Clean Air Act Enforcement for Mobile Power Generators Waived in the Face of Power Grid Destruction

October 02, 2017

EPA recently announced that it will exercise enforcement discretion for mobile power generators being imported into Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that will be used as emergency sources of power there as a result of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Under these “no action assurances” EPA will not pursue enforcement actions for certain violations of the Clean Air Act for mobile power generators that have not been certified to meet U.S. pollution control standards and are imported for use in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

EPA’s no action assurance in Puerto Rico, which was previously issued on September 22, 2017, was amended recently to broaden the categories of equipment subject to the no action assurance. Available information continues to indicate extreme damage to Puerto Rico’s power grid, including near-total destruction to power transmission infrastructure. EPA’s no action assurance in the U.S. Virgin Islands was issued due to currently reported conditions, including preliminary information about extreme damage to the U.S. Virgin Islands’ power grid, including destruction of the power transmission infrastructure. These no action assurances cover mobile power generators that are imported before January 31, 2018.

EPA policy allows the Agency to issue no action assurances in cases where it is necessary to avoid extreme risks to public health and safety and where no other mechanism can adequately address the matter. EPA believes that the exercise of enforcement discretion in these circumstances is in the public interest and will help address the emergency circumstances in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Los Angeles Hazardous Waste and DOT Training

Register for California Hazardous Waste Management and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Los Angeles, CA, on October 10–12 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Mobile, Alabama RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Mobile, AL, on October 24–26 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Atlanta RCRA/DOT Update, IATA, and SARA Training

Register for RCRA and DOT Annual Update and Refresher in Atlanta, GA, on October 31 and get the refresher training you need in one day. Learn how to ship dangerous goods by air at IATA: How to Ship Dangerous Goods by Air on November 1, and ensure you understand your reporting obligations at the SARA Title III (EPCRA) Workshop on November 2. To register for these courses, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Analysis of Refinery Chemical Emissions and Health Effects

California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has issued a draft report which presents a list of chemicals emitted from California refineries, and then prioritizes the chemicals according to their emissions levels and toxicity. The report covers emissions that occur routinely in daily operations, as well as accidental and other non-routine emissions. This report does not attempt to actually measure exposure or risk in communities, but is instead a compendium of information, including health information, that may be useful for considering which chemicals to monitor near facilities, emergency response, and other efforts.

Coalition of Attorneys General Challenge EPA's Rollback of Clean Water Protections

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, leading a coalition of nine Attorneys General, challenged the legality of a Trump Administration proposal to void the “Clean Water Rule” that defines “waters of the United States” under federal law.  In comments addressed to the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), the coalition charges that the proposed repeal of the Clean Water Rule—a rule designed to ensure the nation’s lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands receive proper protection under the federal Clean Water Act—is “arbitrary and capricious and not in accordance with law.” The coalition also charges that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s involvement in the effort, after suing to negate the Clean Water Rule as Oklahoma Attorney General, is “illegal” and would render any repeal invalid.

 “Clean water is a basic right—fundamental to New Yorkers’ health, environment, and economy,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “The Trump administration’s attempt to repeal the Clean Water Rule would turn back the clock on hard-earned gains and jeopardize access to the clean, safe water on which we rely. Attorneys General will continue to fight back against the Trump administration’s reckless assault on our nation’s core public health and environmental protections.”

A lake, river, stream, wetland, or any other kind of surface water is afforded protection under the Clean Water Act only if it is a “water of the United States.” Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 led to substantial uncertainty as to whether some waters—particularly, small, seasonal, or rain-dependent streams, wetlands, and tributaries—are considered waters of the United States. As a result, roughly 20,000,000 wetland acres and 2,000,000 miles of streams in the Continental United States lost, or were placed in jeopardy of losing, their protections under the Clean Water Act. These at-risk streams help provide drinking water to 117 million Americans—including 56% of New Yorkers.

