September 07, 2021
Watercoolers have become a staple in homes, offices and schools, but their tanks and parts are made of materials that could release unwanted or potentially harmful compounds into drinking water. In a preliminary study, researchers in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology Letters
report that organophosphate esters (OPEs) were found in water dispensed from these systems, but they estimated that daily consumption would be far below the levels associated with health problems.
As drinking water from freestanding dispensers has become wildly popular, some concern has been raised about the quality of the water coming out of these systems. For example, OPEs have been found in various types of drinking water, including tap, well and bottled water, in some locations in the U.S., South Korea and China. These compounds are used widely worldwide, replacing harmful brominated flame retardants and as additives in plastics, and now researchers are finding that OPEs are also associated with poor health outcomes. Because these substances are applied to materials or used as additives, which are not strongly bonded to plastic polymers, they can easily contaminate dust or leach into water. So, Yali Shi, Guangshui Na and colleagues wanted to see if water dispensers could contribute to OPE exposure, estimating the amount someone would consume on a daily basis if they only drank water from these types of systems.
The researchers collected water from 53 water dispensers in office buildings in China, both from the storage tanks and dispensed through room temperature and hot water taps. They analyzed the samples for 22 OPEs and detected eight of them in the majority of samples, with tris(2-chloroisopropyl) phosphate (TCIPP) being the most abundant. The water dispensed from the hot and room temperature taps had higher amounts of these compounds than water held in the tanks. Upon closer inspection, the researchers found that the plastic dispenser and the tubing contained these compounds, and the tubing could accumulate OPEs from the air. Finally, the team calculated that if people drank water dispensed solely from these systems, their total daily exposure to TCIPP — a potential carcinogen and endocrine disruptor — was far less than is considered to cause harm to humans. The researchers say that while their study was small, it identifies a need for future research to examine whether silicone is the most suitable tubing material for watercoolers.
First Validated Laboratory Method to Test for PFAS in Wastewater, Surface Water, Groundwater, Soils
EPA, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), published a draft of the first EPA-validated laboratory analytical method
to test for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in eight different environmental media, including wastewater, surface water, groundwater, and soils. This method provides certainty and consistency and advances PFAS monitoring that is essential to protecting public health.
“This new testing method advances the science and our understanding of PFAS in the environment, so we can better protect people from exposure,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “This illustrates the progress we can make when working with federal partners in an all of government approach. I want to thank the Department of Defense for its leadership on this issue and for working with us to achieve this important milestone.”
A partnership between EPA and the Department of Defense’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program has produced draft Method 1633, a single-laboratory validated method to test for 40 PFAS compounds in wastewater, surface water, groundwater, soil, biosolids, sediment, landfill leachate, and fish tissue. Until now, regulated entities and environmental laboratories relied upon modified EPA methods or in-house laboratory standard operating procedures to analyze PFAS in these settings. With the support of the agency’s Council on PFAS, EPA and DoD will continue to collaborate to complete a multi-laboratory validation study of the method in 2022.
“This is one of many examples of strong EPA – DoD Collaboration on issues of national importance. Currently the Department is working with EPA, other federal agencies, academic institutions, and industry on over 130 PFAS-related research efforts, and we expect further progress in the future,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment and Energy Resilience Richard Kidd.
This draft method can be used in various applications, including National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. The method will support NPDES implementation by providing a consistent PFAS method that has been tested in a wide variety of wastewaters and contains all the required quality control procedures for a Clean Water Act (CWA) method. While the method is not nationally required for CWA compliance monitoring until EPA has promulgated it through rulemaking, it is recommended now for use in individual permits.
Draft Method 1633 complements existing validated methods to test for PFAS in drinking water and non-potable water. The method complements existing Safe Drinking Water Act methods to test for 29 PFAS compounds in drinking water and a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act method for 24 PFAS compounds in non-potable water.
