According to the Bureau of National Affairs, EPA is finishing a proposed rule to implement an incentives program to recognize and reward companies that achieve environmental performance greater than required by regulations.
The rule will propose modifications in air, water, and waste management regulations to expand incentives for companies to participate in the National Environmental Performance Track.
The proposed rule potentially offers streamlined reporting and monitoring requirements for companies that participate.
Former EPA Administrator Carol Browner launched the Performance Track program in June 2000. The program is aimed at rewarding companies with superior environmental performance by publicizing their records, putting them at the bottom of the priority list for routine inspections, and reducing reporting and monitoring requirements. The program is open to companies that have a comprehensive environmental management system in place, a history of sustained compliance, commitment to continuous environmental improvement, and strong community outreach.
Changing reporting and monitoring requirements will require changes to regulations. According to the BNA report, the proposed rule would reduce the frequency of reports required under the maximum achievable control technology (MACT) provisions of the Clean Air Act for facilities that meet or exceed MACT standards. Monitoring and reporting would also be streamlined for participating publicly owned water treatment works. The proposed rule also would allow participating small generators of hazardous waste to store the material longer before shipping it off for treatment.
The proposed rule has been planned since the Performance Track initiative was inaugurated. The rule was ready to be published at the end of the Clinton administration, but was pulled back in January when the Bush administration ordered a freeze on all regulatory actions under way so that they could be reviewed.
According to EPA's Internet site, the agency is developing further incentives for the Performance Track that it will initiate through administrative guidance. These include a recommendation that states show greater flexibility in implementing best available control technology (BACT) under the Clean Air Act. Facilities would have a longer period of time to commence construction of a facility after receiving a BACT determination from a state regulatory agency. EPA also may encourage states to provide better terms for participating POTWs seeking loans under the state revolving fund program of the Clean Water Act. Performance Track facilities could receive reduced loan rates and extended payback terms.
The agency also intends to add participation in Performance Track
to the list of factors used in granting expedited review of new,
reduced-risk pesticides, EPA said.
GRANT TO STUDY ENERGY BILL SURCHARGE EFFECT ON AIR POLLUTION REDUCTION
EPA has awarded $60,000 to the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) in Washington, D.C., to provide states with information on how to design and implement State Public Benefit Charge programs in a way that maximizes air emission reductions.
A Public Benefit Charge is a per-kilowatt hour surcharge on certain industrial and residential customer electric bills that is used to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, like wind power. Currently, 21 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring these surcharges.
However, not all energy projects produce equal air emission reductions. Therefore, CCAP will use this grant to analyze the emission reduction potentials of a wide range of energy projects, and recommend criteria for disbursing Public Benefit Charge funds in a way that gets the most reductions.
The grantee will focus the study on two of the 21 states that already have Public Benefit laws, New York and Illinois.
CCAP, founded in 1985 by a bipartisan group of state governors, seeks to promote and implement innovative solutions to major environmental and energy problems by balancing both environmental and economic interests.
Besides CCAP, this project is also being funded by the Great Lakes Protection Fund (http://www.glpf.org/ ) in the amount of $300,000. The Fund, a private, nonprofit corporation formed in 1989 by the governors of the Great Lakes states, is a permanent environmental endowment supporting cooperative actions to improve the health of that ecosystem.
For further technical information, contact Art Diem of EPA at
OCCUPATIONAL EXPOSURE LIMITS FOR HAZARDOUS CHEMICAL SUBSTANCES IN ONTARIO, CANADA
Ontario is committed to having workplaces that are among the safest in the world, where safety, productivity and competitiveness are interconnected.
The latest update of Occupational Exposure Limits (OELs) went into effect on September 30, 2000, in order to strengthen protection for workers. OELs restrict the amount and duration of workers' exposure to hazardous chemical substances in the workplace. The updated limits, covering 204 substances, were based primarily on the guidelines recommended by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH).
This initiative will result in fewer occupational illnesses in the future for Ontario workers and lower compensation costs for Ontario employers. Safer and healthier workplaces support high performance and competitiveness.
