EPA plans to release its proposed new standard for ground level ozone by June 20, 2007. The deadline had been May 30, 2007, but the parties involved in the legal actions that have forced this required new standard (including the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club) have agreed to this additional delay. The new deadline for the final rule is March 12, 2008.
EPA staff are recommending a standard in the range of 0.06 to 0.074 ppm, and EPA staff acknowledge that concentrations as low as 0.04 ppm can be harmful to some people.
New Regulations Restrict Purchase of Electricity from Power Plants That Exceed Greenhouse Gas Emission Limits
The California Energy Commission has approved regulations that limit the purchase of electricity from power plants that fail to meet strict greenhouse gas emissions standards. New regulations, as part of SB 1368 (Perata), prohibit the state's publicly owned utilities from entering into long-term financial commitments with plants that exceed 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per megawatt hour.
“Working with the legislature, the governor has demonstrated a clear vision with this first-in-the-nation legislation to reduce emissions,” said Energy Commission Chairman Jackalyne Pfannenstiel. “His bold leadership is helping to reduce California's carbon footprint by ensuring a clean supply of electricity.”
The implementation of SB 1368 is part of the Energy Commission's further implementation of AB 32 (Nunez), a landmark bill signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger that calls for California to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases by 25% by 2020.
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, SB 1368 directed the Energy Commission, in collaboration with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Air Resources Board, to establish a greenhouse gas emission performance standard for power plants.
This standard was reached by evaluating existing combined-cycle natural gas baseload power plants across the west and is the same CO2 measurement approved by the CPUC.
Created by the legislature in 1974, the California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. The Energy Commission has five major responsibilities: forecasting future energy needs and keeping historical energy data; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency through appliance and building standards; developing energy technologies and supporting renewable energy; and planning for and directing state response to energy emergency.
Clean Water Protection Proposed to Protect All Waters
Representatives James L. Oberstar (D-MN), John Dingell (D-MI), and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), introduced the Clean Water Restoration Act, bi-partisan legislation that reaffirms and restores the true intent of the Clean Water Act to protect waters, including streams and wetlands, under federal law.
The bill was introduced with the largest number yet of original co-sponsors for this clean water bill – more than 150 of their colleagues joined Representatives Oberstar, Ehlers and Dingell as co-sponsors.
$75,000 Penalty for Failure to Obtain Air Permit
Region 5 has reached an agreement with Flavorchem Corp. on alleged clean-air violations at the company's food flavoring, extracting, and fragrance manufacturing plant at 1525 Brook Drive, Downers Grove, Ill.
The agreement, which includes a $75,025 penalty, resolves EPA allegations that Flavorchem violated the Clean Air Act and state regulations by failing to get state construction and operating permits. Emission tests done in 2005 showed that the company is a source of volatile organic compounds.
Volatile organic compounds contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog. Smog is formed when a mixture of air pollutants is baked in the hot summer sun. Smog can cause a variety of respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain. People with asthma, children, and the elderly are especially at risk, but these health concerns are important to everyone.
Countdown to Cool Savings this Summer
“This summer, you don't have to let sweltering temperatures and sky-high energy bills get under your skin,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “By taking a few simple energy-efficient steps, Americans can beat the heat while keeping more money in their pockets.”
The average family spends $1,900 a year on energy bills, nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling. With a few steps like seasonal maintenance of energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment, consumers can save on their energy bills and help reduce the risks of global warming.
EPA recommends the following 5 steps to help consumers and small businesses count down to a cooler planet and a more energy-efficient home:
5. Find and seal air leaks that cause drafts and make your cooling system work overtime. Sealing and insulating your home can prevent the loss of cooled air and help save up to 10% on your energy bills each year.
4. Look for the Energy Star when purchasing cooling products for your home. Products such as room air-conditioners and programmable thermostats that have earned the Energy Star operate more efficiently, which saves money and help protect the environment.
3. Schedule annual, pre-season maintenance checkups with a licensed contractor to ensure that your cooling system is operating efficiently and safely. Be sure to clean or change your system's air filter regularly (generally once a month).
2. Install a programmable thermostat and use your ceiling fans wisely. Turn your thermostat up several degrees when you are away (and your home doesn't need to be kept as cool). And use your ceiling fans only when you are in the room to save even more.
