EPA recently published its Regulatory Agenda. The agenda lists the following proposed changes to the hazardous waste regulations.
Modifications for Solvent Contaminated Industrial Wipers (shop towels)
F006 and F019 Revisions
Streamlined Rules for Academic and Research Labs
- Oil-bearing Secondary Materials
- Redefinition of Solid Waste
- Reuse of Mine Tailings
- Regulation of Cement Kiln Dust and Coal Combustion Wastes
- Regulations to Encourage Recycling of Electronic Equipment
- Electronic Hazardous Waste Manifest
- Expansion of the Comparable Fuels Exclusion
Gas Saving Tips
Where is the Air Cleanest and most Polluted?
The Lung Association is urging the EPA to further protect public health by curbing pollution from marine and locomotive sources.
“Our report shows real improvement in the air quality in much of the nation. We’re seeing the benefits of cleaning up dirty power plants with healthier air and a better quality of life. But that doesn’t mean it’s clean enough, and we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” said John L. Kirkwood, president and chief executive officer of the American Lung Association.
The State of the Air: 2006 report finds that more than 150 million Americans still live in counties where they are exposed to unhealthful levels of air pollution. The report ranks the cities and counties with the dirtiest air, and provides county-by-county report cards on the two most pervasive air pollutants: particle pollution (more commonly called “soot”) and ozone (more commonly called “smog”). While air pollution is unsafe for everyone, some people are at increased risk because of their age or health situation. Those groups include people with asthma, adults over 65, children under 18, people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD – chronic bronchitis and emphysema), people with cardiovascular disease, and those with diabetes.
“In the eastern United States, where dirty power plants have been polluting the air for decades, efforts to control particle pollution are making a difference in the lives of people at risk from exposure to unhealthful air,” said Janice Nolen, director, national policy at the American Lung Association.
The State of the Air: 2006 report also takes a closer look at pollution from marine and locomotive sources which contribute significantly to the air pollution problem. State and local air pollution officials estimate that pollution from these sources is responsible for 4,000 premature deaths a year. The U.S. EPA has promised to issue guidelines for limiting air pollution from marine and locomotive sources but has not yet acted. The marine sources include vessels ranging from tug boats and ferries to recreational boats. Emissions from boats foul the air in port cities like Houston, Los Angeles, and New York. Diesel-powered locomotives continue to pollute the air in cities like Chicago and Pittsburgh.
“Until we control marine and locomotive sources of pollution, the people in our port and industrial cities will not breathe cleaner air. EPA needs to stop dragging its feet and issue strong, effective guidelines to clean up these sources,” said Kirkwood.
“We have mounting scientific proof that cleaning up the source of air pollution results in cleaner air and less illness and death. A study recently released showed that when particle air pollution declines in a city, the death rates also drop in that city,” said Nolen.
The study, conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, monitored and analyzed air pollution and health data in six metropolitan areas: Watertown, MA; Kingston and Harriman, TN; St. Louis, MO; Steubenville, OH; Portage, Wyocena and Pardeeville, WI; and Topeka, KS. The researchers found that for each 1 microgram decrease in soot per cubic meter of air, death rates from cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness and lung cancer decrease by 3%– extending the lives of 75,000 people a year in the United States. The study was published in the March 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
“This study further proves that cleaning up big polluters does help protect public health,” said Nolen.
The State of the Air: 2006 report shows that an estimated 42.5 million Americans – nearly 15% of the U.S. population – live in 34 counties with unhealthful levels of both ozone and particle pollution. Cities ranking among the worst in the nation for both pollutants include:
West: Los Angeles, CA; Bakersfield, CA; Fresno, CA; Hanford, CA; Visalia, CA
Northeast: New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Bridgeport, CT
Mid-Atlantic: Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD.; Pittsburgh, PA
Midwest: Cleveland, OH; St. Louis, MO
How Can You Protect Yourself (and Your Family) From Air Pollution? “The American Lung Association produced State of the Air: 2006 to educate all Americans about air quality in their communities. But it can’t stop there,” said Kirkwood. “Air pollution doesn’t respect city, county and state boundaries. We have the power to protect ourselves and the air we breathe. It’s time for everyone to pitch in and help.”
Nearly Half of States Reject Federal Mercury Rule
Nearly half of the nation has voted, or is about to act, on state-specific plans rejecting the EPA’s Clean Air Mercury Rule to control emissions from coal-fired power plants.
“The fact that so many states are choosing a different course clearly shows that the federal rule does little to protect the environment while it puts residents -- especially children, pregnant women and unborn babies -- in jeopardy of continued damaging exposure to mercury,” Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said.