EPA publishes laboratory analytical methods (test procedures) that are used by industries, municipalities, researchers, regulatory authorities and other stakeholders to analyze the chemical, physical, and biological components of wastewater and other environmental samples. EPA regularly publishes methods for CWA compliance monitoring on its CWA Methods website
. Doing so does not impose any national requirements to use the method. Only after EPA promulgates a CWA analytical method through rulemaking (at 40 CFR Part 136) does it become nationally required for use in NPDES permit applications and permits.
The work the agency is doing to provide new laboratory analytical methods reflects the work that the EPA Council on PFAS is undertaking to support federal, state, local, and Tribal efforts to protect all communities from the harmful impacts of PFAS contamination. FAQs on the method are available here
Companies in Iowa and Nebraska Cited for Alleged Vehicle ‘Defeat Device’ Violations
EPA assessed civil penalties against two companies for installing or selling “defeat devices” in vehicle engines to render emissions controls inoperative, in violation of the federal Clean Air Act.
“Aftermarket defeat devices are a significant contributor to harmful air pollution,” said Diane Huffman, acting director of EPA Region 7’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. “These illegal practices also impede federal, state, and local efforts to implement air quality standards that protect public health.”
Diesel repair shop Midwest Truck Products LLC of Cantril, Iowa, will pay a $75,000 penalty. South Central Diesel Inc. of Holdrege, Nebraska, an industrial machinery and equipment distribution company, will pay a penalty of $50,954. According to EPA, the companies tampered with vehicle engines and/or sold devices to remove emissions controls for hundreds of customers.
In addition to paying civil penalties, the companies certified that they have stopped disabling vehicle emission controls.
Tampering with vehicle engines, including installation of aftermarket defeat devices intended to bypass manufacturer emissions controls, results in significantly higher releases of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, both of which contribute to serious public health problems in the United States. These problems include premature mortality, aggravation of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, aggravation of existing asthma, acute respiratory symptoms, chronic bronchitis, and decreased lung function. Numerous studies have also linked diesel exhaust to increased incidence of lung cancer.
Stopping aftermarket defeat devices for vehicles and engines is a top priority for EPA. The Agency identified this goal as one of six National Compliance Initiatives in 2019. For more information, see EPA’s website
EPA Report Shows Disproportionate Impacts of Climate Change on Socially Vulnerable Populations in the United States
A new EPA analysis
shows that the most severe harms from climate change
fall disproportionately upon underserved communities who are least able to prepare for, and recover from, heat waves, poor air quality, flooding, and other impacts. EPA’s analysis indicates that racial and ethnic minority communities are particularly vulnerable to the greatest impacts of climate change. Climate Change and Social Vulnerability in the United States: A Focus on Six Impact Sectors
is one of the most advanced environmental justice studies to date that looks at how projected climate change impacts may be distributed across the American public.
“The impacts of climate change that we are feeling today, from extreme heat to flooding to severe storms, are expected to get worse, and people least able to prepare and cope are disproportionately exposed,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan “This report punctuates the urgency of equitable action on climate change. With this level of science and data, we can more effectively center EPA’s mission on achieving environmental justice for all.”
EPA’s new, peer-reviewed report shows the degree to which four socially vulnerable populations— defined based on income, educational attainment, race and ethnicity, and age—may be more exposed to the highest impacts of climate change. The report quantifies six types of impacts, including those to health from changes in air quality and extreme temperature, disruptions to weather-exposed workers, and flooding threats to property.
Key findings of the report include:
- That Black and African American individuals are projected to face higher impacts of climate change for all six impacts analyzed in this report, compared to all other demographic groups. For example, with 2°C (3.6°F) of global warming, Black and African American individuals are:
- 34% more likely to currently live in areas with the highest projected increases in childhood asthma diagnoses. This rises to 41% under 4°C (7.2°F) of global warming.
- 40% more likely to currently live in areas with the highest projected increases in extreme temperature related deaths. This rises to 59% under 4°C of global warming.
