Highest Acid Rain Fine Ever

September 24, 2007


As part of this settlement, the U.S. is seeking court approval for the highest fine ever under CAA’s acid rain program. The Commonwealth of Kentucky joined in this consent decree.

The settlement requires that the company take steps to reduce approximately 400 tons of harmful emissions each year and offset another approximately 20,000 tons of emissions released from its Clark County, Ky., facility without a permit.

“We enforce the Clean Air Act to protect people's health,” said Granta Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This settlement shows that when you violate the law, EPA will be there to make you pay.”

“East Kentucky Power Cooperative has agreed to install pollution control equipment as well as monitor and reduce emissions harmful to our health and the environment,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Ronald J. Tenpas for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This is an important agreement that has true benefits to the people of Kentucky.”

The government estimated that the utility’s Dale Generating Station emitted more than 15,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and 4,000 tons of nitrogen oxide without a permit from approximately 2000–2005. In addition, the government alleged the utility exceeded the federal annual emission rate for nitrogen oxides.

The utility is also required to apply for an acid rain permit, continuously monitor sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, and install and operate nitrogen oxide controls. These pollution controls will reduce annual nitrogen oxide emissions by approximately 400 tons per year.

Coal-fired power plants are allowed to emit sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in the form of “allowances,” which are granted under federal or state acid rain permits based on a national annual emissions cap. If a utility emits less, it can sell unused allowances to other utilities or save them for use later. If it emits more, it must purchase allowances from other utilities and surrender those allowances to EPA. In this case, East Kentucky is required to purchase and retire allowances representing 20,000 tons of emissions, which represents their emissions during the period of noncompliance.

Coal-fired plants release sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides, which are a primary cause of acid rain that harms trees and lakes and impairs visibility. Nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides cause severe respiratory problems, contribute to childhood asthma, and contribute to smog and haze. Emissions from power plants can drift significant distances downwind and degrade air quality in nearby areas.

This agreement allows the company to pay the $11.4 million penalty over six years. East Kentucky will also pay additional penalties if it meets certain thresholds of financial performance.

Last July, East Kentucky agreed to install pollution controls estimated to cost $650 million and to pay a $750,000 penalty to resolve violations of the new source review provisions of the CAA at the Dale facility and two other plants.

DOT Proposes to Allow Fuel Cell Cartridges on Passenger Aircraft

 The proposed rule would cover fuel cells containing certain hazardous materials (e.g., flammable liquids including methanol; formic acid; certain borohydride materials; or butane) and meeting certain performance and consumer use standards, which DOT is proposing to incorporate by reference into the HMR. The DOT evaluated the possible transportation safety risks presented by these fuel cell cartridges and systems and have determined that they may be safely transported in the cabin of a passenger-carrying aircraft.

EPA Amends the National Environmental Policy Rule

The revisions were necessary because EPA’s current NEPA regulations do not cover a number of EPA actions that have been implemented since the rule was originally written.

Established in 1969, NEPA's basic policy is to assure that all federal agencies consider the environment prior to approving federal actions. Specifically, NEPA requires federal agencies to evaluate the potential environmental effects of their actions prior to approving them. Moreover, NEPA requires federal agencies to consider measures for minimizing adverse effects of their actions, and to solicit and consider public input as part of the environmental review process.

California Debates New Ways to Regulate Toxic Chemicals

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) held a public forum on September 19 to debate the development of a list of toxic chemicals harmful to health and the environment.

Experts will discuss how government officials, state scientists and policy writers, and environmental and business leaders can work together to deal with hazardous and other waste before it is generated. This new approach is similar to measures adopted by the European Union and the Canadian government to encourage greater manufacturer responsibility.


$4,550 Fine for Failure to Notify Fire Department of Ammonia Release

The EPA fined Western Precooling Systems of Oxnard, Calif., $4,550 for its failure to immediately inform emergency responders of an ammonia release at its facility in June 2006. Western Precooling Systems provides equipment and services for agricultural refrigeration.

“Facilities that use toxic chemicals such as ammonia must follow federal rules so that area residents and emergency response personnel are informed of possible chemical hazards in the local environment,” said Jeff Scott, director of the EPA’s Communities and Ecosystems Division for the Pacific Southwest region. “The EPA is serious about enforcing community right-to-know laws and will use the full weight of the law to see that firms obey them.”

According to the EPA, in June 2006, Western Precooling Systems allegedly suffered an equipment failure that resulted in a high-pressure release of ammonia from a refrigeration system. Western Precooling Systems reportedly failed to immediately notify the National Response Center of the release, which is a violation of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Exposure to ammonia can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system; extreme exposure may cause death. Enacted by Congress in 1980, CERCLA created a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries and provided broad federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment.

$24,910 Fine for Failure to Submit TRI Report

The EPA recently issued a $24,910 fine against a San Diego, Calif., company for allegedly failing to report releases of toxic chemicals, a violation of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Rhino Linings USA, Inc., located at 9151 Rehco Road, manufactures a polyurethane spray for truck bed liners.