Homeowners can see what they're doing well, find areas for improvement and learn how they can use energy more efficiently to save money and enjoy year-round comfort in their home. Homeowners also will be able to share their home improvement stories or read and learn about others who have saved through energy-efficient upgrades.
Many of these same tips for consumers also are useful for small businesses. In fact, with energy saving improvements throughout their facilities, small businesses can save up to 25% or more on their energy bills.
EPA started the Energy Star program in 1992 as a voluntary market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through increased energy efficiency. Energy Star offers businesses and consumers energy efficient solutions to save energy, money and protect the environment for future generations. More than 9,000 organizations participate in the Energy Star program. In 2006 alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved $14 billion in energy costs and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 25 million vehicles.
WASA to pay $10,000 penalty for Reporting Inaccurate Lead Sampling Data
The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority will pay a $10,000 penalty for not complying with data management and reporting requirements of an EPA order to address past problems with lead in the district’s drinking water.
The penalty results from the settlement of an August 2006 EPA administrative complaint concerning WASA’s failure to comply with a 2004 Safe Drinking Water Act consent order.
In accordance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the 2004 order required WASA to sample drinking water from at least 100 homes that were at higher risk of lead-contaminated drinking water due to lead service lines or pipes with lead solder. However, according to EPA, for the July to December 2005 monitoring period, 12 of the 103 drinking water samples had to be eliminated because of inaccurate data. These 12 samples were either taken from homes that never had lead service lines or homes where the lead service lines had already been replaced. EPA’s 2006 complaint noted that WASA submitted these samples because of a shortfall in its data management. Correct information would have indicated that these samples were not high risk residences.
WASA’s noncompliance did not interfere with reductions of lead levels in water, but it did delay EPA’s ability to confirm that the district’s drinking water was below EPA’s action level for lead. EPA did require WASA to take additional samples from high risk locations to make up for the sample shortage. EPA filed the administrative complaint to ensure the integrity of the reporting and data management for future compliance reports.
$9,027 Penalty for Asbestos Violations
A firm based in El Centro, Calif. has agreed to pay $9,027 for demolishing a structure without notifying the EPA as required by federal Clean Air Act asbestos regulations.
CT EL Centro, LLC, owner of a property located at 1523 W. Main Street in El Camino, and its contractor, Action Environmental Enterprises, Inc., failed to notify the EPA of a demolition taking place at said location as required under the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants regulations.
“When a building is demolished, asbestos must be properly removed in order to protect the health of the public and immediate community,” said Deborah Jordan, director of the EPA’s Air Division for the Pacific Southwest. “Appropriate regulatory agencies must be notified in advance so they can ensure that the required safeguards are in place.”
The EPA has classified asbestos, a known carcinogen, as a hazardous air pollutant. Individuals exposed to asbestos fibers are at risk of contracting illnesses such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Unified Western Grocers, Inc. Settles with EPA over Toxic Chemical Reporting
EPA recently reached an $8,900 settlement with Los Angeles, Calif.-based Unified Western Grocers, Inc., over its alleged failure to submit a timely annual report about its toxic chemical release of nitric acid, a violation of a federal community right-to-know law.
Unified Western Grocers, Inc. is a retailer-owned grocery cooperative that supplies independent retailers throughout the Western United States.
Unified Western Grocers operates a dairy located at 3625 11th Avenue in Los Angeles. In 2005, Unified Western Grocers reportedly used nitric acid – a highly corrosive and toxic acid - in quantities exceeding the established annual threshold of 10,000 pounds. Unified Western Grocers failed to submit the required documentation for this chemical use, violating the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.
“Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act reports provide communities with valuable information about the chemicals being released into their environment,” said Enrique Manzanilla, director of the Communities and Ecosystems Division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “This information is critical to protecting public health and the environment.”
Congress enacted the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act in 1986 to help local communities protect public health, safety, and the environment from chemical hazards. The law requires companies using any of 650 listed toxic chemicals over certain thresholds to report their annual chemical releases to the EPA. The information is then compiled into a national database that is accessible to local emergency planning personnel and the general public.
Kinder Morgan, SFPP to Pay Nearly $5.3 Million for Oil Spills
Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP, and SFPP LP, have agreed to pay nearly $5.3 million to resolve liability under the Clean Water Act, Oil Pollution Act, Endangered Species Act, and California’s Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act and Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act, for three oil spills in 2004 and 2005.
