States Sue EPA for Failing to Regulate Global Warming

September 02, 2008

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced a multi-state lawsuit against the U.S. EPA for failing to regulate harmful pollution from oil refineries.

The lawsuit—filed by a coalition of 12 states, the District of Columbia, and the City of New York— alleges that the EPA is in violation of the Clean Air Act (CAA) for failing to adopt standards requiring that new or renovated oil refineries install technologies to control global warming pollution.

The CAA specifically requires EPA to adopt standards, known as New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), for oil refineries—as well as power plants and other major pollution sources—if the EPA determines they emit air pollution that poses a danger to public health and welfare.

"The EPA has defied the Clean Air Act and the Supreme Court by repeatedly ignoring a ruling that global warming emissions are pollutants,” Blumenthal said. “EPA's failure to regulate greenhouse gases through state-of-the-art technologies is an abrogation of its responsibilities. Our coalition of states and cities will fight hard—as we have repeatedly—to force the EPA to follow the law."

Oil refineries account for more than 3% of the total energy consumption in the United States. Due to their large energy consumption, oil refineries are major sources of carbon dioxide, accounting for almost 15% of the carbon dioxide emitted from industrial processes nationally. These refineries also emit large amounts of methane, an especially potent global warming pollutant.

The challenge was filed in the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The coalition includes California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia and the City of New York. The suit seeks to vacate EPA's decision not to control oil refinery emissions of global warming pollution and to order the EPA to adopt proper NSPS.

Ohio EPA Drafts Major Revisions to Water Quality Regulations

Ohio's rules that protect lakes, rivers, streams, and other surface water bodies from pollution are undergoing their most extensive revision in 30 years. The first of four rule packages regulating water quality standards is now available for public review and comments until September 30.

Draft rule changes to water quality standards include:

  • New beneficial use designations for aquatic life, recreation, agricultural drainage, and navigation
  • New human health criteria for about 135 chemicals
  • Revised criteria for bacteria
  • New and revised aquatic life criteria for seven chemicals

Water quality standards serve as the water quality goals for water uses and cleanliness; the benchmarks to measure and report on meeting Clean Water Act goals; and the water quality targets to meet when setting wastewater permit limits. Ohio EPA's changes reflect the most recent scientific information and U.S. EPA guidance. The changes are also intended to improve clarity and understanding of the regulations.

In addition, the draft rule contains new provisions for regulating agricultural ditches and primary headwater habitat streams that simplify the review of projects impacting small isolated waters.

All four water quality rules packages address all surface waters of the state. Several of the draft revisions made to all four rules packages specifically address small isolated streams. Due to a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2006, the authority for the Army Corps of Engineers to regulate dredge and fill projects on small isolated streams was removed at the federal level. The four draft rule packages include revisions that allow Ohio's dredge and fill project permit to regulate those waters of the state that no longer are covered under federal jurisdiction.

 Copies of the draft rules also are available by contacting Bob Heitzman at 614-644-3075, or by e-mail; . Written comments should be mailed to Bob Heitzman, Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049, no later than September 30.

Ohio EPA plans to propose these rule revisions early next year, and hold a public hearing and a second public comment period at that time. The related draft antidegradation rule and the draft Section 401 water quality certification rules are expected to be introduced for comment in September, and the draft stream mitigation protocol rules in November. After a second comment period and public hearing is held for each of the four rules packages, the Agency will review the second round of comments, consider changes, and then adopt the rules.

TCEQ Initiates Statewide Computer Recycling Program

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has launched a new statewide program website for recycling computer equipment,, giving Texans a simple way to find the recycling options their computer manufacturers offer.

"The goal of the program is to give Texans an easy way to recycle the used computer equipment they have been storing in their closets and garages for years," said TCEQ Executive Director Mark Vickery. "The most effective way to reduce the environmental impact of computer equipment is to help ensure it is reused or recycled."

The program, created by House Bill 2714 in the 80th Legislative session, requires computer manufactures that sell in Texas, to offer consumers convenient, free recycling on their brands of computer equipment.

Used computer equipment is a rapidly growing source of waste in Texas and across the country. EPA estimates that in 2007, 53 million computers became obsolete, as well as 35 million monitors and 82 million mice and keyboards. Many consumers store used computer equipment rather than throw it away: The EPA estimates about 68 million used computers and 42 million monitors were in storage as of 2007. The new program complements already available resources. Used computers can potentially be reused, as-is, and offered to schools or nonprofit organizations. Circuit boards, microchips, and other components found in used computer equipment can be recovered and reused in other electronics products. Also, metals such as copper and gold can be extracted from used computer equipment and recycled.