“Facilities that use toxic chemicals must follow the EPA’s reporting rules so that area residents and emergency response personnel are informed of possible chemical hazards in the community,” said Nathan Lau, Communities and Ecosystems Associate Director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “We will continue to monitor report submittals to assure compliance with the community’s right to know.”

The company allegedly failed to submit a timely, complete, and correct report detailing the amount of diisocyanates and lead released at its facility in 2004 and 2005. Exposure to diisocyanates may result in severe damage to respiratory systems.

Rhino Linings USA has since submitted the corrected reports. Each year, EPA compiles the information submitted to it from the previous year regarding toxic chemical releases and produces a national Toxics Release Inventory database for public availability. This database estimates the amounts of each toxic chemical released to the environment, treated or recycled on-site, or transferred off-site for waste management, and also provides a trend analysis of toxic chemical releases.

Settlement With EPA Spells Greener Future for Dry Cleaner on St. Thomas

In a settlement with the EPA, the owner of the One Hour Martinizing laundry and dry-cleaning operation on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, agreed to spend at least $40,000 on revamping operations to ultimately eliminate the use of a hazardous chemical at his Barbel Plaza facility. The owner will also pay a penalty of $5,000 for past violations of federal rules requiring him to identify and properly handle and dispose of hazardous waste. Under the terms of the agreement, L’Henri, Inc., the corporation that owns the business, agreed to phase in, over a two-year period, a new, hybrid-class of dry-cleaning machinery that uses less toxic solvents for dry cleaning and is significantly more energy efficient.

“We are changing the way dry cleaners operate on the islands,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. ”Using these new environmentally friendly systems benefits the delicate ecology of the Virgin Islands and will be good for the bottom line as well.”

In April 2005, EPA inspected the One-Hour Martinizing facility for compliance with Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations, which govern how businesses must handle hazardous waste. The agency determined that the facility failed to properly designate wastes as hazardous wastes; stored and treated or disposed of its hazardous wastes without a permit; and failed to minimize the possibility of hazardous waste releases into the environment by mishandling the wastes. Releases of these materials can cause respiratory problems for workers, contaminate ground water, and seriously damage marine environments. 

The facility also improperly handled fluorescent light bulbs, which contain mercury. Mercury can be released into the environment when fluorescent bulbs are crushed during disposal. Fluorescent light bulbs can and should be recycled. As part of the agreement, the owner will no longer discard fluorescent light bulbs in the municipal trash.

Environmental Fact Sheets for Older Adults Available in 11 Languages

As the U.S. population continues to become more diverse, EPA is taking steps to inform minority older adults and their caregivers about simple actions they can take to reduce environmental health hazards. EPA's Aging Initiative has developed six fact sheets on the health impacts of air pollution, water contaminants, pesticides, and extreme heat on the most common chronic health conditions that can be worsened by environmental contaminants.

The fact sheets address chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, asthma, as well as health issues that can arise from exposure to environmental hazards, such as drinking water contaminants or pesticides. They are:

  • “It’s Too Darn Hot: Planning for Excessive Heat Events” describes ways for older adults to reduce exposure to excessive heat and measures local governments can take to prepare for periods of excessive heat.
  • “Environmental Hazards Weigh Heavy on the Heart” describes the environmental hazards that can worsen these diseases, including indoor and outdoor air pollution, smoke from tobacco, household products, extreme heat, and lead and arsenic in drinking water.
  • “Age Healthier, Breathe Easier” outlines simple steps that older adults with respiratory diseases can take to reduce and control the frequency of their symptoms.
  • “Safe Steps to Rid Your Home and Garden of Pests” discusses responsible pesticide use across generations. Older adults who may be more susceptible to the effects of pesticide exposure can also play an important role in keeping grandchildren safe from pesticides.
  • “Water Works" discusses water contaminants such as microbes, lead, and arsenic and what to do after a flood.
  • "Diabetes and Environmental Hazards" describes how exposure to environmental hazards, such as air pollution and extreme heat, can worsen the health of persons living with diabetes.

Half-Million Dollar Penalty for Selling Unregistered Pesticide

The EPA recently filed an administrative complaint against Unified Western Grocers, a Los Angeles, Calif.-based grocery distributor, seeking $538,200 for the alleged sale and distribution of an unregistered pesticide, in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

Located at 5200 Sheila Street, Unified Western Grocers allegedly sold and distributed “Western Family Cleanser with Bleach,” an unregistered product that states on the label that it “wipes out most household germs, including Staph, Salmonella, and Pseudomonas.”

“Staph, Salmonella, and Pseudomonas are all bacteria that can cause serious human diseases. Our pesticide registration rules require that cleaning products claiming to kill, control, or wipe out these germs be registered as pesticides,” said Katherine Taylor, Associate Director of the Communities and Ecosystems Division in EPA’s Pacific Southwest region.

FIFRA requires companies to register cleaning products as pesticides if the cleaning product makes claims to control germs. These requirements protect public health and the environment by ensuring safe production, handling, and application of pesticides, and by preventing false, misleading, or unverifiable product claims.

The case was based on inspections conducted by California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation and Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture in 2005 and 2006.

