies for violating the commonwealth's air quality regulations concerning the handling and disposal of asbestos materials. The violations occurred in Chicopee, Pittsfield, Wilbraham, and Holyoke.
"MassDEP will continue to target demolition and asbestos removal activities to ensure compliance with these important public health regulations," said Michael Gorski, director of MassDEP's Western Regional Office in Springfield.
The agency entered into a consent order with Walter Mrozinski, which included an assessed penalty of $41,000 for asbestos and hazardous waste disposal violations at the former Uniroyal complex on 154 Grove Street in Chicopee.
MassDEP inspectors responded to a complaint regarding improper removal of material and equipment from the complex. MassDEP found that individuals who were allowed to enter the complex by Mr. Mrozinski to perform salvage operations had improperly removed asbestos-containing material and equipment from a building. The asbestos-containing material was observed outside on a loading dock. In addition, the illegal removal activities had caused releases of oil from equipment onto the ground.
Mr. Mrozinski agreed to pay a $1,500 penalty. An additional $39,500 was suspended, pending Mr. Mrozinski's compliance with the order, which prohibits him from conducting or allowing others to conduct improper removal activity at the complex.
A penalty in the amount of $38,800 was issued to Christopher St. John of Pittsfield for violating asbestos handling regulations after a MassDEP inspector responded to a complaint of illegal dumping of asbestos at a residential site on Madison Avenue in Pittsfield. The inspector found several cardboard boxes and plastic trashcans filled with broken pieces of a cement-based asbestos siding material known as "transite." Pieces of the asbestos were found scattered on the driveway. The subsequent investigation led to Mr. St. John, who admitted that he had removed the asbestos from a residence in New Marlboro. He also admitted that he had instructed an employee to bring the asbestos to a landfill in New York, but the employee had brought it to the site on Madison Avenue instead. Mr. St. John retained an asbestos contractor to clean up the site.
MassDEP issued a penalty in the amount of $38,625 to Alberto Martinez of Springfield after an inspector responded to a complaint of illegal disposal of asbestos at the Waste Management recycling facility on Old Boston Road in Wilbraham. Waste Management staff reported that they found suspected asbestos in a dumpster that had been rented to contractors working at Mr. Martinez's rental property on Center Street in Holyoke. Inside the dumpster, a MassDEP inspector found broken pieces of transite, as well as boiler components with a white residue. Sample analysis confirmed that both of the suspect materials contained asbestos.
MassDEP entered into a consent order with Kim Properties Holding, LLC, for asbestos violations at the Taekwondo Center on Stony Hill Road in Wilbraham in which a penalty of $15,000 for violations of the asbestos regulations was issued. State inspectors responded to a complaint regarding improper asbestos handling during renovations of the site. MassDEP found that asbestos had been improperly removed and placed into open dumpsters for disposal. The company retained licensed asbestos contractors and consultants to clean up the site and test the air following the cleanup. The company agreed to pay a $10,000 penalty. An additional $5,000 was suspended during a one-year probationary period.
Ohio EPA Reaches Settlement With American Energy Corporation
Ohio EPA has reached an agreement with American Energy Corporation to address environmental violations resulting from a coal slurry discharge from its Century Mine in Belmont County. The agreement includes a $50,000 civil penalty.
In mid-2002 American Energy, without the required Ohio EPA permit, installed and began to operate a coal slurry pipeline that crosses Captina Creek. The creek is an outstanding state water resource because of its exceptional ecological and recreational value in the area. In August 2005, internal erosion in a metal coupling caused a hole to develop at a bend in the pipeline where it ran under a railroad and State Route 148. The released coal slurry overflowed a maintenance pond and ran into Captina Creek, impacting approximately 2,300 feet. This release was an unauthorized discharge. American Energy promptly cleaned up the damage to Captina Creek from the spill.
In addition to the penalty, American Energy must submit to Ohio EPA a plan detailing measures it will take to prevent or respond to a future occurrence of this kind. American Energy also is required to ensure that personnel are adequately trained to respond to these events.
National Energy Policy Report too Weak to Stop Global Warming
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) responded to the most recent report of the National Commission on Energy Policy (NCEP) by acknowledging improvements in the recommendations that NCEP issued three years ago, while also noting continuing deficiencies in the commission’s thinking.