Over the next several months, the government will consult with labor, industry and other stakeholders to develop a permanent process to update OELs. The Ministry has published a consultation paper that provides background on OELs in general, and some historical information on earlier processes used by Ontario to review OELs. The key criteria for evaluating any approach for maintaining OELs are detailed in the paper.
Specific options identified by the government are outlined, and advantages and disadvantages of each are discussed. Respondents are invited to provide comments on any or all of the options outlined in this paper, or on any alternative process they think may be appropriate for Ontario to implement as an ongoing process to review OELs.
Advances in technology have contributed to the body of information supporting the need to introduce more protective OELs. Newer, more sensitive, and more accurate analytical methods allow significantly lower concentrations of many hazardous substances to be detected than was possible earlier. Newer technologies often reduce the cost and increase the practicality of complying with lower limits.
OELs must be continually reviewed and revised in order to limit the future occurrence of occupational diseases. Most other jurisdictions are reducing the allowable exposure to various hazardous substances as new scientific and medical information and new technologies become available.
Ontario workplaces conduct assessments of their exposure conditions and develop control programs to ensure compliance with OELs. The Ministry of Labour conducts audits to assess companies' compliance.
Ministry of Labour hygienists and inspectors enforce compliance with OELs. The hygienists are supported by medical, scientific and technical staff. If the ministry believes there is clear evidence a company is likely to be exceeding an OEL, the employer is ordered to take measures and to prove compliance by air sampling. In some instances (for example, when a company is being prosecuted for non-compliance), the ministry contracts an outside independent contractor to conduct air sampling and analysis.
Following extensive consultations, the government intends to
finalize the structure of the permanent process for identifying
OELs based on the written comments received from stakeholders,
and the Ministry of Labour will move toward implementing it in a
reasonable timeframe. Consultations will take place until
February 28, 2002. For further information, please visit the
Ministry of Labour's web site at
COLONIAL MILLWORK LTD. SETTLES HAZARDOUS WASTE VIOLATIONS AT WEST VIRGINIA WOOD PRODUCTS PLANT
Colonial Millwork, Ltd. has agreed to pay a $25,000 penalty to settle alleged violations of federal and state hazardous waste regulations at its Beverly, W. Va. wood products manufacturing plant.
According to the complaint, inspections by EPA and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection in October and November 2000 revealed that the company stored hazardous waste (xylene, paint thinners, and waste paint) without a required RCRA permit. EPA also cited the company for having open drums of hazardous waste, not providing adequate hazardous waste training for employees, and failing to have an adequate contingency plan for the facility.
EPA cited Colonial Millwork 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, to prevent costly cleanups of waste sites by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage and disposal of hazardous wastes.
As part of the settlement, the company neither admitted nor
denied liability for the violations alleged in the complaint. The
settlement penalty reflects the company's cooperation with EPA's
investigation, prompt compliance efforts, and agreement to
resolve this matter prior to the issuance of a formal complaint.
DEP SEEKS PUBLIC COMMENT ON PROPOSAL TO IMPROVE STORMWATER MANAGEMENT
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Acting Deputy Secretary for Water Management Christine M. Martin announced that DEP is seeking public comment on a proposal to update and improve its stormwater management program.
"At the 15 water forums DEP and its partners held throughout Pennsylvania last spring, stormwater management was a recurring concern of citizens and local government officials," Martin said. "Pennsylvanians are demanding a more modernized approach to stormwater management that will reduce incidents of flooding, streambank erosion and other environmental hazards."
Poor stormwater management practices result in increased frequencies of flooding, streambank erosion and excessive obstruction of stream flows with silt and other particles.
The new stormwater proposal addresses the need to improve water quality, sustain water quantity (including groundwater recharge and stream baseflow) and integrate upcoming federal stormwater management obligations.
DEP is proposing a best management practices (BMP) approach that encourages minimizing runoff by allowing stormwater to soak back into the ground whenever possible. This approach will reduce stream pollution, recharge groundwater tables, enhance stream flow during times of drought, and reduce the threat of flooding and streambank erosion resulting from storms.