The settlement addresses the 123,774-gallon spill in April 2004 at the Suisun Marsh in Solano County, the 76,902-gallon spill in February 2005 at Oakland Inner Harbor in Alameda, and the 300-gallon spill in April 2005 into Summit Creek that affected waters in the pristine Donner Lake watershed in the Sierra Nevada Range in Placer County. The spills, on Kinder Morgan’s 3,000-mile Pacific Operations Unit pipeline system, discharged a combined 200,976 gallons of diesel fuel, jet fuel, and gasoline into waters, sensitive ecosystems, and impacted endangered and other species, habitat, and commercial uses.
The 116,000-acre Suisun Marsh is the largest salt-water wetland in the western United States. This sensitive habitat serves as a brooding area for water fowl and is home to the salt marsh harvest mouse – an endangered species. The discharged diesel fuel spilled into the marsh, caused petroleum tarring along the shorelines, and significantly affected or killed mammals and birds, including the salt marsh harvest mouse.
“Our region is blessed with spectacular natural resources, including the Suisun Marsh and Donner Lake,” said U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott. “There must be an unyielding commitment by industry and environmental protection agencies to do everything feasible to prevent a repeat of such harmful spills as occurred in this case.”
The settlement includes a $3.7 million civil penalty, and $1.3 million to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game to compensate for natural resource damages. In addition, Kinder Morgan has agreed to fund restoration projects, implement stringent oil spill prevention policies, and re-designate pipelines in the eastern Sierras to apply additional precautionary measures that will minimize environmental risks and potential damage if future spills occur. Kinder Morgan has also agreed to hire ten additional “line-riders” who serve as the company’s pipeline inspectors.
”This settlement will translate into real on-the-ground environmental restoration in Suisun Marsh and Donner Lake, while also preventing future oil spills,” said Wayne Nastri, administrator for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Improved maintenance and upkeep along Kinder Morgan’s 3000-miles of pipeline will better protect delicate ecosystems throughout the West. We could not have achieved this landmark settlement without strong coordination with our state and federal partners.”
The $3.7 million civil penalty includes a $1.5 million payment to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, a combined $1.3 million to the San Francisco Bay and Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Boards, over $830,000 to the California Department of Fish and Game and nearly $15,000 to the Endangered Species Act Reward Fund.
”Enforcement of the federal laws protecting endangered species and their habitat is essential to conservation of those resources,” according to Susan Moore, Supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “This settlement helps restore the damaged resources and reduce the risk of future incidents.”
“The Department of Fish and Game is pleased that the coordinated efforts of the various agencies resulted in the settlement of these three cases,” said Lisa Curtis, the Spill Prevention and Response Administrator. “We look forward to implementing restoration projects that will benefit wildlife habitat and the many species harmed by these spills.”
In addition to the coordinated efforts of the EPA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the State of California, this settlement reflects several years of coordination between the EPA and the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The EPA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration shared concerns about the Pacific Operations Unit and the series of oil spills from this system that caused harm to water bodies and ecosystems.
“Many pipelines are near sensitive water bodies and must be monitored carefully. The Regional Water Boards’ pursuit of this settlement demonstrates our commitment to protecting and restoring California's waters. We will use the money paid to us for that purpose,” said Bruce Wolfe, executive director ofSan Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board.
In April 2006, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration entered into a consent agreement with Kinder Morgan that ensures improved pipeline safety and helps prevent future oil spills. The EPA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration coordinated closely to ensure that the concerns of both agencies were addressed properly and consistently through the 2006 consent agreement and the EPA’s enforcement efforts resulting in the settlement.
Oil spills are known to cause short and long term impacts to human health, wildlife and ecosystems. Oil in a water body can suffocate wildlife, adhere to the gills of fish, coat and destroy algae or other plankton and may interfere with photosynthesis. Oil slicks can kill birds, contaminate food sources, reduce breeding animals and plants, and contaminate nesting habitats. Oil spills can have lasting impacts and may persist in the environment for years.
ADEQ Cites ASARCO for Water Quality Violations
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Director Steve Owens recently announced that ADEQ has issued a notice of violation (NOV) to ASARCO Hayden for water quality violations at the company's mine in Pinal County.