The decisions also potentially stripped 60% of our nation’s streams—and at least 55%of New York’s stream miles—and millions of acres of wetlands nationwide of federal protection.  This left these waters—and the downstream waters with which they connect—vulnerable to increased flooding, pollution, damage to hunting and fishing habitat, and fouling of the drinking water supplies.

The 2015 Clean Water Rule clarified what types of waters are covered by the Clean Water Act. The Rule was based on over 1,200 peer-reviewed scientific studies that demonstrated how many waters are connected by networks of tributaries, intermittent streams, and wetlands.  Because of this “interconnectivity,” physical, chemical, and biological pollution from wetlands and relatively small or infrequently-flowing upland streams often impact larger downstream waters, such as rivers, lakes, estuaries, and oceans. All of the lower 48 states have waters that are downstream of other states; New York, for example, is downstream of 13 states. As such, New York and other states are recipients of water pollution generated not only within their borders, but also from upstream sources outside their borders over which they lack jurisdiction.

On July 27, 2017, the EPA and ACOE proposed to repeal the Clean Water Rule and reinstate regulations—adopted in 1977—that had been in place prior to the Clean Water Rule. It was these 40-year-old rules, whose dated science and lack of clarity as to which waters are “waters of the United States,” that had led to years of confusing and inconsistent interpretations by agencies and federal courts. Once the repeal rule is finalized, the reinstated, outdated 1977 regulations could remain in place indefinitely. 

In their comments, the coalition of Attorneys General state that EPA and ACOE are in “wholesale breach of foundational administrative law principles and the repeal rule is arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with law.” The coalition charges that, among other things, the agencies have:

  • Failed to provide a meaningful opportunity for public comment on the substance of the repeal rule—specifically rejecting any comments on the content, basis, or impact of the reinstated 40-year-old regulations—demonstrating “that the agencies are not participating in the rulemaking with an open mind”
  • Failed to consider important aspects of defining “waters of the United States,” including the “well-known ambiguities and inconsistencies that result from applying the 1977 regulations, and the further complications arising from Supreme Court and federal case law interpreting ‘water of the United States’”
  • Disregarded the voluminous scientific basis and factual findings supporting the Clean Water Rule, including that the 1997 regulations do not specifically address the interconnectivity of waters and thereby leave many floodplains, wetlands, and tributaries without certain protection under the Clean Water Act.

 

The coalition notes that while Administrator Pruitt has pledged to recuse himself from the litigation he brought as Oklahoma Attorney General to repeal the Clean Water Rule, he has refused to recuse himself from the repeal rulemaking. The coalition charges that Administrator Mr. Pruitt’s involvement in this rulemaking is “illegal” and “renders a final rule invalid due to his illegal refusal to follow [federal recusal requirements] in light of his lack of impartiality, and because the clear and convincing evidence demonstrates his closed mind on the matter in violation of due process.”

This matter is being handled for the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau by Assistant Attorneys General Phillip Bein and Timothy Hoffman, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic. The Environmental Protection Bureau is part of the Division of Social Justice, which is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Alvin Bragg.

Groups File Freedom of Information Suit over Worst Toxic Water Pollution Source

A coalition of environmental and public health advocates filed suit to compel the EPA to stop withholding critical information about the Trump administration’s swift attempt to roll back safeguards against America’s leading source of toxic water pollution: coal power plants.

Coal plants all over the country dump toxic chemicals into rivers, lakes, and streams that millions of Americans use for drinking water and recreation, yet the EPA is illegally refusing to provide the public with key information on why it’s scrapping new safeguards to protect public health from water contamination.

Earthjustice filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in federal district court in Manhattan on behalf of the Waterkeeper Alliance, Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, and the Environmental Integrity Project.

Barely two months after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt took office, the EPA abruptly issued an April 25 order to put an indefinite hold on safeguards designed to control the amount of arsenic, mercury, selenium, lead and other pollutants that spew from coal plants into our public waters. By putting those protections on hold indefinitely, the Trump administration is allowing power plants to continue discharging toxics without any specific limits, using standards set 35 years ago.

