League of Conservation Voters Releases 2008 National Environmental Scorecard

October 27, 2008

For 30 years, the nonpartisan National Environmental Scorecard from LCV has been the nationally accepted yardstick used to rate members of Congress on conservation and energy issues.

“This scorecard reflects more clearly than perhaps ever before that America is truly at a crossroads when it comes to our energy future,” LCV President Gene Karpinski said when announcing the release of LCV’s 2008 National Environmental Scorecard. “In the face of gas prices that shot above $4 a gallon, unrest around the world, and increasing global warming pollution, it could not be more obvious that we must reduce our dependence on oil, yet in 2008, Congress went in the wrong direction.”

The 2008 Scorecard includes 11 Senate and 13 House votes dominated by energy but also encompassing other environmental issues. This year, 67 represenatives and 27 senators earned a perfect 100% score, which is significantly higher than the 33 represenatives and 3 senators who earned 100% in 2007. This year, 70 representatives and 2 senators earned an appalling score of 0%, compared with 48 representatives and 9 senators in 2007.

The average House score in 2008 was 56%, and the average Senate score was 57%, which is slightly higher than the 53% House and 52% Senate averages in 2007. California, Connecticut, Michigan, Montana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin all had perfect Senate averages of 100%, while Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and South Carolina’s senators averaged just 9%. In the House, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and Maryland all averaged above 90%, while Montana and Wyoming were both below 10%.

“The 110th Congress began with great promise of bringing about a new energy economy, especially with the first increase in fuel economy of cars and light trucks in a generation,” LCV Legislative Director Tiernan Sittenfeld said. “The success of 2007 should have led to even more progress in 2008, but a vocal minority of Big Oil allies instead turned the year into a series of missed opportunities and major steps backward.”

While Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) fought for meaningful legislation to end our addiction to oil, reduce global warming pollution, and bring about a new energy economy, a vocal minority led by Minority Leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Boehner (R-OH) defended billions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies for the oil industry. They also insisted on increasing offshore drilling and created new handouts for dirty fuels like oil shale, tar sands, and liquid coal.

A focal point for the debate over our energy future was the Climate Security Act, a global warming bill advanced by Environment & Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA) that LCV worked to strengthen and pass. After a debate was cut short by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), 48 senators voted to move forward and 6 absentee senators issued statements indicating that they would have voted that way as well—bringing the total number of senators who supported taking action to address global warming to 54. While short of the 60 votes necessary to override a filibuster, it’s significant that a majority of senators went on the record in support of making progress to combat global warming.

Despite the Department of Energy’s assessment that the negligible impacts on gas prices would not occur until 2030, the campaign succeeded in ending the moratorium on offshore drilling.

“As we prepare for a new Congress and a new Administration, it’s all too obvious that America is desperate for change,” Sittenfeld said. “The good news is that a new energy policy can bring about just the change we need. LCV is committed to working with the 111th Congress and the new Administration to take bold action. It’s time to increase our production of clean, renewable energy; cut our dependence on oil; and invest in a new energy economy.”

Maryland Proposes New Storm Water Permit for Construction

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has issued a Proposed General Permit for Construction Activities that would allow for increased public participation, new monitoring and plan review, and incorporate several critical elements of site design and erosion and sediment controls.

What has been issued is a “tentative determination” for a general permit for storm water related to construction activities. New conditions of the draft five-year permit required by the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) include increased public notification and participation, new monitoring and plan review, and several critical elements of site design and erosion and sediment controls. The new permit would be an important step toward cleaning up local waterways and restoring the Chesapeake Bay by reducing the amount of sediment going into waterways. The department also announced plans to review and modify the state’s erosion and sediment control standards.

“This new general permit will do more than ever in Maryland to stop sediment from damaging our waterways and eroding streambanks,” MDE Deputy Secretary Bob Summers said. “As our state continues to grow, it’s important that we enact measures to limit pollution from new construction. Today’s draft permit, along with Montgomery County’s proposed municipal permit and revised stormwater management regulations, clearly demonstrates that the State of Maryland is taking strong, comprehensive steps to address the serious problems caused by polluted storm water runoff.”

Polluted storm water runoff damages local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay because it spreads excess nutrients, sediment, toxic chemicals, and trash and causes stream erosion and flooding. According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, 17% of phosphorus, 11% of nitrogen, and 9% of sediment loads to the Bay come from storm water. Maryland is committed to reducing nutrient and sediment pollution from storm water runoff in the Bay watershed as part of the 2000 Chesapeake Bay Agreement.

