Changes in DOT Hazardous Materials Transportation Regulations are On the Way

June 11, 2018

On Tuesday, June 12, 2018, the DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) will host two public meetings. The first meeting--led by PHMSA--will solicit public input on current proposals and discuss potential new work items for inclusion in the agenda of the 53rd session of the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (UNSCOE TDG). The second meeting--led by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)--will discuss proposals in preparation for the 35th session of the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (UNSCEGHS).

General topics on the agenda for the meeting include:

  • Explosives and related matters
  • Listing, classification, and packing;
  • Electric storage systems
  • Transport of gases
  • Global harmonization of regulations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods with the Model Regulations
  • Guiding principles for the Model Regulations
  • Cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency
  • New proposals for amendments to the Model Regulations
  • Issues relating to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)
  • Miscellaneous pending issues.

Following the 53rd session of the UNSCOE TDG, a copy of the Sub-Committee’s report will be available at the UN Transport Division’s website. Additional information regarding the UNSCOE TDG can be found on PHMSA’s website.

Hazardous Waste Training

Annual hazardous waste training is required for anyone who generates, accumulates, stores, transports, or treats hazardous waste. Learn how to manage your hazardous waste in accordance with the latest state and federal regulations. Learn how to complete EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest, and the more than 60 changes in EPA’s new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule. Environmental Resource Center’s Hazardous Waste Training is available at nationwide locations, and via live webcasts. If you plan to also attend DOT hazardous materials training, call 800-537-2372 to find out how can get your course materials on a new Amazon Fire HD10 tablet.

Idaho Granted Authority to Implement State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a delegation memorandum that will allow the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) to begin issuing and enforcing discharge permits for businesses and municipalities across the state. Starting July 1, 2018, IDEQ will begin administering the Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System in place of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Administrator Pruitt also attended a business roundtable with Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and toured the National Interagency Fire Center.

The NPDES program is a fundamental building block of the federal Clean Water Act that regulates pollution discharged to the nation’s streams, rivers, and marine environments. Under the Clean Water Act, EPA may authorize states to implement all or parts of the NPDES system. Prior to this approval, EPA issued and enforced water discharge permits in Idaho.

To build their program, IDEQ worked with the legislature to secure dependable funding, hired and trained permit-writers and enforcement staff, held public and stakeholder meetings, and developed a four-year sector phase-in schedule. Idaho now joins 46 other states across the country running their own water discharge permitting program, protecting their most precious natural resource: safe, clean water. Idaho’s program will be called the Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

Under its approval, EPA retains oversight of Idaho’s program including federal enforcement authority. Idaho plans to phase-in the permit program as follows:

  • Phase I (July 1, 2018): Domestic Wastewater Facilities and the Pretreatment Program
  • Phase II (July 1, 2019): Industrial Wastewater Facilities
  • Phase III (July 1, 2020): General Permit (non-Storm water)
  • Phase IV (July 1, 2021): All storm water permits and the Biosolids Program

Former Concord Chemical CEO Admits to Improper Storage of Hazardous Waste

The former president and CEO of Concord Chemical Co. Inc. (Concord) has admitted to illegally storing hazardous waste at the company's Camden facility and making false statements to the EPA, U.S Attorney Craig Carpenito announced last week.

Miguel Castillo, 63, of Hilton Head, South Carolina, pleaded guilty to one count of storing hazardous waste at Concord's Camden facility in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), according to Carpenito.

RCRA was enacted in 1976 to address a growing nationwide problem with industrial and municipal waste, according to documents filed in the case and statements made in court. RCRA was designed to protect human health and the environment by prohibiting the treatment, storage or disposal of any hazardous waste without a permit.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) authorizes the EPA to remove hazardous waste from industrial sites and hold responsible parties liable for the costs.

Concord manufactured, repackaged and distributed a wide variety of chemical products, including cresylic acid, soaps, waxes, pipe lubricants and emulsions. Some of Concord's products and the raw materials used to make them were hazardous.

Castillo was Concord's president or CEO from 2003 through August 2011. He also served as the president and director of another company, KW Inc., which repackaged and distributed commercial laundry products while leasing space from Concord's Camden facility from May 2008 through the fall of 2009. Neither Concord nor KW had a permit to store hazardous waste at the Camden facility.