“We are morally compelled to take effective action to safeguard our people against this toxic pollutant,” said McGinty, who outlined Pennsylvania’s state-specific rule Tuesday during testimony before the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.
“Jobs in Pennsylvania also are threatened by EPA’s rule. EPA encourages utilities to switch away from Pennsylvania coal,” McGinty said. “Moreover, in allowing power companies to buy their way out of upgrading their plants to control mercury, the federal rule sets up the prospect that Pennsylvania ratepayers will pay to upgrade plants in other competing states. Our electric infrastructure -- which already is older and more outdated than that in other states -- will then fall further behind.”
In February, Governor Edward G. Rendell announced a state-specific mercury reduction proposal that ensures vastly greater protections to improve the environment and keep Pennsylvania residents healthy and safe. The state’s proposed rule achieves at least 90% mercury reduction by 2015 -- a reduction that is nearly 40% greater and achieved in less time than under the federal rule.
Pennsylvania is not alone. Because of the toxicological effects that mercury has on humans, wildlife and the environment, other states have announced their intention to do the same. Mercury is a persistent, bio-accumulative neurotoxin that can remain active in the environment for more than 10,000 years. Mercury accumulation in aquatic ecosystems in Pennsylvania, and 45 other states, has caused $1.6 billion worth of pollution damages to the state’s recreational fishing industry.
Last week, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm ordered her state’s Department of Environmental Quality to develop a rule requiring utilities to achieve the reductions by 2015. Public comment began March 9 on Georgia’s plan to cut mercury by 90% between 2012 and 2015. In February, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty said he wanted legislation passed this year to reduce mercury emissions from large coal-fired power plants by 90% within the next several years.
Twenty-one states – including Pennsylvania – have adopted, or are about to adopt, state-specific proposals to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired electric generating units. Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Washington all have regulatory actions or legislation pending or are examining proposals that go beyond EPA’s rule. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey and Wisconsin have state-specific mercury reduction plans in place.
“EPA’s plan isn’t just bad for Pennsylvania, it’s bad for the entire country and puts the public at risk for continued exposure to toxic mercury,” McGinty said. “We need to change course to keep our residents safe and our economy strong.”
There is an ever-increasingly compelling case for a state-specific rule to curb mercury emissions in Pennsylvania faster and more substantially than what EPA proposes.
According to EPA’s April 12 Toxic Release Inventory report, Pennsylvania moved from third to second in 2004 in the total amount of mercury pollution spewed from power plants. The commonwealth previously had been third behind Texas and Ohio, respectively. Texas remains first.
Pennsylvania has 36 coal-fired power plants with 78 electric generating units that represent 20,000 megawatts of capacity. These units accounted for approximately three-fourths of the more than 5 tons of mercury emitted into the air from all contamination sources in the commonwealth, ranking us second only to Texas in terms of total mercury emissions.
Pennsylvania Unveils Model Wind Energy Ordinance
Governor Edward G. Rendell unveiled a model ordinance that will help Pennsylvania’s local governments decide how to direct the location and development of wind turbines within municipal borders.
“Wind turbines are playing a central role in building Pennsylvania’s clean energy future by helping to keep our economy growing and our environment clean,” Governor Rendell said in a keynote speech at the annual convention of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS).
“This ordinance strikes a balance that ensures continued investments in advanced energy technologies, protects the quality of life for residents and reinforces Pennsylvania’s position as a national energy leader,” Governor Rendell said. “Ensuring we have the resources to continue to grow is all the more important as concerns about energy become more pressing.”
The model ordinance represents the collaborative efforts of state and local governments with the private sector. Participants included PSATS, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities, environmental advocacy group PennFuture, and wind energy development companies Community Energy, FPL Energy, PPM Energy and Gamesa Corp.
Not only do wind farms produce clean electricity, but they also can significantly reduce the tax burden on residents living in host communities. Wind energy also adds a promising dimension to farming and offers an economic boost to agricultural communities. A wind farm can provide stable income to farmers through reduced utility bills or land rentals. Landowners can receive up to $4,000 annually per turbine and still have more than 95% of their land available for farming.
“As we continue our drive to position Pennsylvania at the forefront of the manufacturing and deployment of alternative energy technologies, we must protect our residents’ quality of life and the richness of Pennsylvania’s beauty,” Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said. “By proactively addressing these development issues, we protect our residents and the environment at the same time that we provide wind energy developers the certainty they need to go forward with significant investments.”
The state’s new Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard promises to build substantially on this accomplishment. The portfolio standard will make between 3,000 and 4,000 megawatts of wind energy available to commonwealth energy users.