The general permit covers construction activities that disturb one acre or more. Several key changes of note are:

  • A 30–45 day waiting period following submission of the Notice of Intent (NOI) before permit coverage is approved to provide more opportunity for public participation
  • A requirement to monitor the construction site for a number of specific sediment discharge problems that, if observed, trigger review of site conditions on a first occasion and then review of plans to see if additional controls are needed if there is a second occasion
  • A requirement that plans submitted under the permit address eight critical points of interest related to site design and erosion and sediment controls
  • Requirements regarding applicable Total Maximum Daily Loads and Water Quality Standards


At a series of public meetings with stakeholders, a range of changes to the permit provisions were discussed, and these were considered by MDE in the draft permit development. Numerous suggestions to improve sediment control practices and update turbidity water quality standards were incorporated. To be most effective, some suggested changes must be incorporated into the technical standards for erosion and sediment control. MDE announced plans to initiate a comprehensive review of the state’s erosion and sediment control standards in early 2009 and develop proposed modifications to the “Maryland Standards and Specifications for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control” by May 30, 2010.

MDE also encourages property owners to reduce storm water runoff and erosion by using permeable paving surfaces; planting trees, shrubs, and groundcover; allowing “buffer strips” near waterways; and limiting the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Outdoor Wood Heater Manufacturers Agree to Reduce Air Emissions

Key manufacturers of outdoor wood-fired heaters pledged to make units that will emit 90% less air pollution, under the second phase of a voluntary partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA launched the voluntary program in January 2007, beginning with units 70% cleaner than unqualified models. Sales of EPA-qualified units to date will prevent nearly 1,200 tons of fine particle emissions annually, providing more than $600 million in estimated annual health benefits.

Outdoor wood-burning heaters—also called outdoor wood boilers, outdoor wood furnaces, or wood-fired hydronic heaters (systems that circulate hot water or steam)—provide heat and hot water for homes and other buildings. Use of the heaters has increased in recent years in rural, cold climate areas where wood is plentiful, like New England, prompting concerns about smoke and emissions of particle pollution.

 The new models must emit no more than 0.32 pounds of particle pollution per million Btu of heat output. The models must be tested by an EPA-accredited laboratory to verify these emission levels.

Phase 2 also allows additional types of heaters to qualify, including indoor hydronic heaters, models that burn other biomass such as corn or wood pellets, and models equipped with heat storage units. Qualified Phase 2 models will be marked by a white hang tag showing that a unit meets program requirements. Some manufacturers already have units available that meet the new emission levels.

Exposure to fine particle pollution, also called PM 2.5, is linked to a number of serious health problems, including decreased lung function, aggravated asthma, irregular heartbeat, nonfatal heart attacks, and premature death in people with heart and lung disease. Children, people with heart or lung disease, and older adults are the most susceptible to the effects of particle pollution.

EPA developed the program with input from heater manufacturers, states, the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, and the Hearth Patio and Barbecue Association, an industry trade group.

The manufacturers agreeing to make cleaner outdoor wood heaters are:

  • Alternative Fuel Boilers (Econoburn)
  • Central Boiler
  • Greenwood Technologies
  • Hardy Manufacturing
  • HeatSource1
  • Northwest Manufacturing (WoodMaster)
  • Silverwinds Metals, Inc. (Wood Doctor)

Missouri Seeks Comments on the Draft 2008 303(d) List

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) recently published a draft 2008 303(d) List. It includes 177 listings on 148 separate waters. Some waters are listed more than once because they have multiple pollutants that affect different sections of the water. Seventy-three of these listings are carried over from the proposed 2004/2006 list. The draft 2008 303(d) List is open to the public for review and comment until January 16.

Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requires each state to identify waters not meeting water quality standards and where requirements are not yet in place to restore water quality. Water quality standards protect beneficial uses of water for whole body contact, such as swimming, maintaining fish and other aquatic life, and providing drinking water for people, livestock, and wildlife.

 Supporting water quality data, the Listing Methodology document, which contains the procedures used to develop these lists, and other information are available on the department’s website. If unable to access the information through the Web, individuals may request copies of the lists from the department’s Water Protection Program by calling 800-361-4827 or 573-751-1300.

The department will hold meetings to answer questions and accept comments on the proposed 2008 list:

  • November 13 at 5 p.m. in the Gasconade Camp Conference Room at the Lewis and Clark State Office Building, Jefferson City.
  • November 24 at 10 a.m. in the Nightingale Creek Conference Room at the Lewis and Clark State Office Building, Jefferson City.


The department will accept written comments on the proposed list until 5 p.m., January 16. The public may submit comments in writing to the Department of Natural Resources, Attention John Ford, Water Protection Program, P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102; r by fax to 573-522-9920.