Icicle Seafoods Agrees to Pay $900,000 to Settle EPA Clean Water Act Complaint

Icicle Seafoods, Inc., and its wholly owned subsidiary, Evening Star, Inc., have agreed to spend nearly $2 million to resolve Clean Water Act (CWA) violations associated with the operation of the M/V Northern Victor, a seafood processing vessel, in Alaska’s Udagak Bay. The settlement requires the payment of a $900,000 civil penalty. Icicle has already spent approximately $1.1 million cleaning up a historic seafood waste pile that created a one-acre “dead zone” on the Alaskan seafloor.

According to Elin Miller, EPA Northwest Regional Administrator in Seattle, seafood processors need to look for new ways to protect the health of the seafloor, starting with preventing waste piles.

“Contrary to popular belief, waste piles on the seafloor do have a long-lasting, damaging effect on the environment,” said EPA’s Miller. “This waste, particularly the bony material, doesn’t ‘just go away’. It degrades slowly, causing harm for decades.”

The violations occurred aboard the seafood processing vessel, the M/V Northern Victor, which operates in Udagak Bay on the eastern side of Unalaska Island. The vessel is permitted to discharge seafood processing waste by an EPA-issued National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

Several violations were observed during an inspection conducted in 2003. Following the inspection, Icicle made significant improvements aboard the vessel to remedy the violations. However, the companies failed to comply with one major permit provision, which required the cleanup of a historic seafood waste pile created by the vessel’s discharges prior to 1999.

After the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against Icicle and Evening Star in 2006, the companies undertook the removal of the historic waste pile. They subsequently agreed to pay a $900,000 civil penalty.

Boat Manufacturer Faces More Than $260,000 Penalty for Clean Air Act Violations

Pearson Composites, LLC, of Warren, R.I., faces a proposed penalty of $264,349 under a recent EPA complaint for violations of the federal Clean Air Act (CAA). EPA’s complaint follows up on an administrative order issued to Pearson in December 2006.

Pearson manufactures fiberglass sail boats and power boats. The company produces hulls, decks, and small parts using a fiberglass open-molding procedure and then assembles the boats, finishing them with wood furnishings, upholstery, and other items. Together, Pearson’s manufacturing processes, which involve various chemicals, release significant quantities of hazardous air pollutants, primarily styrene.

“To better protect public health and the environment, it is critical that all companies that emit pollutants make every effort to comply with environmental laws and regulations,” said EPA Regional Administrator Robert Varney. “EPA’s enforcement actions ensure that any violations are corrected swiftly. Protecting our air and water is everyone’s responsibility.”

EPA’s complaint asserts that Pearson violated five provisions of a federal hazardous air pollutant standard for boat manufacturing and two provisions of the company’s state-issued clean air operating permit. These violations include:

  • Emission standards for Pearson’s fiberglass open-molding operation, carpet adhesives, and wood-finishing wash coats
  • Work practice standards for inspections and for control equipment monitoring
  • Reporting requirements by failing to timely submit required compliance notification

Pearson has reported to EPA that it has corrected all of these violations as of mid-February 2007. This enforcement action will help ensure that Pearson remains in compliance with federal air regulations and permits. Pearson’s compliance will help reduce environmental health risks for its employees and the public from federally regulated hazardous air pollutants.

Construction Company, Owner Assessed $14,547 Penalty for Violating Cleanup Reporting Requirements

Borges Construction, Inc., and its owner, Mr. Abilio Borges, have been assessed a $14,547 penalty by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for violations that occurred as a result of a release of diesel fuel at a residence located at 34 Paine Street in Worcester, Mass.

On June 22, 2006, the brakes on a dump truck personally owned by Mr. Borges, and operated by Borges Construction, Inc., failed, causing it to careen down a street, over an embankment, and land on a garage located at the Paine Street residence. As a result, the diesel fuel saddle tank on the dump truck ruptured, and the hydraulic system was destroyed in the resulting fire, releasing diesel fuel and hydraulic oil into the soil. Several vehicles that were stored in the garage at the residence were also destroyed and released gasoline and motor oil to the soil. The driver of the truck died as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.

The resident notified MassDEP of a small release of hydraulic fluid in the yard, which he believed to be less than 10 gallons. MassDEP instructed Borges to perform a cleanup that night. MassDEP performed an inspection the following day, which revealed that the cleanup was not performed, and the released volume was far greater than originally reported. Borges Construction Co. and Mr. Borges failed to notify MassDEP of a sudden release of greater than 10 gallons of diesel fuel and hydraulic fluid from the truck, and failed to perform cleanup actions in a timely manner.

In a recently finalized consent order, Borges Construction and Mr. Borges agreed to complete site cleanup and design and implement a spill management plan. The company must also pay $11,000 of the penalty, with the remaining $3,547 suspended, pending compliance with the order.

Contractor to Pay $12,000 for Failing to Obtain Water Permit


Hutsenpiller was developing a site at 6900 Hamilton Mason Road, West Chester (Butler County), when Ohio EPA inspectors noted the company failed to obtain necessary permits to move a creek and control eroded sediment during storms. As a result, Hutsenpiller has agreed to pay $9,600 to help fund surface water pollution programs and $2,400 to Ohio EPA's Clean Diesel School Bus program.