Four months later, despite acknowledging that it has hundreds, if not thousands, of documents that are responsive to the request, the EPA has produced only one document—and much of that document was inked out before releasing.

Despite acknowledging that it has hundreds, if not thousands, of documents that are responsive to the request, the EPA has produced only one document—and much of that document was inked out before releasing.

To find out why the agency would take an action so contrary to the public’s interest, Earthjustice filed a FOIA request on behalf of the coalition in April, asking the EPA to provide the documents that led to the decision to allow more toxic coal waste dumping in America’s waterways. Four months later, despite acknowledging that it has hundreds, if not thousands, of documents that are responsive to the request, the EPA has produced only one document—and much of that document was inked out before releasing.

While the new EPA administration has rebuffed environmental and public health advocates, it has held numerous meetings with polluting industries, following up with accelerated actions that benefit polluters at the public’s expense.

“Scott Pruitt held private meetings with multi-billion-dollar power companies, and then went on a crusade to allow those companies to dump billions of pounds of poison in our rivers,” said Waterkeeper Alliance staff attorney Pete Harrison. “Meanwhile, Pruitt’s agency is breaking federal laws to conceal information about his interactions with the utilities.”

The toxics in coal plant waste can cause cancer, make fish unsafe to eat, and inflict lasting brain damage on small children. Heavy metals in the waste, like lead, arsenic, and mercury, don’t degrade over time, and can concentrate as they travel up the food chain—impacting fish and wildlife, and ultimately collecting in people’s bodies. Power plant pollution can also make municipal water bills more expensive because water treatment plants may have to spend more money to ensure that they deliver safe water to their customers.

After decades of inaction, limits for these toxic discharges from coal power plants were finally updated by the Obama Administration in September 2015 due to a court order secured by some of the same groups filing suit now. The new safeguards—which the Trump Administration is seeking to roll back—would have required power plants to eliminate the vast majority of this pollution, protecting our nation’s drinking water sources and making thousands of river miles safer for swimming and fishing.

“EPA is stonewalling the public because the agency knows it can't justify the dangerous decision to let coal plants continue to dump toxic metals and other chemicals into our water,” said Jennifer Peters, National Water Programs Director for Clean Water Action. “The facts haven't changed—coal plants are the number one toxic water polluter in the country.  But Scott Pruitt is hoping Americans will give up and stop fighting his reckless handouts to industry if EPA drags its feet long enough.”

“This is the largest industrial source of toxic water pollution in the country,” said Abel Russ, an attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project. “EPA’s failure to protect our children’s health is shameful, and they know that, and they would like to keep it quiet. But we will keep fighting to shine a light on EPA’s dereliction of duty.”

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan Announced State Lawsuit Against EPA

Governor Larry Hogan recently directed Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh to file suit against the EPA for its failure to act on a petition requiring power plants in five upwind states to reduce pollution that significantly affects the quality of the air that Marylanders breathe.

The petition, filed in November 2016 by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) under Section 126 of the federal Clean Air Act, requests the EPA to require certain power plant units in the upwind states to run their air pollution controls to reduce emissions. The EPA’s approval of the petition is critical to protecting the health of Marylanders and is important to a healthy Maryland economy. Ground-level ozone, or smog, has been one of Maryland’s most pervasive and challenging air pollution problems. About 70% of Maryland’s ozone problem originates from emissions in upwind states.

“Maryland has made significant progress in improving our air quality in recent years, and that progress is in jeopardy due to a lack of action by the EPA that dates back to the previous administration,” said Governor Hogan. “We strongly urge the EPA to approve the petition and enforce the air pollution controls, already in place in Maryland, at upwind out-of-state facilities that threaten the health of Maryland citizens and our economy.”

The filings of the petition and the related lawsuit come after decades of efforts by the Maryland Department of the Environment to influence the reduction in air pollution transported into Maryland from upwind states. MDE has pursued, and will continue to pursue, voluntary and collaborative efforts with partner states to ensure power plants upwind meet the same stringent standards that Maryland has implemented.