- That Hispanics and Latinos have high participation in weather-exposed industries, such as construction and agriculture, which are especially vulnerable to the effects of extreme temperatures. With 2°C (3.6°F) of global warming, Hispanic and Latino individuals are 43% more likely to currently live in areas with the highest projected reductions in labor hours due to extreme temperatures. With regards to transportation, Hispanic and Latino individuals are about 50% more likely to currently live in areas with the highest estimated increases in traffic delays due to increases in coastal flooding.
This significant study represents an important milestone in understanding the future impacts of climate change on different American populations, especially under resourced communities. Due to data and modeling limitations, this study is limited to the contiguous U.S. Future work will enhance both the coverage of other important areas, such as Hawaii and Alaska, and will explore additional impact sectors and measures of social vulnerability.
This analysis will help further efforts being taken by the Biden Administration across the Federal government to advance environmental justice and to address the disproportionate impacts that climate change is having on vulnerable communities. During his first weeks in office, President Biden issued Executive Order 14008 on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad
, which established the first-ever White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council
, the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council, and the Justice40 Initiative
. Through the Justice40 Initiative, the Federal government is, for the first time in history, working to ensure
that at least 40-percent of climate and clean energy investment benefits flow to disadvantaged communities.
Utilities Commission Cited for Clean Water Act Violations in Montana
Settlement reflects joint federal and tribal efforts to protect public health, improve water quality and support tribal utility operations on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation
EPA announced a settlement with the Northern Cheyenne Utilities Commission (NCUC) resolving alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulations at the Lame Deer Wastewater Treatment Facility (facility) in the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Lame Deer, Montana.
The settlement, set forth in a consent decree lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, requires the NCUC to make significant physical and operational improvements to the facility, some of which have already been implemented, and to improve the financial capacity of the NCUC to ensure sustained public health and environmental compliance. The settlement also includes a civil penalty to address past violations, adjusted downward to $1,500 based on an inability to pay determination, and stipulated penalties to resolve any future violations during the five-year minimum effective period of the consent decree.
“This settlement is the culmination of years of collaboration between the NCUC, Justice Department, EPA, and invaluable stakeholders, including the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, the federal Indian Health Service and federally funded technical assistance providers, to resolve the problems underlying these violations,” said Suzanne Bohan, EPA Region 8 Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division Director. “The parties’ shared commitment to developing sustainable, community-specific solutions for improving wastewater infrastructure, utility management, and Clean Water Act compliance will help the NCUC provide reliable wastewater treatment services to the community, protecting public health and water quality on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation for years to come.”
Prior to this action, the facility had been in recurring noncompliance with CWA and NPDES requirements since at least 2008. Violations included effluent exceedances, failure to submit discharge monitoring reports, failure to meet compliance schedule deadlines, failure to properly operate and maintain the facility, unauthorized bypasses of treatment units and unpermitted discharges of partially treated and untreated sewage.
From 2013 through 2016, numerous sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs), a situation where untreated wastewater overflows from a sewer collection system, occurred from multiple locations around the facility’s collection system and lagoon. Many, if not all, of the SSOs flowed into Lame Deer Creek, and from March 1, 2017 until March 1, 2018, the facility discharged from the lagoon into Lame Deer Creek without NPDES permit authorization. As a result of this enforcement effort, the facility obtained its current NPDES permit on March 1, 2018.
Since 2017, a technical workgroup comprising representatives from NCUC, DOJ, EPA, Indian Health Service, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, and federally funded technical assistance providers have assisted the NCUC in completing major and much-needed wastewater infrastructure improvement projects to the facility’s lagoon and collection system. The technical workgroup has assisted, and will continue to assist, the NCUC in building their operational and managerial capacity. The facility has not had a single lagoon overflow or collection system SSO since this action commenced and the technical workgroup was established.