The company also must submit an after-the-fact permit application to explain how it will compensate the state for the damage done to an unnamed tributary of Gregory Creek. After-the-fact permits must benefit an area three times the size of areas that are disturbed without a permit. The permit must be received no later than Nov. 26, 2007.

An Ohio EPA inspector confirmed that the company began work at the site before receiving a storm water discharge permit. The agency received a complete application on July 21, 2006. Later inspection letters sent throughout fall 2006 documented continuing erosion and sediment control violations. It also was determined that the company moved approximately 930 feet of an unnamed tributary of Gregory Creek without Ohio EPA's and the U.S. Army Corps permission.

Anyone who wants to fill streams, lakes, or wetlands needs to receive a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers and a water quality certification from Ohio EPA. Anyone who disturbs more than one acre of soil must receive a general storm water certification. More information is available by calling the agency's storm water hotline at 614-644-5867 

TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $672,785

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has approved penalties totaling $672,785 against 67 regulated entities for violating state environmental regulations.

Agreed orders were issued for the following enforcement categories: Four agricultural, 17 air quality, one dry cleaner, three Edwards Aquifer, three field citations, two industrial or hazardous waste, one industrial waste discharge, four licensed irrigator, three multi-media, four municipal solid waste, nine municipal waste discharge, five petroleum storage tank, four public water system, and one water rights. In addition, there were default orders issued for the following categories: four dry cleaners, one licensed irrigator, and one municipal solid waste.

Included in the total fine figure is a penalty of $118,500 against Gulf Chemical and Metallurgical Corporation, Brazoria County. The fines are the result of 12 various air violations stemming from investigations in June and September of 2004. Of the total, $59,250 will be used to replace older diesel buses with alternative fuel or clean fuel diesel buses in Brazoria County.

Superior Tube to Pay $36,000 Penalty for Air Permit Violations

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced that Superior Tube will pay a $36,300 penalty for air quality violations resulting from a July 10 degreasing system malfunction at the company's Lower Providence Township facility.

“This penalty follows a violation notice that we issued to Superior Tube for exceeding emission limits and failing to notify our agency in a timely manner,” DEP Southeast Regional Director Joseph A. Feola said.

DEP issued a notice of violation to Superior Tube on July 25, outlining violations of two air quality permit conditions: exceeding its emission limit of 15-pounds-per-hour and failing to report the release to DEP within two hours of the incident.

The degreasing system that malfunctioned is equipped with a cooling unit that uses chilled vapor as a barrier on top of the heated trichloroethylene, or TCE, within the degreaser unit. When a compressor malfunctioned, the barrier was lost, allowing an estimated 2,440 pounds of TCE vapor to escape over a period of about two hours.

The company submitted a July 23 written report that outlined actions being taken to prevent such an incident in the future, including the replacement of automatic shutoff valves; lowering the set points for cooling water high temperature controls for the degreaser and associated distillation unit; ensuring the distillation unit steam valve is shut off when the degreaser is not operating; and revising emergency shutdown procedures to include the manual shut off of steam valves to both units.

$2.4 Million Penalty for UST Leak

Michigan DEQ Director Steven E. Chester announced that on September 18, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed a ruling against the Bulk Petroleum Corporation that requires the company to pay penalties totaling roughly $2.4 million for failing to properly clean up leaking underground tanks at a gas station in Hartland. The tanks leaked petroleum product during a period from 1986 through 1999 despite repeated efforts by the DEQ to compel the company to properly resolve the problem.

"This ruling affirms that those who would put our environment at risk will be held accountable for it," said Director Chester. "This agency made every effort to work with Bulk Petroleum to fix the problem but the company repeatedly failed to follow through on their commitments."

In 1993, the DEQ, then operating as part of the Department of Natural Resources, required the company to begin removal of free product, install a groundwater treatment system, and provide monthly progress reports to the department along with copies of their contracts with qualified consultants. Bulk Petroleum failed to comply with these requirements or properly submit a final assessment report.

"The actions by Bulk Petroleum endangered our waters, and more importantly, this community," added Chester. "Michigan has one of the most pristine and unique environments found anywhere in the world, and it takes the care and commitment from all of us to ensure it remains that way for generations to come."

Up to 2.5 Years in Prison for Phony Environmental Invoices

The Michigan DEQ announced on September 19 that Anthony Davin Mangiapane pled no contest to five felony counts of attempting to obtain money under false pretenses from more than 33 companies between March 1, 2006, and June 30, 2006.

Mangiapane admitted to creating and mailing letters of invoices to businesses under the name United States Environmental Protection Waste Agency. The invoices stated that a payment of $5,500 was needed to bring the recipients into compliance with a fictitious environmental statute cited in the letter. The payments were to be mailed to a post office box in Anchorville, Mich., payable to the USEPWA.

Mangiapane admitted to sending out 100 letters, 33 of which were recovered by the DEQ. No company was found to have made the payment to the USEPWA or Mangiapane.