"Best management practices have worked well to reduce pollution to the Chesapeake Bay from farming operations, and we want to apply this same concept to stormwater" Martin said. "We look forward to working with a variety of groups to put this approach into practice to protect water quality from the impacts of stormwater."
The Commonwealth also must implement new stormwater controls under the federal Clean Water Act within the next several years. Pennsylvania has identified a need to ensure that stormwater controls remain operational and efficient throughout the life of a project.
Administratively, DEP proposes to integrate its permitting programs with stormwater management plans developed on a watershed basis under the Stormwater Management Act (Act 167). Act 167 county plans will include water quality and quantity protections implemented by municipalities within the watershed.
DEP, when appropriate, also will rely on locally sponsored plans to meet the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting requirements for municipalities under the federal Clean Water Act municipal stormwater permitting program.
The draft stormwater proposal is available on the DEP website at http://www.dep.state.pa.us. The proposal also can be obtained by contacting Kimberly Chism at (717) 787-5267, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by writing the DEP Office of Water Management, Bureau of Watershed Management, 10th Floor, Rachel Carson State Office Building, P. O. Box 8555, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8555.
Comments, which should include the writerÆs name, address and
telephone number, must be received by Dec. 27. DEP will accept
comments by postal mail or e-mail at the addresses listed above.
ENERGY STAR DELIVERS REAL SAVINGS FOR AMERICAN CONSUMERS AND BUSINESSES
EPA announced the release of the agency's 2000 Annual Report on its voluntary climate protection programs, including the successful and expanding ENERGY STAR program. The report details success in building cooperation for results and outlines goals for 2001 and beyond.
Last year alone, EPA's ENERGY STAR program helped save American businesses and consumers more than $5 billion dollars and reduced greenhouse gas emissions the equivalent of the emissions from more than 10 million cars.
"Since taking office, President Bush and I have emphasized the need to build partnerships across traditional boundaries and encourage cooperation in our efforts to protect the environment," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman in the report's opening pages. "These results prove that voluntary partnerships can produce real environmental results. Working with partners across the economy, we are making progress to increase energy efficiency, develop clean energy solutions, capture and use methane gas, and cultivate environmental stewardship."
ENERGY STAR is one of EPA's voluntary programs that works in partnership with businesses, organizations, and consumers across the country to enhance investment in attractive, yet underutilized technologies and practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The symbol for energy efficiency, ENERGY STAR provides businesses and consumers with energy-efficient solutions that save money while protecting the environment.
Together EPA's climate change programs, including ENERGY STAR, methane reduction, and environmental stewardship reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 35 million metric tons of carbon equivalent, the same as eliminating the emissions from almost 25 million cars. As evidenced in the Annual Report, the energy savings from the voluntary programs have grown from 6 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) saved in 1995 to 74 billion kWh in 2000. In addition, emissions of almost 160,000 tons of nitrogen oxides were prevented in 2000, equivalent to the emissions from more than 100 power plants.
Other highlights from EPA's climate partnership programs for the year 2000 include:
- ENERGY STAR developed strong partnerships with 1,600 manufacturers labeling more than 11,000 products in over 30 product categories. More than 600 million ENERGY STAR labeled products have been purchased to date.
- 1,600 homebuilders have joined ENERGY STAR as partners, constructing 25,000 ENERGY STAR labeled homes to date.
- A new national building energy performance rating system was used to evaluate the energy efficiency of more than 4,200 buildings; 215 schools and 330 office buildings earned ENERGY STAR labels.
- Partnership programs achieved reductions of non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases methane, perfluorocarbons (PFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) totaling more than 17 MMTCE in 2000 alone.
- The Voluntary Aluminum Industrial Partnership met its aggressive goal for 2000, with emissions reduced about 50 percent relative to 1990 levels, on an emissions per unit of production basis.