In February, a pipeline that pumps mine tailings to one of the on-site tailings ponds at ASARCO's Hayden facility ruptured and discharged over 18,000 pounds of mine tailings into the Gila River flood plain near the facility and into the Gila River itself. Approximately 16,000 pounds of tailings were discharged into the Gila River flood plain and approximately 2,000 pounds of tailings were discharged directly into the flowing Gila River.
“This was an unacceptable discharge that threatened water quality and other natural resources in the area,” said Director Owens. “ASARCO must not let this happen again.”
The discharged mine tailings consist of crushed rock and metals, including lead and arsenic. ASARCO manually removed the tailings that were discharged to the Gila River flood plain, but the tailings discharged into the river were carried downstream and could not be removed.
The NOV requires ASARCO Hayden to take action to avoid another pipeline rupture and to advise ADEQ within 90 days of the action taken. A notice of violation is a compliance tool used by ADEQ to put a party on notice that the agency believes a significant violation of environmental law has occurred.
Owens said that ASARCO could face civil penalties for the violation. ASARCO recently paid a $77,500 penalty for air quality violations at the Hayden facility due to blowing mine tailings.
Attorney General Tells EPA: Allow States to Fight Pollution
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has urged the EPA to allow states to impose tougher carbon dioxide pollution standards for motor vehicles. In testimony submitted to the EPA, Blumenthal said the administration can no longer ignore global warming in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling ordering the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas pollution. The testimony supports California's petition to allow stronger motor vehicle emissions standards, which Connecticut and other states are prepared to adopt.
“If the EPA fails to approve this petition,” Blumenthal said. “Connecticut will join California and other states in legal action asking a court to order approval of the California standards.
Connecticut, along with Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, have already adopted California's stricter pollution limits - ready for immediate implementation if the EPA approves California's petition.
Blumenthal said these states account for more than one-third of the U.S. auto market. According to an analysis by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, by 2020 the cumulative emissions reductions achieved by these 12 states' clean cars programs will be equivalent to taking 74 million cars off the road for an entire year.
Reducing Human Error & Strengthening Hazardous Materials Tank Cars Top DOT Rail Safety Agenda
The Department of Transportation will issue a final rule to prevent human factor-caused train accidents and complete research for new hazardous materials tank car design standards this year to continue recent improvements in rail safety, said U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters as part of a progress report on a department campaign to improve rail safety.
She noted that preliminary data for 2006 shows the number of train accidents declined for the second year in a row and there were fewer highway-rail grade crossing collisions. Last year, train accidents dropped 11.3% over 2005 resulting in a train accident rate near a 10-year low, Secretary Peters added. The positive safety trend is, in part, the result of the aggressive implementation of the department’s National Rail Safety Action Plan, the secretary noted.
“Our efforts to deploy new technology, change how we conduct inspections, and focus on the major causes of train accidents are helping to improve rail safety,” Peters said, listing some of the accomplishments contained in a newly updated progress report on the action plan.
By the end of 2007, Peters said the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) expects to publish a final rule to prevent common human errors that lead to train accidents such as improperly lined track switches, moving rail cars without a person up front to monitor conditions ahead, and leaving rail cars in a position that obstructs an adjacent track. The rule will place greater accountability on both railroad management and labor to comply with these and other fundamental operating rules.
FRA also will complete a research project into the structural integrity of hazardous materials tank cars, including assessing the dynamic forces acting on a tank car in an accident, testing the ability of tank car steels to resist fracturing when impacted under various conditions, and ranking tank car risk or vulnerability to catastrophic failure, Peters added. The information will be used to develop new federal design standards for hazardous materials tank cars.
The secretary also expects FRA to issue a report on safety at private highway-rail grade crossings, publish a proposed rule to facilitate installation of electronically controlled pneumatic brake systems that improve train control, and revise agency policy to increase the amount of civil penalties assessed against railroads for violating federal regulations this year.
The National Rail Safety Action Plan was launched in May 2005 and targets the most frequent, high-risk causes of train accidents; optimizes the use of data to better target federal inspection and enforcement resources; and accelerates research initiatives that hold the most promise to mitigate the greatest potential safety risks.
Vitasoy USA Inc. of Ayer Pays $12,000 Penalty for Environmental Violations
Vitasoy USA Inc., operator of a soybean processing plant in Ayer, Mass., will pay a $12,000 penalty to the Commonwealth for violating Air Pollution Control, Hazardous Waste Management, and Industrial Wastewater regulations.