The Missouri Clean Water Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed list at 9 a.m. on January 7 in the Lewis and Clark State Office Building, La Charrette Conference Room, 1101 Riverside Dr., Jefferson City. The commission could approve the draft 2008 303(d) List as early as March 4.

Operation Change Out Saves $11 Million at U.S. Military Bases

The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the initial results of Energy Star Operation Change Out—The Military Challenge, which focuses on replacing standard incandescent lights at military housing units with energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). The campaign, a joint effort between DOE and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), has led 84 military bases to install 359,268 CFLs in 40,951 military housing units since Earth Day (April 22). Over the operating lifetime of the new CFLs, they are expected to reduce electricity use by nearly 100 million kilowatt-hours, saving nearly $11 million while preventing the emissions of more than 150 million pounds of carbon dioxide.

Three military bases stand out for their performance in this campaign: Fort Drum Army base in upstate New York has changed out 106,012 bulbs, which will cut the base’s energy bills by an estimated $2.78 million; Tobyhanna Army Depot, near Scranton, PA, has changed out 23,158 bulbs to achieve an estimated energy savings of more than $600,000; and Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base, near Jacksonville, N.C., has changed out 19,020 bulbs in nearly 5,000 housing units to cut energy costs by nearly $500,000. The campaign was originally scheduled to end on October 1, but the success of the program has led DOE and DOD to extend the program through Earth Day 2009.

Shrink Your Carbon Footprint—Take the Washington State Online Pledge to Combat Climate Change

In a fun, easy-to-use format, the new “Shrink Your Carbon Footprint” online pledge:

  • Helps people identify actions they’re already taking that reduce their individual “carbon footprint” (their contribution to climate-changing greenhouse gas pollution)
  • Helps people identify what more they can do to further reduce their greenhouse gas emissions


“The problem of climate change is global, and the solutions are very complex. It will take all of us doing our part—through individual actions, societal actions, and governmental actions—to turn back the clock on the climate-changing greenhouse gas pollution,” said Janice Adair, Washington DOE manager who chairs the Western Climate Initiative—a multi-state, multi-province regional effort to reduce greenhouse gases.

In Washington state, transportation accounts for almost half the state’s total carbon footprint. This means individual actions can make a significant difference.

After transportation, the next largest contributor to Washington’s carbon footprint is burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) for residential, commercial, and industrial use. Although most of Washington’s electricity comes from carbon-clean hydropower from dams, some of our electricity is produced by coal-burning power plants in and out of Washington.

The new Washington state carbon pledge focuses on several aspects of daily life, including household and kitchen appliances, office equipment, yard care, and personal transportation.

Washington is a leader in the fight against global climate change. The problem of climate change goes far beyond a change in the weather. Climate shapes everything—ecosystems, crops, water, economy, lifestyles, health—so even small changes can have important impacts. A few degrees in temperature may not feel like much, but it can make the difference between rain and snow, early snowmelt or late, flowing summer streams or dry creek beds.

Washington state is vulnerable to a warming climate, especially our snow-fed water supplies and nearly 40 communities along our 2,300 miles of shoreline that are threatened by rising sea levels. The state has a statutory goal of reducing climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, reducing emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2035, and reducing emissions 50% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Autumn Alchemy: Converting Red and Gold into Green

With red-and-gold leaves carpeting the land, there’s no question what time of year it is. Fall heralds the start of cooler weather, making it prime time to hunker down and assess your environmental footprint. You can learn and have fun while making a difference in the quality of the environment in your community, participate in competitions, and more. Here are some cool things to do inside and outside of the classroom.

Driving and Commuting

Do you need a new vehicle to take the kids to school? Fuel economy ratings for new model-year cars are now available. You have a choice to buy a vehicle that’s cleaner and more fuel efficient. Learn more by visiting EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide to find the cleanest, most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets your needs. 
School = Kids + Buses

Have you noticed all those school buses lined up in front of school with the engines running? Do your kids and the environment a favor and ask school officials to adopt a no-idling policy. Idling school buses waste fuel and pollute the air. Children are especially sensitive to diesel exhaust, which causes respiratory problems and worsens allergies and asthma.

Healthy School Environments

More than 53 million children and almost 3 million adults spend a significant portion of their days in approximately 112,000 public and private school buildings, many of which are old and inadequately maintained, and often contain environmental conditions that inhibit learning and pose increased risks to the health of children and staff. EPA’s Healthy School Environments will help facility managers, school administrators, architects, design engineers, school nurses, parents, and teachers find the resources they need to address environmental health issues in schools. 

Liquid Assets: The Story of Our Water Infrastructure to Air in Texas

EPA is encouraging the public to learn why America’s aging water system is in dire need of an overhaul, and why raising public awareness of this essential commodity, often buried out of sight, has been a challenge until now.