While Castillo was in charge of Concord, drums containing hazardous waste were stored in the Camden facility basement. In 2004 and 2005, Concord employees attempted to remove those drums but allegedly never finished due to claims by Castillo that Concord could not afford to remove additional drums.

By March 2010, Concord and KW had ceased operations at Concord's Camden facility. In August 2010, the EPA conducted a site visit and discovered that the facility was devoid of employees, left in a deteriorated condition and filled with drums containing corrosive and ignitable hazardous waste. From October 2010 through March 2011, the EPA removed the hazardous substances from the facility.

On Sept. 1, 2011, the EPA requested information from Castillo in order to identify the parties responsible for EPA's removal costs. When Castillo responded to the EPA's requests, he failed to identify himself as Concord's president and CEO or KW's president and director.

The illegal storage of hazardous waste charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offense. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 10.

Shell Oil Products Required to Improve Waste Management, Pay Penalty

EPA has reached a settlement with Shell Oil Products over hazardous waste and risk management plan compliance at its crude oil refinery in Martinez, Calif. Shell Oil Products, a subsidiary of Shell Oil Company, will pay a $142,664 civil penalty and spend an estimated $220,300 to make improvements to its oil processing facility.

This action will prevent an estimated 64 tons of hazardous waste from being released to the environment every year and reduce the risk of diesel fuel spills to San Francisco Bay.

“Today’s order requires Shell Oil to make necessary enhancements to comply with federal laws and protect public health and our natural resources,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker.

Shell Oil has also agreed to spend about $38,000 in support of emergency planning and preparedness in Contra Costa County. Shell Oil will provide the Contra Costa Health Services Hazardous Materials Programs with equipment to stop leaks from sulfur dioxide containers, personal protective equipment, and handheld particulate meters (including backup batteries and chargers), which are used to monitor air quality.

The Shell Martinez Refinery, located on Pacheco Boulevard about 2 miles east of downtown Martinez and south of the Carquinez Strait, processes about 165,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The refinery also makes asphalt, diesel, jet turbine fuel, petroleum coke, propane, residential fuel oils, and sulfur.

EPA inspected the refinery in November 2014, March 2015, and November 2016 and found:

  • Failure to immediately notify the appropriate federal, state, and local emergency planning and response agencies immediately after an accidental release in December 2013
  • Failure to determine if waste generated at the refinery was hazardous
  • Failure to follow proper procedures for managing hazardous waste
  • Failure to comply with Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure rule requirements, such as using proper containers for fuel storage
  • Failure to comply with Risk Management Plan Rule requirements, such as accurately reporting an accidental release worst-case scenario. When properly implemented, risk management plans and their associated program elements help prevent and control chemical releases at facilities that store large amounts of hazardous substances or flammable chemicals. These plans are also used by EPA and other emergency responders to assess chemical risks to nearby communities and prepare for emergency responses.

Under the terms of the settlement, Shell Oil will upgrade the area where heat exchanger equipment is cleaned to ensure that resulting hazardous materials are properly managed. Shell Oil will also develop and implement a plan for sampling stormwater to ensure the water is managed appropriately. Finally, Shell Oil will analyze materials generated from its laboratory activities to ensure that they are managed correctly.

Trails End Recovery Fined for Water Violations

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has fined Custom Excavating by Dean Larson Inc., doing business as Trails End Recovery Facility, $23,104 for violating stormwater permit requirements and causing pollution to local waterways from its Warrenton facility.

Trails End Recovery collects and repurposes construction and landscaping debris and other materials.

A DEQ inspector identified the violations after receiving a complaint about the facility and conducting a site visit in June 2017.

Violations included:

  • discharging an oily sheen and vehicle wash water to a tributary of the Lewis and Clark River
  • allowing compost to overflow from containment bins and spill into a roadside ditch that flows to the tributary
  • exposing large, uncovered stockpiles to stormwater runoff
  • allowing soil to spill into a wetland area
  • failing to conduct required site inspections that can reveal potential problems and prevent pollution

Adding soil, compost and other solids to waterways is considered pollution because it alters the properties of the water. It can be harmful to aquatic life and reduce the safety of the water for public use.

Umpqua Aggregate Resources Fined for Air Violations

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has fined Umpqua Aggregate Resources LLC $4,800 for air quality violations at its asphalt plan.