EPA directly implements the CWA and NPDES program in Indian country in Region 8. EPA has provided, and will continue to provide as appropriate, compliance assistance and information on technical assistance providers to support the NCUC in complying with this consent decree and applicable federal laws.
Nearly $300,000 in Grant Funding Now Available for Projects Aimed at Reducing Diesel Engine Emissions
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced that grant funding is available for the replacement or upgrade of older diesel engines in an effort to help reduce diesel emissions across the state.
“Recent data shows that diesel engines account for a majority of harmful emissions from both on-road and off-road equipment,” said Rhonda Thompson, DHEC’s Bureau of Air Quality Chief. “This funding will support projects that target older diesel engines and will reduce their harmful effects on public health and the environment.”
DERA funding is intended for county, city, or other local government entities, private organizations, businesses, and universities. Grants are awarded to eligible applicants for the implementation of diesel emissions reduction projects which achieve public health and air quality goals. These projects should be cost-effective plans to reduce emissions through engine repowers, equipment and exhaust retrofits, or equipment replacements. EPA will share between 25 percent and 100 percent of the costs, depending on the type of project.
Previously allocated DERA grant funding has been used to replace school buses, repower a marine vessel, and retrofit emergency response vehicles.
“DERA continues to support innovative projects that improve air quality for the people in South Carolina,” said Thompson.
The Request for Proposal (RFP) will be released on October 1, 2021. Additional information, applications and a list of projects previously funded in South Carolina by similar DERA grants are available here
Republic Steel Placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program
Responding to a complaint of unsafe working conditions, federal safety inspectors found a Canton automotive steel mill did not install adequate machine guarding
, implement lockout/tagout measures or train workers on safety procedures, all of which exposed workers to amputation hazards.
OSHA cited Republic Steel for one repeat, seven serious and three other-than-serious safety violations. OSHA determined the company did not train workers to operate cranes and forklifts adequately, failed to repair damaged cranes and follow safe electrical work practices, and exposed workers to slip and fall hazards. OSHA has proposed $220,399 in penalties
and placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program
. OSHA last cited Republic Steel for similar machine safety hazards in 2017.
“To avoid amputations and other severe injuries, employers must install safety guards on machines and train workers on how to control hazardous energy and avoid coming in contact with operating machine parts,” said OSHA Area Director Howard Eberts in Cleveland. “Republic Steel is well aware of their responsibility to ensure safety procedures are followed, yet once again, they’ve failed to do so.”
In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted 58% of the 3,500 reported workplace amputations involved machine hazards.
Based in Canton, Republic Steel manufactures steel bars and other products for use in machinery, cars, trucks and other vehicles. The company, a subsidiary of Grupo Simec of Guadalajara, Mexico, employs more than 2,000 workers. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
Oregon DEQ Issued 13 Penalties in July for Environmental Violations
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued 13 penalties totaling $111,157 in July for various environmental violations. A detailed list of violations and resulting penalties is at https://ordeq.org/enforcement
Fines ranged from $850 to $39,800. Alleged violations included a company performing sewage disposal service without a current license, a seafood company failing to monitor wastewater for pollutants and an individual establishing and operating a waste tire storage site without a permit.