“Liquid Assets” examines the state of our nation’s essential infrastructure systems: drinking water, wastewater, and storm water. These complex and aging systems, some in the ground for more than 100 years, are critical for basic sanitation, public safety, economic development, and a host of other necessities of life. The documentary highlights communities from across the United States, providing an understanding of hidden water infrastructure assets, demonstrating watershed protection approaches, and illustrating 21st century solutions.

“Many water and sewage lines throughout the nation were installed decades ago and are in need of repair,” EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene said. “This documentary walks us through the troubling issues associated with our water infrastructure. It encourages cities and municipalities to reinvest in their water infrastructure to sustain our quality of life for generations to come.”

Produced by Penn State Public Broadcasting, the documentary will air around the country starting in October. As part of EPA’s Sustainable Infrastructure Initiative, EPA’s water experts encourage the public to view this documentary to gain an understanding and appreciation for our nation’s water systems.

EPA’s Sustainable Infrastructure Initiative guides the agency’s efforts in changing how the nation views, values, manages, and invests in its water infrastructure. EPA is working with the water industry to identify best practices that have helped many of the nation’s utilities address a variety of management challenges and extend the use of these practices to a greater number of utilities. EPA, in collaboration with a coalition of state and local leaders, is helping to build a roadmap for a sustainable water infrastructure.

TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $1,492,369

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has approved penalties totaling $1,492,369 against 72 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations.

Agreed orders were issued for the following enforcement categories: 18 air quality, 1 Edwards Aquifer, 3 field citations, 3 industrial and hazardous waste, 1 industrial waste discharge, 2 licensed irrigator, 4 multi-media, 5 municipal waste discharge, 12 petroleum storage tank, 7 public water system, 1 wastewater operator, and 4 water quality. In addition, default orders were issued for the following categories: two dry cleaners, one municipal solid waste, three petroleum storage tank, one public water system, one water quality, and one water right. Penalties were also assessed in two enforcement categories following hearings at the State Office of Administrative Hearings for agricultural wastewater discharge violations and municipal solid waste violations.

Included in the total were fines against Enterprise Products Operating LLC in Chambers County in the amount of $541,450 for air quality violations documented in routine inspections in 2008. Of that fine total, a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) of $270,725 will be provided to the Houston-Galveston AERCO’s Clean Cities/Clean Vehicles Program, Chambers County.

Also included in the total were fines against Houston Refining, LP, of Harris County, in the amount of $384,884. The fines were the result of a total of 27 air and water violations, documented from 2006–2008. Of that fine total, a $192,442 SEP amount will be contributed to the Houston-Galveston AERCO’s Clean Cities/Clean Vehicles Program of Harris County.

Minnesota Enforcement Actions Total Nearly $860,000

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) concluded 39 enforcement cases totaling $857,564 in penalties during the third quarter of 2008. The cases occurred at facilities in 33 counties throughout Minnesota.

The following is a brief summary of the 39 cases completed during the third quarter of 2008:

  • $442,600—Pan-O-Gold Baking Co., St. Cloud, for air quality violations
  • $119, 544—United States Steel—Minntac, Mountain Iron, for air and water quality violations
  • $52,000—Joyner’s Die Casting & Plating Inc., Brooklyn Park, for hazardous waste and air quality violations
  • $39,960—Gluek Brewing Co. and Cold Spring Brewing Co., Cold Spring, for water quality violations
  • $30,000—Endres Processing LLC, Rosemount, for solid waste violations
  • $12,879—City of Wheaton, for water quality violations
  • $10,000—Epic Development LLC & DSV Construction, Dakota County, for stormwater violations
  • $10,000—ADM, Marshal, for air quality violations
  • $10,000—City of Henriette, for stormwater violations
  • $10,000—Lutsen Development Corp./Scenic Landscaping, Lutsen, for stormwater violations


Gun Club to Pay for Lead Contamination

The proposed consent decree resolves cost recovery claims asserted under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (against the Broadkiln Sportsman Club, Inc., a gun club that owns property adjacent to the Prime Hook Wildlife Refuge (the “Refuge’’) located near Milton, Del.

Government agencies have incurred about $948,000 in response costs to address lead contamination at the refuge that resulted from shotgun pellet accumulation on the property. The club agrees to sell its property adjacent to the refuge and pay 75% of the sale proceeds to the DOI. It also assigns any recoverable insurance benefits to DOI.

The Department of Justice will receive comments relating to the Settlement Agreement. Comments should be addressed to the Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division, mailed to P.O. Box 7611, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 20044-7611. In either case, comments should refer to United States v. Broadkiln Sportsman Club, Inc. (D. Del.), D.J. Ref. No. 90-11-3-08802.