Under the plea agreement, Mangiapane pled no contest to 5 felony counts of attempted false pretenses with the remaining 28 counts being dismissed. The agreement was accepted by Judge Peter L. Maceroni of the 16th Circuit Court in Mount Clemens, and Mangiapane will be sentenced on October 22. He faces a maximum of 2.5 years in prison and an $8,250 fine for each count.

California Announces PM and NOx Emission Reduction Measures

Air quality officials in California have announced an historic agreement to reduce pollution from diesel trucks, commuter trains, construction equipment, and the ports to meet a federal health-based clean air deadline in 2015.

“This agreement signals the dawn of a new day in cooperation between state and local air quality agencies that will result in cleaner air,” said Mary Nichols, chairman of the state Air Resources Board. “Two of the most innovative air quality agencies in the world have joined forces to mount some of the most aggressive measures ever proposed in order to address the Southland’s air quality needs,” said Roy Wilson, Governing Board Vice Chairman of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD).

The two agencies, along with leaders of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), have reached agreement on measures to reduce 76 tons per day of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), a building block to fine particulate pollution. The reductions are essential to meeting the federal government’s 2015 deadline for achieving the health-based standard for fine particulates, known as PM2.5.

“This will provide a rapid response to the many adverse health impacts caused by today’s level of air pollution,” said Gary Ovitt, president of SCAG’s Regional Council and an AQMD Governing Board Member. The pollution cuts will be achieved by stringent mandatory regulations as well as incentive programs. The agreement calls upon federal, state, and local governments to do their part in cleaning the Southland’s air.

The programs will include:

  • ARB strengthening its control measures by requiring a comprehensive modernization of private and port heavy-duty truck fleets in the region. The measures will reduce 27 tons per day of NOx by 2014, equivalent to replacing all pre-2006 trucks with those meeting stringent 2007 standards
  • The region asking the federal government to reduce locomotive emissions prior to 2014 or provide funding for California air quality officials to achieve equivalent reductions. This item calls for NOx emission reductions by 10 tons per day
  • An AQMD measure to control pollution from commercial charbroilers and wood burning to reduce particulate pollution by an amount equivalent to 11 tons per day of NOx
  • The region requesting local governments to dedicate about 40 percent of vehicle registration fees they receive for air pollution-related programs—about $10 million per year—specifically to reduce pollution from heavy-duty trucks and other equipment. It would reduce NOx emissions by about 4 tons per day
  • ARB and AQMD seeking $50 million in additional incentive funds to retrofit Metrolink commuter locomotives with pollution control devices and to further reduce emissions from port-related and other mobile sources. It would reduce NOx emissions by 6 tons per day
  • AQMD achieving an additional 12 tons per day of NOx reductions by opting in to a more stringent version of a statewide ARB rule, reducing pollution from construction and other off-road equipment
  • ARB achieving 3 tons per day of NOx reductions from measures principally designed to reduce greenhouse gases under AB 32
  • AQMD recognizing an additional 3 tons per day of NOx reductions from funded Carl Moyer projects

ARB’s Board will meet on September 27 at AQMD headquarters in Diamond Bar to consider approving the new measures as part of AQMD’s 2007 Air Quality Management Plan and ARB’s State Implementation Plan.

The Southland has the worst PM2.5 air pollution in the country. The pollution is comprised of microscopic particles at least 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair—some so small they pass from lung tissue directly into the human bloodstream and circulate throughout organs in the body. ARB estimates that PM2.5 pollution in the Southland is responsible for as many as 5,000 premature deaths per year.

The measures agreed on this month by the agencies’ staffs provide the missing piece of the puzzle in an overall plan to meet the federal PM2.5 standard by 2015. The federal government requires that reductions be in place by 2014. Regulations already adopted will reduce NOx emissions from about 1,000 tons per day today to 654 tons per day in 2014. AQMD’s 2007 Air Quality Management Plan calls for a further 200 ton-per-day reduction to a final level of 454 tons per day in 2014. Until this month, air quality officials could only identify about 137 of the 200 tons of needed emission reductions.

AQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties. The Air Resources Board is part of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants, while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health-based air quality standards.

$350,000 Available for Sustainable Practices in Minnesota

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is seeking preliminary applications for grants to be used in the development of environmentally sustainable practices that prevent pollution and conserve resources. Both public and private organizations and partnerships are eligible. Preliminary applications are due Oct. 29, 2007. Approximately $350,000 is available. Applications must fall under one of the following four focus areas:

  • Preventing waste and pollution at the source
  • Creating more sustainable communities
  • Developing and expanding markets for underutilized materials
  • High impact integrated environmental improvements

"Minnesotans recognize the value of our natural resources and want them preserved for future generations," said MPCA Commissioner Brad Moore. "Past experience shows that a small amount of seed money goes a long way in creating innovative approaches to conserve and protect the environment."

To facilitate these efforts and to help organizations move toward more sustainable practices, the MPCA Environmental Assistance Grant Program offers grants on a yearly basis. Since 1985, more than $11 million in grants have been awarded to organizations across Minnesota.