During a July 20, 2006 inspection, prompted by odor complaints and performed by MassDEP and Ayer Board of Health personnel, it was determined that the company had caused a condition of air pollution (odors), failed to comply with its Air Quality Plan Approval, and failed to apply for and receive another necessary Air Quality Plan Approval. In addition, the company failed to comply with hazardous waste management labeling and signage requirements and it failed to submit an updated staffing plan for its wastewater treatment facility.
In a recently finalized administrative consent order, the company agreed to pay the $12,000 penalty and comply with applicable regulations.
“Odors, among other nuisance conditions, are issues that MassDEP and local Boards of Health take very seriously,” said Martin Suuberg, director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester. “The company agreed to this consent order, and it acted promptly to address these issues.”
Enviro-Chem Agrees to Pay Penalty for Air Quality Violations
Enviro-Chem Inc. has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $22,943 to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and complete a $30,000 supplemental environmental project (SEP) for alleged air quality and air permit violations at its facility in Rogers, Minn.
Enviro-Chem Inc. owns and operates a precious metal recovery facility. Part of its operations includes an incinerator that burns x-ray film to recover the silver. During an inspection in September 2004, MPCA staff discovered several violations including failure to have a certified operator for its incinerator, improper operation of some pollution control equipment, overdue performance tests, and various recordkeeping and reporting problems.
Besides paying the penalty and completing the SEP, Enviro-Chem Inc. was required to bring its facility into compliance with all applicable air quality requirements. The SEP that Enviro-Chem Inc. has agreed to perform involves the collection and proper disposal of consumer electronic devices in areas outside the seven country metropolitan area at no cost to consumers or counties. Consumer electronics such as computer monitors and televisions contain several pounds of heavy metals that are toxic if released in the environment. They also contain glass, metal and plastic that can be recycled to make new products.
When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it was a first time or repeat violation and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. It also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to company with environmental laws.
Toxic Releases Reported by Ohio EPA
According to the 19th annual Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) report issued by Ohio EPA, total releases increased from almost 297 million pounds in 2004 to more than 310 million pounds in 2005, a 4.3% increase. Releases of toxic chemicals to water decreased by 1.1 million pounds, while releases to air dropped 872,000 pounds in 2005. Major decreases also were reported for on-site treatment releases (down by 40.7 million pounds) and on-site recycling releases (decreased by 19.2 million pounds).
“While I am encouraged to see some numbers continue to head downward, the reductions in releases are not significant enough and I'm not satisfied with Ohio's overall ranking,” said Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski. “We are working to develop incentives and pollution prevention strategies to bring future toxic releases in Ohio down.”
The greatest increase was for land on-site releases, which rose by 12.8 million pounds. Large increases were reported by Envirosafe and Millenium Chemical along with substantial increases in power plant releases. Other significant increases were reported for deepwell injection (up 1.9 million pounds) wastewater treatment plant discharges (up 1.1 million pounds) and off-site disposal and treatment (up 1.2 million pounds).
Each year manufacturing and other facilities must report to Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA the amount of toxic substances they release to the environment, treat or otherwise manage on-site or transfer off-site for treatment and disposal. For 2005, Ohio EPA received 5,490 reports from 1,604 facilities.
Changes in toxic releases are attributable to many factors including changes in production, accuracy and types of measurement used, and pollution prevention efforts.
The TRI is a compilation of raw data. The report does not indicate the degree to which people may be exposed to these substances, nor is it a health study or risk assessment. Not all material that is released to the environment results in exposure to people and some forms of treatment and disposal render toxic substances less hazardous or contain them to prevent exposure.
. The material also is available at Ohio EPA's Central Office by calling (614) 644-4830 or writing to: Ohio EPA, DAPC/TRI, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049.
New Clean Air Rules Passed For DFW and Houston Areas
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) adopted amendments to the State Implementation Plan (SIP) and clean air rules for the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Houston-Galveston-Brazoria (HGB) areas implementing more stringent emissions controls to improve air quality. New emission control strategies in the DFW area, combined with existing rules implemented under the previous one-hour federal ozone standard, are predicted to bring the area into attainment of the new, more stringent, eight-hour ozone standard by the EPAs 2010 deadline. The HGB ozone nonattainment area, which includes one of the most comprehensively controlled industrial complexes in the world, will take longer to reach attainment.