Executives of Wastewater Treatment Company Found Guilty of Illegal Discharges

A federal jury in Detroit has convicted three former managers of Comprehensive Environmental Solutions, Inc. (CESI), a company that operates an industrial waste treatment and disposal facility in Dearborn, Mich., following a three-week jury trial.

The company’s former general manager was convicted of nine counts, including one conspiracy count, two counts of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA), and six counts of making false statements in connection with illegal discharges of millions of gallons of untreated liquid wastes from the facility. A former plant manager, was convicted of conspiracy and a CWA violation. The former chief executive officer, was convicted of one count of negligently bypassing the facility’s required pretreatment system, a misdemeanor violation of the CWA.

According to the evidence presented during the trial, CESI had a permit to treat liquid industrial waste brought to the facility from throughout the Midwest and Canada, through a variety of processes, and then discharge it into the Detroit sanitary sewer system. The facility contained 12 large aboveground storage tanks capable of holding more than 10 million gallons of liquid industrial wastes.

During the period of January 2001 to June 2002, facility employees routinely bypassed the facility’s treatment system in order to discharge untreated liquid wastes directly into the sanitary sewer system. During most of this time, the facility had no operable equipment to treat incoming liquid wastes and the 10 million gallon tank farm was full, with virtually no capacity to store additional liquid wastes. Nonetheless, the facility continued to accept more than 16 million gallons of liquid industrial waste-streams for purported treatment and disposal. Because the facility had no space available for this additional waste, nor equipment to treat it, company employees discharged nearly 13 million gallons of untreated liquid waste into the sanitary sewer in violation of the CWA, the facility’s permit, and the consent order under which the facility operated.

Evidence at trial further showed that the defendants took steps to conceal the lack of treatment from customers and regulatory officials, including Detroit Water and Sewerage Department personnel, through false statements and tampering with legally required compliance samples.

“Today’s result emphasizes the importance of compliance with laws and regulations designed to protect the environment,” Assistant Attorney General Ronald Tenpas said. “Vigorous enforcement ensures that companies in the waste treatment business compete on an even playing field, that industrial customers can be confident that their wastes are being properly handled, and that the public enjoys a safe clean environment.”

“The defendants not only illegally dumped millions of gallons of oil-based industrial waste into the sewer system, but also engaged in a concerted effort to cover it up,” said Randall Ashe, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. “Today’s convictions show that the public has no tolerance for those who commit environmental crimes.”

An additional plant manager pleaded guilty earlier this year to violating the CWA and has not yet been sentenced.

On Sept. 4, 2008, CESI pleaded guilty to related charges and agreed to pay a fine of $600,000 plus an additional $150,000 to fund a community service project for the benefit, preservation, and restoration of the environment and ecosystems in the waters adjoining the Rouge River and the Detroit River. In addition to accepting responsibility today for its past misconduct, CESI, which is under new management, has taken a number of steps during the last several years to install new equipment and systems to treat liquid industrial waste before it is discharged to the sewer.

As a condition of probation, CESI has agreed to abide by the terms of a consent order with the Michigan DEQ for the cleanup of the facility, at an estimated cost of about $1.5 million, which includes the proper disposal of the liquid waste previously stored in the facility’s tank farm. CESI has further agreed to develop, adopt, implement, and fund an environmental management system/compliance plan at its facility. This will include an annual program to train employees on environmental compliance and ethics, as well as to ensure that all CESI employees understand the requirements imposed by the facility’s discharge permit.

$49,555 Fine for PCB Violations

Flaw Inc. has settled a case involving alleged violations of federal regulations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at its used oil storage facility in Easton, Pa.

In a consent agreement with the EPA, the company has agreed to pay a $49,555 civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which is designed to protect public health and the environment.

The violations were identified when Flaw Inc. submitted a mandatory unmanifested waste report to EPA in March 2007, which indicated that one of its used-oil collection trucks received PCB-contaminated used oil from a customer and transported it to its Easton facility. It was subsequently combined with additional volumes of used oil in storage tanks and stored between Feb. 27 and March 16, 2007. Consequently, large amounts of waste oil was contaminated with PCBs, and as a result, had to be disposed of as PCB waste at an approved PCB waste facility.

Alleged violations included storing PCB waste without EPA approval, transporting PCB waste without obtaining an EPA identification number, and storing PCB waste in tanks that were not properly marked.

PCBs, a probable human carcinogen, were once widely used as a nonflammable coolant for transformers and other electrical equipment. In 1976, Congress enacted TSCA, which strictly regulated the manufacture, use, and disposal of PCBs. 