Consortium to Spearhead Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative

Imagine solar mirrors shimmering in the sun and wind turbines harnessing the wind by generating thousands of megawatts of clean, green power from remote California deserts and hillsides. Such a vision has long enticed the state's energy planners, but has given them headaches as well. Although California is blessed with some of the country's best geothermal, wind, and solar resources, it faces a barrier—some of its renewable energy-rich areas are far from the electric transmission grid.

To solve this challenge, California formed a public-private partnership called the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETI) to consider the feasibility of building new transmission lines to access renewable generation. The goal is to bring green electricity to the grid as it is generated from isolated areas of the state or possibly adjoining states.

RETI is a means to rapidly develop green energy to meet the state's mandate of producing 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010 and goal of 33 percent by 2020. The California Public Utilities Commission, the California Energy Commission, the California Independent System Operator (California ISO), and representatives of publicly owned utilities, including Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA), and the Northern California Power Authority (NCPA) are spearheading the initiative.

RETI will serve to identify major renewable zones to be developed throughout the state. As envisioned, the consortium also plans to rank all renewable rich resource areas in and around the state to establish an order in which transmission lines to these areas should be developed. Adding new renewable energy resources will ensure that California continues to have adequate supplies of electricity to meet the state's growing population and electricity demand.

Transmission lines for electricity from renewable sources becomes critical as predominantly out-of-state coal-fired power plants, which produce approximately 17 percent of California's electricity, begin to provide a smaller percentage of the state's electricity as mandated by the Electricity Emissions of Greenhouse Gases (SB 1368, Perata) to reduce greenhouse gases contributing to global warming.

Senate Bill to Spur Renewable Energy Industry

U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada introduced a bill on September 20 that will provide additional financing options for building new power transmission lines and interconnections to carry power from renewable energy zones to areas with growing electricity demand.

“I recently came out in opposition to the proposed coal power plants,” said Reid. “But I want to do more than just voice my opinion. I want to be part of the solution. The Clean Renewable Energy and Economic Development Act will help Nevada become the leader in renewable energy and energy independence. This legislation puts to rest the false assumption that the only way to finance transmission lines is through building dirty coal power plants. In fact, this bill is a method to finance these power lines that will bring our state’s abundant clean energy to the homes of Nevadans. I’m happy to bring this solution to the table that will help protect the environment and our air, while creating thousands of jobs and developing our economy.”

Reid’s legislation would direct the President to identify areas of the country, especially rural areas, where renewable energy resources could generate at least 1,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity. The federal power-marketing administrations, like the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), would have a year to identify the types of high-voltage or interconnection lines needed to access the renewable power in those zones.

If, after two years, no private entities step forward to fund the construction of transmission lines to the renewable energy zones, then WAPA and the four other federal power administration’s (Bonneville, Southeastern, Southwestern, and Tennessee Valley Authority), would each be granted an additional $10 billion in bonding authority to finance those lines. This is particularly important for WAPA, which does not have sufficient authority to finance transmission.

This legislation also would require the power administrations to start integrating renewable energy and energy efficiency into all of their programs, including finding ways to reduce petroleum consumption through electricifying the transportation sector using renewable power and encouraging more distributed generation.

The estimated cost of connecting the northern and southern grids is about $600 million. That is roughly the cost that ratepayers will pay for importing coal for just two years at the proposed coal plants. Those plants will burn at least $12 billion–$20 billion worth of coal and ratepayers money over their 40-year lifespan, though most coal plants last much longer. Experts estimate that there are at least an estimated additional 1300 MW of baseload geothermal electricity generation in the northern part of the state that could be brought online within the next 5–6 years with sufficient investment and thereby help finance the interconnection of the Sierra Pacific Power and Nevada Power grids.

Reid’s bill limits the federal financing of high-voltage transmission lines to only those that carry at least 75 percent renewable electricity and applies the same limitation to any new lines to be built across federal lands.

International Agreement Likely to Phase-Out Ozone-Depleting Substances

Environmental and government officials from developed and developing countries worked together last week in Montreal to agree to a legally binding schedule for a quicker phase-out of ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), 20 years after the signing of the landmark Montreal Protocol.

“This week’s deal will sharply cut global emissions, especially by reducing large HCFC increases expected in the next decade from China and India. The Bush administration deserves credit for working with other countries to push for faster cuts in HCFCs. The quicker phase-out will help heal the ozone layer and reduce skin cancer. Reducing HCFCs also helps cut global warming pollution,” said David Doniger, policy director of the Climate Center at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

“The Montreal ozone treaty is a model for progress on global warming,” said Doniger. “It shows that a binding treaty—with industrial countries taking the lead and with real pollution limits for both developed and developing nations—can successfully cut global pollution and trigger a clean technology revolution.”

The United States will receive permission to keep making and using methyl bromide in 2009—four years after a complete ban was supposed to take effect. The United States is the only country that still uses large amounts of the pesticide methyl bromide—responsible for more than 80 percent of world exemptions.