The state’s clean energy law is one of the nation’s most progressive, ensuring that 18% of all energy generated comes from clean, efficient sources by 2020. Benefits include $10 billion in increased output for the commonwealth, $3 billion in additional earnings and as many as 4,000 news jobs for residents within 15 years.
“PSATS applauds the Governor’s willingness to find alternative energy sources and bring them to Pennsylvania,” PSATS Assistant Executive Director Elam Herr said. “Because this issue goes beyond energy independence, PSATS felt it was imperative to be at the table to discuss related concerns that might impact its 1,456 member townships. It was our goal to have a viable model wind ordinance that townships and other municipalities could use to pattern their own ordinances after. The model ordinance is not to be looked at as a final document, but as one that addresses specific areas of concern when siting a wind farm facility.”
$62,000 for Injection Well Violations
The EPA is proposing a fine of $62,758 against SMS Briners Inc. of Stockton, Calif. for failing to monitor and report activities required by its underground injection well permit under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
According to the EPA, SMS Briners failed to:
· conduct injected fluid analysis
record tubing-casing annular pressure
submit two quarterly reports from December 2000 to March 2002, as required under its federal permit
The facility has since provided the reports, and is working with the EPA to ensure continued compliance with its underground injection permit.
“Timely and accurate monitoring to ensure the injected wastewater does not compromise the aquifer is a vital component of our requirements,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the Water Division in the Pacific Southwest region. “Underground injection of wastewater can be an effective means of disposal, but only if the facility complies with the proper requirements laid out in the permit.”
SMS Briners owns and operates a vegetable brining facility on 17750 East Highway 4 in Stockton, where it injects an average of 97 gallons a minute of non-hazardous brine waste into an underground well approximately 3,300 feet below the surface.
Power Companies Agree to Spend $100 Million in NSR Settlement
The air quality in North Dakota and surrounding regions will improve significantly because the federal government and the state of North Dakota are requiring two utilities to reduce emissions of two harmful pollutants by more than 33,000 tons per year.
This is the first NSR settlement with a power plant utility in the Western United States.
Sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides cause severe respiratory problems and contribute to childhood asthma. These pollutants are also significant contributors to acid rain, smog and haze, which impair visibility in national parks. Air pollution from power plants can travel significant distance downwind, crossing state lines and creating region-wide health problems.
"The substantial reductions in SO2 and NOx emissions from the M.R. Young Station, a very large source of air pollution in this area of the country, will have an extremely beneficial impact on air quality in North Dakota," said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "We are pleased that Minnkota and Square Butte have decided to come into compliance and take on the responsibility for reducing the pollution from their plants."
"Today's settlement again demonstrates this administration's commitment to secure major pollution reductions and to achieve the benefits envisioned by the Clean Air Act," said Granta Y. Nakayama, EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "EPA is committed to taking vigorous, nationwide enforcement action to ensure that companies make compliance with the standards of the Clean Air Act a top priority." EPA estimates that the pollution controls and other measures required by this consent decree would cost the utilities more than $100 million.
This settlement resolves allegations that modifications at the M.R. Young Station triggered NSR requirements including the requirement to obtain permits and install the best available control technology (BACT). The allegations are similar to others made by the federal government as part of an initiative to bring operators of coal-fired power plants into compliance with the NSR provisions of the CAA. In 2005, the M. R. Young Station was the second largest source of NOx pollution in the nation by pounds of NOx per megawatt hour.
Under the proposed consent decree, the utilities will install pollution controls at each of the two M. R. Young steam-generating units. At M. R. Young Unit 1, they will install a new state-of-the-art SO2 pollution flue gas desulfurization device (scrubber) to reduce SO2 emissions by at least 90%, and Unit 2 will upgrade its existing scrubber to attain SO2 emission reductions of 90%. Both units will install systems to reduce NOx emissions by at least 40% and in addition, the utilities will later install whatever NOx controls that North Dakota determines to be the best available control technology for those units. The NOx controls will be installed beginning in 2007 with final NOx controls operational by the end of 2011.
Minnkota and Square Butte will fund $5 million in renewable energy development projects, including wind power projects in their service area of North Dakota and Minnesota. The wind power generated will displace approximately five megawatts of coal-fired power and thereby further reduce emissions from these coal-fired plants.
This is the tenth settlement that the federal government has entered into to address Clean Air Act NSR violations by coal-fired power plants nationwide. The combined effect of the settlements achieved to date will be to reduce emissions of harmful pollutants by more than 973,000 tons each year, through the installation and operation of about $5.6 billion worth of pollution controls.