Guidebook Helps Families Tackle Common Environmental Problems in the Home

The Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment (MACCHE), with funding from the Region 3 offices of the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry and the EPA, has developed a guidebook for families living in the mid-Atlantic region to address environmental health concerns in the home. The guidebook answers questions about some of the most common environmental problems affecting families in the home, including drinking water, household chemicals, indoor air pollution, and lead, and it provides families from this region with specific state and federal contacts and internet links. 

Congress Passes Bill to Fund Sustainability Efforts in Higher Education

Congress has passed the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HR 4137), which is expected to be signed into law, to recognize the leadership role of the campus community in creating innovation and new responses to sustainability efforts. Two key campus sustainability provisions in HR 4137 include: the convening of a Summit on Sustainability to expand sustainable operations and academic programs; and the establishment of a University Sustainability Grant Program authorizing the Secretary of Education, in consultation with EPA, to offer competitive grants to colleges and universities to establish sustainability research, such as developing new alternative energy sources and implementing sustainability practices in campus communities.

New Booklet on U.S. Drinking Water Issues Available


DOE Announces $26 Million to Develop Energy-Efficient Processes for U.S. Industry

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy John Mizroch announced more than $26 million in federal funding over three years, subject to Congressional appropriations, for the cost-shared development of energy-efficient industrial processes in the steel and other energy-intensive industries. These projects support the Energy Policy Act of 2005 goal of reducing the energy intensity of U.S. manufacturing industries by 25% in 10 years as well as contributing significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) and other emissions.

“The projects demonstrate a shared public-private commitment to advance development of energy-efficient industrial technologies to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, while also confronting the serious challenge of global climate change,” Mizroch said. “The Department is committed to the research, development, and deployment of cleaner, more efficient technology options for American industry, from laboratory to the plant floor.”

The industrial sector consumes approximately one-third of the energy used in the United States and accounts for 28% of domestic GHG emissions. Much of this energy is used in processes that are common across numerous industries. DOE’s Industrial Technology Program’s (ITP) Energy Intensive Processes Initiative seeks to reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency across the most energy-consuming manufacturing processes by developing and promoting technologies that can be applied in many industrial settings. ITP’s approach is to increase efficiency while applying the best energy management practices to help industry save energy, improve productivity, and stimulate growth.

Pending Congressional approval, the $26.6 million provided by the DOE will leverage an additional $15.3 million in cost-share funds provided by the award recipients and their industry partners for the eight awards described below:

  • Energy Reduction and Advanced Water Removal via Membrane Solvent Extraction Technology for an estimated $5,613,965: 3M Company, in collaboration with Archer Daniels Midland Company, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Karges-Faulconbridge Inc., will fully develop the concept of the membrane solvent-extraction technology for water removal and verify the technology at a pilot scale for bio-ethanol production to increase energy and water savings. Water removal is the most energy-intensive stage in conventional bio-ethanol production.
  • Research, Development, and Field Testing of Thermochemical Recuperation for High Temperature Furnaces for an estimated $4,586,222: American Iron and Steel Institute will team up with Gas Technology Institute, Thermal Transfer Corporation, U.S. Steel, ArcelorMittal, Republic Engineered Products, Steel Manufacturing Association, and Ohio Department of Development to develop and test thermochemical recuperators for steel-reheating furnaces to increase waste heat recovery and reduce natural gas use. A thermochemical recuperator uses the partial oxidation of a fuel to recover energy from heating processes.
  • Paired Straight Hearth Furnace—Transformational Ironmaking Process for an estimated $1,515,157: American Iron and Steel Institute, in partnership with McMaster University, U.S. Steel, Bricmont, and Harper International, will work to optimize the Paired Straight Hearth (PSH) furnace technology and to establish its scalability potential from the bench-scale stage. The PSH furnace is an alternative to the energy and carbon-intensive blast furnace commonly used to make steel.
  • Induction Consolidation/Molding of Thermoplastic Composites using Smart Susceptors for an estimated $4,074,422: The Boeing Company will lead a team composed of Ford Motor Company, Vestas, Ajax-TOCCO, Steeplechase, Temper, and Cytec to establish the technical and economic viability of induction consolidation of thermoplastic composites to fabricate aerospace, automotive, and wind turbine components in an energy-efficient manner. Induction consolidation uses the electrical conductivity properties of the thermoplastic materials to soften them and allow them to be formed.
  • Prototyping Energy Efficient Thermo-Magnetic and Induction Hardening for Heat Treat and Net-Shape Forming applications for an estimated $4,365,491: Eaton Corporation will lead a team composed of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, American Magnetics, Ajax-Tocco, Dura-Bar, Ohio State University, and North Western University to develop and test a hybrid thermo-magnetic and induction-hardening technology to replace conventional heat-treatment processes in forging applications. This technology uses the magnetic and electrical conductivity properties of a material to change its surface hardness.
  • Electrohydraulic Forming of Near-Net Shape Automotive Panels for an estimated $3,702,109: Ford Motor Company will work with a team consisting of U.S. Steel, Troy Tooling, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and IAP Research to develop and demonstrate this forming technology as an alternative to conventional stamping technology to form automotive panels. Electrohydraulic forming uses intense pressure waves to force the automotive panels into the proper shapes.
  • Inorganic Membranes for Refinery Gas Separations for an estimated $897,265: Media and Process Technologies, Inc., working with Chevron and the University of Southern California, will develop and performance-test hydrogen selective inorganic membranes for in-situ hydrogen recovery and recycling for improved refinery hydrotreating applications. The membrane to be developed will allow recovery of hydrogen formerly lost from the hydrotreating processes, with significant energy savings.
  • Ultra-Efficient and Power Dense Electric Motors for the U.S. Industry for an estimated $1,899,618: Reliance Electric Company will collaborate with Colfax Pumps, Howden Fan, DuPont, DOW, Duke Energy, American Electric Power, and Emeren Power to develop general-purpose, permanent-magnet electric motors that are more efficient, smaller and lighter than NEMA premium efficient induction motors.