In both areas, reaching attainment is challenging, due to a rapidly growing population, and because mobile sources like cars, pickups, trains, planes, and construction equipment, which are largely regulated by the federal government, cannot be controlled by the state. In the DFW area, 74% of nitrogen oxides (NOx)emissions, a precursor to ozone formation, come from such mobile sources. In the HGB area, 54% of NOx sources are outside of state control, including mobile sources such as large marine vessels and heavy-duty vehicles.
To help control mobile sources, the legislature established the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) in nonattainment and near-nonattainment areas. The TERP program provides incentives for owners of heavy-duty equipment and vehicles to replace or rebuild old, highly-polluting engines resulting in reduced emissions from these sources.
For the DFW area, the SIP demonstrates that the area should attain the standard within the required timeline. The new eight-hour ozone SIP requires further reductions of emissions from major sources of NOx inside the nonattainment area like cement kilns and electric generating facilities; reduced emissions from additional minor sources of NOx such as engines; controls sponsored by local governments in the area; emissions reductions from compressor engines in 33 east Texas counties; and further reductions from TERP.
The HGB portion of the SIP modeling forecasts that the area will not meet the attainment goal by the deadline. Therefore the state is submitting a plan showing the rate of progress toward attainment and new emission control requirements for volatile organic compound (VOC) sources in Houston, strategies for reducing NOx, and other elements required by the Federal Clean Air Act such as emissions inventory.
For the HGB area, the SIP notes that tremendous progress has taken place in emissions reductions to date as a result of controls on NOx and VOC put into place under the previous EPA-approved SIP. From 1990 to 2003, the total reported emissions of VOC and NOx dropped 48 percent and 43 percent, respectively. The population exposed to eight-hour ozone exceedences was estimated to be 4.6 million in 2000 and is projected to decrease to 1.7 million in 2009, a reduction of 63 percent.
The TCEQ will continue to implement new and existing control strategies in the HGB area including controls on VOC emissions from marine and storage tank sources; requiring certain marine fuels to meet Texas Low Emission Diesel standards; controls sponsored by local governments in the area; and continued reductions from TERP.
The TCEQ is continuing to investigate the science of ozone formation and is conducting research to develop new strategies to reduce ozone. The SIP will be submitted to the EPA by June 15, 2007.
United Refining Fined $70,000 for Air Permit Violations
Under a settlement agreement reached with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), United Refining Company will pay a $70,000 penalty for violating its air quality permit and air plan approval requirements at its petroleum refinery in Warren. The Warren County company was cited for frequent emission limit violations and dense smoke violations from a refinery stack and flare from 2004 to 2006. The company has corrected the violations.
“This penalty is aimed at creating an incentive for United to avoid future violations,” DEP Regional Director Kelly Burch said. “Given the location of the facility — surrounded by homes and businesses and along the Allegheny River — United has a responsibility to ensure the refinery is meeting its permit requirements to protect the health of Warren residents and the important natural resource that flows beside it.”
MDE Reaches Settlement with Constellation to Curb Emissions
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Office of the Attorney General lodged a consent decree in Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County resolving alleged violations of air quality opacity standards at three Maryland power plants owned by Constellation Power Source Generation, Inc. The consent decree requires Constellation to pay a $100,000 civil penalty, pay $100,000 towards a carbon sequestration project, and install an estimated $9 million in technology improvements to control pollution.
“The majority of Maryland citizens live in areas that do not meet federal air quality standards for fine particulate matter. This consent decree requires important reductions toward compliance with the federal 2010 deadline,” said Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Shari T. Wilson.
Opacity is a measure of visible emissions that is used as an indirect indicator of particulate matter emissions, the pollutant of concern. Under the terms of the consent decree, Constellation has agreed to install new technology and upgrade existing pollution controls to reduce particulate matter and opacity at its Brandon Shores, H.A. Wagner, and C.P. Crane plants in Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties. The new measures include installation of coal analyzers at each plant to reduce particulate and visible emissions by optimizing coal blending and combustion; replacement of all 5,220 filter bags in the Crane Unit 1 baghouse with upgraded bags to improve particulate removal efficiency; and improvements to the particulate matter control equipment at Brandon Shores.
In addition, the consent decree requires early implementation of improved opacity monitoring procedures, more frequent interim testing for particulate emissions than is presently required, and installation of continuous emission monitoring systems for particulate matter at the Brandon Shores plant. Constellation estimates the total cost of the improvements will be approximately $9 million dollars.