Candy Maker Fined for Ozone Violations
A penalty of nearly $154,000 is proposed by EPA in a civil complaint filed against Cambridge Brands, Inc. for Clean Air Act violations. The EPA complaint alleges violations that include the failure to repair leaks to industrial refrigerators at the company’s Cambridge, Mass. candy manufacturing facility, resulting in the release of over 200 pounds of ozone depleting refrigerant into the atmosphere. The company is a subsidiary of Tootsie Roll Industries.
In addition to failing to perform appropriate maintenance on the refrigeration equipment, EPA’s New England regional office also asserts in the complaint that Cambridge Brands failed to conduct leak repair tests and keep required service records for repairs of some units, all in violation of Stratospheric Ozone Protection regulations in the federal Clean Air Act. The penalty proposed by EPA is $153,900.
Certain types of refrigerants have been known to destroy the thin layer of ozone in the upper part of the atmosphere known as the stratosphere. Most of these refrigerants are being phased out and replaced with safer alternatives.
The stratospheric ozone layer helps protect humans from being exposed to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Federal Stratospheric Ozone Protection regulations were established to limit the emissions of substances that destroy the ozone layer. These regulations provide strict rules governing the service, maintenance, repair and disposal of ozone-depleting substances.
“The ozone layer provides important protection to all of us from the sun’s harmful rays,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “It’s important that companies and individuals who work with ozone-depleting substances follow appropriate steps to minimize the release of these materials into the atmosphere. This helps keep the ozone layer intact.”
LDAR Violations to Cost Cognis $380,000
EPA Region 5 has reached an agreement with Cognis Corp. on alleged clean-air violations at the company's chemical plant at 2525 S. Kensington Road, Kankakee, Ill. It includes two environmental projects costing $310,000 and a $70,000 penalty.
The agreement resolves EPA allegations that, in its vitamin E production area, Cognis failed to comply with testing and recordkeeping requirements for process equipment, consistently meet operating standards for air pollution control equipment, and comply with leak detection and repair regulations for hazardous air pollutants.
"Cognis will complete an equipment replacement project that includes high-tech, leak-proof equipment and implement an enhanced leak detection and repair program that will cut hazardous air pollutant emissions and help protect public health," said Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur.
EPA discovered the alleged violations during inspections in September 2003 and March 2004, and from a report submitted by Cognis. Leak detection and repair regulations require regular monitoring of connectors, valves and pumps. If leaks are found, they must be repaired promptly. If left undetected and unrepaired, even minor leaks could result in substantial emissions of hazardous air pollutants that might adversely affect public health and the environment.
EPA and Arizona State Tackle Urban Heat Islands
Innovative, renewable technology to help mitigate urban heat islands and lower energy consumption is the focus of research at the new National Center of Excellence on SMART Innovations for Urban Climate and Energy. The center, located at Arizona State University (ASU), seeks to develop a new generation of sustainable materials and renewable technology innovations (SMART Innovations), with funding support from the EPA.
"Constructing our cities with sustainable materials and renewable technologies helps keep them cool and provide cost-effective health, energy, air and water quality benefits," said EPA's Acting Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum. "This National Center is a good example of EPA's commitment to innovative, integrated environmental solutions."
The new center brings together leading researchers and government and industry representatives to find solutions that have a sound scientific, economic and operational basis to address ways to relieve urban heat islands and lower energy use — a growing concern for many U.S. cities.
During the summer, higher surface and air temperatures caused by human built structures can increase discomfort and risk human health. It also can raise air-conditioning use, risk power outages due to peak electricity demands, worsen air quality by promoting ground-level ozone formation, and impair water quality by heating storm water runoff, causing thermal shock for aquatic life.
"New, sustainable materials for urban development are key components for the cities of the future," said Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow. "Developing these materials is an important part of assuring that our cities are not only thriving places of commerce and intellectual advancement, but that they also lead the way in demonstrating how we can be better stewards of the land and our resources by mitigating the environmental and health effects typically associated with sprawling urban areas. The new National Center for Excellence on SMART Innovations will play a significant role in this endeavor and in ASU's efforts in advancing sustainability research worldwide."
EPA Settles Case Involving 3M Voluntary Disclosures of Toxic Substances Violations
EPA filed the settlement with the agency's Environmental Appeals Board, for their review.
3M voluntarily disclosed all of the violations covered by this settlement under the terms of a TSCA corporate-wide audit agreement. Under the terms of the settlement, 3M neither admitted nor denied that it had violated TSCA and EPA made no substantive determination in all but 10 instances. 3M had previously agreed and subsequently performed a comprehensive management systems review of 28 separate business units and facilities and to determine the compliance status of all TSCA-regulated chemicals and processes. 3M agreed to pay a $1,521,481 penalty for 244 separate counts under TSCA. As a result of the audit, 3M has corrected a number of violations, including failures to notify EPA on new chemicals, late reporting on substantial risk information, and other reporting violations. During the course of the audit, 3M produced valuable, previously unreported information that will help the scientific community to better understand the presence of toxic substances in the environment.