On Aug. 10, 2017, the company exceeded its emission limit for particulate matter concentration in its Air Contaminant Discharge Permit at its site at 410 Del Rio Road in Roseburg.

The limit, known as a new source performance standard, ensures that air contaminant sources effectively control pollution and meet national health standards for air quality. Particulate matter can contribute to respiratory diseases and can affect the heart and lungs causing serious health problems.

The company has appealed the fine.

Pardee Homes Fined $291,286 for Allowing Sediment to Run Uncontrolled During Storms

The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board has fined Pardee Homes $291,286 for violations at the 204-acre Castlerock Weston construction site near Santee, CA that led to more than 70,000 gallons of sediment-laden stormwater being directed through the City of Santee’s municipal storm separate sewer system to Sycamore Canyon creek, an environmentally sensitive watershed.

“Pardee Homes, a significant developer with a long history of building homes in California, knows better and appeared to ignore both common sense and prudent sediment management practices by conducting significant grading during the 2016-2017 rainy season, resulting in catastrophic erosion and sediment run-off,” said Laurie Walsh, the San Diego Water Board’s storm water program manager. “This was in direct contradiction to a Storm Water Pollution Management Plan they had on file for this project.”

“When a developer grades a construction site that big all at once, they are assuming a higher risk of pollution because it becomes so much harder to implement sitewide pollution management practices,” said Chiara Clemente, the San Diego Water Board’s enforcement coordinator. “Taking a risk like that can end badly. In this case it resulted in discharges of sediment-laden water from the construction site on several occasions.”

Exposed dirt from construction activities poses a threat to local waters because it can wash off during a storm, Clemente explained. Excess sediment can alter or obstruct flows, resulting in flooding, and it can damage local ecosystems. Abnormally high levels of sediment in the water can smother aquatic animals and habitats, and it can reduce the clarity of water, which harms the ability of organisms to breath, find food and refuge and reproduce. Sediment can also act as a binder, carrying toxic constituents, such as metals, pesticides and other synthetic organic chemicals with it to our rivers, bays and ocean.

The San Diego Water Board’s enforcement action referenced multiple citations issued by the City of Santee and the City of San Diego and relied on their inspection reports and photographs as some of the evidence. This partnership demonstrates the synergy of the San Diego Water Board working in close collaboration with the local municipalities.

Biodiesel Fuel Company Pleads Guilty to Releasing Over 45,000 Gallons of Wastewater

An Elizabeth, New Jersey, biodiesel fuel company pleaded guilty to discharging over 45,000 gallons of wastewater from its commercial biodiesel fuel production into the Arthur Kill, a narrow waterway that separates New Jersey from Staten Island, New York, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito and Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood announced.

Fuel Bio One LLC pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini to an information charging it with one count of violating the Clean Water Act, a statute that was enacted to prevent, reduce, and eliminate water pollution in the United States.

According to court documents, Fuel Bio One generated wastewater that included methanol, biodiesel and other contaminants, as a byproduct of its biodiesel fuel production at its Elizabeth, New Jersey, plant. On September 6, 2013, and November 9, 2013, employees of Fuel Bio One released a total of approximately 45,000 gallons of wastewater into a storm water pit at the Elizabeth plant, causing the pump to operate and, as a result, wastewater to be discharged into the Arthur Kill. A representative of Fuel Bio One admitted to this conduct in court.

Fuel Bio One has agreed, as part of its plea agreement, to pay $100,000 and to be placed on a probationary term of five years. During the probation, the company will be required to provide to the court biannual reports of any waste it generates and the steps taken to properly dispose of such waste. Fuel Bio One will also be required to develop an employee training program to ensure that all storage, treatment and disposal of wastewater complies with the Clean Water Act and any other applicable laws. The company will also be required to provide the EPA full access to all offices, warehouses and facilities.

“Staten Island Sound (also known as the Arthur Kill) is a vital waterway running between New Jersey and Staten Island. Once heavily polluted and nearly devoid of marine life, this waterbody is making a comeback and again provides habitat to many species of fish and wildlife,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Illegal dumping of pollution into the Sound not only violates federal law, but also threatens the environmental recovery of this historic marine channel, which is important to New Yorkers and New Jerseyans alike. The Justice Department will continue to work closely with EPA Criminal Investigation Division to prosecute illegal actions like those in this case.”