Winners of 2007 New Hampshire Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention

Governor John Lynch announced the winners of the 2007 Governor's Award for Pollution Prevention. Two New Hampshire companies, New Hampshire Ball Bearings of Laconia and Public Service of New Hampshire in Portsmouth, were presented with this year’s Governor’s Award that recognizes outstanding pollution prevention practices in businesses and organizations.

"As governor, I am committed to working to protect our environment and quality of life here in New Hampshire—by working to move us toward cleaner, alternative fuels, by increasing energy efficiency, and reducing pollution. That is why I am so pleased to recognize the efforts of these two companies—they are demonstrating that cutting pollution makes good environmental sense and good business sense," Governor Lynch said.

New Hampshire Ball Bearings, Inc., Astro Division (NHBB) manufactures spherical and rod-end bearings for the aerospace industry. NHBB has dedicated itself to establishing and maintaining a world-class environmental management system (EMS) that includes internal and external commitments to reduce their environmental footprint. As part of the regular planning process for their EMS, they establish annual goals, targets, and implementation plans for pollution prevention. Astro reduced 8,768 pounds of hazardous waste and 191.4 tons of non-hazardous waste between 2003 and 2006. Additionally, their emissions reductions were 365.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide, energy reduction was 4,251,650 kWh, and they had net water savings of 189,817 gallons. NHBB also has introduced an aggressive recycling program. They saved more than $513,000 per year.

“I am honored to receive the Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention on behalf of the Astro Division and New Hampshire Ball Bearings,” said Herb Parkhurst, the Astro Division’s Facilities Manager. “It symbolizes our ongoing commitment to reducing our environmental footprint, an important civic and strategic objective shared by all of us at NHBB and our parent company, Minebea Co., Ltd.

Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) is the largest electric utility, serving more than 490,000 customers statewide. PSNH converted one of its facilities into a wood-burning plant, which reduced the use of coal by more than 130,000 tons a year. The Northern Wood Power Project is one of the largest renewable energy repowering projects in the country. By switching from coal to wood, the facility reduced air emissions by 2,045.5 tons and No.6 fuel oil by 600,000 gallons a year. In addition, the facility reduced coal ash, which would normally require landfill disposal by 50,000 tons per year. PSNH did not cite any additional monetary savings for themselves but noted that this project would increase the regional economy by approximately $20 million.

“The success of this project is a result of good state policy and strong collaborative support by a variety of organizations and individuals,” noted Gary Long, PSNH president and chief operating officer. “It is an example of what can be accomplished when we work together toward a common goal—in this case, clean renewable energy and a boost to the local and the forest economies.”

Four New Hampshire businesses and organizations received an Honorable Mention Award for their pollution prevention efforts: NH Adjutant General’s Department; Monadnock Paper Mills of Bennington; Ripano Stoneworks of Nashua; and Southeastern Container of Hudson.


Rhode Island Offers Wastewater Management Boot Camp Training

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management announced that more than a dozen wastewater treatment operators have been chosen to attend a new industry-driven training program, or Wastewater Management Boot Camp, sponsored by the department that will provide intensive training, networking, and skill-development course work to help groom the next generation of wastewater management leaders. The aim is that, as the wastewater profession in Rhode Island ages and wastewater managers retire, these trained individuals will be available to continue the necessary work of managing the state's critical wastewater treatment infrastructure.

"It is extremely important that as a new generation of men and women come into leadership positions at wastewater treatment plants, they be well-trained, committed, and proactive," said DEM Director W. Michael Sullivan, Ph.D. "They will be facing a more complicated world of increasing expectations with decreasing resources and will need to be technical experts as well as comfortable in interacting with regulators, environmental groups, and elected officials. I feel that it is our role as a regulatory agency to also act as a resource for helping them, such as offering this innovative program."

The Narragansett Water Pollution Control Association and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission are taking a central role in assisting DEM with the program, which will include about 100 hours over the next year of management courses, technical courses such as engineering basics and process control, skill training in the areas of media relations, working with regulatory agencies, and budget preparation. The program is funded with federal training grants, so participation in this program comes at no cost to the individuals or their communities. Participants submitted applications on a voluntary basis; many were nominated by their superintendents. Members of the NWPCA reviewed all nominations and chose the top 14 for entrance into the initial program.

Both courses have been receiving excellent reviews from wastewater operators throughout New England. Additional courses will be scheduled through the year.

Eldridge and Sheriden are also members of the Rhode Island Wastewater Operators Challenge Team that came in second overall in the regional operator challenge held in June at the New England Water Environment Association's spring meeting in New Hampshire. As such, they and their teammates, Brian Lavallee and Don Shurtleff, both of the West Warwick wastewater facility, and Scott Goodinson of the Cranston facility, will be attending the national challenge at the Water Environment Federation's Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference in San Diego, Calif., in October, where wastewater teams from throughout the country will demonstrate their best combination of precision, speed, and safety. Winners will be determined by a weighted point system for five events—collection systems, laboratory, process control, maintenance, and safety—each designed to test the diverse skills required for the operation and maintenance of wastewater treatment facilities, their collection systems, and laboratories.