"EPA takes violations of toxic substances laws seriously and is committed to enforcing those laws," said Granta Y. Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "We are hopeful that today's action will serve as a reminder of the importance of timely industry reporting of substantial risk information to EPA."
Several of the violations concerned reporting on perfluorinated compounds, including perfluorooctyl sulfonates (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFOS-related compounds were the active ingredients used for decades in the original formulation of 3M's Scotchgard stain and water repellents. 3M voluntarily stopped manufacturing PFOS in the United States in 2000, and phased out all of these chemistries on a global basis by the end of 2002. Data submitted by 3M and others led EPA to begin an investigation of these compounds in 2000.
EPA followed up the phase out of PFOS by taking action to implement significant new use rules to restrict the return of PFOS-related chemicals to the U.S. market.
Earlier this year, the agency launched a global PFOA stewardship program. The eight major companies that use or manufacture PFOA have committed to reduce facility emissions and product content of PFOA and related chemicals by 95% by no later than 2010, and to work toward eliminating emissions and product content by 2015.
EPA Settles with Joyner's Die Casting and Plating on Hazardous Waste Violations
EPA Region 5 has reached an agreement with Joyner's Die Casting & Plating Inc., Brooklyn Park, Minn. on alleged violations of federal rules on hazardous waste. The company must pay a $50,000 penalty and perform an environmental cleanup costing at least $250,000.
Joyner's, located at 7801 Zylon Ave. N., was cited for violating Resource Conservation and Recovery Act requirements for managing hazardous waste, including keeping containers closed, performing weekly and daily inspections of storage containers and keeping records, having overfill prevention controls and secondary containment systems, having tank certification, providing enough aisle space and obtaining a permit for storage or disposal of hazardous waste. The company will, over the next two years, spend no less than $250,000 to clean up ground water contamination at its facility.
City Ordered to Stop Discharging Metals into Sewer System
EPA recently ordered the city of Ridgecrest, CA, to investigate and address the discharge of metals to its sewer system. The order was issued after the city’s wastewater treatment facility applied sewage sludge with excessive molybdenum concentrations to city-owned fields to be planted with animal fodder.
“The city of Ridgecrest needs to develop an adequate source control program to prohibit excessive discharges of pollutants such as molybdenum to its municipal wastewater system”, said Alexis Strauss, director for the EPA Pacific Southwest region’s Water Division.
Molybdenum is discharged as a waste product from cooling towers and other industrial sources. Ridgecrest’s wastewater plant serves the China Lake Naval Weapons Center as well as the town of Ridgecrest. The metal is used in the manufacture of high-strength alloys and in high-temperature steels.
City officials reported in their annual sewage sludge report molybdenum levels of 92 ppm. The EPA’s limit for the metal in sewage sludge is 75 ppm. Molybdenum levels in sewage sludge in most areas of California are between 5 and 20 ppm.
Cows that have consumed plants grown in soils with high molybdenum levels can suffer from molybdenosis, where the animal is unable to absorb sufficient copper from their food. This copper deficiency can cause growth and reproductive problems.
When treated and processed, sewage sludge becomes biosolids which can be safely recycled and applied as fertilizer to improve and maintain productive soils and stimulate plant growth. Only biosolids that meet stringent federal and state standards can be approved for use as a fertilizer.
Alabama Power Company to Spend More Than $200 Million under Clean Air Act Settlement
The U.S. Department of Justice and the EPA announced a partial settlement of a case alleging violations of the New Source Review (NSR) provisions of the Clean Air Act against the Alabama Power Company James H. Miller, Jr. Plant, a coal-fired power plant near West Jefferson, Ala. The pollution controls and other measures required by the consent decree are expected to cost more than $200 million.
Sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides cause severe respiratory problems and contribute to childhood asthma. These pollutants are also significant contributors to acid rain, smog and haze, which impair visibility in national parks. Emissions from power plants are carried significant distances downwind, causing air quality problems in other states to which the polluted air is carried.
"The combined reductions in SO2, NOx and particulate matter mandated by this settlement will greatly improve the air quality in Alabama and downwind states," said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "We are pleased that Alabama Power has committed to measures that will reduce the pollution from the Miller plant and contribute to overall improved air quality."