In addition to recognizing successes in 2000, the Annual Report lays out expectations for 2001 and beyond including new products and services in the ENERGY STAR family, a greater public awareness of the ENERGY STAR program and continued education efforts to provide businesses and consumers the information they need to reduce energy bills. Future goals also include energy performance ratings for more building types, increased use of partnerships and increased use of cleaner, more efficient energy supply technologies. Goals also include doubling the cost-effective reductions of the non-carbon dioxide gases by 2010.
Copies of "The Power of Partnerships: ENERGY STAR and Other
Voluntary Programs," are available by calling the ENERGY STAR
Hotline at 1-888-STAR-YES (1-888- 782-7937). The 2000 Annual
Report is also available in PDF format online at
MAJOR PUBLIC AWARENESS CAMPAIGN ENCOURAGES CHANGE TO ENERGY EFFICIENCY THROUGH ENERGY STAR
EPA Administrator Christie Whitman has unveiled a new public awareness campaign calling on Americans to protect our environment for future generations by changing to energy efficient products and practices. The new ENERGY STAR campaign, "Change," educates consumers and businesses about ways they can achieve energy efficiency, save money and help protect the environment.
ENERGY STAR offers consumers and businesses recommendations on how to improve their energy efficiency. The two-year campaign includes television, radio and print public service announcements that emphasize specific actions consumers and businesses can take to use energy more efficiently.
"ENERGY STAR is a great way for each of us to make a change ù one that will protect the environment, save money and achieve energy efficiency," said EPA Administrator Whitman. "The best part is that we can each contribute to these important goals while not giving up quality. As a government official, I recently unveiled new energy efficient lighting at the Jefferson Memorial here in Washington. I am changing the light bulbs in my home to those with the ENERGY STAR label. I encourage all Americans to follow our recommendations for energy efficiency and join our campaign for change."
The PSAs will be sent to top media markets around the country and over 5,000 daily and weekly newspapers. In addition, the campaign will reach out to Americans through national consumer and trade magazines and national and regional business publications. The campaign also features radio spots in English and Spanish. In an effort to underscore the importance of this national initiative, Whitman will participate in events throughout November to highlight "Change" and the more than 7,000 participating ENERGY STAR partners across the country.
To kick-off the new campaign, ENERGY STAR is releasing five energy efficiency tips for consumers, businesses and homeowners:
- Change a Light. Replace your five most frequently used light bulbs with products that have earned the ENERGY STAR.
- Heat and Cool Smartly. Have your system checked annually and install an ENERGY STAR labeled programmable thermostat so that you are not paying to heat or cool your house while you are not at home.
- Seal it up. Keep warm air in and big energy bills out by following ENERGY STAR Home Sealing recommendations for adding insulation to your home, weatherstripping and caulking around doors and windows.
- Put your home to the test. Find out where your home has room for improvement with the ENERGY STAR Home Improvement Toolbox at http://www.epa.gov/hhiptool/
- Look for the ENERGY STAR. When you are purchasing electronics, appliances, office equipment, or even a new home ? always look for the ENERGY STAR label of energy efficiency.
In 2000 alone, ENERGY STAR helped save enough energy to power 10 million homes and reduced air pollution equivalent to taking 10 million cars off the road. While accomplishing this for the environment, the program also saved Americans more than $5 billion on their energy bills without sacrificing product features or personal comfort.
As part of his National Energy Plan, President Bush called for increased public awareness of the ENERGY STAR program and its benefits to consumers and businesses. The President also called for the expansion of the program to provide the label for additional building types including grocery stores, hospitals and hotels.
ENERGY STAR, the national symbol for energy efficiency, was
established in 1992 by EPA. With help from the U.S. Department of
Energy, ENERGY STAR is empowering consumers and businesses to
protect the environment through energy efficiency. For more
information about ENERGY STAR, go to http://www.energystar.gov or
UPCOMING DEADLINES - CLEAN AIR ACT
November 14: Each producer, importer, or exporter of a Class II controlled substance must submit a report to EPA providing information on the production, imports, and exports of such chemicals during the previous quarter.
November 19: Sources subject to organic hazardous air pollutant emission controls under 40 CFR 63, Subpart G, for synthetic organic chemical manufacturing industry production processes must submit semiannual report.