CLEAN AIR ACT (CAA)
- August 29, 2002 - Existing sources subject to organic hazardous air
pollutant emission controls under 40 CFR 63, Subpart G, for synthetic
organic chemical manufacturing industry production processes must submit
quarterly report to EPA.
- September 5, 2002 - Owners and operators of flexible operation units not
designed as elastomer product processing units in accordance with national
emission standards for hazardous air pollutants for Group 1 polymers and
resins, 40 CFR 63 Subpart U, must perform annual applicability determination.
- September 12, 2002 - Owners or operators of flexible operation units not
designed as thermoplastic product processing units in accordance with
national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants for Group IV
polymers and resins, 40 CFR 63 Subpart JJJ, must perform annual
CLEAN WATER ACT (CWA)
- September 30, 2002 - Owners or operators of industrial facilities located in
EPA Region 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, or 10 subject to terms and conditions of
EPA's NPDES storm water multi-sector general permit must calculate average
concentrations for the pollutant parameter that it monitors.
EPA CHANGES TRANSPORTATION REGULATIONS TO EASE CONFORMITY WITH AIR QUALITY PLANS
EPA is changing transportation regulations to ease the process that ensures federally supported highway and transit project activities are consistent with or conform to a state's air quality implementation plan.
Under the Clean Air Act, transportation activities cannot cause new air quality violations, worsen existing violations, or delay timely attainment of the national ambient air quality standards.
The first revision to the conformity rule incorporates an October 2000 Clean Air Act amendment that provides a one-year grace period before conformity is required in areas that are designated non-attainment for a given air quality standard for the first time. The grace period will ease implementation of conformity in areas that are newly designated under EPA's ozone and particulate matter air quality standards issued in 1997. The one-year grace period begins on the effective date of an area's designation as non-attainment.
The second change will help areas implement conformity in a practicable manner consistent with a March 1999 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court. As a result of the Court's decision, the amount of time for state and local governments to complete the conformity process when a new air quality plan was submitted had, in some instances, been significantly shortened. The final rule addresses this indirect impact of the court decision by ensuring that state and local governments have sufficient time to meet the conformity requirement for newly submitted air quality plans, as was the case prior to the 1999 court ruling.
The rule and supporting documents are available at
http://www.epa.gov/otaq/transp/traqconf.htm (click on "conformity").
EPA SELECTS 23 NEW MEMBERS FOR PARTICIPATION IN NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE TRACK PROGRAM; PROPOSES RULE TO PROVIDE MORE INCENTIVES
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman announced the acceptance of 23 new members into the National Environmental Performance Track Program. Launched in June 2000, Performance Track now has nearly 300 members who are recognized for their commitment to sound environmental management and continuous environmental improvement.
Performance Track is a voluntary partnership program that recognizes and encourages top environmental performersïpublic and private entities that voluntarily go beyond compliance with environmental regulations and commit to continuous environmental improvement. Facilities in this program consistently meet their legal requirements, have implemented environmental management systems to monitor and improve performance, have voluntarily achieved environmental improvements beyond compliance and publicly commit to specific environmental improvements and report on progress. With their membership in Performance Track, members receive a range of incentives such as public recognition and low inspection priority to motivate further improvements.
EPA recently proposed a rule, published in the Federal Register on Aug. 13, that would reduce regulatory paperwork for Performance Track facilities. The Agency is proposing these changes in recognition of the high levels of performance these facilities have achieved and their continuing commitment to effective compliance, public outreach and environmental results. The proposed incentives would allow Performance Track facilities to store hazardous waste up to 180 days without obtaining a permit under the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) or having interim status, and simplify their reporting under the Maximum Available Control Technology provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA). They would also allow reporting modifications for Performance Track facilities that are Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) regulated by the Clean Water Act (CWA). Additionally, EPA is soliciting comments on a potential pilot project that would allow Performance Track facilities to consolidate reporting of data that are routinely submitted under the CAA, CWA, RCRA and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-know Act into a single report.
Current Performance Track facilities have committed to lowering emissions of
greenhouse gases by 26 million pounds; reducing emissions of volatile
organic compounds by 98,000 pounds; reducing solid waste by 225 million
pounds; and recycling or reusing more than five million pounds of materials.