"We are pleased that Alabama Power has committed to measures that will reduce the pollution from their plants and contribute to overall improved air quality, and this settlement secures for the citizens of Alabama and downwind states a dramatic and permanent reduction of more than 27,000 tons per year of harmful air pollutants from the James H. Miller, Jr. Plant," said Granta Y, Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "EPA will continue to enforce our nation's environmental laws and bring us closer to ensuring clean air compliance across our nation."
"The control technology which Alabama Power will install as a result of this consent decree will achieve major air pollution reductions and improvements in air quality," said Stan Meiburg, EPA deputy regional administrator in Atlanta. "This settlement has tremendous significance for our ongoing effort to ensure cleaner air for all."
This partial settlement resolves the claim the federal government filed in 2001 as part of an initiative to bring operators of coal-fired power plants into compliance with the NSR provisions of the Clean Air Act. The claim alleged that Alabama Power failed to complete construction of two units at the Miller plant (Units 3 and 4) within the time required to qualify as "existing" rather than "new" air pollution sources, and therefore the plants were required to comply with the New Source Review requirements.
The federal government also asserted claims as to four other Alabama Power coal-fired plants (Plant Barry in Mobile County, Plant Gaston in Shelby County, Plant Gorgas in Walker County, and Plant Greene County in Greene County) concerning the alleged modification of units at those plants in violation of NSR requirements. Those claims are not addressed by this partial consent decree. The federal government and Alabama Power have been exploring a separate resolution of those remaining claims under court-ordered mediation.
The consent decree will significantly lower annual emissions from the Miller plant, reducing SO2 emissions by nearly 23,000 tons and NOx emissions by approximately 5,000 tons per year. Miller Units 3 and 4 will install and operate, by Dec. 31, 2011, state-of-the-art SO2 pollution flue gas desulfurization devices (scrubbers) to reduce SO2 emissions by at least 95%. To further reduce SO2 emissions into the atmosphere, Alabama Power will purchase and retire $4.9 million worth of SO2 allowances (each allowance is equal to one ton of SO2) under the acid rain trading program of the Clean Air Act, which will reduce SO2 emissions nationwide by an estimated 6,600 tons.
This is the eleventh settlement that the federal government has entered into to address Clean Air Act New Source Review violations at coal-fired power plants. The combined effect of the settlements achieved to date will be to reduce emissions of harmful pollutants by more than 975,000 tons each year through the installation and operation of over $5.6 billion worth of pollution controls.
Requirements for Lighters and Lighter Refills Final Rule Published
In response to appeals submitted by persons affected by the final rule, this final rule amends requirements applicable to the transportation of lighter refills and allows for immediate voluntary compliance with certain provisions.
37 Facilities Go Beyond Legal Requirements to Improve the Environment
The program welcomed 37 facilities that have agreed to demonstrate strong environmental performance beyond their existing legal requirements.
"America's leading companies are not just making beverages or tractors – today they are also producing real environmental results," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "President Bush and EPA are working with businesses to change the way they look at their role in protecting our shared environment and our Performance Track partners are proving that doing what's good for the environment is also good for business."
For example, 23 new members have committed to reducing their energy use over the next three years. Other members have plans to reduce water use and hazardous waste generation.
The National Environmental Performance Track program recognizes facilities that work with their communities, set three-year goals for continuous improvements in environmental performance and have internal systems in place to manage their environmental impacts. Since the program's inception in June 2000, Performance Track membership has grown to more than 400 members in 46 states and Puerto Rico and those members have made more than 1,500 commitments to the environment. To date, Performance Track members have collectively reduced their water use by 1.9 billion gallons, conserved nearly 9,000 acres of land and increased their use of recycled materials by nearly 120,000 tons. In 2004, Performance Track members collectively reduced their water use by more than half a billion gallons, reduced their hazardous waste generation by 800 tons, and reduced their use of nonrenewable transportation fuels by more than 43,000 gallons.
Wal-Mart Encourages Freight Industry to Reduce Air Pollution
"You know your program is a good idea when the world's largest retailer signs up and wants its suppliers to participate," EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene said. "The bottom line is that voluntary programs like SmartWay and Blue Skyways are saving money and protecting the environment at the same time."
Carriers can sign up for the SmartWay and Blue Skyways programs if they agree to integrate diesel emission reduction measures into their freight operations.
The SmartWay program increases the energy efficiency and energy security of our country, while significantly reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, by helping trucking companies become more fuel efficient and improve their environmental performance. Wal-Mart is asking all its carriers to join the Partnership, and once in, strive to reach truly outstanding environmental performance. Wal-Mart joined the SmartWay program in 2004.