DEQ issued civil penalties to the following organizations:
- City of Salem, $850, Salem, underground storage tanks
- Daniel and Lisa Parkins, $4,180, Eagle Creek, stormwater
- HamCon Builders LLC, $1,950, White City, hazardous waste
- JW Rock LLC, $5,600, Tillamook, stormwater
- North West Septic LLC, $3,000, Astoria, onsite wastewater
- Pacific Shellfish - Tillamook LLC, $7,107, Bay City, water quality
- Patricia Davis, $10,858, O'Brien, solid waste
- Quantum Assets & Consulting LLC, $2,200, Portland, asbestos
- River City Environmental Inc., $2,400, Tualatin, underground storage tanks
- Rory White, $39,800, Medford, solid waste
- Roseburg Forest Products Co., $4,000, Dillard, water quality
- Selmet Inc. $5,614, Albany, air quality
- Zenith EnergyTerminals Holdings LLC, $23,598, Portland, water quality
Organizations or individuals must either pay the fines or file an appeal within 20 days of receiving notice of the penalty. They may be able to offset a portion of a penalty by funding a supplemental environmental project that improves Oregon’s environment. Learn more about these projects at https://ordeq.org/sep
Steel Company Fined $4 Million Dollars Due to Hazardous Materials/Waste Violations
The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office announced a $4 million civil settlement with USS-UPI, Inc. to resolve allegations that USS-UPI violated multiple state environmental laws and regulations dating back 4 years. This case involved numerous violations related to the maintenance, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials/waste. This case resolved by way of a stipulated final judgment entered in Contra Costa County Superior Court and requires a monetary payment of $4 million from USS-UPI, which is comprised of $1.75 million in civil penalties, $1 million dollars in environmental compliance expenditures, $250,000 for supplemental projects promoting training for California environmental agencies and funding to support the “Health Career Pathways Programs.” UPI-USS must also abide by an injunction and be subject to a suspended penalty of $1 million dollars to ensure future statutory compliance as well as pay $429,383.85 for reimbursement of investigative and enforcement costs.
“It is of vital importance to hold our companies responsible for the unlawful maintenance, storage and disposal of hazardous materials and waste,” said District Attorney Diana Becton. “USS-UPI was cooperative throughout our investigation and this settlement was only reached after verification that USS-UPI had corrected the violations and created and implemented an environmental compliance framework.”
The investigation began with Contra Costa Health Services Hazardous Materials Programs inspectors auditing operations at the USS-UPI, Inc. steel plant facility at 900 Loveridge Road in Pittsburg, California. Inspectors with Contra Costa Health Services acted under their authority as the Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) for Contra Costa County.
“Any business in our community not following the law must be held accountable. Fortunately, with this settlement, USS-UPI will need to adhere to strict oversight and penalties for these serious violations,” Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover. Supervisor Glover represents District 5, which includes the location of this steel plant.
The Contra Costa Health Services investigation found numerous violations that threatened the environment and safety, such as:
- Failure to maintain and operate the facility to minimize the possibility of fire explosions or unplanned release of hazardous waste
- Failure to remove accumulated oil and failure to correct visible discharges of oil from equipment
- Failure to submit a complete/correct Hazardous Materials Business Plan
- Failure to train employees in safety procedures in the event of a release of a hazardous material
- Failure to remove from service a tank system where there has been a leak
- Failure to obtain the proper permits
- Failure to maintain records of inspections and tests
- Failure to operate numerous aboveground petroleum storage tanks in accordance with the facility’s Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan
- Treatment or storage of a hazardous waste at an unauthorized location
- Failure to complete a written hazardous waste tank system assessment by a professional engineer
- Failure to use proper spill/overfill prevention controls and practices
- Illegal disposal of a hazardous waste
- Failure to provide employee hazardous waste training
- Failure to determine if wastes generated are a hazardous waste
- Failure to manage an Excluded Recyclable Material (ERM) waste stream in accordance with all applicable requirements
According to Matthew Kaufmann, Director of Hazardous Materials Programs for Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS), “From the evidence observed during the initial inspection in 2017, as well as subsequent follow-up inspections, we do not believe that there was or is an imminent threat to the public health of Contra Costa County residents.”
Hazardous materials and wastes that were improperly stored or disposed of at the facility included used oil, plating solutions, acidic and caustic solutions.
After USS-UPI, Inc. was notified about the alleged violations in 2017, the company took steps to cooperate and to dedicate additional resources towards environmental compliance.
“As part of its mission to care for and improve the health of all Contra Costa residents, with special attention to those most vulnerable to health problems, we take compliance with environmental laws and regulations very seriously,” CCHS Deputy Director Randy Sawyer said. “Community exposure to these chemicals, whether short term or long term, can and does have the potential to affect the health of residents of our county.”