New Illinois Disaster Preparedness Website

Disaster preparedness information is just a mouse click away with a new Illinois state website unveiled during a statewide emergency management conference in Springfield. The Ready Illinois websiteoffers comprehensive information on steps people can take before emergencies happen, what to do once a disaster has occurred, and tips for recovery after the event. In addition, during a large-scale disaster, current information about the situation and details about such things as shelters and road closures can be posted on the site to help people access needed information.

“Recent disasters like Hurricane Katrina have taught all of us an important lesson—personal preparedness is critical. And, the new Ready Illinois website provides the information people need to build a disaster kit, develop a family communications plan, and get emergency training, which can help them be better prepared for any type of disaster,” said Governor Rod R. Blagojevich.

Col. Jill Morgenthaler, the governor’s deputy chief of staff for public safety, unveiled the new preparedness website to more than 800 emergency management, fire, law enforcement, and public health officials from throughout Illinois who were in Springfield this week for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency’s annual conference in Springfield.

The Ready Illinois website’s “Before an Emergency” section offers a variety of information on how to prepare for emergencies before they occur, including information on animals and pets, business safety, cyber safety, preparing an emergency kit, guides for family emergency planning, and more.

In the “During an Emergency” section, people can check the site for information on how to stay safe, including details about disease outbreaks, earthquakes, fires, hazardous materials, nuclear power plant accidents, evacuations, weather emergencies, and other disaster situations.

The “After the Emergency” section provides helpful information to navigate through the disaster-recovery process, including explanations about types of assistance that could be available if the affected area is declared a federal disaster area. The section also contains information about mental health issues following a disaster, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Throughout the website, there are links to dozens of state and federal websites that contain additional helpful information for emergency preparedness, response, and recovery.

The Ready Illinois website also provides the state with a valuable tool for providing up-to-date information to the public during an actual disaster. An additional section, “Current Emergency Information,” can be activated to allow state emergency management officials to post status reports and other public information on the situation, including the location of shelters, road closures, and contact information for assistance.

Tennessee Pollution Prevention Workshop

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Office of Environmental Assistance will sponsor a pollution prevention workshop at Dell, Inc., in Nashville on Oct. 17, 2007, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The workshop is geared to help anyone from individuals to industry learn more about the Pollution Prevention Partnership (TP3) program for environmental protection.

The Tennessee Pollution Prevention Partnership is an environmental recognition program operated by the Department of Environment and Conservation to reward top environmental performance. TP3 members are households, schools, government agencies, organizations, businesses, and industries that lead the way to environmental excellence by managing environmental responsibilities, reducing and preventing pollution, and being good environmental citizens.

The Middle Tennessee workshop is the last of three scheduled this fall across the state to provide guidance on how to advance through the TP3 levels as well as EPA’s Performance Track program. In addition to guidance, the workshops provide mentoring, outreach, and networking opportunities.

Dell, Inc., is hosting the Middle Tennessee workshop. There is no fee for attending, but registration is required by Oct. 1, 2007, to assure that adequate materials are available. 

EPA to Regulate Ion Generators as Pesticides

. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), a product that incorporates a substance or mixture of substances to prevent, destroy, repel, or mitigate pests is considered a pesticide and must be registered. However, a product that uses only physical or mechanical means to trap, destroy, repel, or mitigate a pest (including microbial pests), such as a mousetrap, is a device and does not need to be registered. Its production and labeling are regulated.

 EPA will identify the information needed for an application for registration and give those products currently out of compliance time to obtain registration.

The notice is not an action to regulate nanotechnology. EPA has not yet received any information that suggests that this product uses nanotechnology. EPA will evaluate any applications to register this type of equipment according to the same regulatory standards as other pesticides.

EPA Asks for Comments on MACT Standard for Hazardous Waste Combustors

In March 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an opinion that vacated the standards included in another of EPA’s MACT rules. In light of the court’s opinion, EPA has reexamined the standards in the 2005 Hazardous Waste Combustors MACT rule to determine if they are compliant with the court’s opinion.

In the analysis, EPA identifies which standards it believes are consistent with the opinion and which standards are not. Standards that are not consistent with the decision would need to be reexamined in a future regulatory action, which would begin in 2008. In addition, the EPA is changing the rationale that supported the 2005 rule. Consequently, EPA also has made the revised versions of the preamble and various support and comment response documents from the 2005 rule available for comment.

Comments will be accepted for 21 days following publication in the Federal Register, which is expected within two weeks. The docket number is EPA-HQ-OAR-2004-0022.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued the opinion in Sierra Club vs. EPA (aka Brick MACT).

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Trivia Questions of the Week

See if you can answer all three:

Excluding the hot air generated in courtroom arguments, the average attorney produces how much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases per year?

a. 900 pounds
b. 1,800 pounds
c. 1 ton
d. 2.5 tons

How much fuel is wasted annually in the United States due to traffic congestion?

a. 9.5 million gallons
b. 2.9 billion gallons
c. 1.5 trillion gallons
d. 5.1 trillion gallons

According to the U.S. Energy Administration, our economy grew almost 3 percent last year and CO2 emissions:

a. Decreased 1.2 percent
b. Increased 1.2 percent
c. Increased 3 percent
d. Stayed the same as the prior year