Like the SmartWay program, Blue Skyways focuses on transportation efficiency, but includes government sectors and extends to other energy areas. Blue Skyways is a tri-national coalition of industry and federal, state and local governments committed to improving the overall air quality of life of North America's heartland. Through individual and community-based voluntary efforts, the collaborative promotes projects improving air quality across a nine-state region spanning from Canada to Mexico.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) signed an agreement to join the Southeast Diesel Collaborative. This partnership between the EPA, eight southeastern states and public and private diesel stakeholders will reduce diesel emissions and protect the region’s air quality.
“By becoming a partner in this effort, Florida can work with our neighboring states to reduce harmful emissions and protect the natural resources of the entire Southeast region,” said DEP Deputy Secretary Mike Sole. “This collaborative effort will improve the region’s air quality while also promoting the production and use of renewable fuels.”
The Southeast Diesel Collaborative was formed by the EPA to protect public health, preserve the region’s valuable resources and promote the use of biodiesel and other sustainable fuels. The Memorandum of Understanding signed unites all partners to work together in a voluntary collaborative to reduce air pollution in the Southeast caused by diesel exhaust and promote renewable forms of energy through locally produced agriculture.
Members of the collaborative effort will implement strategies to reduce emissions from diesel engines in the southeastern United States including using clean renewable fuels and installing innovative emission control technologies. The group will also support programs that promote the growth of crops such as canola and soy to increase the production of sustainable energy sources and identify areas where further study and research are needed.
DEP’s Division of Air Resource Management and the Florida Energy Office will provide coordination between the Southeast Diesel Collaborative and the Department. The Division of Air Resource Management’s mission is to protect, conserve and restore the air resources of the state with the primary goal of protecting human health. The Florida Energy Office is the state’s primary center for energy policy under Governor Bush and coordinates all federal energy programs delegated to the state.
Pfeifer Appointed to Lead Ecology Post in Eastern Washington
The Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) in Eastern Washington has a new leader, with a familiar face. Grant Pfeifer, who has served 17 years as the state's chief air quality leader for Washington's 13 easternmost counties, has agreed to take on new responsibilities as eastern regional director, serving directly under Ecology Director Jay Manning.
During the past 17 years, Pfeifer led the effort to reduce air quality impacts from field burning and to bring peace between clean air advocates and the state's wheat and grass-seed growing industries. Now, a program of burning reductions, smoke metering and better communication with people suffering from breathing problems has cleared the air, improved public health and brought resolution to the issue.
"As is often the case, if people sit down and hash out these complex issues, we can find common ground and solutions we can all live with," Pfeifer said. "I hope to bring that model to other complex issues facing the eastern part of the state."
Pfeifer obtained his civil engineering degree from the University of Washington and began working with the EPA in 1976. He moved to Ecology in Olympia in 1981 to work as a unit supervisor in the air quality program. He began managing Eastern Washington's air-quality programs in 1989.
"We're thrilled to have such an experienced, skillful problem-solver to oversee Ecology's many challenging issues on the east side of the state," said Manning. "He will provide a direct link to my office, making Spokane and Olympia a lot closer together."
Statement by Cal/EPA Secretary Regarding Governor’s Executive Order Promoting Biofuels
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued Executive Order S-06-06 supporting the use of biomass resources from agriculture, forestry and urban wastes which can be turned into energy and fuel.
California Environmental Protection Agency Acting Secretary Dan Skopec issued the following statement on the Executive Order:
“With the rising costs at the pump, I applaud the Governor’s commitment to advancing biofuels. Increasing the use of bioenergy is essential to improve public health and protect our environment. The Governor’s vision to promote the innovative use of bioenergy resources is an important key to reducing emissions from cars, trucks and buses. By promoting biofuels, California can reduce its dependence on petroleum – reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
“Climate change threatens California’s public health. There are serious implications on our water resources and the agricultural industry. More than 40% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector. The bioenergy goals established in the executive order will play a key role in meeting the Governor’s climate change targets.”
The Governor’s Executive Order comes on the heels of the Climate Action Team Report to the Governor and the Legislature to reduce climate change emissions. As one of nine key recommendations, the report calls for the development of an aggressive alternative fuels program through the collaborative efforts of the Cal/EPA, California Energy Commission and the Department of Food and Agriculture.
EPA Cites PPG Industries for Clean-Air Violations
EPA Region 5 has cited PPG Industries Inc. for alleged clean-air violations at the company's chemical manufacturing plant in Barberton, Ohio. The Agency alleges that PPG failed to comply with a 1-pound per hour permitted emission limit on volatile organic compounds from its air stripper, which removes the VOCs from wastewater by contacting the water with air. Tests done in January and February at EPA's request showed VOC emissions as high as 8.8 pounds per hour.