The settlement was approved the Contra Costa Superior Court. Senior Deputy District Attorney Stacey Grassini prosecuted the case on behalf of the People.
ETC Texas Pipeline Fined $1.3 Million for Air Violations
The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) entered into a settlement agreement and stipulated final compliance order with ETC Texas Pipeline, Ltd. (ETC) to resolve alleged statutory, regulatory and permit violations at the company’s Jal No. 3 Gas Plant near Jal, New Mexico.
NMED cited ETC for illegally emitting more than 3.1 million pounds of pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide between Jan. 1, 2017 and Aug. 31, 2018. The agreement includes a civil penalty of $1.3 million and a requirement to permanently shut down the sulfur recovery unit, which will eliminate over 1,200 tons per year of pollutants in southeast New Mexico.
“There is no denying that unless the Department adopts the strongest emission rules possible to protect air quality and continues to vigorously holds polluters like ETC Texas Pipeline accountable for their egregious emissions violations – our air quality will deteriorate further resulting in federal sanctions due to unhealthy air quality levels,” said NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. “A strong enforcement response deters future violations and levels the playing field for those businesses whose investors and shareholders take environmental compliance seriously.”
Pursuant to state law, the $1,302,347.51 penalty is reverted to State of New Mexico’s general fund and not kept by NMED. The general fund is the primary state fund from which the ongoing expenses of state government are paid.
Failure to comply with emissions limits results in emissions of harmful levels of air pollutants that can impact public health and the environment, including contributing to the formation of ground-level ozone and other hazardous air quality conditions.
On September 20, the Environment Department’s ozone precursor rule, which requires significantly reduced emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds from the oil and gas industry, will go before the Environmental Improvement Board.
Wright Coating Technologies Cited for Air and Waste Violations
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has issued three violation notices to Wright Coating Technologies (Wright) located at 1603 N. Pitcher St., Kalamazoo, Michigan.
EGLE inspectors in the Air Quality and Materials Management divisions found the violations during regular inspections at the facility. EGLE's Materials Management Division inspector discovered Wright burned used paint filters in two burn-off ovens at the facility. The Materials Management inspector shared this information with the Air Quality Division. The Air Quality Division's inspector verified the violations.
The burning activity violated both air and waste rules. These rules ensure waste products and emissions are properly handled to protect the environment and public health. In addition to the burning of the spent paint filters, several other violations were observed and documented by the inspectors. Violation Notices were issued on June 29
, July 14
, and August 25, 2021
The violation notification process allows Wright an opportunity to respond appropriately to the notices. The requested response includes the length of time Wright was in violation of the rules and a corrective action plan to resolve the alleged violations. The Company's initial written response of August 10, 2021 stated that it had ceased burning used filters.
EGLE will evaluate further actions once written responses to the violation notices are received from the company.
Southern California Edison Fined for Violating Rules on Super Pollutant
Southern California Edison (SCE) has paid penalties of $350,000 after admitting it failed for three years to accurately report on its storage and use of sulfur hexafluoride. The California Air Resources Board announced a settlement with SCE imposing those penalties.
Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is a greenhouse gas (GHG) that can warm the atmosphere about 23,000 times more than the most common greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. SF6 is an insulator and circuit breaker used in electrical switchgear equipment. When it escapes, it can linger in the atmosphere for more than 3,000 years.
“SF6 is the most damaging greenhouse gas on earth – over 20,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide, so it must be handled and stored with extreme care,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard W. Corey. “Southern California Edison’s failures to accurately and completely report its handling of this material is the kind of violation that can make tracking the chemical’s impact much more difficult and can set back California’s overall efforts to curb the worst impacts of climate change.”