“Protecting the environment and our natural resources is one of the many ways this office works to keep New Jersey safe for everyone,” said U.S. Attorney Carpenito for the District of New Jersey. “Today’s prosecution and guilty plea ensures that Fuel Bio One will be punished for its past crimes, and the plea agreement puts into place a plan to make sure they don’t pollute our waterways in the future.”

“Fuel Bio One undercuts a level playing field when they illegally discharge polluted wastewater into the Arthur Kill without any regulatory approval,” said Special Agent in Charge Tyler Amon of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in New Jersey. “This judicial action demonstrates EPA’s commitment to protecting New Jersey’s environment and ensuring that all companies play by the rules to keep pollutants from the state’s natural resources.”

Nevada Diesel Emission Mitigation Fund Competitive Grant Program

The Nevada Diesel Emission Mitigation Fund, managed by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP), started taking applications on June 1, 2018 for its first annual funding round to assist public and privately-owned fleets with the replacement of older medium- and heavy-duty diesel-powered vehicles (for example, transit buses, school buses, freight trucks, etc.) with new vehicles that emit fewer harmful exhaust emissions, in particular nitrogen oxides. Applications for this first funding round are due no later than July 31, 2018. “This program will be an effective resource for fleets in Nevada working to improve air quality,” said Danilo Dragoni, Bureau Chief of the Air Quality Planning with NDEP. “The funding will be instrumental in our ongoing efforts to protect and enhance air quality throughout the state.”

The Diesel Emission Mitigation Fund is funded by the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Agreement that was created by the settlements finalized between the Volkswagen Corporation, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the State of California regarding the installation and use of defeat devices in diesel-powered vehicles.

Funding Available for USTs in Arizona

ADEQ's new Underground Storage Tank Site Improvement Program (TSI) is providing financial assistance to Underground Storage Tank (UST) owners, operators and property owners for specific tank site improvements that help prevent future costly remedial activities.

Reimbursement Funding Is Available Up to $100,0001 per Facility and Includes:

Senators and Environmental Groups Comment on EPA’s Proposed Cost-Benefit Analysis Reform

U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), released the following statement on the EPA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to announce that the Agency is soliciting public input on whether and how to change the way it considers costs and benefits in making regulatory decisions. Through the ANPRM, the agency will seek public input to consider in developing any subsequent proposed rule. The notice is responsive to recent calls from Barrasso and other EPW members for EPA to reexamine how the costs and benefits of regulations are calculated.

“During the Obama administration, the EPA exaggerated the benefits of Washington regulations and misjudged how costly they are to the economy,” said Barrasso. “Punishing regulations like the so-called ‘Clean Power Plan’ would have cost Wyoming’s energy workers their jobs and devastated communities throughout the state. Now the Trump administration is taking important steps to make sure the agency can no longer abuse the cost-benefit analysis process.”

On Jan. 12, 2018, Barrasso and every Republican member of the EPW committee sent a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in support of the agency’s proposal to repeal the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) regulation. In the letter, the Senators applauded the Trump administration for revisiting how costs and benefits are calculated. The letter stated, “The prior administration employed accounting policies that generated outsized benefits and minimized costs to justify costly [EPA Office of Air and Radiation] rules, such as the CPP. As you have done in this proposal to repeal the CPP, EPA should continue to examine and correct those issues so that future policies are grounded on sound cost-benefit analyses.”

On May 15, 2017, Barrasso sent a letter to the EPA in support of efforts to review past burdensome regulations issued by the agency. The letter was also signed by Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Roger Wicker (R-MS). In the letter, the Senators highlighted key areas of concern, including the prior administration’s use of the social cost of carbon and particulate matter co-benefits.

According to an EPA press release, the Agency has taken steps to revise EPA’s cost-benefit calculations. For example, consistent with the President’s Executive Order 13783, EPA lowered the social cost of carbon from the Agency’s initial estimate of $36 per ton to an average of $5 per ton.

EPA has also proposed a different approach to analyzing co-benefits – benefits from reduced emissions of a pollutant that is not the actual target pollutant of a regulation. Particulate matter was the co-benefit most cited by the EPA in its Clean Power Plan rule. However, according to the current administration, the Clean Power Plan (CPP) should have only focused on the benefits carbon dioxide reductions. When EPA recently issued its proposed repeal of CPP, the Agency limited the anticipated beneficial impacts of the rule on the targeted pollutant – carbon dioxide.

Ana Unruh Cohen, managing director for government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council issued a statement disagreeing with the Senators’ assessment of the EPA proposal, Scott Pruitt’s latest gambit is as misguided as it is dangerous. It also is founded on a big lie: that federal rules cost more than the benefits. In fact, the opposite is true – by a country mile. The benefits of public safeguards far exceed the cost of adopting them. Don’t just take our word for it. The Trump administration’s own Office of Management and Budget found that for every dollar spent complying with safeguards, Americans reaped between $2 and $12 of benefits.”

New Michigan PFAS Website

The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) has launched a new and improved website designed to keep the public better informed on the state’s work to identify per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS) contamination in the state and protect people from high-level exposures to this emerging class of contaminants.

The redesigned website,, features dedicated sections covering PFAS and human health, water testing and treatment, and active investigations throughout the state. The site also contains an expanded list of frequently asked questions related to PFAS.

The site will also host results from a statewide survey of PFAS levels in public water supplies. The $1.7 million survey is the first comprehensive, state-driven study of its kind. The state has already sampled water at more than 30 sites including industrial, military, and landfills known to have used or disposed of PFAS-containing materials and acted to protect drinking water supplies. The website contains overviews and updates on these investigations.

In January 2018, Michigan acted to set a new clean-up standard of 70 parts per trillion for PFAS in groundwater used for drinking water. PFAS chemicals include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). Michigan is one of only a handful of states to establish a clean-up standard.

MPART is helping to coordinate the state’s $23 million effort to locate PFAS contamination, identify sources, and oversee remediation activities aimed at protecting the state’s water resources and mitigating risks to the public.

PFAS compounds are a group of emerging and potentially harmful contaminants used in thousands of applications globally including food packaging, and many other consumer products. PFAS is also found in firefighting foam used by airports and the military.

Updated Rail Tank Car Thermal Protection Systems List

PHMSA issued a notice in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to indicate that four systems that have been added to the thermal protection systems list since its most recent publication, as well as to solicit comments or updates to information on the current list. The thermal protection systems included on the list are compliant and are acceptable for use, without further test verification, DOT specification tank cars.

DOT manages the list through the PHMSA Records Center and periodically publishes an updated list in the Federal Register for public awareness. Details on the four systems that have been added to the list are available in this Federal Register notice.

Lead Paint Violations Found on Fixer Upper TV Show

EPA and Magnolia Waco Properties, LLC, which does business as Magnolia Homes, have reached a settlement to resolve alleged violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule), related to home renovations conducted without adequate lead paint protections as depicted on the television program Fixer Upper.

Under the terms of the settlement, Magnolia will take steps to ensure compliance with lead-based paint regulations in future renovation projects, address lead-based paint hazards at high-risk homes in Waco, Texas, and educate the public to lead-based paint hazards and appropriate renovation procedures.

“It’s important that consumers and contractors understand that improper home renovation can expose residents and workers to hazardous lead dust,” said EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine. “Through this settlement, Magnolia is putting in place safeguards to ensure the safety of its renovation work and making meaningful contributions toward the protection of children and vulnerable communities from exposure to lead-based paint.”

As part of the settlement, Magnolia will implement an internal monitoring program to ensure the compliance of future renovation projects it undertakes. In its local community of Waco, Texas, Magnolia will spend $160,000 to abate lead-based paint hazards in those homes where occupants are at the highest risk for exposure to dust from lead-based paint. Magnolia also is getting the message about lead-based paint out to a national audience. In Season 5, Episode 16 of Fixer Upper, which aired on HGTV on March 20, 2018, Magnolia’s Chip Gaines talked about testing an old home for lead-based paint and depicted some of the precautions required by EPA’s RRP Rule. Magnolia is producing a brief video about renovating homes that contain lead-based paint for its large internet audience as well, and it will post that video, which will feature Chip Gaines, to social media and to Magnolia’s website within 90 days. Magnolia also agreed to pay a civil penalty of $40,000.

This settlement stems from allegations that Magnolia did not comply with all of the requirements of the RRP Rule in renovations it performed in 33 properties in the Waco, Texas. Those allegations were detailed in a November 29, 2017 administrative complaint filed by EPA. Magnolia took immediate steps to obtain EPA certification and bring its activities into compliance with TSCA shortly after it was first contacted by EPA in 2015. 

Lead-based paint was banned for use in housing in 1978. However, houses built prior to 1978 are likely to have at least some lead-based paint. The RRP Rule is designed to prevent exposure to lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards resulting from renovations. The Rule requires that firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 be certified by EPA (or an EPA authorized state), use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers, inform homeowners and occupants of the hazards of lead-based paint by providing them with the Renovate Right pamphlet before starting a renovation, follow lead-safe work practices to contain dust in the renovation work area and contain the waste during its disposal, and keep records in order to document compliance with the law. 

Lead exposure can cause a range of adverse health effects and is particularly dangerous for young children, because their nervous systems are still developing. Lead exposure continues to pose a significant health and safety threat to children, preventing them from reaching the fullest potential of their health, their intellect, and their future. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that no blood lead level is safe for children. 

Court Orders Pruitt to Produce His Alternate Climate Science

A federal court has rejected the EPA’s refusal to search for scientific information Administrator Scott Pruitt relied upon in claiming that human activity is not a “primary contributor” to climate change, according to a ruling upholding the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit brought by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The agency must also produce any studies EPA possesses that support Pruitt’s stated skepticism of anthropogenic climate change by July 11.

In a March 9, 2017 interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Pruitt stated with respect to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases created by human activity “I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” He added “there’s a tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact” of “human activity on the climate….” The next day PEER filed a FOIA request asking to see the studies upon which Pruitt based his claim and whether there are any EPA scientific studies that find human activity is not the largest factor driving global climate change.

Not only did EPA fail to respond within the statutory deadline, but even after PEER filed suit to compel production the Agency contended that it would not respond because the suit is “a trap” in the form of an improper “interrogation” and a “fishing expedition” to explore Pruitt’s “personal opinion.”

In the June 1 ruling, Beryl Howell, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, brushed aside EPA’s objections, calling them “a reach too far” and “not persuasive”, observing that –

“Particularly troubling is the apparent premise of this agency challenge to the FOIA request, namely: that the evidentiary basis for a policy or factual statement by an agency head, including about the scientific factors contributing to climate change, is inherently unknowable.”

“The beauty of FOIA is that a government agency can run but ultimately can’t hide,” stated PEER Senior Counsel Paula Dinerstein, noting that Pruitt was on TV identified as EPA Administrator and purporting to speak in his official capacity with no disclaimer that he was expressing his personal views. “This suit forces EPA to determine whether Mr. Pruitt’s statements had a factual basis or were full of hot air.”

For the past few months, Mr. Pruitt has promised to initiate a controversial “red team, blue team” review of climate science. He has persisted despite mounting scientific consensus, including the most recent interagency U.S. Climate Science Special Report that concluded it is “extremely likely,” with a 95 to 100% confidence, that humans are driving warming on Earth. “How can there be a debate when the red team is hiding below the podium?” asked Dinerstein. “In essence, we are asking Mr. Pruitt to put up or shut up on climate change.”

Environmental News Links

National Geographic: Planet or Plastic

The Chemical Industry Scores a Big Win at the EPA

Citizens Can Monitor US Steel Plants for Air Pollution Online

Billions in U.S. Solar Projects Shelved Due to Tariff

More Than 100 Bipartisan Lawmakers Urge Pruitt to Scrap Secret Science Rule

From Fungus Foam to Pineapple Pleather: 5 Plastic Alternatives to Watch

Carbon Dioxide Reaches Another Record Level in Earth's Atmosphere

Toxic Waste Sits Buried at Sea. Will It Be Rattled by Planned Seismic Testing?

Donald Trump Called Asbestos Poisoning a Mob-Led Conspiracy, Now His EPA Won’t Evaluate Asbestos Already in Homes

May Was Warmest on Record for USA, Breaking Mark Set During Dust Bowl

Trivia Question of the Week

On what date will EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest become available for use?

  1. Its already available
  2. June 30, 2018
  3. July 30, 2018
  4. January 1, 2019

Answer: b