"EPA's mission is to protect public health and the environment," said Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur. "We will take whatever steps are needed to ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act."
These are preliminary findings of violations. To resolve them, EPA may issue a compliance order, assess an administrative penalty or bring suit against the company. PPG has 30 days from receipt of the notice to meet with EPA to discuss resolving the allegations.
Volatile organic compounds contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog. Smog is formed when a mixture of air pollutants is baked in the hot summer sun. Smog can cause a variety of respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain. People with asthma, children and the elderly are especially at risk, but these health concerns are important to everyone.
Texas Proposes Changes in Petroleum Storage Tank Regulations
The amendments are proposed to comply with statutory changes. New requirements for releases and carrier liabilities are included in the proposal.
10 States Sue EPA for not taking Action on Global Warming
The District of Columbia and the City of New York also joined in the legal action.
The Clean Air Act requires that the EPA review and revise emission standards for new pollution sources every eight years to ensure that they protect public health and the environment. On February 27, 2006, EPA issued revised regulations in accordance with a court order. However, the revised standards completely fail to regulate power plant emissions of carbon dioxide, the major contributor to global warming. In addition, the revised standards for other air pollutants harmful to public health are unacceptably lax.
New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said: "In defense of public health, the environment and our economy, power plants must be required to sharply reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. EPA’s newly adopted rule represents an abdication of leadership and foresight in favor of the unacceptable status quo."
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said: "Global warming is one of the biggest threats facing the planet. If we want to help safeguard the environment for future generations, we need to take every step we can now to reduce emissions that contribute to global warming. The EPA should be acting on behalf of public health and the environment, not polluters."
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said: "These standards fall far short of shielding the environment and public health from emissions that imperil our environment. The EPA has once again sided with industry over the public. The Bush administration continues its destructive and delusional denial of global warming, refusing to act responsibly, even as scientific evidence of climate change becomes indisputable. I will join other states in fighting to overturn these sham rules and replace them with effective standards."
District of Columbia Attorney General Robert Spagnoletti said: "Air pollution is a local, national and global concern, and it is critical for EPA to impose stringent emission standards to help address the problem. Unfortunately, the revised standards we are challenging today fail to appropriately regulate power plant emissions, which are one of the most significant sources of greenhouse gases and elevated ozone levels. The District’s air quality is negatively affected by transport pollution from power plants in other states, and without clear federal action, the citizens fo the District are at risk. Therefore, the District of Columbia stands firmly behind this lawsuit seeking to compel EPA to adopt standards that will help clean the air we all breathe."
Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly said: "This administration acknowledges that global warming poses serious dangers to our environment and health, but continues not to do anything to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, we have to take legal action once again. We are taking on this challenge to protect our environment for the future. If we don’t, what kind of world will we leave to our children and grandchildren?"
New York City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo said: "As a coastal, island city that is the most densely populated urban area in the United States, New York City remains concerned about the adverse impacts from global warming that our residents, infrastructure, and resources have - - and will continue - - to experience. In light of the City’s partial reliance on electrical power from these units, the EPA should take steps to regulate these units in accordance with the Clean Air Act."
New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid said: "Once again we are forced to take the federal government to court to protect the health of our citizens and our environment. In this time when the federal government is controlled by one party we see the checks and balances breaking down. It is shocking that our own government has once again chosen to favor corporate profits over the well being of its own citizens. Once again, we must go to court to insist that our government is one of laws and not special interests. We must ensure that the law is obeyed, regardless of who is in office."
Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers said: "Global warming is a reality. It is unfortunate that Oregon and other states must turn to the courts to convince the federal government that clean air is a national priority. Adhering to the Clean Air Act is not optional."
Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch said: "The Ocean State cannot sit idly by as the threats of rising sea levels, worsening air quality, water shortages, and droughts go unchecked by the very agency charged by law to address them. Carbon dioxide is the air pollutant most responsible for global warming, yet EPA continues to bet against this scientific consensus, against its own legal obligations, and against the nation, leaving litigation of this nature as one of the only solutions left to address the proliferation of carbon dioxide pollution.
Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell said: "EPA must re-think its decision not to regulate carbon dioxide and must recall these weak emission standards. New power plants must be required to use the most effective technologies to minimize harmful pollution."
Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager said: "Standing up for the protection of Wisconsin’s clean air and natural environment is a critical responsibility - - and once again the federal EPA is failing to carry out the Clean Air Act. No less than our children’s health and the fate of the planet are at stake - - so I am proud the states are taking action to ensure that EPA does its job."
According to the Attorneys General, EPA’s rulemaking in this matter is inadequate in two fundamental ways: