EPA Proposes New Stormwater Permit
EPA is proposing to reissue its stormwater Construction General Permit for a two-year time period. The permit would apply where EPA is the permitting authority, which is in five states, most territories, and most Indian country lands. The draft permit utilizes the same terms and conditions as EPA's 2003 permit, which expires in July 2008. EPA is proposing the permit to coordinate with a second effort that is underway to establish national clean water standards, known as an effluent limitation guideline, for the construction and development industry. Upon finalization of the guideline, EPA plans to include its provisions into a new and improved Construction General Permit to be reissued no later than July 2010.
EPA is also requesting comment on the criteria the agency will use to recognize local erosion and sediment control program requirements in this and future permits. EPA is inviting comments on the proposed permit for a period of 30 days.
Michigan's Rules for Hydrogen Storage Go Into Effect
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued new rules regarding storage and handling of gaseous and liquefied hydrogen systems in both aboveground and underground storage containers. The rules, promulgated pursuant to the Fire Prevention Code, are the result of the cumulative efforts of the DEQ, local fire chiefs, industry experts, and other stakeholders are the first of their kind in the nation.
These rules will apply to all gaseous and liquefied hydrogen storage systems and will regulate the storage and handling of hydrogen for industry and commercial operations. The DEQ’s goals are to develop rules for regulating and promoting the infrastructure necessary to support the expansion of fueling stations to accommodate hydrogen as an alternative fuel for the automotive industry.
Questions regarding these rules may be directed to the Storage Tank Unit, Storage Tank and Solid Waste Section, Waste and Hazardous Materials Division, DEQ, P.O. Box 30241, Lansing, MI 48909-7741, at 517-335-2690; or contact Andrea Zajac at 517-335-7294 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
$80,000 Penalty for Toxic Chemical Reporting (Form R) Violations
EPA recently reached an $80,080 settlement with a Reno, Nev., company for its failure to submit required toxic chemical reports, a violation of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).
Electronic Evolution Technologies, Inc., located at 9455 Double R Road in Reno, Nev., failed to submit timely, complete, and correct reports detailing the amounts of lead processed at its facility from 2002 through 2005. EPA inspectors discovered the four violations as a result of a routine inspection in April 2007 and a follow-up investigation.
“Facilities that process particularly toxic chemicals, such as lead, must follow reporting rules to ensure area residents and emergency response personnel are informed of possible chemical hazards locally,” said Nathan Lau, Communities and Ecosystems Division Associate Director for EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “This penalty should remind others that we are maintaining a close watch over chemical reporting practices and are serious about enforcing community right-to-know laws.”
Federal community right-to-know laws require facilities processing, manufacturing, or otherwise using more than 100 pounds of lead to report releases of this highly toxic chemical on an annual basis to the EPA and the state. Although Electronic Evolution Technologies exceeded these thresholds from 2002 through 2005, it failed to submit reports to the agency for any of those years.
The facility uses lead in connection with its manufacturing of printed circuit boards. Although the facility’s operations did not release lead into the environment, it was still required to report lead processing to the EPA because the facility was over the applicable reporting threshold.
Exposure to lead may result in high blood pressure, digestive problems, muscle and joint pain, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems, increased chance of illness during pregnancy, and harm to a fetus, including brain damage or death. Exposure to even low levels of lead can severely harm children under the age of six.
Each year, the EPA compiles the information submitted to it from the previous year regarding toxic chemical releases and produces a national Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) database for public availability. This TRI database estimates the amounts of each toxic chemical released to the environment, treated or recycled on-site, or transferred off-site for waste management, and also provides a trend analysis of toxic chemical releases.
DOE Industry Energy Assessments Save More Than 80 Trillion Btus of Natural Gas
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it has completed the 500th Energy Saving Assessment (ESA) at the nation’s largest industrial facilities. These assessments have helped companies identify opportunities to save more than an estimated 80 trillion British Thermal Units (Btus) of natural gas—roughly equivalent to the natural gas used in more than one million American homes and more than $800 million in potential energy savings. If all the assessment recommendations are fully implemented by the industrial facilities, the DOE estimates that 7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions will be saved annually.
"Completing the 500th assessment is a major milestone in our continued work to reduce U.S. industrial energy intensity by 25%, while furthering the President’s commitment to improving our nation’s sustainability and competitiveness," said Alexander Karsner, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. "The Department remains committed to working with our industry partners to implement best practices, maximize energy savings by increasing the nation’s energy efficiency to enhance our energy security, and address the serious challenge of global climate change."
Since 2006, teams from DOE’s Save Energy Now program have visited some of the most energy-intensive manufacturing facilities to analyze the efficiency of pumps, fans, compressed air systems, and heating and steam systems. Each assessment type uses its own software tool specifically designed to analyze and identify annual cost and energy savings. In addition, DOE’s teams provide plant personnel training in the use of DOE software tools. Training a team within a plant allows companies to replicate savings throughout other plants. Assessments typically show savings opportunities that amount to 5% to 15% of a plant’s total energy use—saving an average of about $1.7 million per plant annually.
The 500th assessment was conducted at the Dow Chemical Company Freeport, Texas plant. Dow Chemical participated in Save Energy Now assessments at 16 of its facilities in 2006 and 2007. Plant engineers and technicians benefited from the evaluations of various plant energy system projects. The assessments identified $31 million per year in potential savings. As of April 2008, 13 of the Dow plants have reported to DOE that $7.7 million in savings have been implemented and another $7 million of energy savings projects are in progress.
Companies interested in accessing DOE energy saving resources can get more details on the Save Energy Now website and request brochures detailing “15 Tips to Help Your Plant Save Energy.”
The 2008 Energy Saving Assessments will be selected through an online application process now underway. Plants interested in applying for a 2008 assessment should visit the Save Energy Now website. The website also offers training opportunities, software assessment tools, technical tips, and publications suitable for plants of all sizes.
For tips on easy, inexpensive steps consumers can take to lower their energy bills this summer, please visit EnergySavers.gov or call DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Hotline at 1-877-337-3463.
NuChrome Cited for Repeat Hazardous Waste Violations
EPA has issued a Complaint and Compliance Order against NuChrome Inc. for continued noncompliance and repeated violations of hazardous waste management laws.
NuChrome is a replating company located in Fall River, Mass. NuChrome’s replating process generates chromium, nickel, and copper sludges; corrosive wastewaters; and cyanide process wastewaters.
EPA’s original administrative enforcement action against NuChrome took place in 1999. In that action, EPA alleged that NuChrome violated several federal and Massachusetts regulations pertaining to the management of hazardous waste at NuChrome’s facility by failing to safely and properly manage its containers of hazardous waste in accordance with applicable hazardous waste regulations.
NuChrome agreed to resolve the initial action by entering into a settlement that provided for a penalty payment of $25,000 and the performance of an environmentally beneficial project valued at $74,000. To date, NuChrome has paid only $3,000 of the penalty and has failed to perform the project.
A follow-up inspection of the facility in 2004 revealed that NuChrome continued to violate many of the same hazardous waste management regulations cited in the 1999 complaint. At the time of the 2004 inspection, the perimeter soil at NuChrome’s facility was found to be contaminated with chromium.
EPA inspectors returned to NuChrome in 2006 and 2008 and determined that, once again, NuChrome continued to violate several of the requirements that had been cited in the previous inspections. As a result, EPA has ordered NuChrome to immediately address the continued violations of the hazardous waste management regulations.
Emerald Services Inc. Fined for Storing Hazardous Waste Without Permit
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has settled its enforcement action against Emerald Services Inc. for violations of the Montana Hazardous Waste Act. The enforcement action included a $67,500 administrative penalty to resolve the violations.
In the fall of 2006, Emerald accepted and stored drums of hazardous waste at their facility in Missoula, Mont., for 183 days and then later in 2006 transferred the hazardous waste to their facility in Helena, Mont., where it was stored for 70 more days. Emerald is a registered hazardous waste transporter and is allowed to store hazardous waste at its facilities for up to 10 days without a permit. Emerald does not have a permit to store hazardous waste and, by exceeding the 10-day limit, operated a hazardous waste management facility without a permit. Emerald also failed to use a hazardous waste manifest when it transferred the hazardous waste from Missoula to Helena, which is a violation of the Administrative Rules of Montana.
WCI Releases Draft Recommendations for Program to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) Partners released their consolidated draft recommendations for the design of a joint system to reduce climate-changing greenhouse gases and meet their regional goal to roll back those emissions 15% below 2005 levels by 2020.
The Partners’ draft recommendations call for a regional cap-and-trade program, in addition to the regulations, incentive programs, fee and tax programs, and voluntary programs currently under way or planned in the region. Under a cap-and-trade program, a cap is set to ratchet down greenhouse gases (GHG). Emitters then cut their pollution to meet the cap. To ensure maximum emission reductions at the least cost, emitters that can’t feasibly or cost-effectively reduce their pollution may purchase credits from emitters that have reduced pollution beyond the required amount, as long as the cap is not exceeded. WCI Partners are focusing on developing a regional program that builds on the strength of consistent local approaches, while understanding that each partner must have flexibility to implement the program in a way that addresses their jurisdiction’s unique characteristics. Partners also want the program to promote clean and renewable energy in the region, stimulate economic investment and new jobs, and reward innovations. The draft recommendations encompass the work done to date by five WCI subcommittees. The consolidated document released today includes some revised recommendations including:
- Further defining what emitters should be included in the cap-and-trade program
- Further defining how offsets—reductions taken by entities outside the cap-and-trade program—should be recognized by the program
Significant work remains for the WCI, including identifying the point of regulation for electricity producers and specifying how emission allowances will be distributed. The draft of the consolidated recommendations is available for review at www.westernclimateinitiative.org. Comments can be submitted via the website through June 6.
WCI will hold a stakeholder workshop May 21 in Salt Lake City. Those who can’t attend in person can participate via an online webcast. The registration link for the workshop and the webcast is http://www.regonline.com/Checkin.asp?EventId=608730. Work on the regional cap-and-trade program began in February 2007. At that time, the governors of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington created WCI with a long-term commitment to significantly reduce regional GHG, thus lowering the risk of dangerous threats to the climate. Science suggests that this will require worldwide reductions between 50% and 85% in carbon dioxide emissions from current levels by 2050.
As part of this commitment, in August 2007, WCI Partners established their regional GHG emissions reduction goal. They also agreed to complete the first phase of work on the multi-sector market-based mechanism by late summer 2008 to help reach the goal. Each partner is also participating in The Climate Registry, a multi-state GHG emissions registry.
The regional goal reflects the combined impact of emissions reduction goals set by each WCI Partner. It does not replace Partners’ individual goals.
Since WCI first formed, the states of Utah and Montana and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, and Quebec have joined. Observers of WCI’s work include the states of Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, and Wyoming, the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Saskatchewan, and the Mexican border states of Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Sonora, and Tamaulipas.
INMETCO Fined for Air Permit Violations
The International Metals Reclamation Company Inc. (INMETCO) has paid a $55,000 penalty to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to address past air emission violations from its metals reclamation facility in Ellwood City, Lawrence County. The penalty was included in a May 9 consent order and agreement between DEP and the company to settle outstanding particulate emission violations.
The agreement requires the company to install and test a baghouse, which will replace the current air pollution control device, to capture particulates. In addition, INMETCO will pay a monthly penalty of $3,500 until it demonstrates it is meeting the permitted particulate emission limit.
Recognizing that the current control device was not operating effectively, INMETCO submitted an air plan application to DEP in October for the new baghouse before the violations were identified. That plan was approved on March 28.
The $55,000 penalty was deposited in the state’s Clean Air Fund, which supports air quality improvement projects throughout Pennsylvania. INMETCO recovers secondary material generated mainly by the stainless steel industry and recycles it for further industrial use. Additionally, INMETCO operates a nickel-cadmium battery and nickel metal hydride battery recycling program.
California Proposes New Rule to Clean Up Trucks and Buses
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) unveiled a revised draft regulation last week that will require retrofits and engine replacements for the estimated privately owned 300,000 diesel trucks and buses transiting California roadways beginning in 2012.
Staff reworked an earlier version of the draft regulation to eliminate the need for truckers to replace two trucks in a nine-year span, instead relying more heavily on retrofits for the first two years of the regulation. The revised proposal has a lower cost while preserving important public health benefits. The proposed regulation now calls for truckers to retrofit pre-2007 model year trucks with soot filters and then requires a gradual modernization of trucks beginning in 2012, so that ultimately all trucks are the cleanest, 2010 or newer models.
This draft regulation addresses the largest unregulated source of diesel emissions in the state. Between 2010 and 2020, ARB estimates that the regulation will prevent 11,000 premature deaths associated with exposure to diesel exhaust and save roughly $500 million in health-care costs during that same period.