“The Maryland Department of the Environment has been working with upwind states to reduce smog that threatens our citizens, communities, and the Chesapeake Bay, but we now need the EPA to step in to ensure the good neighbor provisions of the federal Clean Air Act are fully realized,” said Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles. “We’re not asking for anything that we’re not already doing in Maryland. This common-sense approach – running the pollution controls that are already installed but are not always being used in out-of-state power plants – is one of the smartest ways we can protect our citizens’ lungs and level the playing field for businesses.”

In January, the EPA issued itself a six-month extension to the original 60-day deadline to respond to the November 2016 petition, requiring EPA action by July 15. That deadline expired with no EPA action on the petition. Maryland then notified the EPA of intention to file suit unless the federal regulatory agency took the required actions before the end of the applicable notice period. Maryland is to file suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland under section 304 of the Clean Air Act.

Research shows 36 out-of-state power plant units in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia emit pollution that contributes at times to poor air quality in Maryland, the petition states. Though Maryland has made dramatic progress on air quality in recent years, emissions from out-of-state sources could prevent Maryland from attaining and maintaining federal health-based air quality standards.

The comprehensive petition includes data showing the power plants have stopped running their pollution controls effectively. A requirement to run those controls throughout the summer “ozone season” is identical to what Maryland’s largest coal-fired power plants must do under regulations implemented in 2015 by the Hogan administration.

EPA approval of the petition is important to a healthy Maryland economy. In recent years, Maryland has been required to find deeper in-state emissions reductions to compensate for the pollution that comes from other states – placing a regulatory burden on Maryland’s business community, including small businesses.

EPA approval of the petition would also help in the multi-state restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. Up to a third of the nitrogen pollution in the Bay comes from air pollution.

Since taking office, Governor Hogan and the administration have taken substantial action to preserve and protect the environment. In 2015, Maryland adopted some of the country’s strictest regulations on nitrogen oxide pollution emitting from Maryland power plants. In 2016, Governor Hogan enacted the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act, which implemented an aggressive new state goal for reducing carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases. Earlier this year, Governor Hogan announced that Maryland joined with the other eight states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), in agreeing to reduce the program’s carbon pollution cap by 30% from 2020 to 2030.

ArcelorMittal Weirton LLC Fined $93,288 for Hazardous Waste Violations

The EPA recently announced a settlement with ArcelorMittal Weirton, LLC, under which the company has corrected alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at its manufacturing facility along the Ohio River in Weirton, West Virginia, and has certified the facility’s compliance with federal hazardous waste laws.

EPA cited ArcelorMittal for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal law governing the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA is designed to protect public health and the environment, and avoid long and extensive cleanups, by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste.

Among the concerns noted during an EPA inspection of the electroplating facility were uncontained toxic hazardous waste, such as lead, cyanide and chromium—a known carcinogen—on equipment, the facility floor, and outside the building.

The settlement reflects the company’s compliance efforts and its cooperation with EPA’s investigation. As part of the settlement, ArcelorMittal Weirton, LLC, has not admitted liability. Under the settlement, ArcelorMittal Weirton, LLC, will pay a $93,288 penalty.

By failing to properly manage hazardous waste, there is the potential for employees to be exposed to hazardous constituents or result in the release of hazardous constituents into the environment via soil or groundwater. The inspection did not identify any releases into the environment. 

EPA cited ArcelorMittal Weirton, LLC, for violations including:

  • Failure to ship a variety of hazardous wastes off-site in a timely manner
  • Failure to minimize the risk of release of hazardous waste
  • Failure to make a hazardous waste determination
  • Failure to properly label and date spent batteries

 

U.S. Marine Corps to Bring Camp Pendleton Water Systems into Compliance

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) has agreed to bring two public water systems at Camp Pendleton into compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act as part of a consent order with the EPA. Camp Pendleton’s South and North systems provide drinking water to approximately 55,000 customers.