Flaw Inc. neither admitted nor denied the allegations and has certified that the facility now is in full compliance with PCB regulations.

This action contributes to EPA’s record-shattering enforcement results for the 2008 Fiscal Year. To date, EPA has concluded enforcement actions requiring an estimated $11 billion to be spent nationwide on pollution controls, clean-up, and environmental projects, an all-time record for EPA. After these activities are completed, EPA expects annual pollution reductions of more than three billion pounds.

West Virginia Company Settles Chemical Release Reporting Violations

EPA has announced that Kidde-Fenwal, Inc., has settled alleged violations of federal toxic chemical reporting at two plants located in Ranson, W.Va. EPA cited the company for violating the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA or SARA Title III), which requires companies that manufacture, use, or process more than a threshold amount of listed toxic chemicals to file an annual “toxic chemical release form” with EPA and the state. Companies also must report both routine and accidental releases of toxic chemicals, as well as the maximum amount of any listed chemicals at the facility and the amount contained in wastes transferred off-site. These reports are used to compile the Toxic Release Inventory, a publicly available EPA database that contains information on toxic chemical releases and waste management activities by certain industries as well as federal facilities.

In a consent agreement with EPA, the company has agreed to pay a $24,923 civil penalty for failing to file required annual reports for lead and copper for the year 2006 for two facilities located in Ranson, W. Va. This case involves alleged reporting violations, not unlawful releases of toxic chemicals.

The settlement penalty reflects the company’s cooperation with EPA’s investigation of these alleged violations, and its prompt compliance efforts. As part of the settlement, the company did not admit liability for the alleged violations but has certified compliance with applicable EPCRA requirements. Kidde-Fenwal, Inc. ceased operations at its Ranson, W.Va. facilities in 2006.

Alleged Air Quality Violations Cost Chatfield Company $21,000

Tuohy Furniture Corp., a manufacturer of office furniture in Chatfield, Minn., has paid a civil penalty of $21,000 to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for alleged air quality violations.

Among the violations cited by the MPCA were that the company installed and operated two paint booths as well as woodworking equipment without first obtaining the required amendments to its air-emissions permit. In addition, MPCA said Tuohy, having provided misleading information, had not acted in good faith in its dealings with the agency.

When calculating penalties, MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is a first-time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. The agency also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.

Idaho Falls Construction Sites Penalized for Failing to Meet Federal Storm Water Requirements

Operators at construction sites near Idaho Falls, Idaho, recently paid a total of $17,800 to settle two enforcement cases for violations of the Construction General Permit, issued pursuant to the Clean Water Act (CWA). The consent agreements resolving the violations were filed by the U.S. EPA.

Violations were found at the sites during routine EPA inspections conducted to assess compliance with the nationwide storm water Construction General Permit. The permit requires operators of construction sites to plan for and implement storm water controls and to protect surface waters from common construction pollutants like sediment, oil and grease, and concrete washout. This is the fifth year in a long-term regional enforcement initiative to improve compliance with the Construction General Permit.

“EPA is finding that most operators know they need permit coverage,” said Kim Ogle, EPA’s Region 10 Compliance Unit Manager. “However, there is still substantial room for improvement implementing the requirements of the Permit, as we saw in these two cases.”

The operators at the Snake River Landing site have been fined $6,550 and were alleged to be in violation for:

  • failing to provide adequate erosion protection near the Snake River
  • lacking required planning information in Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs)


Operators at the Palisades Creek Ranch site have been fined $11,250 and were alleged to be in violation for:

  • failing to install all proposed erosion and sediment controls
  • failing to provide required stabilization to two areas
  • failing to conduct adequate self-inspection reports
  • failing to post the Notice of Intent
  • omitting required planning information from their SWPPP


The cases were settled using EPA’s Expedited Settlement Offer (ESO) Policy, a streamlined enforcement process with lower fines for first-time violators and where no significant environmental harm was observed.

Baltimore-Area Gas Stations Settle CAA Violations

EPA has announced that 11 gas stations in Baltimore and the surrounding county have agreed to pay civil penalties and come into compliance with Clean Air Act (CAA) regulations. These stations are located in Baltimore, Cantonville, Curtis Bay, Gwynn Oak, Owings Mills, Randallstown, Reisterstown, and Timonium.

EPA cited the stations for a variety of alleged violations that could release harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air as customers fill up their gas tanks and when gasoline is delivered to the stations. VOCs contribute to ground-level ozone pollutants.