"If passed by the board later this year, this regulation will save thousands of lives and help the hundreds of thousands more who suffer from asthma and other respiratory ailments," said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols. "While we are sensitive to the economic impacts this measure poses to truckers, the public health benefits are far too great not to move forward."
This regulation is projected to cost the trucking industry somewhere between $3.6 to $5.5 billion from 2010 to 2021, which ARB staff estimates will add less than a penny a piece to products hauled by these trucks that people buy, ranging from athletic shoes to television sets. ARB is in the midst of allocating $1 billion in Proposition 1B funds, much of which will go toward helping truckers retrofit and replace trucks. Other entities, including the U.S. EPA and several California ports, are offering financial assistance.
Emissions from diesel particulate matter are associated with causing a variety of health effects including premature death and a number of heart and lung diseases. A recent study looking at the health impacts to Bay Area residents posed by diesel emissions estimates the yearly non-cancer health impacts resulting from exposure to port-related diesel particulate matter emissions in the area: 18 premature deaths (age 30 and older), 290 asthma attacks, 2,600 days of work loss, and 15,000 minor restricted activity episodes. Most of the risk comes from diesel particulate matter emissions from trucks traveling on nearby freeways and marine vessel traffic in the San Francisco Bay Area unrelated to the Port of Oakland.
ARB has put in place stringent regulations to curb the health risk to Californians. The most recent adopted regulations to limit diesel emissions affect cargo-handling equipment, transport refrigeration units, truck idling, off-road construction equipment, harbor craft, ship auxiliary engines, port drayage trucks, and ships-at-berth. Also, the introduction of cleaner fuel for railroads and ships has contributed to lower pollution around the ports and rail yards.
Later this year, ARB will also consider adopting another proposed regulation involving ocean-going vessel main engines to further reduce diesel soot. State control measures will contribute to an approximate decrease of 80% in harmful emissions by 2015.
Union Pacific Railroad Co. Fined for Failing to Be Prepared to Deal With Spills of Oil, Hazardous Materials
Union Pacific Railroad Co. has reached an agreement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to improve its spill preparedness, to help communities along the Minnesota River, and to equip and train local emergency responders to deal with spills on the river.
The MPCA imposed a civil penalty on Union Pacific when it allegedly found the railroad in violation of a state law that requires it to be prepared to respond rapidly and thoroughly to discharges or spills from its trains. Such laws are in place to minimize or lessen pollution and to protect public safety and health. The MPCA also found that the railroad did not have adequate rapid access to equipment and sufficiently trained personnel to respond to spills that could threaten Minnesota surface waters or other environmentally sensitive areas.
As a result, the railroad has agreed to pay a $4,000 fine and complete a Supplemental Environmental Project that will cost the railroad at least $40,000. Under the terms of the agreement, Union Pacific will donate or buy at least $20,000 worth of equipment suitable for supporting an on-water spill response and arrange to cache that equipment in Le Sueur, Mankato, St. Peter, or another community along the Minnesota River. After the equipment is in place, the railroad will spend at least $20,000 to hire a qualified contractor to provide on-water, spill-response training to emergency responders from those communities.
To improve its ability to respond to spills on Minnesota waterways, Union Pacific will establish and maintain a contractor or employee capability for implementing a rapid and effective response to a worst-case discharge of oil or hazardous substance. The railroad will also submit an emergency response plan to the MPCA for review and approval.
The settlement, known as a stipulation agreement, is one of the tools used to achieve compliance with environmental laws. When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it was the first or a repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. The agency also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.
$16,000 Penalty for Failure to Conduct Air Permit Monitoring
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently settled its enforcement action against Hiland Partners, LP (Hiland) for violations of its Montana Air Quality permit at the Bakken Compressor Station in Richland County, Mont. Hiland paid a $16,000 administrative penalty as part of the enforcement action.
The permit requires that each compressor engine be tested for nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide within 180 days of its initial startup date. Initial startup of the 912-horsepower Waukesha compressor engine was on Aug. 29, 2006. Hiland did not conduct the source testing until March 27, 2007, which was approximately 30 days beyond the required date.
Larry Alheim, DEQ Environmental Enforcement Specialist, said that Hiland cooperated fully with DEQ throughout the enforcement action.
Missouri Wastewater Treatment Facilities to See Cost Increases
Because of the implementation of federal water quality standards, wastewater treatment facilities throughout Missouri will begin seeing tougher requirements when seeking to renew their operating permits. These standards may require costly facility upgrades.
Wastewater treatment facilities, which operate under permits issued by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), must renew their permits every five years. In a facility’s next permit cycle, its permit may contain new or revised limits and a timeline for meeting those new limits. These new requirements include limits for bacteria, ammonia, and metals. New or expanding facilities will also have to conduct an antidegradation review.
In 2005, the Clean Water Commission adopted a rule change that added bacterial standards to protect swimming uses for about 16,000 miles of Missouri streams and 300 lakes, in addition to those already protected. At the next permit renewal for many of these facilities, a deadline will be provided for when the facilities must begin disinfecting to meet the new bacterial standards. Facilities may be given up to five years after their renewed permit is issued or until Dec. 31, 2013, whichever date comes first.
A facility’s next permit may also include either ammonia limits or monitoring requirements. If there is ammonia data available for the department to determine limits, the permit will include ammonia limitations, and a facility will have up to three years to meet the new limits. If there is not enough data, the permit may require in-stream monitoring to gather the data to determine ammonia limits in the following permit cycle.
Also, in 2005, the commission adopted the federal requirements for metals. Therefore, if a facility’s permit has metals limits, it most likely will receive lower limits in its next permit. If a facility’s permit does not have metals limits, but there are industries that are likely to discharge metals to the facility, the new permit may include metals limits. The facility will have up to three years to meet the new limits.
Starting in August, all permit applications for new or expanded discharges will be required to follow the new Missouri Antidegradation Rule and Implementation Procedure. All state waters are categorized into three tiers. Tier III waters are the Outstanding National and State Resource Waters; Tier II waters have water quality significantly better than water quality standards; and Tier I streams are near or at the minimum standards for water quality.
An antidegradation review is required when a new and expanded facility discharges to a Tier II water, and significant degradation of the water quality is proposed for a pollutant of concern. The department will require an alternatives analysis of less-degrading and non-degrading alternatives to the selected treatment process. These alternatives must be evaluated for practicability and economic efficiency and may also be evaluated for affordability. Some lowering of water quality may be deemed necessary to accommodate important economic or social development. However, the water quality cannot go below the national water quality standard.