Camp Pendleton, located in San Diego County, California, adds disinfectants to its groundwater systems as part of a treatment process that must be supervised and operated by qualified personnel. An EPA inspection in June 2017 found that Camp Pendleton lacked adequate supervision and qualified operators for treatment and distribution at its South and North public water systems.

“Public water systems must meet all state and federal requirements to provide safe drinking water to their customers,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our priority is to ensure the base achieves compliance promptly, to serve those who live and work at Camp Pendleton.”

EPA’s investigation found several significant deficiencies at both systems, including the presence of small animal remains in three reservoirs. In addition, EPA found that the advanced water treatment plant had been periodically shut down and that operators were not completing required equipment testing. Finally, inspectors found that operators did not regularly inspect, maintain, and document monitoring efforts, which resulted in foundational cracks and inadequate seals.

Shortly after the EPA inspection, USMC removed the animal remains and cleaned, refilled, and tested the reservoirs for total coliform and chlorine. USMC will conduct additional testing to ensure the water in the reservoirs is safe to drink.

Under EPA’s order, USMC must also issue a public notice informing customers of the ongoing compliance issues. EPA is requiring the USMC to shut down, inspect, clean and sample all other Camp Pendleton reservoirs for total coliform within 180 days. Should any of the samples test positive, USMC must issue a public notice and provide affected customers the choice to receive an alternative source of drinking water.  These reservoirs may not be returned to service until approved by EPA.

EPA Staff Winners of 2017 Samuel J. Heyman Service Awards

Two sets of EPA employees have won the 2017 Samuel J. Heyman Service to American medals, better known as “Sammies,” for their dedicated work on the Volkswagen settlement case and revitalizing urban waters.

“On behalf of EPA, I want to congratulate Phillip, Byron, Surabhi, and the EPA Urban Waters Team on their awards. They are stellar examples of the hard work and dedication of EPA employees. I thank them for their exemplary service,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Phillip A. Brooks of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance and Byron Bunker of the Office of Air and Radiation were awarded Federal Employee of the Year along with the Justice Department’s Joshua H. van Eaton for their rigorous work on the Volkswagen settlement that helped compensate car owners affected by the lawsuit and also funded projects to reduce pollution across the country.

Surabhi Shah and the Urban Waters Team from the Office of Water won Sammies for their work on creating public-private partnerships to clean up and revitalize urban waterways and surrounding lands, spurring economic development and reversing decades of neglect. 

Pennsylvania Offers Grants to Support Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Projects

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced the availability of approximately $1 million in grants to support the installation of publicly accessible alternative fuel infrastructure projects in designated major transportation corridors.

Examples of eligible projects include electric vehicle charging stations, compressed natural gas refueling stations, and propane refueling stations. All projects must be fully accessible to the public and be located within the designated alternative fuel corridors of I-76, I-276, I-476, I-70, I-95, and I-80.

The funding is made possible through the Commonwealth’s FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act. This special solicitation under the AFIG (Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants) Program is designed to provide long-term certainty for surface transportation infrastructure planning and investments.

“As the use of alternate fuels continues to increase, we must keep up with the demand for alternative fuel infrastructure along Pennsylvania’s high volume transit corridors,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Projects financed through these grants will offer additional flexibility and opportunities to those already committed to the use of alternative fuels, and will make it more convenient for new users to take advantage of rapidly expanding alternative fuel technology.”

Individual project awards will provide up to a 50% reimbursement and be capped at $500,000. Proposed projects must be standalone and cannot rely on receiving funding from multiple applications. For additional application requirements and restrictions, visit the AFIG web site.

TCEQ Offers Grants for Clean Transportation and Alternative Fueling Facilities

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is now accepting applications for grants to help defray the costs of building or modifying alternative fueling facilities. Up to $6 million is available to businesses and individuals who qualify.

The facilities will serve as the foundation of a self-sustaining market for alternative fuel in Texas. Developing this network of facilities will create jobs, ensure viable use of clean energy, and will help reduce both air pollution and dependence on fossil fuels.