The new members have committed to reducing water use, solid waste, hazardous
waste and energy use. They include facilities from companies that are
already participating in Performance Track, such as International Paper,
Dow, Ricoh Electronics, and 3M. Companies new to the program include Eaton
Corp., Ryder Integrated Logistics, and Madison Precision Products. They also
include a hospitalïthe M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
WHITMAN ASKS GOVERNORS, TRIBAL LEADERS TO NOMINATE WATERSHED PROPOSALS FOR $21 MILLION GRANT PROGRAM
EPA has announced the agency will be requesting nominations for President Bush's Watershed Initiative. The program, initially announced in the President's State of the Union address, would provide assistance to state and local communities to protect and restore inland and coastal watersheds.
The President's vision for clean and healthy watersheds is a key focus of the Year of Clean Water, which celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. As part of this new Watershed Initiative, the President has requested that Congress appropriate $21 million for grants to encourage community-based approaches and techniques to protect water resources throughout the country.
Administrator Whitman said this new initiative "recognizes the important role that states and local communities have in helping to achieve our common goals, by giving them the power to do what works."
Governors and Tribal leaders are being invited to submit nominations for projects that would help promote and advance the successes of efforts in up to 20 watersheds. Project awards would range from $300,000 to $1,300,000, which would be made available in the form of grants to help local entities protect and restore their local watershed. Selection and funding are contingent on favorable Congressional action on the appropriations request.
After careful review by a panel of experts at the regional and national level, Administrator Whitman would announce the 20 watersheds early next year. Nominations that are likely to result in environmental improvements in a relatively short time frame and that show broad stakeholder involvement would be strong candidates.
Because selected watersheds are expected to serve as models, projects that undertake unique, innovative, or novel approaches to environmental problem-solving would also be scored higher. Compatibility with federal or state programs is also a key criterion in the proposal. Over the past decade, EPA has witnessed a groundswell of support for locally-driven watershed protection and restoration efforts. In many communities, such as those along the Charles River in Massachusetts, citizen groups, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and businesses have come together and created long-term goals and innovative solutions to clean up their watersheds and promote more sustainable uses of their water resources. The Watershed Initiative seeks to build on the energy, commitment, in-depth knowledge of local problems and enthusiasm of these citizen-driven efforts.
Governors and Tribal Leaders would evaluate proposals using a process most appropriate to their state or tribe. The Governors and Tribal Leaders would then nominate to EPA by November 21 the two most meritorious proposals, plus an unlimited number of inter-state and inter-tribal nominations. Nominations submitted by the Governors and Tribal Leaders would be evaluated based on a set of criteria outlined by EPA. Proposals would be required to explain in detail how the infusion of additional funds would help support projects that quickly result in cleaner water.
As part of the Watershed Initiative, EPA has asked Congress to fund 10 employees to work with the grant recipients to help them meet their objectives and to share knowledge of their experiences with other states and watershed organizations. About five percent of the total appropriation would go toward enhancing national tools, training, and technical assistance that would help local partnerships be more effective at improving watershed health.
The Federal Register Notice and other information about the Watershed
Initiative are available at http://www.epa.gov/owow/watershed/initiative/ .
CALIFORNIA FARM BUREAU SEEKS AIR POLLUTION EXEMPTION
A coalition of medical, environmental, and community groups filed papers in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals asking for intervener status to help defend a decision by the US Environmental Protection Agency to regulate air pollution from large agricultural operations in California. The Central Valley of California has three of the nation's four metropolitan areas with the worst ozone pollution: Fresno, Bakersfield, and Visalia-Tulare-Porterville.
The rule was challenged in July 22, 2002 by the California Farm Bureau Federation in an attempt to resurrect a loophole provided by the California State Legislature from Clean Air Act permitting requirements that big agriculture has enjoyed since 1976.
The request for intervention was filed was by Earthjustice and the Environmental Law and Justice Clinic on behalf of a coalition of groups including: the Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Our Children's Earth Foundation and Communities for a Better Environment.