“To meet the requirements of the federal clean water law, many facilities are going to have to take additional steps and make plant improvements that have not been required for past permits,” Department of Natural Resources Director Doyle Childers said. “Unfortunately, additional costs are required to ensure water entering our streams, rivers, and lakes achieve current standards to protect public health and the environment.”
While most of the costs will ultimately be borne by the facilities and their customers, the department strives to provide financial assistance to help communities through the State Revolving Loan Fund. Through this fund, the department provides low-interest loans to municipalities and water and sewer districts, saving them 60% to 70% of the interest cost of a conventional loan.
To alleviate the strain of meeting the new standards, Gov. Matt Blunt approved the sale of $50 million in Water Pollution Control Bonds in 2007 for public drinking water and wastewater infrastructure grants statewide. These funds are intended to help cover the cost to upgrade these facilities.
Developer Pays $750,000 to Resolve Clean Water Violations
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Gina McCarthy announced that the state has reached a $750,000 settlement with the developer and builders of the Montville Commons Shopping Center in Montville.
Under the agreement, DEP will use $200,000 of the money to fund a study of potential impacts associated with the use of crumb rubber from recycled tires for products like artificial turf and gardening mulch. Another $275,000 will fund further development of DEP’s system to electronically monitor state-owned dams and to promote awareness of dam safety. The remaining $275,000 will go to the state’s General Fund.
The settlement resolves violations of state environmental laws in 2005 during construction of the shopping center. The site owner, developers, and builders failed to secure a permit for a dam that failed to contain water from heavy rains, forcing the evacuation of homes on Podurgiel Lane at the base of the site and temporarily closing Route 32. The settlement also addresses storm water management violations that contributed to a slope failure and a mudslide along Podurgiel Lane.
The state settled with developer Second Family, LLC, and construction firms Manafort Brothers, Inc., Antrim Development, Inc., and Nittany Construction, Inc., as well as shopping center tenant Home Depot, which also owns the site where the illegal dam was located.
"I am delighted that the penalty proceeds will enable a reliable authoritative study of potential health dangers involved in artificial turf fields,” Blumenthal said. “This study will help answer profoundly significant questions that are urgent because right now our children are using these fields and communities are deciding whether to spend millions of dollars on installing more of them. As children play on these fields, we are potentially playing with their health until we address these issues. What we don’t know may hurt us—and our children. We must know whether rubber crumbles in the artificial turf contain toxic chemicals that may sicken children or contaminate groundwater."
"At Montville Commons, an illegally built and poorly constructed dam used to retain storm waters came perilously close to failing,” "McCarthy said. “If that had happened, we could have faced a devastating loss of property and potentially the tragic loss of human life. The lesson to be learned here is that rules and regulations governing something as important as construction of a dam do matter, are important, and must be followed."
Podurgiel Lane residents reached a separate settlement with the developer, builders, and Home Depot for damage to their homes and properties.
Wind Energy Could Produce 20% of U.S. Electricity by 2030
The Department of Energy (DOE) has released a first-of-its kind report that examines the technical feasibility of harnessing wind power to provide up to 20% of the nation’s total electricity needs by 2030. Entitled “20 Percent Wind Energy by 2030”, the report identifies requirements to achieve this goal, including reducing the cost of wind technologies, citing new transmission infrastructure, and enhancing domestic manufacturing capability. Most notably, the report identifies opportunities for 7.6 cumulative gigatons of CO2 to be avoided by 2030, saving 825 million metric tons in 2030 and every year thereafter if wind energy achieves 20% of the nation’s electricity mix.
“DOE’s wind report is a thorough look at America’s wind resource, its industrial capabilities, and future energy prices, and confirms the viability and commercial maturity of wind as a major contributor to America’s energy needs, now and in the future,” DOE Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for the U.S. Department of Energy Alexander Karsner, said. “To dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance our energy security, clean power generation at the gigawatt-scale will be necessary and will require us to take a comprehensive approach to scaling renewable wind power, streamlining siting and permitting processes, and expanding the domestic wind manufacturing base.”
Prepared by the U.S. DOE and a broad cross-section of stakeholders across industry, government, and three of DOE’s national laboratories—the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif.; and Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, N.M., the report presents an in-depth analysis of the potential for wind in the United States and outlines a potential scenario to boost wind electric generation from its current production of 16.8 gigawatts (GW) to 304 GW by 2030. For its technical report, DOE also drew on the expertise of the American Wind Energy Association and Black and Veatch engineering consultants, and the report reflects input from more than 50 energy organizations and corporations.
The analysis concludes that reaching 20% wind energy will require enhanced transmission infrastructure, streamlined siting and permitting regimes, improved reliability and operability of wind systems, and increased U.S. wind manufacturing capacity. Highlights of the report include:
- Annual installations need to increase more than threefold. Achieving 20% wind will require the number of annual turbine installations to increase from approximately 2,000 in 2006 to almost 7,000 in 2017.
- Costs of integrating intermittent wind power into the grid are modest; 20% wind can be reliably integrated into the grid for less than $0.05 per kWh. No material constraints currently exist. Although demand for copper, fiberglass, and other raw materials will increase, achieving 20% wind is not limited by the availability of raw materials.
- Transmission challenges need to be addressed. Issues related to siting and cost allocation of new transmission lines to access the nation’s best wind resources will need to be resolved in order to achieve 20% wind.
“The report correctly highlights that greater penetration of renewable sources of energy—such as wind—into our electric grid will have to be paired with not only advanced integration technologies but also new transmission,” DOE’s Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability Kevin Kolevar said. “In many cases, the most robust sources of renewable resources are located in remote areas, and if we want to be able to deliver these new clean and abundant sources of energy to population centers, we will need additional transmission.”
With the United States leading the world in new wind installations and having the potential to be the world leader in total wind capacity by 2010, DOE’s report comes at an important time in wind development. Last year, U.S. cumulative wind energy capacity reached 16,818 megawatts (MW)—with more than 5,000 MW of wind installed in 2007. Wind contributed to more than 30% of the new U.S. generation capacity in 2007, making it the second largest source of new power generation in the nation—surpassed only by natural gas. The U.S. wind energy industry invested approximately $9 billion in new generating capacity in 2007 and has experienced a 30% annual growth rate in the last five years.
Mars Snack Food Plant to Get Power From Landfill
Business at the Mars Snackfood U.S. plant in Waco, Texas, has never been sweeter. Today, members of the company were joined by EPA officials to flip the switch on its first landfill gas project, a venture that will cut the company’s energy costs and the release of greenhouse gases into the environment.
The project will use methane gas that is piped in from the city landfill to power two furnaces that create steam for the plant’s candy-making operations.
“Turning waste into energy is a smart strategy for business and the environment,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “EPA is pleased to be working with partners like Mars Snackfood on innovative projects like this one that deliver clean, renewable sources of energy.”
In addition to saving the company $600,000 a year in energy costs, the project will also reduce more than 10,000 metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent, which has the same environmental impact of avoiding the emissions of 1,900 cars. Methane, a primary component of landfill gas, is a greenhouse gas that is more than 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
“More than being a decision about the bottom line, this project is about taking responsibility for the future—for our business, for our associates and their children, for our community, and definitely for our environment. And the story today is not simply about Mars alone. It is a story of deep commitment and concern by multiple partners at every level in government in Texas. Again, I congratulate our partners in government, especially the City of Waco, the County of McLennan and the EPA, for their visionary leadership and dedication to a sustainable future for all,” said MARS Snackfood U.S. President Todd Lachman.
Mars Snackfood joins a growing list of companies to complete waste-to-energy projects as part of EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP). There are currently 21 operational projects in Texas and a total of 34 throughout the five-state area that makes up EPA Region 6.
To foster more development of waste-to-energy resources, EPA Region 6 has developed a pilot Waste-to-Energy (WTE) Strategic Geographic Planning tool that is designed to link waste producers with end users by identifying optimum locations for such projects. The region is currently working with the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to expand the pilot to a national scale.
LMOP is a voluntary technical assistance and partnership program that helps businesses and communities reduce methane emissions from landfills by encouraging the recovery and use of landfill gas as a renewable energy source. The program also assists countries throughout the world in developing landfill methane reduction projects through the international Methane to Markets Partnership. Since 1994, LMOP has assisted in developing more than 330 landfill gas projects in the United States, reducing methane emissions by more than 24 million metric tons of carbon equivalent.
Developer Fined More Than $27,000 for Stormwater Violations
EPA has reached a settlement with Paul Sayer (Sayer) for alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). The violations occurred at Sayer’s 5.5-acre construction site located along Sayer Road and North Fork Road in Anchor Point, Alaska, on the Kenai Peninsula. Sayer has agreed to pay $27,600.
EPA alleges that Sayer violated the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) by not obtaining a Storm Water Construction General Permit (CGP). Permit authorization is required for discharges of storm water from any construction site with at least one acre of disturbed land. Violations included:
- Numerous Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) violations
- Failure to obtain the necessary NPDES CGP permits
“Storm water runoff from construction sites can significantly harm water quality and fish habitat,” said Marcia Combes, Alaska Operations Office Director for EPA. “NPDES permits are in place to make sure that developers and property owners are taking the necessary steps to keep pollutants out of our navigable waters.”
The receiving water for the storm water discharges from the site is Ruby Creek, a tributary of Anchor River. Ruby Creek and Anchor River are “navigable waters” and are waters of the United States.
Source Interlink and Wingfoot Commercial Tire Systems Fined for Failure to Inspect Diesel Trucks
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) last week penalized two out-of-state companies for violation of clean diesel truck regulations around the state for a total of $41,625.
Source Interlink Companies, headquartered in Bonita Springs, Fla., and Wingfoot Commercial Tire Systems, based in Fort Smith, Ark., in 2006 and 2007 violated California's Periodic Smoke Inspection Program, which requires owners of California-registered trucks to regularly inspect their vehicles to meet state air quality standards.
Wingfoot's violations occurred in Walnut, Ontario, Chino, Visalia, Benicia, Fresno, Hayward, Modesto, Redding, South San Francisco, San Jose, Stockton, and West Sacramento. Source Interlink Companies' violations occurred in Los Angeles.
"Compliance by paying penalties is a needlessly expensive way to do business in California," ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols said. "Savvy business owners comply with laws from the outset, avoid fines, and contribute to clean air goals."
ARB enforcement teams found that both Wingfoot and Source Interlink failed to properly inspect their diesel-powered vehicle fleets. To settle the case, Wingfoot agreed to the $30,000 penalty and Source Interlink agreed to $11,625 to comply with the state's clean truck regulations.
In addition to the penalties, both companies must:
- Ensure that staff responsible for compliance with the diesel truck emission inspection program attend diesel education courses and provide certificates of completion within one year
- Instruct vehicle operators to comply with the state's idling regulations
- Complete heavy-duty diesel engine software and control technology upgrades in compliance with regulations
- Supply all smoke inspection records to ARB for the next four years
- Properly label engines to ensure compliance with the engine emissions certification program regulations
Wingfoot paid $22,500 and Source Interlink $8,718 into the California Air Pollution Control Fund, created to conduct air pollution research and fund several programs aimed at reducing emissions as well as educating the public on pollution prevention. In addition, the Peralta Community College District will receive $7,500 from Wingfoot and $2,906 from Source Interlink to fund diesel technology education programs and training for staff that operate diesel-fueled vehicles.
Washington Challenges FERC for Bypassing Environmental Reviews of Energy Projects
The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) today filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to protect the state’s role in federal licensing procedures for energy projects. The petition asks the court to clarify federal law regarding a recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) decision.
In December, FERC sidestepped the established licensing procedure by granting a conditioned license to Finavera Renewables, superseding decisions from other federal and state agencies with authority in the federal licensing process. Finavera proposes a wave energy project at Makah Bay off the Washington coast. FERC denied Ecology’s initial appeal of the Finavera conditioned license in March.
Ecology argues that federal law does not allow FERC to offer a conditioned license in advance of obtaining input and consideration from the other agencies with a regulatory role in the licensing process. Today’s petition would permit the federal court to determine if FERC’s action is consistent with federal law. Ecology requests the court confirm the existing requirements of federal law by declaring that FERC does not have authority to issue conditioned licenses.
“One of Ecology’s concerns is providing a straightforward process of licensing and ensuring applicants are not given false expectations that their projects have all of the approvals to move forward when they do not,” Ecology Program Manager Gordon White said. “This new policy by FERC has the strong potential to confuse and even lengthen the process for applicants.”
Ecology has responsibility under the federal Clean Water Act and Coastal Zone Management Act to authorize that project proposals can be undertaken without harming water quality or sensitive shoreline areas. The agency reviews applications and can write conditions into the approvals to ensure that any potential impacts are avoided or minimized.
Historically, agencies with responsibility for protecting water quality, shorelines, fish, and other environmental resources review and decide upon applications before FERC issues a final license. That did not happen in this instance.
FERC’s role is to grant a final license that incorporates state and federal laws and conditions after a thorough review by agencies charged with upholding those regulations. Under its newly issued policy, FERC says it plans to consider amendments to its conditioned licenses. However, contrary to existing law, it will not guarantee that an amended version will include all the necessary conditions to protect the environment identified by other agencies.
White says changing the sequence of approvals would set a dangerous precedent for the applicant, interested citizens, and the environment.
“Without FERC’s guarantee that the final license will include environmental protections, its new policy on conditioned licensing will be a major concern for us,” White explained. “Applicants deserve to understand what protections they must build into their projects, and the process we have been using gives them that certainty.”
Ecology gave approval for Finavera’s proposed wave energy project with conditions to protect water quality and environmental resources. The agency supports the development of alternative energy sources.
Once receiving the petition, the District Court will determine the schedule for the remaining court process, such as filing opening briefs, receiving supporting or opposing briefs, and hearing arguments. The court typically takes a few months to complete this whole process.
New Jersey Chemical Plant Safety Regulations Are Voluntary
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has adopted voluntary chemical plant safety regulations, according to internal agency documents posted by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). These state rules were warmly praised by the chemical industry and condemned by unions representing plant workers in formal comments.
Promulgated under the state’s Toxic Catastrophe Prevention Act, the rules were supposed to implement Governor Jon Corzine's pledge to require the use of “inherently safer technology” (IST) to prevent catastrophic chemical accidents or acts of terrorism at an estimated 100 chemical plants throughout the state. Widely praised by environmental and labor groups, IST is supposed to require industry to adopt practices eliminating the use of dangerous chemicals and reduce risks.
The regulations, which will appear in the next New Jersey Register, the state's official legal publication, have three major weaknesses that are drawing criticism:
- Implementation of IST is voluntary. The rules only require industry to conduct an IST review but do not require industry to take any action based on that review.
- These IST reviews are deemed secret and therefore not subject to public or worker scrutiny.
- The chemical industry is allowed to base accident prevention feasibility decisions on economic grounds, thus subjugating public health and safety to industry profit margins.
“’Inherently safer technologies’ was supposed to be the most effective solution for managing the safety, security, and health risk associated with chemical plants, but what New Jersey produced is only a faint echo of what should have been enacted,” New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe stated. “This is like the IRS requiring people to fill out tax forms but making actual payment of taxes voluntary.”
Not surprisingly, the Chemistry Council, representing industry, submitted comments in which it “commends the department for not mandating the implementation of IST in this rule proposal and limiting the scope of IST to completing reviews…” By contrast, the New Jersey State Industrial Union Council, representing plant workers, blasted the secrecy of the IST reports.
As the nation's most densely populated state with a large petrochemical industry, New Jersey has been in the national spotlight on chemical plant safety. Reflecting fears of stringent state regulation, the chemical industry recently battled in Congress to block states from going beyond minimum federal Homeland Security requirements. That battle allegedly ended in December with a mixed result.
“Experience has shown that voluntary compliance does not work, and, due to the huge stakes, chemical safety is the last program that should be made voluntary,” added Wolfe, pointing to studies showing that a chemical accident or terrorism event at even 1 of 15 chemical plants could kill more than 100,000 people who live nearby. “If New Jersey’s chemical plant safety rules are going to be this weak, why should anyone care if they are preempted?”
Illinois EPA Takes Action Against Water Treatment Plant Superintendent for Falsified Water Samples
After admitting in court that he submitted falsified water sample results to the Illinois EPA for the Princeton Public Water Supply, the Agency began proceedings to revoke the Illinois Water Supply Operator’s Certificate for Michael Scott. The certificate provides the holder responsible for ensuring that the public water supply is safe through distribution operations, inspections, and sampling protocols.
After the court decision, the Illinois EPA began an administrative sanction proceeding against Scott, the Illinois Water Treatment Plant Superintendent at the Princeton Public Water Supply. On May 5, 2008, Scott requested a hearing to contest the Illinois EPA’s allegations; the agency has granted the request.
The hearing will be conducted by a designated hearing officer. Afterward, the hearing transcript will be presented to the five-member Illinois Water Supply Operators’ Advisory Board for their recommendation to the Director of the Illinois EPA, who will determine if revocation is appropriate. In addition to making recommendations on water supply operator sanction proceedings, the advisory group assists in the formulation and review of policies and program changes developed under the state's Public Water Supply Operations Act. The board makes recommendations on program enhancements and provides the Illinois EPA with technical advice and assistance as requested.
The Illinois EPA seeks to revoke Scott’s Certificate of Competency to act as a Water Supply Operator within the state of Illinois. Scott is alleged to have previously submitted falsified reports to the Illinois EPA related to his duties as a certified Water Supply Operator.
The Illinois EPA believes the misconduct placed the water supply operations for the City of Princeton, and potentially the consumers, at risk. The matter is set for a prehearing conference on May 28 at 10 a.m. at Illinois EPA headquarters in Springfield.
$10,000 Fine for Asbestos Violations
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has levied a penalty of $10,000 against Glen D. Friedrich of Longmeadow, who performs home improvements as GDF Home Improvements, for failing to properly handle and dispose of asbestos waste material.
MassDEP conducted an inspection on July 2, 2007, at the town's transfer station after receiving a complaint from a representative of the Longmeadow Department of Public Works regarding illegal dumping of asbestos cement shingles into the construction waste dumpster there.
MassDEP's investigation revealed that the asbestos roofing material was brought to the transfer station from a jobsite on South Park Avenue in Longmeadow. Mr. Friedrich cooperated with MassDEP and retained an asbestos contractor to clean up and properly dispose of the asbestos waste material.
"Asbestos waste materials must be properly sealed into leak-tight containers prior to disposal, then disposed of in an approved landfill that accepts these materials," said Michael Gorski, director of MassDEP's Western Regional Office in Springfield. "Improper disposal ultimately can result in a high financial burden in terms of penalties and cleanup costs, as was the case here."
In addition to paying the $10,000 penalty, Mr. Friedrich will take asbestos training classes and will register with the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety as a Home Improvement Contractor.
Property owners or contractors with questions about asbestos-containing materials, notification requirements, proper removal, handling, packaging, storage and disposal procedures, or the asbestos regulations are encouraged to contact the appropriate MassDEP regional office for assistance. More information on asbestos, including health effects, can also be obtained from MassDEP's website at http://www.mass.gov/dep/air/asbguid.htm.
Mesa Power Places World's Largest Single-Site Wind Turbine Purchase Order
Mesa Power LLP, a company created by legendary energy executive T. Boone Pickens, has placed an order with General Electric to purchase 667 wind turbines capable of generating 1,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 300,000 average U.S. homes.
The agreement represents the first phase of the four-phase Pampa Wind Project, which will become the world’s largest wind energy project with more than 4,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for 1.3 million homes. When all phases of the project are completed as projected in 2014, the wind farm will be five times as big as the nation’s current largest wind power project, now producing 736 megawatts.
Pickens said he expects the first phase of the project will cost about $2 billion and that electricity from the project will be online by early 2011. When complete, the Pampa Wind Project will cover some 400,000 acres in the Texas Panhandle.
"T. Boone Pickens' commitment underscores the ability of wind technology to help meet the country's need for diverse sources of energy," said Jeffrey R. Immelt, GE Chairman and CEO. "As America’s demand for energy escalates, it is clear that wind can and will play a bigger part in meeting that need. We're excited to partner with an energy visionary like T. Boone Pickens to bring our wind technology to the marketplace."
GE is to deliver the 1.5-megawatt wind turbines in 2010 and 2011. The GE 1.5-megawatt turbines are among the most widely used wind turbines in its class.
In August 2007, Mesa Power filed documents with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to add the 4,000 megawatts of wind-generated electricity to the power grid in Texas. ERCOT, which operates as part of the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC), manages the state's power grid. Mesa Power has nominated its wind turbine output to be delivered by Texas’ Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) transmission lines. The CREZ transmission lines will benefit Texas electric users by delivering them cost-effective and reliable electricity generated by renewable energy power projects.
Based on extensive testing, Pickens said the project area has some of the best wind in the nation. He is also pleased that landowners have been so supportive of the project.
“We have had a great response to this project,” Pickens said. “We are making Pampa the wind capital of the world. It’s clear that landowners and local officials understand the economic benefits that this renewable energy can bring not only to landowners who are involved with the project, but also in revitalizing an area that has struggled in recent years.”
Pickens envisions that large-scale renewable energy projects like his Pampa Wind Project will permit the United States to become less dependent on foreign oil. Large-scale renewable energy projects such as this are difficult to execute because they rely upon the Federal Production Tax Credit, which provides incentives for development of renewable energy. However, large-scale renewable energy projects require commitments years in advance, while Congress has only extended the Production Tax Credit one or two years at a time.
Mesa Power is hopeful that the Pampa Wind Project will qualify for the Federal Production Tax Credits in 2010 and 2011 when the project will begin commercial operations. “I believe that Congress will recognize that it is critical not only to this project, but to renewable energy in this country, that they enact a long-term extension of the Production Tax Credits,” Pickens said.
“The development of alternative energy projects, especially renewable resources such as wind power, is critical for the future of the country in the face of declining world oil resources,” he said.
“You find an oilfield, it peaks and starts declining, and you've got to find another one to replace it,” said Pickens, who once operated one of the largest independent oil and gas production companies. “It can drive you crazy. With wind, there's no decline curve.”
The Panhandle, with its wide-open space, low population, and steady winds, is a logical location for wind-generated energy. Studies show the Texas Panhandle winds are optimal for such a project, blowing much of the time in the middle of the day when electric demand is at its peak.
Mesa Power has leased land in Carson, Gray, Hemphill, Roberts, and Wheeler counties, where the landowners will receive annual royalties for the wind turbines operating on their property.
Development of the region’s wind resources will also create an economic bonus similar to the boom the three largest wind farms in America have created around Sweetwater in Nolan County. While other towns in West Texas struggle with plummeting house prices and job losses, Sweetwater is in the midst of a construction explosion. Two new companies opened in the past month, one servicing the blades of the county's 2,000 turbines, another renting out cranes used in erecting new turbines. Tax revenues from the wind energy companies are bringing jobs, new roads, and houses, as well as renovating local schools and hospitals there.
Michigan Sugar Settles CAA Permit Violations
Michigan Sugar, a grower-owned sugar cooperative located in Bay City, Mich., will use pollution reduction measures valued at more than $13 million at its processing facility to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department announced recently. Along with the pollution reduction measures, Michigan Sugar also will pay a $210,000 civil penalty.
"Today's settlement secures permanent and substantial emission reductions for citizens in the affected states," said EPA Region 5 Acting Administrator Bharat Mathur. "Sugar beet processing facilities can be major sources of air pollution, and this agreement raises the bar for the industry."
The cooperative has agreed to shut down old equipment and use cutting-edge technology that will reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by 446 tons per year.
Michigan Sugar dries and processes beets to make sugar. The sugar is sold under the brand names of Pioneer Sugar and Big Chief Sugar. The sugar beet pulp is processed in dryers that generate VOCs and carbon monoxide. The cooperative agreed to use new equipment, which will reduce emissions to nearly zero.
The government complaint alleges that the company violated federal and state clean air laws by building a pulp dryer and also by subsequently increasing operating hours without obtaining the appropriate permits. These permits are required to control emissions of VOCs and carbon monoxide.
VOCs contribute to the formation of smog. The primary component of smog is ozone, a gas that is created when nitrogen oxides (NOx) reacts with other chemicals in the atmosphere, especially in strong sunlight. Smog can cause a variety of respiratory problems and is a risk for people with asthma, children, and the elderly.
The consent decree, lodged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and federal court approval.
Analysis Shows Lieberman-Warner Bill Will Spark Major Transition to Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency
An analysis released today demonstrates that meeting global warming pollution reduction targets in the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act will reduce oil imports, increase clean energy production, and lead to dramatically more fuel-efficient vehicles. The analysis, conducted by the International Resources Group for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), also found that reaching the targets can be done with minimal cost to our energy system, less than one-half of 1%. IRG used a model of the U.S. energy economy developed by the EPA to examine how the emission limits specified by the Lieberman-Warner bill can be achieved.
“This analysis confirms that passing Lieberman-Warner will lead to increased energy efficiency, more electricity from renewables, and reduced oil consumption,” said Dan Lashof, director of NRDC’s Climate Center. “We have known for some time that a firm limit on global warming pollution with an accompanying market would produce jobs, provide manufacturing opportunities, and spark innovation. This analysis confirms that we can do this with little cost to our energy system.”
The model calculates CO2 allowance prices that rise steadily over time from $12 per ton of CO2 in 2020 to $20 per ton in 2030 and almost $50 per ton in 2050.
The US-NM50 MARKAL model used for the analysis found that the Lieberman-Warner emission limits could be achieved with contributions to global warming pollution reductions from the following sources (Case A):
- Electric demand reduction—19%
- Renewable energy—24%
- Carbon sequestration—8%
- Domestic offsets—13%
- International credits—18%
- Nuclear power—0%
IRG modelers also created a compliance pathway (Case B) that illustrates a future with major continued investments in coal generation, with more substantial reliance on CCS. In this case, carbon sequestration contributes 19% of the emission reductions, and the contributions from electric demand reductions and renewable energy are reduced somewhat.
“The analysis shows that companies that lead the transition to clean-and-efficient technologies will reap the benefits," said Pat DeLaquil, principal, Energy and Environmental Management Division, International Resource Group. “Furthermore, the analysis clearly demonstrates that if we as a society choose to actively promote a transition to technologies that reduce global warming pollution, the overall cost will be small.”
Under the Lieberman-Warner bill, natural gas demand will decrease substantially as renewable electricity generation increases, according to the analysis.
Renewables will grow to between 50% and 60% of total electricity supply. In this model, renewables are a mix of biomass, geothermal, concentrating solar power, solar photovoltaics, and wind technologies. The two main contributors to renewable electric output are large, remote wind farms and concentrating solar power.
The analysis was performed using a version of the U.S. national MARKAL model (US-NM50) originally developed by EPA’s Office of Research and Development. The model covers the period from 2000 to 2050 and is calibrated to 2000 and 2005 historical data. The starting point for the analysis is a business-as-usual scenario that tracks closely to DOE’s Annual Energy Outlook 2008 for the 2010 to 2030 period. This analysis focuses on emissions of carbon dioxide.
Three Market-Based Air Pollution Programs This Decade Deemed Failures
Experience with harnessing market forces to control air pollution has not been promising, according to analyses of three recent programs. These programs are analogous to the cap-and-trade plans now being considered by Congress as the principal mechanism for reducing greenhouse gases contributing to global warming, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
The most studied program was the Regional Clean Air Incentives Market (RECLAIM) program by the South Coast Air Quality Management District to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx) emissions through a cap and declining balance set for more than 350 of the largest polluting facilities in Southern California. RECLAIM has the longest history and practical experience of any locally designed and implemented air emissions cap-and-trade program.
An audit of the nine-year RECLAIM record by the EPA in November 2002 found that the program did not come close to living up to expectations:
- RECLAIM “produced far less emission reductions than either were projected...or could have been expected from [traditional control regulation].”
- Contrary to claims about stimulating new technology, EPA found an extremely low “likelihood such programs will produce innovation.”
- Overall, EPA found “little in the literature and reports by implementing agencies describing how the underlying theories or assumptions of market incentives programs are to be (or were) practically tested.”
“While cap-and-trade may be the most politically palatable approach for controlling greenhouse gases, it may be the most ineffective and unreliable,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, pointing to an open letter by EPA experts released last week detailing major impediments in implementing an effective trading program. “If steep reductions of greenhouse gases need to be made quickly, Congress should be sure it has the right tool for the job.”
The RECLAIM disappointment was not unique. In Chicago, a cap-and-trade program, called Emissions Reduction Market System (ERMS) for volatile organic materials (VOMs), also reduced emissions significantly below expectations, according to a 2006 analysis. In 2002, an EPA-sponsored emissions trading program based in New Jersey and Michigan completely collapsed due to crippling verification and enforcement deficiencies.
“While some proponents see a lucrative market in trading emissions credits, there is also a potential for environmental Enrons,” Ruch added, noting that the leading candidates in both parties have embraced market-based regulatory regimes to control greenhouse gases. “The call to harness market forces may in fact be a siren song to hitch our wagon to a scam.”
Schools Fined for Failure to Implement Asbestos Plans
EPA recently fined Portable Practical Education Preparation, Inc. (PPEP), $18,500 for alleged violations of the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act. The company holds charters for 12 Arizona charter schools. Arizona Charter schools are public, state-funded schools constituted within the state.
In May 2006, EPA inspected the Celestino Fernandez Learning Center and found that the school was unable to present an asbestos management plan. EPA found PPEP had not conducted inspections nor had asbestos management plans for some of its schools. The Alice S. Paul school, which had an asbestos management plan, was not re-inspected within the three-year time frame required by federal law.
“Organizations responsible for charter schools need to understand their facilities must meet all of the federal asbestos in schools requirements, as failure to do so can result in penalties,” said Katherine Taylor, associate director for the Communities and Ecosystems Division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Asbestos can potentially endanger the health of students, teachers, and maintenance workers at schools, so we are pleased the PPEP charter schools have now conducted inspections and its asbestos management plans are in place.”
In August 2006, accredited inspectors conducted asbestos inspections at “Lito” Pena Learning Center, Manuel Bojorquez Learning Center, Raul H. Castro Learning Center, Cesar Chavez Learning Center, Jose Yepez Learning Center, Celestino Fernandez Learning Center, John David Arnold Learning Center, Victor Soltero Learning Center, Eugene Lopez Learning Center, and Robles Junction Learning Center.
The Raul H. Castro Learning Center and the Celestino Fernandez Learning Center were each found to have about 600 square feet of asbestos containing building materials, while about 500 square feet of asbestos containing building materials was found at the Manuel Bojorquez Learning Center. No asbestos was found at the other schools. Management plans for each of these schools were prepared in August 2006.
PPEP also holds the charter for the Arizona Virtual Academy, where an asbestos inspection was conducted on August 7 and 9, 2007. No asbestos was found. Management plans for the two locations of the Arizona Virtual Academy offices were prepared in September 2007.
Federal law requires schools to conduct an initial inspection using accredited inspectors to determine if asbestos-containing building material is present and develop a management plan to address asbestos materials found in school buildings.
Schools that do not contain asbestos-containing material must still develop a management plan that identifies a designated person, includes an architect’s statement or building inspection, and notifies parents, teachers, and employees annually regarding the plan’s availability.
The EPA’s rules also require the school to appoint a designated person who is trained to oversee asbestos activities and ensure that the school complies with federal regulations. Finally, schools must conduct periodic surveillance and re-inspections, properly train maintenance and custodial staff, and maintain records in the management plan.
Local education agencies must keep an updated copy of the management plan in its administrative office and at the school, which must be made available for inspection by parents, teachers, and the general public.
Environmental News Links
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3,000 Evacuated After Train Cars Leak Acid
Trivia Question of the Week
Of the almost 16 million acres of reservoirs, lakes, and ponds assessed by the EPA, what percentage has the agency determined to have impaired water quality?
Bonus question: What was the most often cited cause of the impairment?
a. Toxic organics