Ceramic Material Revs Up Microwaving

Quicker microwave meals that use less energy may soon be possible with new ceramic microwave dishes, which, according to the material scientists responsible for this product, could help with organic waste remediation.

"Currently, food heated in a microwave loses heat to the cold dish because the dishes are transparent to microwaves," says Sridhar Komarneni, distinguished professor of clay mineralogy, College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State. "The plates are still cool when the cooking is completed."

Materials are transparent to microwaves because microwaves do not interact with the molecules in standard tableware. With liquids like water, the microwaves cause the molecules to move back and forth creating heat.

Komarneni, working with Hiroaki Katsuki and Nobuaki Kamochi, Saga Ceramic Research Laboratory, Saga, Japan, developed a ceramic from petalite and magnetite sintered together that heats up in the microwave without causing equipment problems the way most metals do.

Petalite is a commonly occurring mineral that contains lithium, aluminum, and silicon and is often used to make thermal shock-resistant ceramics because it expands very little when heated. Ceramic sintering uses powdered minerals pressed together to form green bodies. These green objects are fired at low and then high temperatures.

When the petalite and magnetite are fired together, the magnetite converts to an iron oxide that heats up when placed in a microwave. A rice cooker made of this material cooked rice in half the time it normally takes in a non-heating microwave rice cooker.

"Rice cooks very well with these dishes," says Komarneni who is also a member of Penn State's Materials Research Institute. "Dishes heated by themselves or with food could keep the food hot for up to 15 minutes. One might even cook a pizza on a plate and then deliver it hot."

However, those accustomed to cooking in a microwave will need to remember that the plates are hot and will burn bare hands. Potholders are again necessary.

Food preparation applications abound. A company in Arita, Japan—long a locus of ceramic manufacturing—called Asahi Ceramics Research Company is manufacturing microwave ware.

The material's microwave-heating properties suggest another use. Because the material expands very little when heated, the petalite magnetite material does not shatter under rapid microwave heating and cooling as other materials might. The researchers created a plate of the petalite magnetite ceramic and coated the solid plate structure with cooking oil. After heating for 120 seconds, 98% of the oil was gone, decomposed into its components.

"We used cooking oil because it is an innocuous substance," says Komarneni. "We could, perhaps, use this material in a closed system to decompose organic contaminants in soil or dirt."

The researchers believe that once optimized, the material could be used for a variety of remediation applications at a lower energy cost and with less residue than many current methods.

Why Wind Turbines Can Mean Death for Bats

Power-generating wind turbines have long been recognized as a potentially life-threatening hazard for birds. But at most wind facilities, bats actually die in much greater numbers. Now, researchers reporting in an August 26 issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press journal, think they know why.