Under the decree, Constellation will also pay a $100,000 civil penalty to MDE and will contribute $100,000 to the University of Maryland’s Blackwater Wildlife Refuge Tidal Marsh Carbon Sequestration Project to restore tidal marshlands submerged as a result of rising sea levels and evaluate the effectiveness of tidal wetlands to reduce carbon dioxide levels through sequestration.
Nanotechnology Now Used in Nearly 500 Everyday Products
Clothing and cosmetics top the inventory at 77 and 75 products, respectively.
Nanotechnology Consumer Products Inventory Highlights:
- The food and beverages category, including containers and dietary supplements, doubled to 61 products since last year.
- Nanoscale silver is the most cited nanomaterial used. It is found in 95 products or 20% of the inventory. Carbon, including carbon nanotubes and fullerenes, is the second highest nanoscale material cited.
- Merchandise from 20 countries is now represented. The United States leads internationally with 52% or 247 consumer products that contain nanotechnology. East Asia now boasts 123 products, a 58% increase over last year.
While polls show most Americans know little or nothing about nanotechnology, in 2005 nanotechnology was incorporated into more than $30 billion in manufactured goods. By 2014, Lux Research estimates $2.6 trillion in manufactured goods will incorporate nanotechnology—or about 15% of total global output.
“The use of nanotechnology in consumer products and industrial applications is growing rapidly, with the products listed in the inventory showing just the tip of the iceberg,” said Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies science advisor Andrew Maynard. “How consumers respond to these early products—in food, electronics, health care, clothing and cars—will be a litmus test for broader market acceptance of nanotechnologies in the future.”
Utah Joins Climate Change Pact against Global Warming
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger met with Governor Jon Huntsman in Salt Lake City as Utah entered into the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative. Utah is joining California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington to fight climate change by signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) designed to reduce greenhouse gases. Both governors also signed an MOU between California and Utah to work together to combat global warming.
“I applaud Utah for joining the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative. We are also signing a memorandum of understanding between our two states that commits us to work together to fight global warming,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “In the west, we understand how a hotter climate can jeopardize our precious resources, including our water supply. Like California, Utah has great snow for skiing, magnificent natural forests and a productive farming and ranching industry. So higher temperatures are an economic threat as well and we literally cannot afford to stand by and do nothing.”
In February, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington signed an MOU to establish a regional emissions cap and develop a market-based cap and trade system to fight climate change.
By joining the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative and signing the MOU, states are establishing a priority and framework to cooperatively develop a system to fight global warming, to ensure that efforts are integrated and effective. Regional and international approaches require that parties work together so that reporting, measuring, verifying and emissions markets have consistent protocols. Through the agreement, California is able to share and receive valuable information, such as academic research, effective policy initiatives, best practices and technological innovation.
Last September, Governor Schwarzenegger signed the Global Warming Solutions Action of 2006, California's landmark bill that established a first-in-the-world comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms to achieve real, quantifiable, cost-effective reductions of greenhouse gases.
In January, the governor established the world's first low carbon standard (LCFS) for transportation fuels that requires fuel providers to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels sold in California. This first-of-its kind standard firmly establishes sustainable demand for lower-carbon fuels but without favoring one fuel over another.
Montana Law Sets CO2 Emissions Performance Standard for New Electricity Plants
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer recently signed HB 25, adopting a CO2 emissions performance standard for electric generating units in Montana. The law prohibits the state Public Utility Commission from approving electric generating units primarily fueled by coal unless a minimum of 50% of the CO2 produced by the facility is captured and sequestered. The law applies only to electric generating units constructed after January 1, 2007.
Intel Eliminates Use of Lead From Future Microprocessors
Intel Corporation has announced that its future processors, beginning with its entire family of 45 nanometer (nm) high-k metal gate (Hi-k) processors, are going 100% lead-free. The Intel 45nm Hi-k family includes the next-generation Intel Core™ 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad and Xeon processors, and the company will begin 45nm Hi-k production in the second half of this year.
“Intel is taking an aggressive stance toward environmental sustainability, from the elimination of lead and a focus on greater energy efficiency of our products to fewer air emissions and more water and materials recycling,” said Nasser Grayeli, Intel vice president and director of assembly test technology development, technology and manufacturing group.