The alleged violations include failure to use federally approved pump nozzles that recover gasoline vapors, failure to repair damaged or defective pump nozzles, failure to remove the overflow of gasoline spilled while delivering it to storage tanks, failure to repair damaged storage system caps and piping, failure to provide adequate training and instructions to the operators of the gasoline-dispensing facilities, failure to maintain records of system operation, and failure to have signs (including a telephone number) posted on how to use the systems. The alleged violations all relate to gasoline vapor recovery systems.

“Since high levels of ozone smog can cause serious breathing problems, especially for people with asthma, controlling these pollutants is important to protecting public health,” Donald S. Welsh said. “Vapor recovery systems capture 90% of the vapors released during refueling. So, installing and maintaining these systems is important to our air quality.”

These alleged violations were found during EPA inspections in February 2008. The gas stations have agreed to pay $12,500 in civil penalties, with individual station penalties from $500 to $1,500. As a part of expedited settlements, the parties did not contest the penalties and have certified they will come into compliance with federal air requirements for vapor recovery and control.

Baltimore City and the rest of the county is the fourth area in which EPA’s mid-Atlantic regional office has undertaken inspections and enforcement actions at gas stations for ground-level ozone requirements. The other areas are Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Allegheny County, Pa., where like Baltimore the regional air quality does not meet allowable limits for ozone.

$5,800 Penalty for Violating Air Pollution Control, Hazardous Waste Requirements

Dodd Woodworking, Inc., a custom cabinet fabrication facility located in Mendon, Mass., has been assessed a $5,800 penalty by the Massachusett’s Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for violating Air Pollution Control and Hazardous Waste Management regulations.

MassDEP was contacted by the Mendon Board of Health and Fire Department to provide assistance in resolving citizen odor complaints being generated from Dodd Woodworking’s painting operations. MassDEP conducted an unannounced inspection of the facility on Feb. 4, 2008, with representatives from both local authorities.

The company was found to be acting as a larger quantity generator of hazardous waste than what was registered with MassDEP, a violation of federal EPA requirements. Additionally, the company had several hazardous waste management violations and was not meeting MassDEP’s paint spray booth requirements. In a consent order finalized with MassDEP, the company agreed to comply with applicable regulations and pay the penalty.

Granite and Marble Operation Pays $4,600 Penalty for Discharging Industrial Wastewater to the Ground

Sudbury Granite and Marble, a granite and marble fabrication operation located in Mendon, Mass., has been assessed a $4,600 penalty by the Massachusett’s Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for violating industrial wastewater regulations.

During an inspection conducted in February following a complaint, a MassDEP inspector found the company to be discharging industrial wastewater, generated during stone cutting operations, to a storm drain on the property. This activity requires a joint MassDEP and U.S. EPA permit.

In a recently finalized consent order, Sudbury Granite agreed to comply with all applicable regulations and pay the penalty. As part of their compliance efforts, the company installed a water filtration system.

“Any unpermitted industrial wastewater discharge to the ground or surface water has the potential to negatively impact our water resources,” said Lee Dillard Adams, deputy director for MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester.

The company quickly installed a wastewater recirculation system to come into compliance, which is a preferred solution.

EPA Orders California Construction Company to Restore Damaged Wetlands

EPA has ordered Dennis Wendt and Wendt Construction to restore sensitive wetlands near the Eel River, which the company illegally graded and filled during construction activities at its housing development site in Fortuna, Calif.

The order requires the company to remove soil and other fill, restore wetland habitat, including vegetation with native species, implement measures to control sedimentation and erosion of bank areas, and obtain a permit for any future discharges to wetlands. The company also must implement a five-year monitoring program and submit annual monitoring reports to the EPA.

“The EPA is committed to protecting our valuable rivers and streams from unauthorized filling and dumping,” said Alexis Strauss, the EPA’s Water Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. “Strongs Creek supports a critical habitat for a very diverse fish population, including rare and threatened species, such as Coho salmon and steelhead trout.”

In late September 2007, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers inspected the property and discovered that Wendt Construction was filling and grading the wetlands along Strongs Creek, which leads to the Eel River. The Corps ordered the company to immediately stop unauthorized activities and remove the fill material by May. The company failed to comply with the order.

The EPA, along with the Corps and the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, investigated the site in January and discovered significantly disturbed vegetation and soil surfaces throughout the property and fill material within the wetlands.

Wetland areas provide habitat for endangered wildlife, reduce flood risks, and help maintain water quality in surface and groundwater. Under the Clean Water Act, any dredge and fill work in a wetland area or other U.S. water requires a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

National Museum Features Planned Michigan Redevelopment Project

A planned Muskegon Heights housing development hasn’t even been built yet, but it’s already in a museum. Mona Terrace, a residential neighborhood projected for the site of a former municipal wastewater treatment plant, is part of an exhibit that opened October 23 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.