“We are encouraged that the commission now recommends reducing global warming pollution below current levels,” said Frances Beinecke, president of NRDC. “We are disappointed, however, that the commission has failed to keep up with a growing coalition of environmentalists and business leaders who recognize that science demands greater and faster reductions in this pollution.”
Earlier this year, NRDC joined 10 major corporations—including General Electric, BP, and DuPont—and three other nonprofits to form the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP). The platform of USCAP offers a more promising approach to solving global warming by proposing a package of near-term and long-term actions that would reduce global warming emissions below current levels within 10 years and by 60 percent to 80 percent from current levels by 2050.
“USCAP points the way in the debate over U.S. climate policy, which is to take sufficient action as soon as possible,” noted David Hawkins, director of NRDC’s Climate Center. “USCAP also has the full backing of the CEOs of the participating organizations.”
NCEP is composed of members spanning a diverse set of viewpoints, although each of the members participates as a private individual and not a representative of an organization. Serving in this private capacity was Ralph Cavanagh, also codirector of NRDC’s energy program. In its 2004 report, NCEP called for a national energy policy that would begin to take action to fight global warming, but it also set forth environmentally undesirable proposals on such matters as nuclear power subsidies and destructive oil and gas development.
NRDC has endorsed bills already introduced in Congress that aim for an 80 percent reduction in global warming pollution by 2050, the level scientists say is necessary to prevent the worst effects of global warming. These bills include the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act (S. 309) sponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and the Safe Climate Act (H.R. 1590) sponsored by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Christopher Shays (R-CT).
“While the NCEP report contains many useful climate and energy policy recommendations, I share NRDC’s views on U.S. climate policy,” Cavanagh said.
NRDC has mixed views about the commission’s other recommendations. Those recommendations on energy efficiency and renewable energy are admirable, and the commission has added valuable new details to its earlier support for measures to reduce U.S. oil dependence through improvements in federal fuel economy standards. The report also takes a strong stand against “grandfathering” new coal-fired power plants against future regulation or directing federal subsidies to coal technologies that do not dispose responsibly of their global warming pollution.
However, NCEP continues to push for an inventory of oil and gas resources in exceptionally fragile marine environments that could never endure development.
Other recommendations would put the public’s health and safety at risk by suggesting that Congress undermine existing standards for disposal of highly toxic nuclear waste. Moreover, although NCEP condemns as ill-conceived the administration's rapid effort to ramp up the construction of commercial-size facilities to use plutonium in power plants, it also, in the very same document, unwisely encourages research into the use of these and other plutonium technologies. Fostering such energy options will make plutonium more readily available than it otherwise would be for diversion to destructive purposes by interests and states hostile to the United States, thereby increasing national security risks.
“Global warming is the most crucial issue facing the planet, and we must strive to find a solution that meets that challenge,” Beinecke concluded.
Tyco to Pay More Than $1.1 Million to Resolve Clean Air Act Violations at Former Facility
Tyco International (US) Inc. will pay a penalty of more than $1.1 million to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) at its former metal forming and finishing facility located in Hamburg, N.J., the Justice Department and EPA announced. In a companion case, the facility’s current owner, Shan Industries, has agreed to, and has already completed, a retrofit of equipment used in metal finishing at the facility that is intended to limit emissions of hazardous air pollutants.
Under the settlement, Shan also has agreed to follow reporting requirements and will pay a $101,000 penalty. Shan acquired the facility from Tyco in January 2000 and completed alterations to the degreasing equipment in July 2006. The settlement requires reporting of monitoring, certifications, and repairs to the degreaser on an annual and semiannual basis.
“Effective pollution controls and reporting are essential to protecting human health and the environment from harmful air pollutants,” said Matthew J. McKeown, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Today’s penalty should serve to deter future violators from failing to comply with the laws that protect the environment and public health.”
“Tyco and Shan are both held accountable for the violations at the premises,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA regional administrator. “They must install the appropriate air pollution controls and pay the penalties. The EPA will continue to enforce the Clean Air Act and help ensure that workers and citizens breathe cleaner air.”