Lead is used in a variety of micro-electronic “packages” and the “bumps” that attach an Intel chip to the packages. Packages wrap around the chip and ultimately connect it to the motherboard. Different types of packages are used for processors targeted at specific market segments, including mobile, desktop, and server. Package designs include pin grid array, ball grid array, and land grid array, and all are 100% lead-free in Intel's 45nm Hi-k technology generation. In 2008, the company also will transition its 65nm chipset products to 100% lead-free technology.
Intel's 45nm processors not only are lead-free, they also make use of the company's Hi-k silicon technology for reduced transistor leakage, enabling more energy-efficient, high-performance processors. The company's 45nm Hi-k silicon technology also includes third-generation strained silicon for improved drive current and a lower interconnect capacitance using low-k dielectrics for increased performance and lower power.
New Energy Department Proposed
The House Committee on Science and Technology has approved several pieces of legislation with goals of furthering federal research and development in the energy and healthcare information technology arenas.
The bill was adopted by a bipartisan vote of 25-12.
“U.S. dependence on traditional energy sources and outdated technologies has put us in a perilous position – we can not afford to wait until we face severe disruptions to fossil energy supplies or serious impacts from climate change to address this challenge,” Gordon said.
As amended, the measure authorizes $4.9 billion for fiscal years 2008-2012 to establish an ARPA-E within the Department of Energy, modeled after the Department of Defense’s DARPA. It is based on the recommendations made in the National Academies 2005 report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm,” which was written at the request of a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers, including Chairman Gordon.
The mission of ARPA-E would be to help decrease U.S. dependence on oil by rapidly developing and commercializing transformational, clean energy technologies. The agency would recruit the best and brightest science and technology researchers and allow them unprecedented flexibility to develop cutting-edge technologies to be pushed from the lab into the public domain for consumption.
“Establishing a nimble agency with a minimal amount of administrative layers is key to transforming R&D from lab projects into market-ready technologies.” added Gordon. “This is a bold step to take but we have to be willing to make the tough but firm commitments to get the job done.”
A Manager’s Amendment offered by Chairman Gordon was adopted by the committee, as was an amendment offered by Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) – in collaboration with Chairman Gordon – that would help protect ARPA-E funding from earmarks and set aside funds to assist with tech transfer.
An amendment offered by Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX) was defeated. The amendment would have moved the ARPA-E concept to within DOE rather than as an established independent entity. Other amendments to defund ARPA-E and sunset the program before its benefits could be fully realized were also defeated.
H.R. 632, the H-Prize Act of 2007, would create a prize program at the Department of Energy for advances in hydrogen technologies to be administered through a private, non-profit entity. Prizes are one tool the federal government can use to stimulate efforts to overcome technical hurdles in using hydrogen as transportation fuel.
“An economy based on energy outside of fossil fuels is no longer implausible,” said Committee Vice-Chair Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), who introduced the bill, along with Rep. Inglis. “Significant progress has been made, and with additional encouragement given to research and development, hydrogen fuel technology can be an everyday reality. Hydrogen energy has the potential to increase our nation’s energy security, fight climate change, improve our air quality, and maintain our economic competitiveness – and the H-Prize will help take us there.”
The final bill passed by the committee is H.R. 1716, the Green Energy Education Act of 2007, authored by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX). The bill authorizes DOE to partner with the National Science Foundation to help universities to develop the next generation of engineers and architects to work effectively together to produce buildings incorporating the latest in energy efficient technologies. H.R. 1716 is designed to raise awareness and education about energy efficient technologies and design practices among building professionals. These bills now move to the full House for consideration.
. The organization is placing 80 “yellow bikes” in and around downtown in late Spring 2007. These bikes are meant to be shared among all members of the community for use in and around the downtown area.
In the first year, the membership cost will be $10. Bikes are currently available at several downtown locations. Hopefully, other cities will follow Lexington’s lead and help reduce downtown congestion and pollution.
Remembering Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson was a quiet woman who stirred extraordinary controversy that persists decades after her death. Her 1962 book, Silent Spring, brought worldwide attention to the harm to human health and the environment wrought by mishandling of a powerful pesticide, fomenting the environmental movement.
Environmental News Links
Trivia Question of the Week
The amount of water leaking from plumbing fixtures in U.S. homes could exceed more than how many gallons a year?
a. 100 million
b. 1 billion
c. 10 billion
d. 1 trillion