On November 30, 2001, the EPA approved California¦s permitting programs for major sources of air pollution, known as Title V under the Clean Air Act, which contained an illegal exemption for agricultural sources. In January 2002, the same coalition of community, health, and environmental groups went to court to bring California agriculture under the same permitting requirements as those faced by every other industry in the state. In May 2002, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency settled three consolidated lawsuits and brought an end to California¦s agricultural exemption by agreeing to regulate major sources of agricultural air pollution.
In the settlement, the EPA agreed to find that California was not properly implementing the permitting requirements of the Clean Air Act and proposed to withdraw its approval of California¦s Title V program. Agriculture has been shielded from state regulation by a provision of state law that prohibits local air districts from requiring permits for ¦any equipment used in agricultural operations in the growing of crops or the raising of fowl or animals.¦
Agricultural pollution comes from diesel irrigation pumps, farming
equipment, livestock waste from giant dairy, poultry, and beef factory farms
as well as pesticide application and dust kicked up from fields and unpaved
EXECUTIVES CHARGED AND CORPORATIONS PLEAD GUILTY TO POLLUTION CONSPIRACY TO HIDE OIL DISCHARGES AT SEA
A federal grand jury in Anchorage indicted a corporate director, two corporate managers, a ship's captain and a first engineer for their roles in an ocean pollution conspiracy involving the direct discharges of oil from a fleet of large, refrigerated cargo ships that regularly travel through Alaska waters. The indictment charges the individuals of conspiracy to lie to the U.S. Coast Guard in order to conceal the dumping of waste oil from the ships and to obstruct the investigation of the agency and the grand jury.
The charges against In Seok Yang, a member of the Board of Directors of Boyang Maritime Kyeong Shin Deep Sea Fisheries Company of Pusan, Korea, are the first such charges to ever have been filed in the United States against a corporate board member for his role in a conspiracy involving vessel pollution. The indictment also charges Gum Hyang Kwon and Young Min Han, two senior shore-side managers at Boyang in Korea, who are likewise among the first on-shore mangers to be charged for their alleged roles in oil discharges that occurred at sea.
The United States also announced guilty pleas from Boyang Maritime, Boyang Limited, Trans-Ports International (TPI) and Oswego Limited, the maritime companies that operated, managed and controlled a fleet of more than a dozen cargo freighters at issue in this investigation. The corporations pled guilty to being part of a wide-ranging conspiracy designed to hide routine discharges of oil sludge and oil contaminated bilge waste directly into the ocean from their fleet of ships since at least 1995.
The companies pled guilty to a 10-count felony Information charging that they worked together to maintain false log books, obstruct justice and tamper with witnesses in order to avoid the expenditure of time, money and other resources that would have been required to comply with the laws designed to prevent oil pollution from ships.
If approved by the court, the defendants will pay a $5 million fine, institute and pay for a comprehensive court-monitored environmental compliance plan and serve five years on probation. The companies are required to set aside an additional $500,000 in an escrow account as an initial funding for the cost of implementing the environmental plan. One million dollars of the fine will be directed to go to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to be used for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, an area that encompasses the Aleutian Islands.
The felony corporate guilty pleas and the filing of charges against corporate managers follow the successful prosecution of Doo Hyun Kim, the Captain of the Khana, In Ho Kim, the Chief Engineer of the Khana, and Je Yong Lee, the Chief Engineer of the Sohoh. These three were arrested and detained in federal custody in February 2002 for falsifying records, obstructing the Coast Guard's inspection and tampering with the ongoing federal grand jury investigation related to the discharge of oil from the vessels under their command.
The court sentenced Lee to eight months imprisonment. Chief engineer In Ho Kim was likewise convicted of creating a false oil record book and witness tampering and was sentenced to six months in prison. Captain Kim was the first ship's captain to be sentenced to jail for crimes arising out of illegal discharges of oil at sea. He was convicted of obstruction of justice for instructing his crewmembers to lie to investigators about the discharges of oil and the oily bypass hose used on his ship. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment.
This case was investigated by the United States Coast Guard Criminal Investigative Service, the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigations Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office for Alaska and the Environmental Crimes Section of the United States Department of Justice.