EPA Plans for Big Cuts to Budget and Programs

February 19, 2018

EPA Plans for Big Cuts to Budget and Programs 

The President’s proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget includes deep cuts to virtually all of EPA’s programs. The proposal called for cutting EPA's 2019 budget by 34% from 2017 to 5.4 billion — an even deeper cut than the President sought last year — and would shrink spending at the National Science Foundation by 30%. Last year, the President requested a 31% cut to EPA's $8.2 billion budget and an 11% cut to NSF's $7.5 billion budget. Under the White House plan, EPA and NSF would see the biggest cuts among the federal agencies. The cuts were mitigated to 25% after Congress's recent decision to raise spending caps, and amid questions regarding the Administrator’s pricy travel.

The latest version of the budget provides $6.146 billion. Details of the 2019 Budget Proposal include:

  • In FY 2019, the Superfund program is funded at $1.089 billion, intending to provide support to states, local communities and tribes in their efforts to assess and cleanup many of the worst contaminated sites in the United States and return them to productive use.  EPA will use the funds appropriated by Congress to reduce administrative costs, identify efficiencies, and prioritize the cleanup of sites. EPA also will invest over $109 million in support for Brownfields to help communities oversee, assess, safely cleanup and redevelop brownfield properties and spur economic growth of local communities.
  • The Budget provides approximately $410 million to manage and support air quality work with state, tribal and local partners through what EPA calls common sense standards, guidelines, and grant assistance. Most notably, $100 million is allotted to perform key activities in support of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards and air toxics standards.  The Budget proposes new authority to establish user fees for entities that participate in the Energy Star program.
  • The FY 2019 Budget includes $2.26 billion for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRF) and $20 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program to help improve the nation’s water infrastructure.  Complementing the SRF program, the new WIFIA program is a mechanism where EPA could potentially provide up to approximately $2 billion in credit assistance, which could spur up to an estimated $4 billion in total infrastructure investment. The budget request includes $84 million for drinking water programs to continue to partner with states, utilities, and other stakeholders to identify and address current and potential sources of drinking water contamination.
  • The Budget provides funding to conduct long-term monitoring and coordinate monitoring efforts at water bodies of national significance, including $7.3 million for the Chesapeake Bay program and $30 million for the Great Lakes Restoration program. 
  • In addition to fees, $58.6 million requested in FY 2019 for the TSCA Chemical Risk Review and Reduction program.  EPA will work to complete the 10 chemical risk evaluations initiated in December 2016, continue prioritization efforts to identify future chemicals for evaluation and evaluate new chemicals.
  • The Budget includes $597 million in funding for State and Tribal Assistance Categorical Grants in direct support of these partners. Included within this funding is $27 million for the Multipurpose Grant program to provide greater flexibility to our partners in implementing environmental programs. The Agency will continue to advance cooperative federalism by working with states and tribes to target core grant resources and provide needed flexibility to address their specific priorities.
  • EPA continues to examine its programs to identify those that create unnecessary redundancies or those that have served their purpose and accomplished their mission. The FY 2019 President’s Budget identifies and eliminates a number of programs and activities totaling $598.5 million. 
  • The Budget includes the EPA’s reform plan to support the President’s Executive Order on a Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch.  The plan includes projects focused on managing EPA programs more effectively and delivering results, including streamlining EPA’s permit review process, deploying a Lean Management System, and reducing unnecessary reporting burdens on the regulated community.

 

Environmental groups, like AGU, are concerned that the proposed budget ignores the valuable role science agencies play in American life. They allege that the proposal, which provides a steep increase in military spending and infrastructure, will impose extremely damaging cuts to federal scientific agencies.

"There's not that much in the EPA [budget] for crying out loud," said Mike Simpson (R-ID), the chairman of the House Energy and Water Appropriations Committee. "EPA has been cut by over 20% in the last few years. The discretionary budget has been lowered pretty dramatically compared to how it was in 2009, and it's under what Paul Ryan thought it would be in his budget," explained Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK).

