November 19, 2018
EPA has published a final rule
that makes corrections and updates to regulations for source testing of emissions. The Agency has corrected typographical and technical errors, updated obsolete testing procedures, added approved testing alternatives, and clarified testing requirements.
The revisions to testing regulations for air emission sources were proposed in the Federal Register on January 26, 2018 (83 FR 3636). The final rule, which goes into effect on January 14, 2019, was developed based on public comments that the agency received on the proposed rule.
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First Draft Chemical Risk Evaluation Under TSCA Released by EPA
EPA has released a draft risk evaluation for Pigment Violet 29 (PV29)
, one of the first ten chemicals undergoing risk evaluation under TSCA, as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act).
“EPA has made tremendous progress fulfilling our new responsibilities for existing chemicals under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Releasing the first draft risk evaluation conducted under this new authority shows that the Agency is delivering on its promise to meet the statutory deadlines and ensure the safety of chemicals currently on the market.”
Upon publication of the Federal Register notice, the draft risk evaluation for PV29 will be available for public comment for 60 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2018-0604 on www.regulations.gov
. With this action, the Agency will be providing the public with an opportunity to submit their feedback on the conclusions, findings, and determinations in the draft risk evaluation. EPA will use feedback received from the public to inform the final risk evaluation.
The draft risk evaluation will also undergo peer review by the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) shortly. The SACC, the new Federal Advisory Committee required under TSCA, will provide scientific advice, information, and recommendations to EPA on chemicals regulated under TSCA.
PV29 is a chemical used as a colorant, primarily in inks, paints, coatings, and plastics. In June 2017, the Agency released a scoping document for PV29 including the hazards, exposures, conditions of use, and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations EPA planned to consider in its risk evaluation. EPA further refined the scope of the risk evaluation in June 2018 by issuing and taking public comment on a problem formulation document.
Draft risk evaluations for the remaining nine chemicals will be released for public comment over the coming months. EPA plans to issue final risk evaluations for the first ten chemicals by December 2019.
EPA Proposes to Strengthen Truck Emission Rules
EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler launched the Cleaner Trucks Initiative (CTI)
to further decrease nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from on-highway heavy-duty trucks and engines. He was joined by EPA Office of Air and Radiation Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum, White House officials, state partners, labor representatives, and leaders from the trucking and engine manufacturing industry. The CTI will include a future rulemaking that will update the existing NOx standard which was last set in 2001 while also streamlining compliance and certification requirements.
“The Cleaner Trucks Initiative will help modernize heavy-duty truck engines, improving their efficiency and providing cleaner air for all Americans,” said Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The U.S. has made major reductions in NOx emissions, but it’s been nearly 20 years since EPA updated these standards. Through rulemaking and a comprehensive review of existing requirements, we will capitalize on these gains and incentivize new technologies to ensure our heavy-duty trucks are clean and remain a competitive method of transportation.”
“Today’s announcement makes clear that reducing NOx emissions from heavy-duty vehicles is a clean air priority for this administration,” said EPA Office of Air and Radiation Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum. “EPA’s Cleaner Trucks Initiative is an important signal to all interested stakeholders that we will work hard on reducing emissions while producing a more effective and efficient program.”
Attendees at the EPA included: Bill Sullivan of the American Trucking Association; Lewie Pugh of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association; Jed Mandel of the Truck & Engine Manufacturers Association; Josh Nassar of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America; Ben Grumbles of the Maryland Department of the Environment; and Becky Keogh of the Environmental Council of States.
From 2007 to 2017, U.S. NOx emissions dropped by more than 40 percent, but there is more work to be done. It is estimated that heavy-duty trucks will be responsible for one-third of NOx emissions from the transportation sector in 2025. EPA expects that any update to the standards will result in significant mobile source NOx reductions, which will aid communities across the country in the attainment of ozone and particulate matter standards.
EPA last revised NOx standards for on-highway heavy-duty trucks and engines in January 2001. The Agency is not required by statue to update the standard. EPA intends to publish a proposed rule in early 2020.
In addition to NOx emissions standards, the CTI will cut unnecessary red tape while simplifying certification of compliance requirements for heavy-duty trucks and engines. Areas of deregulatory focus will include onboard diagnostic requirements, cost-effective means of reassuring real world compliance by using modern and advanced technologies, the deterioration factor testing process, and concerns regarding annual recertification of engine families.
Working together with partners in states and industry, we can achieve environmental results through the pursuit of commonsense regulations that encourage economic growth. New programs borne out of the CTI offer opportunities to streamline regulations through smarter program design and reduce the overall regulatory burden while protecting human health and the environment.
Oregon Environmental Quality Commission Adopts Cleaner Air Oregon Rules
The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted 5 to 0 on Thursday to approve Cleaner Air Oregon rules
that establish statewide health-based emissions limits for specific pollutants emitted by facilities. The rules also close gaps in the state's existing air quality rules that can create health risks for families and communities that live and work nearby.
Gov. Kate Brown launched the Cleaner Air Oregon initiative in April 2016 in response to community concerns about exposure to potentially harmful air toxics emissions not regulated under federal or state law.
“Today’s vote marks the most significant step towards ensuring Oregonian’s right to clean air in 30 years,” said Governor Brown. “We reached this milestone by working together in partnership and with an unwavering commitment to protecting the health of Oregonians. We delivered a program that breaks new ground in protecting the air we breathe. There is more work to be done, and together we can work towards cleaner air in Oregon.”
In addition to closing gaps in existing air quality rules, Cleaner Air Oregon rules will provide the public greater access to air toxics emissions data and create more certainty for regulated facilities in addressing community health concerns.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Health Authority presented rules to the commission after an extensive two and a half year public process with 2 formal comment periods and 11 public hearings across Oregon. In addition, national experts and a 23-member advisory committee of Oregonians provided input. The agencies also convened a fiscal advisory committee to review the potential economic impact of the proposed program.
“Today is a good day for Oregon. This was a long public process that involved community groups, industry, health experts and many concerned Oregonians,” Commission Chair Kathleen George said. “I commend the effort by DEQ and OHA to deliver an unprecedented level of community engagement to ensure we are implementing a program that protects Oregon’s communities.”
CARB Gets “REAL” to Further Cut Pollution from Diesel and Gas Vehicles
The California Air Resources Board has adopted a new emissions tracking program that will help regulators identify vehicles with excess smog-related and greenhouse gas emissions and propel California further towards its goal of meeting state and federal air quality standards in the decades ahead.
Real Emissions Assessment Logging (REAL) is part of the amendments to the OBD (On-board Diagnostic) Regulations approved by the Board. OBD systems are mainly comprised of software designed into a vehicle’s on-board computer to detect emission control system malfunctions as they occur by monitoring virtually every component that can cause increased emissions. When the OBD system detects a malfunction, it alerts the driver by illuminating an indicator light on the instrument panel, and stores information that helps identify the faulty equipment, enabling technicians to quickly fix the problem.
While the OBD system currently notifies drivers when emissions components are malfunctioning, the REAL program would require the OBD system to do more than that. It would require OBD systems to collect and store emissions data from NOx (oxides of nitrogen, a pre-curser to smog) on medium- and heavy-duty diesel vehicles in-use starting in the 2022 model year. It would also require OBD systems to collect and store fuel consumption data that would be used to characterize CO2 emissions on all heavy-duty vehicles in-use. Storage of similar data for greenhouse gas emissions is already required on light-duty and medium-duty vehicles starting in model year 2019. The REAL data will be retrieved from the vehicle by plugging a scan tool or data reader into the vehicle.
Currently, to get a snapshot of how vehicles are performing in terms of emissions, CARB either brings them to laboratories for testing or equips a handful of vehicles with Portable Emissions Measurement Systems (PEMS) equipment to find high emitters on the road.
“REAL will provide the ability to monitor all vehicles for emissions performance and allow us to spot trouble faster. Had this program been available sooner, we would likely have recognized widespread, serious problems with manufacturers such as Volkswagen
much earlier,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. “California’s vehicle fleet is getting cleaner every year but we still have a lot of work to do to reach our air quality and climate change goals. The REAL program is yet another way to utilize the OBD system and help ensure that engines and vehicles maintain low emissions throughout their full lives.”
The REAL program will require no new technology since it will take advantage of existing sensors to track the necessary data. Older vehicles will not be part of the REAL program and will not require any new equipment.
New Low Emission Vehicle Standards in Colorado
The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission approved new low emission vehicle (LEV) standards for new light-duty and medium-duty motor vehicles sold in Colorado beginning in the 2022 model year. The new standards are estimated to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 2 million tons annually by 2030.
“Adopting low emission vehicles in Colorado means we will continue to see more fuel efficient vehicles that get better mileage. This has been the plan for many years,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper. “I applaud the commitment of the Air Quality Control Commission and the Air Pollution Control Division to protect the quality of our air and safeguard against returning to the days of the ‘brown cloud’.”
The Air Pollution Control Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment proposed the adoption of the LEV standards in response to Gov. Hickenlooper’s June 19 executive order, “Maintaining Progress on Clean Vehicles,” which directed the department to develop a rule to establish a Colorado LEV program incorporating the requirements of the California LEV program.
Following public hearings
, the commission unanimously approved the new standards that incorporate specific provisions of the California low emission vehicle standards. The commission adopted Regulation 20, known as the Colorado Low Emission Automobile Regulation (or CLEAR), prompting Colorado to join 12 other states and the District of Columbia, which also have adopted California’s LEV standards. These states now make up nearly 40 percent of the new automobile market.
Only the federal government and California have the authority to set new motor vehicle emission standards. New cars and light-duty trucks sold in Colorado currently are subject to the federal Tier 3 emission standards. Under the Clean Air Act, California has the authority to adopt its own new vehicle emission standards. Once California has adopted a specific set of emission standards, other states can choose to adopt those standards in lieu of the federal standards, pursuant to section 177 of the Clean Air Act. California first adopted its LEV standards in the 1990s.
Currently, the federal emission and California LEV standards are equivalent. Under both sets of rules, the greenhouse gas emission limits become increasingly more stringent through the 2025 model year. The federal government, however, CA has recently proposed to roll back its emission standards for model years 2021 - 2026, which would make it harder for Colorado to meet its clean air goals. Although the proposed federal rollback is not yet final, the adoption of CLEAR provides a cost-effective and sensible backstop for Colorado in the event of a federal rollback.
Ohio Plans New Rules Regulating Emissions from the Oil and Gas Industry
Ohio EPA intends to develop rules that cover air pollution emissions from oil and gas facilities associated with unconventional oil/gas recovery and processing. These rules would cover similar equipment and requirements as is currently covered by the federal EPA's New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for the oil and natural gas sector under 40 CFR Part 60, Subpart OOOOa. Typical facilities would include oil and gas well sites and gas compressor stations. The rules would cover both existing and new sources.
The first step in the rule-making process is for Ohio EPA to identify that a rule needs to be amended, rescinded, or created. In response to EO 2011-01K, Ohio EPA has added an additional step to ensure stakeholders are brought into the rule process as early as possible. This additional interested party notification and request for information will allow for early feedback before the rule language has been developed by the Agency.
Ohio EPA envisions the regulations to be similar in format and coverage to U.S. EPA's NSPS Subpart OOOOa for the oil and natural gas sector. At a minimum, these rules will cover:
- Equipment installed at an oil and gas well site including dehydrators, heaters, compressors, storage tanks, equipment leaks - all of the typical equipment involved in processing the gas once it leaves the well.
- Equipment installed at mid-stream compressor stations including similar equipment as listed above at well sites.
- We also expect the rules to be a combination of NSPS requirements and Ohio EPA requirements as found in Ohio EPA's current General Permits for well sites and compressor station equipment.
- We expect the rules to cover all unconventional oil and gas facilities, unlike the NSPS which covers only "new, reconstructed or modified facilities.
These rules will govern the owners and operators of all unconventional oil and gas facilities. Upon completion of the Early Stakeholder Outreach portion of this rulemaking, Ohio EPA will make any changes necessary to the rule language and make a draft of the rule language available to the public for a 30-day review.
Stormwater Multi-Sector General Permit Sampling Results Must Now be Submitted Electronically
Multi-Sector General Permits (MSGPs), commonly referred to as Industrial Stormwater Permits, must now submit Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) electronically
using the NetDMR system.
Required samples must be collected before December 31, 2018, and the sampling results must be reported to the TCEQ by March 31, 2019, using the NetDMR
electronic reporting system.
Permittees are required to submit MSGP DMRs for:
- Facilities in sectors A, C, D, E, J, O, and S; and
- Facilities in all sectors that are required to meet numeric effluent limits for hazardous metals where sample results indicate an exceedance of any constituent listed.
If you are required to submit MSGP DMRs in Texas and you are unable to report electronically, you can submit a Request for Electronic Reporting Waiver form (TCEQ-20754). The TCEQ may grant a Temporary Waiver from the electronic reporting rule in limited cases. A separate waiver form is required for each authorization. Waiver forms may be obtained by contacting the Stormwater Processing Center at 512-239-3700.
To submit your DMRs electronically, you must access the NetDMR system through the EPA’s Central Data Exchange (CDX). Please visit the NetDMR Support Portal webpage
to find information on how to create an account. Facilities in Texas can also contact the TCEQ’s NetDMR help line at 1-855-906-MSGP (6747) to receive assistance unlocking an account, filling out a DMR, or understanding the permit requirements.
The next NetDMR training session in is scheduled for Wednesday, December 5, 2018,
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm (CST). To register for the training visit this web site
Two Men Sentenced for Discharging Lead Contaminated Wastewater into Public Sewer System
Two operators of USA Brass, Inc., a former Bozeman company that cleaned and recycled spent ammunition casings, were sentenced this week in U.S. District Court after they admitted to illegal discharges of lead contaminated water into a public sewer system, U.S. Attorney Kurt G. Alme announced.
Chief U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen on Thursday sentenced Zachary Daniel Flanagan, 27, of Bozeman, to five years of probation and imposed a $50,000 fine.
On Friday, the judge sentenced co-defendant Nolan Michael Schimpf, 27, of Bozeman, to five years of probation and imposed a $50,000 fine.
Flanagan, the chief executive officer, pleaded guilty on Aug. 9, 2018 to making a false statement, a felony, while Schimpf, the company’s chief production officer, pleaded guilty the same day to negligent discharge of pollutants, a misdemeanor.
“The defendants violated the city’s wastewater pretreatment program when they discharged lead contaminated wastewater into the public sewer system,” said Jeffrey Martinez, special agent in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigative Division in Montana.
“Defendant Flanagan falsified information to obtain permission for the discharges, and in doing so jeopardized the public’s health and safety. Today’s sentencing demonstrates that violators can expect to face prosecution,” Martinez said.
An investigation found illegal discharges into the City of Bozeman’s public wastewater treatment system occurred in the fall of 2013. USA Brass brought in spent ammunition casings from military bases, shooting ranges and recycling centers, cleaned and polished the brass casings and then sold them for reuse. The casings were placed in cement mixers where they were cleaned in a water and vinegar solution. After cleaning, the wastewater was drained from the cement mixers and collected in blue totes, which held about 300 gallons each. During the cleaning process, the wastewater became contaminated with lead, which is a toxic metal. The lead in the wastewater was high enough to be considered a pollutant under the Clean Water Act.
In November 2013, Flanagan contacted by email Dustin Johnson, the pretreatment coordinator of the Bozeman wastewater facility, to try to get permission for USA Brass to discharge lead wastewater into the city sewer system. Johnson told Flanagan he would have to get the wastewater analyzed and submit test results. Flanagan submitted lab test results and a signed wastewater survey in which he maintained the information about the cleaning process was true and accurate. Flanagan asked to dispose of the wastewater through the sewer saying it met all city standards.
Flanagan followed up the request in December with another email to Johnson seeking approval to dispose the wastewater through the sewer and told him that an environmental analyst who reviewed the lab results said it would be fine to send the wastewater down the sewer.
However, Flanagan’s statements to Johnson were false because he knew that an environmental consultant had not reviewed the lab results and concluded the wastewater would be fine for discharge to the public system.
On the same day in December, Johnson responded to Flanagan’s email and, based on Flanagan’s false statements, authorized the discharge of the lead wastewater into the sewer system.
When Johnson learned that Flanagan had provided him false information, he told investigators he would never have granted the company permission to discharge the wastewater.
The investigation also found that in September 2013, USA Brass installed a sink in the facility to dispose of the lead wastewater into the city sewer system. Employees reported that the blue totes containing the wastewater were moved to the sink on a forklift and the contents were pumped into the sink until the totes were empty. A filtration system was abandoned after a few days because it got clogged.
Flanagan and Schimpf were present on more than one occasion as the wastewater was being pumped down the sink but neither stopped the discharge or sought permission for the discharge.
By being present and doing nothing to stop the unauthorized discharges, Schimpf negligently causing the wastewater to be discharged.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Whittaker and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric E. Nelson and investigated by the EPA. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Racicot represented the U.S. Attorney’s Office at sentencing.
EQT Fined for Release of Abandoned Mine Drainage into Monongahela River
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that EQT Production Company (EQT) has paid a $294,000 civil penalty prescribed in a consent order and agreement
for Clean Streams Law violations in Allegheny County.
On January 29, 2017, EQT was using horizontal directional drilling (HDD) to bore a hole under State Route 136 for the construction of its Monongahela to Rostosky Waterline located in Forward Township, Allegheny County. During boring activities, EQT inadvertently bored into the abandoned Gallatin mine causing a discharge of abandoned mine drainage (AMD) into the Monongahela River. EQT planned to use the waterline to transport freshwater from the Monongahela River to the Rostosky well site for use in unconventional well development.
Up to the time that EQT stopped the discharge on January 31, 2018, approximately four million gallons of AMD were illegally discharged through the waterline borehole to unnamed tributaries to the Monongahela River, the Monongahela River, and associated wetlands.
When EQT applied for an Erosion and Sediment Control General Permit authorization for earth disturbance associated with this waterline project in July 2016, EQT stated that several abandoned coal mines were within the limit of disturbance of the site. EQT had relied on regional mapping that generally described mine pools as “not flooded or unknown” but did not undertake any further investigation. There were seeps of orange water near the area of the waterline borehole.
EQT has stated that since the incident, it has implemented an internal multi-department process to prevent future mine water releases. EQT also constructed a subsurface collection and conveyance system to reestablish the collection and drainage system in place at the time of the release. This and all violations in the COA were corrected by August 17, 2017. EQT also agreed to establish a $100,000 fund with the Clean Streams Foundation to provide for the maintenance, operation, and replacement of the system.
Three New Jersey Men Plead Guilty to the Illegal Production and Distribution of Pesticides
Three individuals who operated Flexabar Corporation, a paint and coating manufacturer in Lakewood, New Jersey, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to the illegal production and distribution of pesticides. Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark and EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine made the announcement.
Andrew Guglielmo, Flexabar’s Chief Executive and Financial Officer; Richard Guglielmo Jr., Flexabar’s President; and Hamdi Latif, the company’s Technical Director, pleaded guilty in federal district court in Trenton, New Jersey, to felony charges of having conspired to violate federal pesticide laws and to evade EPA’s ban on the use of the marine toxin tributyltin (TBT).
“Tributylin, or TBT, is dangerous to marine life, which is why Congress limited its use in 1988. Despite this danger, and repeated notices by EPA, the defendants chose to illegally produce and distribute TBT,” said Assistant Attorney General Clark. “Yesterday’s guilty pleas shows that the Department of Justice will not tolerate such unlawful conduct.”
“The defendants in this case produced and marketed a paint that contained a biocide that can cause significant harm to marine life. When questioned about the intended use of the paint, the defendants repeatedly misled EPA investigators,” said EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine. “Yesterday’s guilty pleas demonstrate that companies and their top executives who conspire to skirt federal pesticide control laws and place our natural resources at risk will be prosecuted.”
During the 1970s, TBT was used on boats, docks, crab pots, and other fishing gear in antifouling paint that prevent the growth of barnacles, seaweed, and mollusks. By the 1980s, scientific studies showed TBT to be extremely toxic to marine life, causing shell deformation, reproductive aberrations, endocrine disruption, and bio-accumulation in predator species including marine mammals. In the early 1990s, EPA began to limit the use of TBT to reduce its impact on marine life. In 1991, EPA directed Flexabar to clarify the language on its registered TBT labels to assure that the product was not used as an antifouling treatment on surfaces in contact with water.
In spite of repeated notices from EPA, the defendants evaded restrictions on their company’s TBT pesticides and continued to produce and sell TBT antifouling paints to the fishing industry. They manufactured and sold TBT for marine uses after such applications were restricted by an act of Congress in 1988, by EPA’s labeling requirements in 1991, by an international treaty in 2001, by EPA’s TBT product cancellation in 2005, and by EPA’s subsequent notices. Even after February 2013, when EPA banned the sale of Flexabar’s TBT pesticides for any application, the defendants continued to surreptitiously purchase TBT, to manufacture more TBT antifouling paint, and to illegally sell it for use as a marine pesticide.
Each defendant is subject to a maximum of up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the financial gain they derived from the offense.
Sentencing for Richard Guglielmo Jr. is scheduled for February 25, 2018; sentencing for Andrew Guglielmo is scheduled for February 26, 2018; and sentencing for Hamdi Latif is scheduled for February 27, 2018.
Maryland Joins Coalition Opposing Rollback of Regulations to Prevent HFC Leaks
Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh joined a coalition of 16 states in opposing the EPA’s proposal to roll back important protections from harmful greenhouse gas pollution.
“In addition to being illegal, the EPA’s plan to roll back this rule is reckless,” said Attorney General Frosh. “This move will actually cost businesses more money, not save costs estimated by EPA’s inadequate analysis, and will lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions.”
In comments sent to the EPA lastt Thursday, the coalition argues that the agency’s plan to throw out a rule designed to protect against the release of extremely potent greenhouse gases, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), is unlawful and a serious threat to public health and the environment. HFCs, which are commonly used in refrigeration, air-conditioning, insulation, fire extinguishing systems, and aerosols, are thousands of times more potent for global warming than carbon dioxide and are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and globally.
In 2016, the Obama administration adopted a rule requiring technicians to prevent emissions of HFCs when they repair and maintain. The 2016 rule also requires technicians to undergo certain technical training and certification requirements. The requirements help protect the climate from damaging HFC emissions and reduce emissions of chemicals that harm the ozone layer.
Last month the EPA published its proposal to roll back the rule, claiming that the agency does not have the authority to require these protections for maintenance and leak-repair of appliances that contain HFCs. The EPA also sought comment on whether it should roll back its technician training and certification programs. The coalition argues in its comments that the EPA has ample authority under the federal Clean Air Act to enforce these requirements and that failing to do so would contribute to global climate change, which is already causing forest fires, heat waves, sea-level rise, and other impacts that are imposing significant harm on states. The EPA failed to provide any reasoned basis for changing its 2016 position.
The EPA is also proposing to illegally delay the scheduled January 1, 2019, deadline for regulated businesses to comply with certain requirements while the agency finalizes its rollback of the rule. The coalition argues that agencies cannot delay a rule simply because it is under reconsideration, and that the EPA has failed to explain why industry needs additional time to come into compliance.
The comments argue that the EPA failed to fully consider the costs of its rollback, including the harmful effects of greenhouse gas emissions. Leaks of HFCs will increase costs to businesses by causing appliances to run less efficiently and more expensively, and increase the likelihood of extremely costly appliance failures. As the coalition points, many regulated businesses supported the rule’s requirements in 2016 and have committed to reducing HFC emissions. The Attorneys General state that the proposed rollback will actually increase uncertainty for regulated businesses by “undermining a sensible, comprehensive regulatory program in the name of dubious cost savings.”
In addition to Maryland, the comments were signed by Attorneys General of California, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as Minnesota through its Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the California Air Resources Board.
Former Central Kentucky Businessman Sentenced to 36 Months for The Illegal Transportation and Storage of Hazardous Waste
A former Central Kentucky businessman, who currently resides in Austin, Texas, was sentenced in U.S. District Court last week. Kenneth Gravitt, 63, was sentenced, to 36 months, by Chief U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell, on convictions relating to the illegal storage, transportation and disposal of hazardous waste.
In May of this year, Gravitt pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit crimes related to the handling of hazardous waste and one count of illegal storage of hazardous waste. The hazardous waste in this case consisted of old television and computer monitors that contained Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs), which have large amounts of toxic lead. For a number of years,
Gravitt operated Global Environmental Services (GES), in Georgetown, Kentucky, which was in the business of recycling electronic waste. The facts established that beginning around 2013, GES contracted with various businesses and entities to collect and recycle large numbers of devices containing CRTs. Over time, as GES took in far more of these electronic devices than it could process, it began to send crushed CRTs for disposal, to a Central Kentucky landfill that did not have a license to handle such materials. On a separate occasion in October 2015, GES illegally buried large quantities of CRT bearing devices behind its Georgetown facility. Investigators also found large numbers of CRTs in GES managed warehouses in Cynthiana and Winchester. The estimated costs to clean all the sites was several million dollars.
“The illegal disposal of hazardous waste endangers us all,” said Robert M. Duncan, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “We have these prohibitions for a reason: they protect the environment, public health, public funds, and the safety of people in our community. When people endanger the community merely to serve their own interests, that conduct simply has to be prosecuted.”
"The defendant in this case put human health and the environment at risk by improperly storing and disposing of hazardous wastes," said Special Agent in Charge Andy Castro of EPA's criminal enforcement program in Kentucky. "This case shows that companies and their top executives who knowingly violate hazardous waste laws will be prosecuted."
Robert M. Duncan, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Andy Castro, Special Agent in Charge, Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Enforcement
Program for Kentucky; and Jon Maybriar, Director, Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Waste Management, jointly made the announcement. The investigation was conducted by the Criminal Investigation Division of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Waste Management. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ken Taylor and Erin Roth.
Arizona Auto Parts Manufacturer Cited for Selling Pollution Control Bypass Equipment
EPA announced Gilbert, Ariz.-based Vivid Distributing will pay a $200,000 penalty for violating the Clean Air Act. EPA alleges the company installed, manufactured and sold auto parts known as defeat devices, which bypass or render inoperative required emissions control systems.
Between 2014 and 2016, Vivid Distributing sold 443 aftermarket products designed to defeat the emissions control systems of cars and trucks. These systems increase emissions of harmful pollutants, including nitrogen oxide (NOx), which is associated with health problems, including heart and lung ailments like chronic bronchitis and asthma.
“Companies cannot manufacture or sell equipment that defeats emission controls,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “The EPA will continue to ensure vehicle emissions meet established requirements.”
Cars and trucks manufactured today emit far less pollution than older vehicles. This is made possible through careful engine calibrations and the use of filters and catalytic converters in the exhaust system. Aftermarket defeat devices bypass these controls and cause vehicles to emit higher levels of emissions. EPA testing has shown that defeat devices can increase a vehicle’s NOx emissions substantially.
NOx pollution contributes to the formation of harmful smog and soot. Children, older adults, people who are active outdoors (including outdoor workers), and people with heart or lung disease are particularly at risk for health effects related to smog or soot exposure. Nitrogen dioxide formed by NOx emissions can aggravate respiratory diseases, particularly asthma, and may also contribute to asthma development in children.
If you suspect someone is manufacturing, selling or installing illegal defeat devices, or is tampering with emissions controls, tell the EPA by writing to email@example.com
The EPA also announced it has reached similar agreements with three Southern California companies for selling pollution control bypass equipment.
Total Reclaim to Pay $83,625 in Penalties and Fund $300,000 in Environmental Enforcement Efforts
Seattle-based electronic waste processor Total Reclaim has agreed to settle two penalties with the Washington Department of Ecology for illegally disposing of waste by exporting it to Hong Kong, and for improperly storing e-waste. Under the settlement, Total Reclaim will pay $83,625 in penalties and pay another $300,000 to the Western States Project, an interstate consortium that supports environmental enforcement education and training.
In 2016, Ecology fined Total Reclaim $444,000
after an independent investigation by the watchdog group Basel Action Network found that the company had illegally disposed of flat screens by selling them to an exporter, which sent the electronics to Hong Kong, where they were broken apart in the open by unprotected workers.
In 2017, Ecology fined Total Reclaim another $67,500
for illegally storing hundreds of thousands of pounds of flat screen TVs and monitors inside trailers on Harbor Island. Washington’s e-waste regulations require recycling in a timely manner, so that e-waste does not become an environmental threat or a public responsibility as a result of being abandoned.
“Electronic waste needs to be handled properly to prevent harm to the environment and to human health,” said Raman Iyer, section manager for Ecology’s Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction program. “It’s never OK to take shortcuts when it comes to managing dangerous waste.”
Older flat screen TVs and monitors can pose a threat to human health because they often have small fluorescent bulbs, that contain toxic mercury and other heavy metals. Electronics can also contain lead and other toxic materials that may be classified as dangerous waste, so it’s important that they are properly recycled.
Under the agreement, Total Reclaim did not admit wrongdoing, but waives its right to appeal. By settling the case, the state avoids potentially costly litigation, and provides additional support for enforcing environmental laws. The settlement also provides for a portion of the $300,000 earmarked for environmental enforcement to be used cleaning up a defunct recycling site in Clallam County, where fluorescent lights and other potentially hazardous materials have been left.
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