It’s the third in a series of National Building Museum exhibitions that focus on sustainability in architecture, planning, and design.

“Mona Terrace was chosen for this exhibit because it’s part of a national EPA pilot program to show how contaminated sites known as ‘brownfields’ can be redeveloped and put to good use,” said Ann Wentz of EPA’s Region 5 office in Chicago. “The Mona Terrace plan creates a walkable, sustainable community with gardens and spaces for kids to play.”

The 51-acre site near Little Black Creek in Muskegon Heights is being cleaned up and redeveloped through the combined efforts of EPA, local and state governments, and private developers. Bruce Clarke, an environmental engineer for Williams and Beck Inc., who has been consulting on the project with the city since 2001, said a collaborative effort was important to finding ways to pay for the work and for getting the project off the ground.

The “Green Community” exhibition is designed to answer two questions, “What kind of community is green?” and “How can we make communities green?” Visitors will learn that a green community conserves its land, offers multiple options for transportation, provides open space for recreation and cultivation, and uses its natural and cultural resources wisely. Mona Terrace is featured in the part of the exhibit exploring sustainable planning strategies, such as cleaning up and redeveloping brownfields, planning for diverse modes of transportation, smart use of natural resources, land conservation, and waste minimization.

When “Green Community” closes its run at the National Building Museum in October 2009, the exhibit will travel to other cities. The museum is America’s leading cultural institution dedicated to exploring and celebrating architecture, design, engineering, construction, and planning. Open since 1985, the National Building Museum is located at 401 F St. N.W., Washington, D.C. Admission is free.

Organizations Honored for Environmental Justice Achievements

 Twelve award recipients include community-based organizations, universities, and state and local governments from nine states.

“We all have a stake in ensuring that our air is cleaner, our water is purer, and our land is better protected,” said Granta Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “These organizations are making a positive impact in their communities by promoting a clean and healthy environment for all people.”

The awards recognize organizations for their distinguished accomplishments in addressing environmental justice issues. EPA received dozens of nominations from across the United States.

The following organizations received awards:

  1. Anahola Homesteaders Council (Anahola, Kauai, Hawaii)
  2. Center for Environmental and Economic Justice (Biloxi, Miss.)
  3. Citizens for Environmental Justice (Savannah, Ga.)
  4. Communities for a Better Environment (Huntington Park, Calif.)
  5. Dillard University, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (New Orleans)
  6. Duke University, Children’s Environmental Health Initiative (Durham, N.C.)
  7. Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston, S.C.)
  8. Negocio Verde Environmental Justice Task Force (County of San Diego, Calif.)
  9. New Mexico Environment Department (Santa Fe, N.M.)
  10. Safer Pest Control Project (Chicago)
  11. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (Columbia, S.C.)
  12. West End Revitalization Association (Mebane, N.C.)

Five New York Postal Service Facilities Join EPA’s Performance Track Program

The postal facilities include processing and distribution centers in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester, and Utica. The Colorado companies include: Firestone Building Products in Aurora; LifeSpan Technology Recycling in Denver; Intel’s TEC1 facility in Fort Collins; and Xanterra at Rocky Mountain National Park. These new Performance Track members are looking for ways to continuously improve environmental performance in areas such as energy use, pollution emissions, and waste reduction and recycling.

Communities Win Blue Ribbons for Clean Water

Keping our nation’s water clean is a priority, and communities are stepping up efforts to keep it that way. EPA is congratulating 24 municipalities and industries in particular for making outstanding and creative technological achievements in wastewater treatment and pollution abatement programs this past year.

These organizations are the recipients of the 2008 National Clean Water Act Recognition Awards. They were recognized for demonstrating outstanding water quality achievements for projects and programs in five award categories: operations and maintenance, exemplary biosolids management, implementation and enforcement of local pretreatment programs, cost-effective stormwater controls, and combined sewer overflow controls.

The awards program, sponsored by EPA, is in its 23rd year. It recognizes wastewater treatment facilities and their contributions to protecting the public’s health and safety and the nation’s water quality.

“Texas Recycles Day” November 15

Texas Recycles Day (TRD), held every year on November 15, is a statewide campaign to raise public awareness of recycling. Texas communities, citizens, businesses, civic organizations, and schools across the state take the opportunity 15 to educate Texans on the environmental and economic benefits of recycling and reducing waste. The State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR) serves as the lead coordinator for TRD.

Environmental News Links

Trivia Question of the Week

A herd of cows produces more greenhouse gas in a year than a family car produces to drive how many miles?

a. 1,000
b. 3,000
c. 10,000
d. 30,000