Grants under the Alternative Fueling Facilities Program offset a portion of the cost of either the construction of new facilities dispensing natural gas and/or alternative fuels, or the expansion of existing facilities to provide new services or capabilities. Eligible fuels for the AFFP include natural gas, biodiesel, hydrogen, methanol, propane, and electricity.

Grants are available in certain parts of the state. A map and list of eligible counties is available on the AFFP web page. Applications will be accepted until 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, January 16, 2018. The TCEQ has scheduled seven AFFP grant application workshops to review the grant requirements and the application process.

For more information on the grant programs and to access up-to-date information on the application criteria and process, specific geographic eligibility requirements, and copies of the application form, visit www.terpgrants.org or call 800-919-TERP (8377).

Lawsuit: EPA Is Failing to Enforce Air Pollution Conflict-of-Interest Rules in Alabama, Mississippi 

Conservation and public-health groups filed a lawsuit on September 28 to force the EPA to ensure that Alabama and Mississippi have measures prohibiting conflicts of interest on state boards overseeing air pollution permits. The two states have been violating conflict-of-interest requirements for nearly 40 years.

“When it comes to the air we breathe, the EPA can’t let the fox guard the henhouse in these states,” said Robert Ukeiley, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s the agency’s job to make sure Alabama and Mississippi aren’t allowing special-interest groups to control air-pollution permitting decisions. Our clean air laws must be enforced by people who put public health before profits.”

Federal conflict of interest rules ensure that people who work for polluters are not making decisions about air-pollution permits and require that those rules are enforceable by the general public.

The recent lawsuit follows President Trump’s problematic choice of Trey Glenn to head the EPA’s regional office for Alabama and Mississippi. During Glenn’s tenure leading the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, an Alabama ethics commission found that he violated ethics laws to get the job as well as to obtain gifts. Glenn accepted baseball tickets and trips to Disneyland from firms affiliated with the energy industry.

Alabama’s struggles with conflict-of-interest issues go back decades. In 1997 then-EPA Administrator Carol Browner wrote a letter acknowledging Alabama’s problems. In 2006 the state started the process of creating conflict-of-interest rules for those controlling air pollution protections but then dropped the effort, opening the door to the ethical problems during Glenn’s tenure.

“The people of Mississippi and Alabama deserve to know whether regulators approving pollution permits also receive paychecks from those polluters,” said Stephen Stetson, representative for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign in Alabama and Mississippi. “We shouldn’t have to wonder—the whole point of these rules is for the EPA to make sure proper oversight is in place, and they’ve failed at that important task.”

Mississippi recently took steps to change its rules about conflicts of interest after the same groups filing this lawsuit—the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Environmental Health, and Sierra Club—pointed out the violations in a legal notice to EPA chief Scott Pruitt. Mississippi still hasn’t formalized those rules to make them enforceable by the general public.

“It’s impossible to know whether your state regulators have conflicts of interests if you’re not even looking,” said, Caroline Cox, research director at the Center for Environmental Health. “These rules are in place for very obvious reasons—you can’t have people with strong financial ties to polluters making calls on who’s polluting and who’s not. It’s a pretty simple principle.”

The Clean Air Act requires that states have plans in place to make sure a majority of members of any state board or body approving or enforcing federal air-pollution permits do not derive a significant portion of their income from individuals or companies seeking those permits or subject to enforcement orders.

The Act also requires that any potential conflicts of interest of state board members and heads of executive agencies be adequately disclosed.

Once the EPA finds that a state plan fails to meet these Clean Air Act requirements, the agency has two years to address the shortcomings. According to the lawsuit, the agency has failed to meet that deadline for both Alabama and Mississippi.

California Missed CAA State Implementation Plan Deadline

EPA published a notice in the Federal Register finding that the state of California has failed to submit State Implementation Plans (SIPs) to satisfy certain requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA) for the 2008 8-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS or "standards").