The data issues arose from poor documentation of many pieces of small equipment, insufficient quality assurance and control processes, inadequate staff training, and misunderstanding of regulatory terms. Reporting violations occurred in several years consisting of multiple reports.
SCE agreed to pay a total of $350,000 in civil penalties for three reporting years SCE has fully cooperated with CARB in this matter. As a preventative effort, SCE has implemented new procedures to validate reporting requirements and to identify and address issues in advance of submitting annual reports.
California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) required reduction of GHGs back to 1990 levels by 2020. The state achieved that target in 2016. In 2010, CARB approved the Regulation for Reducing Sulfur Hexafluoride Emissions from Gas Insulated Switchgear, which sets a limit on the amount of SF6 emitted by any company, and the state has required annual reporting on SF6 since 2012.
SF6 is considered a super pollutant because of its extremely high global warming potential. Super pollutants play a growing role in California’s plans to reach the subsequent SB 32 target of GHG emissions reductions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
Scientists estimate that super pollutants such as SF6, methane, hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants and black carbon are responsible for up to 40 percent of earth’s global warming. As a result, California has approved, or is developing regulations to reduce emissions of all these chemicals and compounds. The 2022 update to the Climate Scoping Plan includes further potential measures to curb these emissions.
Pennsylvania Takes Key Step Towards Major Climate Action
Pennsylvania’s participation in RGGI would establish a program to limit carbon dioxide ( CO2) emissions from fossil fuel-fired electric power plants located in Pennsylvania. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and a major contributor to climate change, which is detrimental to public health and welfare in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania has the fifth leading CO2 emitting electricity generation sector in the United States, and RGGI is a significant component in achieving Pennsylvania’s goals to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 26% by 2025 and 80% by 2050.
RGGI is a “cap and invest” program that sets a regulatory limit on CO2 emissions from fossil fuel-fired electric generating units (EGU) and permits the trading of CO2 allowances to effect cost-efficient compliance with the regulatory limit.
RGGI provides a two-prong approach to reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuel-fired EGUs. The first prong is a declining CO2 emissions budget, and the second prong involves an investment of the proceeds resulting from the auction of CO2 allowances to further reduce CO2 emissions. Each participating state establishes its own annual CO2 emissions budget, which sets the total amount of CO2 emitted from fossil fuel-fired EGUs in a year.
This final-form rulemaking is authorized under the Air Pollution Control Act (APCA), which grants the Environmental Quality Board the authority to adopt rules and regulations for the prevention, control, reduction, and abatement of air pollution in Pennsylvania. This final-form rulemaking would effectuate least cost CO2 emission reductions for the years 2022 through 2030.
What is commonly referred to as the ''RGGI cap'' on emissions is a reference to the total of all the state CO2 emissions budgets. This final-form rulemaking includes a declining annual CO2 emissions budget, which starts at 78 million tons in 2022 and ends at 58 million tons in 2030. This is anticipated to reduce CO2 emissions in Pennsylvania by 31% compared to 2019. The declining annual CO2 emissions budget is equivalent to the CO2 allowance budget, which is the number of CO2 allowances available each year.
The Office of Attorney General has thirty days to review the legality of the IRRC’s regulations and Pennsylvania's General Assembly could adopt a resolution to oppose the regulations. The Office of Attorney General has thirty days to review the legality of the IRRC’s regulations and Pennsylvania's General Assembly could adopt a resolution to oppose the regulations.
Illinois Senate Passes Comprehensive Energy Reform Bill, Advocates Pushing for Key Amendments from State House
Illinois’ Senate passed a comprehensive energy bill to the state House late last night that paves the way for a transition to clean energy including the closure of all fossil fuel plants by 2045. Illinois is poised to become the first state in the Midwest to completely decarbonize its power sector.
Senate negotiations ran till late lastTuesday night but portions of the bill may be amended when the House of Representatives sends the bill to Gov. Pritzker’s desk, namely emissions benchmarks for the Dallman and Prairie State coal plants.
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