Ninety percent of the bats they examined after death showed signs of internal hemorrhaging consistent with trauma from the sudden drop in air pressure (a condition known as barotrauma) at turbine blades. Only about half of the bats showed any evidence of direct contact with the blades.

"Because bats can detect objects with echolocation, they seldom collide with man-made structures," said Erin Baerwald of the University of Calgary in Canada. "An atmospheric-pressure drop at wind-turbine blades is an undetectable—and potentially unforeseeable—hazard for bats, thus partially explaining the large number of bat fatalities at these specific structures.

"Given that bats are more susceptible to barotrauma than birds, and that bat fatalities at wind turbines far outnumber bird fatalities at most sites, wildlife fatalities at wind turbines are now a bat issue, not a bird issue."

The respiratory systems of bats and birds differ in important ways, in terms of both their structure and their function. Bats' lungs, like those of other mammals, are balloon-like, with two-way airflow ending in thin flexible sacs surrounded by capillaries, the researchers explained. When outside pressure drops, those sacs can over-expand, bursting the capillaries around them. Bird lungs, on the other hand, are more rigid and tube-like, with one-way circular airflow passing over and around capillaries. That rigid system can more easily withstand sudden drops in air pressure.

The majority of bats killed at wind turbines are migratory bats that roost in trees, including hoary bats, eastern red bats, and silver-haired bats. While little is known about their population sizes, the researchers said, those deaths could have far-reaching consequences.

Bats typically live for many years, in some cases reaching ages of 30 or more. Most also have just one or two pups at a time, and not necessarily every year. "Slow reproductive rates can limit a population's ability to recover from crashes and thereby increase the risk of endangerment or extinction," said Robert Barclay, also at the University of Calgary, noting that migrating animals tend to be more vulnerable.

All three species of migratory bats killed by wind turbines fly at night, eating thousands of insects—including many crop pests—per day as they go. Therefore, bat losses in one area could have very real effects on ecosystems miles away, along the bats' migration routes.

Baerwald said there is no obvious way to reduce the pressure drop at wind turbines without severely limiting their use. Because bats are more active when wind speeds are low, one strategy may be to increase the speed at which turbine blades begin to rotate during the bats' fall migration period.

Xcel Energy to Disclose Financial Risks of Climate Change

New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced the first-ever binding and enforceable agreement requiring a major national energy company to disclose the financial risks that climate change poses to its investors. Cuomo’s agreement with Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) (“Xcel”) comes as many power companies, including Xcel, are investing in new coal-burning power generation that will significantly contribute to global warming emissions.

“This landmark agreement sets a new industry-wide precedent that will force companies to disclose the true financial risks that climate change poses to their investors,” Cuomo said. “Coal-fired power plants can significantly contribute to global warming and investors have the right to know all the associated risks. I commend Xcel Energy for working with my office to establish a standard that will improve our environment and our marketplace over the long-term.”

The agreement includes binding and enforceable provisions that require Xcel to provide detailed disclosure of climate change and associated risks in its “Form 10-K” filings, the annual summary report on a company’s performance required by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to inform investors. These required disclosures include an analysis of financial risks from climate change related to:

  • Present and probable future climate change regulation and legislation
  • Climate change related litigation
  • Physical impacts of climate change

Additionally, the agreement commits Xcel to a broad array of climate change disclosures, including:

  • Current carbon emissions
  • Projected increases in carbon emissions from planned coal-fired power plants
  • Company strategies for reducing, offsetting, limiting, or otherwise managing its global warming pollution emissions and expected global warming emissions reductions from these actions
  • Corporate governance actions related to climate change, including whether environmental performance is incorporated into officer compensation

Substantial financial risks for energy companies that emit large quantities of carbon dioxide are being created by a number of new or likely regulatory efforts, such as New York’s recently adopted regional carbon regulations for power plants, and other future regulatory efforts, including federal regulation, Congressional action, and climate-change related litigation. These risks are especially exacerbated for power companies that are building new coal-burning power plants or other large new sources of global warming pollution emissions. Knowledge of these risks is important for investors to make informed financial decisions.

Xcel Energy provides electricity and natural gas to commercial and residential customers in eight Midwestern and Western states. Its annual revenues are more than $9 billion. In 2006, Xcel was among the top 10 largest emitters of global warming pollution by utilities in the United States. Xcel is building a new 750-megawatt, coal-fired power plant in Pueblo, Colo.

In September 2007, Cuomo subpoenaed the executives of Xcel and four other major energy companies for information on whether disclosures to investors in filings with the SEC adequately described the companies’ financial risks related to their emissions of global warming pollution. The Attorney General issued subpoenas under New York State’s Martin Act, a 1921 state securities law that grants the Attorney General broad powers to access the financial records of businesses. In addition to Xcel Energy, the companies that received subpoenas were AES Corporation, Dominion Resources, Dynegy, and Peabody Energy. The Attorney General’s investigation of the remaining companies is ongoing.

“I will continue to fight for increased transparency and full disclosure of global warming financial risks to investors,” Cuomo continued. “Selectively revealing favorable facts or intentionally concealing unfavorable information about climate change is misleading and must be stopped.”

The Attorney General petitioned the SEC last year to require better corporate disclosure of climate-related risks in securities filings. The petition was coordinated by Ceres, a national coalition of investors and environmental groups. It is supported by more than $6 trillion of investors, including the treasurers and comptrollers from New York, California, Florida, Maryland, Rhode Island, and five additional states, and the nation’s largest public pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS. The petition remains pending with the SEC.

“This groundbreaking settlement will send ripples far beyond Xcel Energy,” Ceres President Mindy S. Lubber said. “It serves notice that all companies face financial exposure from climate change and will be expected to better inform investors of their strategies for dealing with it.”

Poly-Carb Fined for Hazardous Waste Violations

Poly-Carb, Inc., has agreed to pay Ohio EPA a $57,000 penalty to settle hazardous waste violations at its coating manufacturing facility located at 33095 Bainbridge Road in Solon. The company has addressed the violations and now operates in compliance with Ohio's hazardous waste laws.

During a 2006 facility inspection, Ohio EPA discovered that on three occasions in 2005, Poly-Carb had caused 24 containers of hazardous waste to be transported to a facility not permitted to accept hazardous waste. Other violations included failing to evaluate waste to determine if it was hazardous; label, date, and store hazardous waste in closed containers; and thoroughly train employees in proper waste handling and emergency procedures.

In 2007, Ohio EPA also determined the company stored five containers of hazardous waste on-site for greater than 180 days. The containers were stored on a concrete pad and there was no evidence of a hazardous waste release.

The facility manufactures epoxy, polyurethane, polyurea, and other architectural coatings and is a small quantity generator of hazardous wastes including corrosive and flammable liquid wastes.

The penalty includes $45,600 to Ohio's hazardous waste cleanup fund and $11,400 to Ohio EPA's clean diesel school bus program.

Hazardous Waste Violations Cost Minnesota Company $52,000

The owners of Joyner's Die Casting & Plating, a manufacturer of plated and painted zinc die-casting products, located at 7801 Xylon Ave. North in Brooklyn Park, Minn., have agreed to pay $52,000 for alleged hazardous waste violations. The violations were discovered last year during inspections of the company by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Hennepin County staff.

Some of the alleged violations include failure to regularly inspect hazardous waste containers and the company's new wastewater treatment unit, failure to adequately separate incompatible wastes, failure to properly dispose of hazardous waste, and unintentionally discharging liquid waste too high in copper and nickel to the publicly owned treatment works.

In addition to paying the civil penalty, Joyner's Die Casting & Plating will need to submit further documentation showing that it is meeting the requirements of its waste management permit.

Proper handling and storage of hazardous materials is important for protecting Minnesota's land, water, and air quality. The MPCA offers training and other educational materials to businesses and local units of government so they understand and can operate in accordance with environmental regulations.

A stipulation agreement is one of the tools used to achieve compliance with environmental laws. When calculating penalties, the 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. It also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.

California Energy Commission Must Address Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The groups seek to ensure that the commission does not allow proponents of the Carlsbad Energy Center Project, a power plant proposed for San Diego County, to ignore its global warming emissions.

The commission is responsible for licensing all power plants in California with generating capacities greater than 50 megawatts and for ensuring that each project complies with the California Environmental Quality Act. The state law requires the commission to identify the power plant's significant adverse environmental impacts, to mitigate those effects, and to consider less-polluting alternatives. Analyses under the Act must include a project's greenhouse gas emissions.

"Despite California's mandate to aggressively reduce greenhouse gases, the California Energy Commission is allowing new power plants to be built without evaluating their impacts on climate change," Will Rostov, a staff attorney with Earthjustice, said in response to the commission's inaction on the Carlsbad plant. "The Energy Commission needs to champion clean energy by making sure new energy sources reduce harm to the climate."

At 558 megawatts, the Carlsbad plant will be a major new emitter of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and, potentially, sulfur hexafluoride, a chemical used in transformers and the most potent greenhouse gas known. But the commission has not yet assessed the proposed power plant's potential contribution to global warming and has failed to examine alternatives and require mitigation for its impacts.

Worse, the power plant may use imported liquefied natural gas (LNG). The total greenhouse gas emissions from LNG can be as high as coal, depending on where and how it is produced, giving LNG a much larger carbon footprint than domestic natural gas typically used in California.

This intervention is one of a series of challenges brought by the Center for Biological Diversity to reduce greenhouse gases through the California Environmental Quality Act.

"Business as usual is devastating to our climate and local environment," said Matt Vespa, senior attorney with the Center. "Global warming is already harming Sierra species like the pika and is projected to have a significant effect on the state's snowpack and water supplies in the near future.

"California is so fortunate that the California Environmental Quality Act requires state and local agencies to implement global warming solutions available today," Vespa said. "We will hold the Commission accountable for doing so."

Maryland to Reduce Global Warming Pollution 25%–50% With $2 Billion Net Economic Benefit

The plan recommends actions to protect Maryland’s property and people from rising sea levels and changing weather patterns, and outlines 42 actions to help the state greatly reduce its global warming pollution. The report concludes that Maryland would see significant economic and environmental benefits from taking early, immediate actions to reduce global warming pollution and that the goals proposed by the Commission are achievable and would help spur innovation in the state.

“The Climate Change Commission and its work groups include some of the brightest minds in Maryland. Over the past 10 months, this dedicated commission of scientists, business leaders, environmental groups, public health advocates, and legislators have worked to put together an incredible ‘road map’ for our future,” Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley said. “By Executive Order, I asked this Commission to study, prepare for, and offer solutions to address the serious challenge of climate change, and this report shows the Commission has clearly delivered on their pledge.”

“The findings of this report demonstrate that Maryland can and should take action now to reduce our global warming pollution,” Wilson said. “We can chart a future that includes economic growth and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Our study shows that not only are our goals are achievable, they will also help Maryland create jobs and reduce energy costs to consumers.”

Preliminary analysis in the Climate Action Report indicates that, by 2020, implementation of these 42 strategies could result in a net economic benefit to the state of approximately $2 billion. A study by the Baltimore-based International Center for Sustainable Development shows that Maryland could create between 144,000 and 326,000 “green collar” and research and development jobs by developing clean energy industries, contributing $5.7 billion in wages and salaries boosting local tax revenues by $973 million and increasing gross state production by $16 billion.

In April 2007, Governor O’Malley signed an Executive Order charging the Commission to address three key questions: what can the state’s best scientists tell us about how and when climate change will affect Maryland’s citizens and natural resources, what can Maryland do to adapt to the consequences of climate change, and what can Maryland do to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to begin reversing global warming trends?

The Commission is supported by the Scientific and Technical Working Group, chaired by Donald Boesch, president, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; the Greenhouse Gas and Carbon Mitigation Working Group, chaired by George (Tad) Aburn, director of MDE’s Air and Radiation Management Administration, and co-chaired by Malcolm Woolf, director, Maryland Energy Administration; and the Adaptation and Response Working Group, chaired by John R. Griffin, secretary of Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources and co-chaired by Richard Eberhart Hall, secretary, Maryland Department of Planning. These Working Groups and the technical work groups that support them represented diverse stakeholder interests and brought broad perspective and expertise to the Commission’s work.

“The recommended plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is aggressive and shows that the kind of early action needed to effectively address global warming is possible,” MDE Air and Radiation Management Administration Director Tad Aburn said. “The plan achieves deep and early reductions in a way that will economically benefit Maryland residents and businesses while creating new ‘green’ jobs.”

Having reviewed more than 300 options to reduce greenhouse gases, the Climate Action Report recommends a suite of 42 measures that range from energy efficiency and conservation, investments in clean energy technologies, waste management and advanced recycling, improved building and trade codes, “buy local” programs, and the use of farm by-products, such as switch grass for energy production. Several transportation-related options, including smart growth, better land use, and increased mass transit would combine to reduce Maryland’s vehicle miles traveled. If fully implemented, the plan would have Maryland reduce 2006 greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 25% to 50% by 2020.

“Maryland’s climate is already changing and will almost certainly change more dramatically during the rest of the century,” Dr. Donald Boesch, president, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, said. “However, substantially reducing the global emissions of greenhouse gases could avoid the most severe impacts to Maryland. Nonetheless, the scientific assessment provides a best estimate of the higher sea levels and warmer conditions for which Maryland should be prepared.”

On April 20, 2007, Governor O’Malley signed Executive Order 01.01.2007.07, establishing the Maryland Commission on Climate Change. Sixteen state agency heads and six members of the General Assembly comprise the Commission, whose principal charge is to develop this Climate Action Plan to address the drivers of climate change, to prepare for its likely impacts in Maryland, and to establish goals and timetables for implementation.

The Order emphasized Maryland’s particular vulnerability to climate change impacts of sea level rise, increased storm intensity, extreme droughts and heat waves, and increased wind and rainfall events. It recognized that human activities such as coastal development, burning of fossil fuels, and increasing greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to the causes and consequences of climate change. While noting Maryland’s recent climate initiatives, the Order emphasized that continued leadership by example by Maryland State and local governments is imperative.

Under the O’Malley/Brown Administration, Maryland has begun to reduce pollution and address the serious issue of climate change through: the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Clean Cars Act, and EMPOWER Maryland programs; increasing Renewable Portfolio Standards to increase our use of clean energy; enacting “living shorelines” requirements; strengthening the Critical Areas Act to protect sensitive shorelines; adopting new green building standards for public buildings and investing in green technology for schools; transitioning the state’s fleet to hybrid buses; fully funding land conservation programs; and reinstituting the Office of Smart Growth; support transit-friendly development; improving mass transit options; and encouraging smart growth BRAC zones.

Used Oil Collection and Recycling Equipment Grant Deadlines Nears

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Division of Solid Waste Management is accepting grant applications for Used Oil Collection grants and Recycling Equipment grants. Applications for Recycling Equipment grants are due September 2 and applications for Used Oil Collection grants are due September 8.

Recycling Equipment Grants are available to local governments and nonprofit organizations working with local governments. They may be used to purchase key equipment to establish new recycling programs, to improve existing operations, or to prepare recyclable materials for transport or sale. This grant program was authorized by the Solid Waste Management Act of 1991 and is supported by the Tennessee Solid Waste Management Fund. The Fund, which is administered by Environment and Conservation, receives its revenues from a state surcharge on each ton of solid waste disposed in landfills and from a fee collected from new tires sold in Tennessee. Equipment purchased through Recycling Equipment Grants can include roll-off containers, skid loaders, shredders, balers, scales, and other items.

Tennesseans who change their own motor oil generate more than one million gallons of used oil each year, which can pollute soil and water when not properly disposed. The General Assembly authorized the Used Oil Collection Act of 1993 to assist local communities in collecting used oil and reducing its negative effects on the environment. Grant funds are provided through a $0.02 fee collected from every quart of oil sold within Tennessee. The first priority for grant funding is to establish collection sites in underserved areas. Other grants will fund improvement or replacement of equipment in existing public and private facilities. Equipment purchased through Oil Collection Grants can include containers, used oil burners, containment structures, shelter covers, and other items.

Manufacturers and Retailers Balance Tires and the Environment

Tire companies, big box stores, and the government are putting the brakes on the use of lead wheel weights. 

"Our partners have pledged to reduce or eliminate their use of lead wheel weights," said Susan Parker Bodine, assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "Their efforts will remove millions of pounds of lead from the environment and the waste stream."

Eliminating lead wheel weights is a significant step toward reducing the overall amount of lead released into the environment. EPA estimates that 50 million pounds of lead per year are used for wheel weights in cars and light trucks. It is common for wheel weights to come off when a vehicle hits a pothole in the road or stops suddenly, which results in lead entering the environment. Lead-containing wheel weights also add lead into the environment as they move into the waste stream at the end of product life.

The charter members include Firestone Complete Auto Care; Firestone Racing (a division of Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire); Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.; Costco Wholesale; Wal-Mart Tire and Lube Express; Sam's Club Tire and Battery Centers; Wal-Mart Transportation; Hennessy Industries Inc.-BADA Division; Perfect Equipment; 3M Automotive Division; the U.S. Air Force; U.S. Postal Service; General Services Administration; Ford Motor Co.; General Motors Corp.; Chrysler; Plombco; the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers; the Town of Blacksburg, Va.; the Ecology Center; Sierra Club; the Environmental Council of States; and several small businesses.