The facility is a metal forming and finishing plant that Tyco owned from about 1963 until 2000, when it sold the plant to Shan. The facility uses trichloroethylene (TCE) to degrease and chromium to electroplate metal parts, for items such as writing implements and automotive fuel filters. TCE and chromium are among the most toxic of hazardous air pollutants, and repeated or long-term exposure to them can cause serious health effects.
In complaints filed simultaneously with the settlements, the United States charged that Tyco and Shan failed to comply with design, testing, operating, monitoring, and reporting requirements under CAA regulations. Tyco was in violation of the regulations from at least February 1999 until it sold the facility in January 2000.
Under the terms of the U.S. settlement with Tyco, the company will pay the $1,137,000 civil penalty in one lump sum. Shan will pay its penalty over three years based on its limited financial resources. Shan also will provide environmental information to EPA as required by the terms of the settlement.
The stipulation of settlement with Tyco was filed in the federal district court for New Jersey and awaits approval by the court. A consent decree with Shan in the companion case was also lodged with the court and is subject to a 30-day public comment period before approval by the federal court.
“Flip the Switch” and Save Energy
In celebration of Earth Day, the Delaware Energy An$wers Program encourages citizens to take the pledge to “Flip the Switch, Delaware…and Save.” Your pledge to switch from using a regular incandescent light bulb to an energy-efficient fluorescent bulb will save energy and protect the environment.
“Earth Day reminds us to take action,” said Sandra Burton, energy efficiency coordinator with the Delaware Energy Office. “More than 71,000 Delaware (residents) have already taken the pledge to switch to fluorescent bulbs, and we urge all citizens to join in this effort to help reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and the risks of global climate change.”
The Delaware Energy An$wers Program has been recognized as a national leader in energy conservation by the Energy Star Change a Light, Change the World campaign. Through the “Flip the Switch, Delaware…and Save!” initiative, more than 140,000 energy-saving light bulbs were distributed to residents throughout the state. By using the fluorescent bulbs, more residents pledged to conserve energy than any other state in the country.
Funded by the Energy Efficiency Financial Incentives Act of 2006, the Delaware Energy An$wers Program appropriates $8 million in grants through three program areas—Energy An$wers for Business, Energy An$wers for Home Appliances, and Energy An$wers for Home Performance.
Texas Firms Its Lead Over California in Wind Power Capacity
Texas has firmed up its claim to the title as the state with the most wind power capacity. California has long been the U.S. leader in terms of wind power, but with its much greater wind resource, Texas gained a thin lead in mid-2006 and greatly extended that lead later in the year. Although both states have policies favorable to wind power, California added 211 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity in 2006, while Texas added 773 MW, boosting its total to 2,768 MW. The wind power rankings, released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) on April 11, place Texas wind power capacity a full 17 percent greater than the wind power capacity in California. A key to the rise in status for the Lone Star State is FPL Energy's expansion of the Horse Hollow wind energy center to 736 MW, making it the largest wind power facility in the world, and the expansion of the Sweetwater wind facility to 264 MW, making it the fifth largest wind plant in the United States. According to AWEA, another 1,000 MW of wind power are currently under construction in Texas.
New York state failed to make AWEA's top-five list, but it has earned a place of honor for featuring the country's second-largest wind facility, the Maple Ridge Wind Farm, which has been expanded to 322 MW. GE Energy maintained its leading role as a wind turbine supplier for U.S. wind plants, providing enough turbines to generate 1,146 MW of wind power, but faced new competition from Siemens, which provided 573 MW of wind turbines in 2006. Wind turbines also continued to gain in size, with Vestas installing 3-MW wind turbines for a project in California, while Siemens installed 2.3-MW wind turbines in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Texas. However, GE Energy's 1.5-MW wind turbine is still the most widely installed turbine in the country.
Wind turbine sales are still going strong this year. In mid-February, GE Energy announced that it will provide 300 of its 1.5-MW wind turbines to Noble Environmental Power for projects to be built in New York this year and next. In March, enXco bought 184 of GE Energy's 1.5-MW wind turbines for delivery by 2008, and We Energies bought 88 1.65-MW wind turbines from Vestas Wind Systems for its Blue Sky Green Field wind project. Last week, enXco company bought 75 2-MW wind turbines from Repower Systems AG, and Tierra Energy bought 42 2.1-MW wind turbines from Suzlon Wind Energy Corporation.