Under the CAA and EPA's implementing regulations, states with nonattainment areas classified as Moderate, Serious, Severe or Extreme were required to submit by July 20, 2016, SIPs demonstrating reasonable further progress (RFP) and attainment of the 2008 8-hour ozone standard as expeditiously as practicable but no later than the applicable dates established in the implementing regulations. States were also required to submit contingency plans to be triggered if attainment or RFP milestones were not met. The EPA is by this action making a finding of failure to submit attainment demonstration, attainment demonstration contingency, RFP, and RFP contingency SIPs for the Sacramento Metro nonattainment area.

If the EPA has not affirmatively found that the state has submitted the required plans within 18 months, the offset sanction applies in the area. If within six additional months the EPA has still not affirmatively determined that the state has submitted the required plan, the highway funding sanction applies in the area. No later than two years after the EPA makes the finding, if the state has not submitted, and EPA has not approved, the required SIP, the EPA must promulgate a Federal Implementation Plan.

Compliance Date Extension for Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products

EPA has extended the compliance dates for the formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products final rule issued pursuant to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Title VI, and published in the Federal Register on December 12, 2016. EPA has extended the December 12, 2017, manufactured-by date for emission standards, recordkeeping, and labeling provisions until December 12, 2018; extending the December 12, 2018, compliance date for import certification provisions until March 22, 2019; and extending the December 12, 2023, compliance date for provisions applicable to producers of laminated products until March 22, 2024.

Additionally, this final rule will extend the transitional period during which the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Third Party Certifiers (TPC) may certify composite wood products under TSCA Title VI without an accreditation issued by an EPA TSCA Title VI Accreditation Body, so long as the TPC remains approved by CARB, is recognized by EPA, and complies with all aspects of the December 12, 2016, final rule until March 22, 2019. EPA believes that extension of these compliance dates and the transitional period for CARB TPCs adds needed regulatory flexibility for regulated entities, reduces compliance burdens, and helps to prevent disruptions to supply chains while still ensuring that compliant composite wood products enter the supply chain in a timely manner.

Videos Offer Four Municipalities’ Perspectives and Public Education on Stormwater Management 

Leaders from Lemoyne Borough, Lower Paxton Township, Susquehanna Township, and Harrisburg’s Capital Region Water share their perspectives on tackling the stormwater management challenge in a new video from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). About 950 municipalities are required to submit new stormwater management permit applications to meet more stringent EPA requirements. Municipalities that have local impaired waters or are in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed are also required to submit Pollutant Reduction Plans that specify how they’ll reduce their pollutant loads by 10% within 5 years. 

Speakers include:

  • DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell
  • Dennis McGee, head of the Lemoyne Borough Stormwater Committee
  • Shannon Gority, CEO of Harrisburg’s Capital Region Water
  • George Wolfe, Lower Paxton Township manager
  • David Kratzer, Susquehanna Township manager
  • Lori Yeich, Recreation and Conservation Manager, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR)

 

DEP has provided EPA grant funding to about 35 municipal stormwater projects through its Chesapeake Bay Program Office and extensive training and technical support to municipalities, including participating in about 75 outreach events in 18 counties in the past 18 months. A new video, Let’s Be Stormwater Smart, can be used for public education, one of the municipal stormwater permit requirements. (To download video, right-click and choose the “Save As” option.)

Harrisburg, Lower Paxton, and Susquehanna are partnering on a Pollutant Reduction Plan to meet their required stormwater pollution reductions in Lower Paxton Creek.

Lemoyne has successfully enlisted gardeners, borough staff, and other residents in maintenance of 18 rain gardens on Market Street.

DCNR offers grant funding for park and other outdoor recreation projects that can help municipalities meet their stormwater reduction requirements. You can find tips on stormwater management at home and in their community at Be Stormwater Smart, PA.

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Trivia Question of the Week

Which of the following must be identified on EPCRA Tier II reports?

a. Section 313 toxic chemicals, and extremely hazardous substances

b. Extremely hazardous substances and OSHA hazardous chemicals

c. Extremely hazardous substances and EPA hazardous waste

d. Section 313 toxic chemicals and CERCLA reportable quantities of hazardous substances

 

Answer: b