Alaskan Seafood Processor Fined $38,000 for Polluting the Kenai River

Salamatof Seafoods Inc. (Salamatof), an Alaskan seafood processor plant located in Kenai, Ala,, has agreed to pay a $38,000 penalty to settle alleged federal Clean Water Act violations.

The Salamatof plant was inspected by EPA and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in 2002, 2005, and 2006 and cited for violations of the company’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The plant discharges seafood processing wastewater into the Kenai River, which flows into Cook Inlet.

The alleged violations included:

  • Unauthorized discharges of seafood processing waste into the Kenai River
  • Failure to monitor
  • Failure to develop and operate in accordance with an appropriate best management practices plan
  • Failure to submit annual reports

According to Kim Ogle, manager of EPA’s NPDES Compliance Unit in Seattle, it is extremely important for seafood processors like Salamatof to continuously monitor their facility operations.

“In impaired waters like the Kenai River, it is especially critical that Salamatof and other processors comply with the NPDES permit,” Ogle said. “Discharges from seafood processors can have a large impact in Alaskan waters and these permits help to protect these resources.”

The NPDES permit program is a key part of the federal Clean Water Act and controls water pollution by regulating facilities that discharge pollutants to waters in the United States.

Printing Manufacturing Company Fined for Environmental Violations

A Hudson, N.H,-based company that manufactures digital plates for the printing industry has agreed to pay $31,975 and perform a supplemental environmental project (SEP) to resolve environmental violations related to a chemical spill at one of the company's South Hadley, Mass., manufacturing facilities, which is now closed.

On Oct. 30, 2006, 751 pounds of hydrofluoric acid, an extremely hazardous chemical, were released to the environment through a ventilation fan in the Presstek facility. The release caused the evacuation of approximately 90 residents living within a one-mile radius of the facility and required that the South Hadley public schools be closed as a precautionary measure the following day.

EPA’s Emergency Response office responded to the release, assisted with acid gas air-monitoring support, and provided technical expertise to state and local emergency response teams. EPA also developed an assessment strategy for school buses parked near the facility, testing and clearing all vehicles.

Following the release, EPA alleged that Presstek failed to design and maintain a safe facility, in violation of the Clean Air Act. EPA alleged that insufficient safety controls and operator error were the likely causes of the chemical release.

EPA also alleged that Presstek failed to notify the National Response Center of the release, in violation of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Presstek will perform a SEP, which is an environmentally beneficial project that the company voluntarily agreed to undertake in exchange for mitigation of the penalty. Presstek’s SEP involves developing a Green Chemistry curriculum for implementation in Massachusetts schools. Quincy Public High School will pilot the curriculum during the 2008–2009 school year. The curriculum will then be presented at a workshop open to Massachusetts educators during the summer of 2009. The SEP is worth $70,000.

Wilco-Winfield LLC to Pay More Than $18,000 for Violating Pesticide Rules

EPA reached an $18,400 settlement with Wilco-Winfield, LLC (WWL) (formerly Wilco-Farmers/Agriliance) for violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (). WWL had been producing pesticides in an unregistered establishment and selling pesticides that were misbranded.

The FIFRA violations had been occurring for at least the past three years (2005, 2006, and 2007). WWL’s unregistered facility, located at 13007 Downs Road in Mt. Angel, Ore., had been using the establishment number that was assigned to another facility located at 190 South Main Street in Mt. Angel. The Main Street facility was owned by WWL, but had been inactivated since 2000.

“Production of any pesticides at the Downs Road facility was in violation of FIFRA since this facility was not registered,” said Chad Schulze, EPA’s Region 10 FIFRA Enforcement Officer in Seattle. “Furthermore, these pesticides produced at the Downs Road facility were misbranded because they bore an invalid, inactive EPA establishment number. These numbers help EPA track the type, amount, and location of pesticides being produced and sold in the U.S.”

EPA has worked with WWL to ensure that all of their establishments are registered according to Section 7 of FIFRA and that they are submitting the required annual reports.

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Trivia Question of the Week

Which of the following statements is true?

a. Air-purifying gold nanoparticles, used on stained glass windows in European cathedrals for centuries, were the first use of nanotechnology.

b. Paint containing lithium and aluminum nanoparticles has been found to be a viable replacement for standard silicon solar cells that are more than 100 times thicker than the “paint cells,” yet equally powerful.

c. “Smile,” a tooth sealant containing patented nanoparticles, makes any food containing calcium taste sweet and could possibly replace sugar and other sweeteners.

d. All of the above.