Ohio EPA Drafting Rules to Combine Air Permits to Install and Operate
Ohio EPA is working to combine installation permits and operating permits for smaller air pollution sources into a single permit called a permit to install and operate (PTIO). The agency has drafted rules to implement the more efficient permitting process and is seeking public comments by April 30, 2007.
The current process requires a considerable amount of staff time, paperwork, and agency costs. By combining the processes and eliminating duplicative tasks, both Ohio EPA and permit applicants can allocate resources more efficiently. By reducing staff time and other costs, the agency could focus more on assuring permit requirements are being met, which would provide valuable gains for the environment and public.
Ohio EPA also anticipates permit holders would be able to better understand and comply with permit requirements in one document. The anticipated result would be more facilities operating in compliance. Under the draft rules, Ohio EPA would require one permit be obtained prior to construction. In most cases, quarterly reporting also would be changed to annual reporting for all smaller facilities, unless a quarterly report is still required under federal law. Ohio EPA would maintain authority to request and review monitoring information at any time.
These rules would not affect large air pollution sources that are subject to Title V permitting requirements.
Currently, Ohio EPA processes about 1,100 PTI applications per year. Within one year of construction of a facility, a PTO application must be submitted to continue operation of an air contaminant source. The PTO contains about 95 percent of the same information required in a PTI. Duplication of effort and processing more than 15,000 PTOs every five years results in an administrative backlog.
Most PTIOs would need to be revised every 10 years. Ohio EPA could require a shorter renewal based on compliance history, type of air contaminant source, nature of emissions, facility locations, and whether air in the area meets federal standards.
Ohio EPA welcomes and encourages public participation in the PTIO development process.
New Jersey Clears Legal Hurdle on Path to Mercury Reductions
In a unanimous decision, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey has affirmed the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's regulations to protect citizens from the impacts of mercury emissions from iron and steel melters. The decision, released by the court April 13, allows the state to move forward with its efforts to address four of the largest in-state sources of mercury.
DEP promulgated new mercury regulations in 2004 that will reduce mercury emissions from four source categories responsible for significant emissions of mercury into the air: coal-burning power plants, municipal solid waste incinerators, medical waste incinerators, and iron and steel melters. The regulations will achieve an estimated 85 percent reduction of overall mercury emissions in New Jersey by requiring the following:
90 percent reductions of mercury emissions from the state’s 10 coal-fired power plants by 2007, or by 2012 if the plants also take action to reduce their emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.
75 percent reductions of mercury emissions from the state’s six iron and steel melters by 2009.
Reductions of mercury emissions from the state’s five municipal solid waste incinerators of 95 percent below their 1990 levels by the year 2011.
Stringent emission rate limits for the three medical waste incinerators operating in the state.
A national association representing iron and steel melters and the owner of two New Jersey facilities challenged the regulations, claiming that the requirements were too stringent, but the court disagreed, finding that the state had acted well-within its “broad authority to issue health-based regulations.” Iron and steel melters, the largest New Jersey-based source of mercury emissions, emit an estimated 1,000 pounds of mercury into New Jersey's environment every year.
Deputy Attorney General Howard Geduldig represented the state in the legal challenge. Attorney General Stuart Rabner said, “This decision confirms the state’s authority to protect the health of our citizens by enacting tough rules to reduce dangerous mercury pollution.’‘
"New Jersey has set a strong example, and the court has affirmed our responsibility to protect our residents from pollution," DEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson added. "Cap and trade does not work for contaminants such as mercury, which can have serious local health impacts."
The decision complements the state's continuing efforts to take mercury out of the environment. In addition to the state regulations, the Attorney General filed suit last year in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, challenging a rule promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that removed power plants from the list of pollution sources subject to stringent mercury pollution controls under the federal Clean Air Act.
New Jersey is leading a coalition of 16 states that is challenging the federal mercury rule. The EPA rule instead set up a cap-and-trade plan to address mercury from power plants that contained much weaker requirements than New Jersey’s own rules.
Exposure to the most toxic form of mercury comes primarily from eating contaminated fish and shellfish. However, fish advisories, which have been adopted by EPA, are not an adequate substitute for appropriate regulation of mercury emissions under the Clean Air Act, state environmental officials say.
Scientists estimate up to 600,000 children may be born annually in the United States with neurological problems leading to poor school performance because of mercury exposure while in the womb. In New Jersey, there are mercury consumption advisories for at least one species of fish in almost every body of water in the state.
Mirant Settlement to Eliminate Nearly 29,000 Tons of NOx Emissions
A federal district court in Alexandria, Virginia, approved a joint federal-state Consent Decree with Mirant Mid-Atlantic, LLC, which requires significant reductions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from all four of Mirant’s power plants in the Washington, D.C., area. The settlement agreement is the result of a joint enforcement action by the U.S. EPA, the state of Maryland, and the commonwealth of Virginia for NOx emission violations at Mirant’s Potomac River plant during the 2003 ozone season.
In addition to the Potomac River plant in Alexandria, Mirant operates three plants in Maryland: the Morgantown plant in Charles County, the Chalk Point plant in Prince George’s County, and the Dickerson Plant in Montgomery County. Under the Consent Decree approved by U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, by 2010, Mirant will reduce its annual NOx emissions at all four of its plants by 29,000 tons and its ozone season NOx emissions by approximately 15,000 tons. Most of the emission reductions will occur at the three Maryland plants. To achieve these reductions, the decree further requires installation of state-of-the-art NOx pollution controls this year and in 2008 on the two coal-fired units at the Morgantown Plant, Mirant’s largest plant.
“Court approval of the Consent Decree is the last step in this long negotiation—it means that the decree is now fully effective and enforceable. The Consent Decree secures significant year-round and ozone season air quality benefits for Maryland and the entire Washington metropolitan area in the years preceding the effective date of the Healthy Air Act,” said Maryland Department of the Environment’s Air & Radiation Management Administration Director (Tad) S. Aburn. “These reductions come at a critical time and will further the state’s efforts to meet the federal standards for ozone and fine particulate matter in the Washington area by the 2010 deadline.”
NOx emissions contribute to the formation of ground level ozone and fine particulate matter. The Washington, D.C., area does not currently meet federal ambient air quality standards for ozone or fine particulate matter. Under the Clean Air Act, attainment of the ozone and fine particulate standards are demonstrated based upon air quality in the three years preceding the attainment deadline.
The NOx emission reductions secured by the decree also will benefit the Chesapeake Bay, which suffers from nutrient pollution caused in significant part by atmospheric deposition of nitrogen from power plants and other emitters of nitrogen oxides.
Senators Receive Climate Change Recommendations
Reps. John D. Dingell (D-MI), chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Rick Boucher (D-VA), chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, made public the responses of more than 70 industry groups, non-governmental organizations, and labor unions to a letter soliciting recommendations on prospective climate change legislation. Leaders from the energy industry and environmental community responded to questions focusing on the ramifications of greenhouse gas emissions and cap-and-trade policy.
“These responses illustrate the challenge we have before us in balancing our environmental and economic needs,” said Dingell. “As we continue our effort to craft sensible policies to address the matter of rising greenhouse gas emissions, we will take into consideration the variety of concerns that have been expressed to the committee. The responsibility to solve this problem does not lie solely with one industry. Each will be asked to make an appropriate contribution to the collection box.”
This outreach effort is part of the committee’s ongoing examination of climate change. The committee has conducted 11 climate change hearings featuring testimony from more than 50 witnesses, including former Vice President Al Gore.
"The challenge before the subcommittee is to write a mandatory greenhouse gas control measure with economywide application that does not dislocate any economic sector,” said Boucher. “The responses we received from this diverse group of industry, environmental, and other organizations with a strong interest in climate change legislation offer beneficial insight for the subcommittee as we continue to consider the best method to accomplish this goal.”
Trivia Question of the Week
Forbes recently published its list of the 12 greenest cars. Which ranked highest?
a. Honda Civic Hybrid
b. Toyota Prius Hybrid
c. Toyota Camry Hybrid
d. Ford Escape Hybrid