California Hazardous Waste and DOT Hazardous Materials Training

Register for California Hazardous Waste Management and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in San Jose, CA, on February 27 – March 1 and save $100 or receive an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet with electronic versions of both handbooks. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Charleston Hazardous Waste and DOT Hazardous Materials Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Charleston, SC, on March 19-21 and save $100 or receive an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet with electronic versions of both handbooks. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Jacksonville Hazardous Waste and DOT Hazardous Materials Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Jacksonville, FL, on March 27-29 and save $100 or receive an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet with electronic versions of both handbooks. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Pruitt Participates in White House Infrastructure Initiative Roundtable

EPA Administrator Pruitt participated in the White House Infrastructure Initiative Roundtable alongside President Trump, other members of the Cabinet and state and local officials from around the country.

The President’s infrastructure proposal includes three elements that directly impact EPA and its role in repairing and restoring the nation’s water infrastructure and cleaning up contaminated land:        

  • The proposal seeks $100 billion in competitive grant programs to incentivize investment in infrastructure that leverages federal investments, is financially sustainable or improves performance. Of this amount, EPA is expected to receive about $20 billion for grant programs to support drinking water, wastewater and stormwater facilities and for Brownfields and Superfund cleanup and land revitalization.
  • The proposal also requests $50 billion to fund rural infrastructure, including state water facilities and cleanup programs. $40 billion of this money would be provided to states in block grants according to a formula. The remaining $10 billion would be for a new competitive grant program administered by EPA, the US Department of Agriculture and the DOT for communities with less than 50,000 people.
  • The President’s infrastructure initiative seeks to amend the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) to promote private investment and improved management of water infrastructure through expanded use of State Revolving Loan Funds. It also increases WIFIA funding authorizations and expands WIFIA eligibility to include certain Superfund, Brownfields and Army Corps flood projects.
  • It would also change CERCLA to authorize administrative settlements and to clarify provisions identified by the Superfund Task Force as barriers to private investment in cleanup projects.
  • Under the President’s “One Agency, One Permit” concept, a lead federal agency would be responsible for issuing a single record of decision for a major project within two years. Duplicative environmental reviews and processes would be eliminated in favor of more cooperation and earlier engagement by all relevant agencies in order to achieve positive environmental outcomes, regulatory certainty, and public transparency. Among the changes needed to implement these reforms are:
  • Amend Clean Air Act section 309 to eliminate the requirement for EPA to review and publicly comment on other agencies’ Environmental Impact Statements.
  • Amend Clean Water Act section 401 to establish an administrative appeal process to resolve disputes involving a state’s determination that a project would lead to a violation of its water quality standards. 
  • Amend Clean Water Act section 404(c) to eliminate EPA’s ability to veto an Army Corps section 404 permit for infrastructure projects in order to implement the one federal permit decision.
  • Amend the Clean Water Act to clarify the Army Corps’ authority to construe the jurisdictional term “navigable waters” under section 404.
  • Amend the Clean Air Act to clarify that conformity requirements apply only to the most recent National Ambient Air Quality Standard for the same pollutant.

 

Settlement Reached with Amazon for Distributions of Illegal Pesticides 

EPA announced an agreement with Amazon Services LLC to protect the public from the hazards posed by unregistered and misbranded pesticide products. The agreement settles allegations that Amazon committed nearly four thousand violations of the “Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act” (FIFRA) – dating back to 2013 – for selling and distributing imported pesticide products that were not licensed for sale in the United States.

“This agreement will dramatically reduce the online sale of illegal pesticides, which pose serious threats to public health in communities across America,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator, Chris Hladick. “Amazon is committed to closely monitoring and removing illegal pesticides from its website, and EPA will continue to work hard to ensure these harmful products never reach the marketplace.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Amazon will develop an online training course on pesticide regulations and policies that EPA believes will significantly reduce the number of illegal pesticides available through the online marketplace. The training will be available to the public and online marketers in English, Spanish and Chinese. Successful completion of the training will be mandatory for all entities planning to sell pesticides on Amazon.com.

Amazon will also pay an administrative penalty of $1,215,700 as part of the consent agreement and final order entered into by Amazon and EPA’s Region 10 office in Seattle, Washington.

In late 2014, EPA began investigating online pesticide product distributions and sales through several internet retail sites including Amazon and third-party sellers that used Amazon’s online marketing platform. In March 2015, EPA inspected an Amazon facility in Lexington, Kentucky, and inspectors in EPA’s Region 10 office successfully ordered illegal pesticides from Amazon.com. In August 2015, EPA issued a FIFRA Stop Sale, Use, or Removal Order against Amazon to prohibit the sale of the illegal pesticide products that can easily be mistaken for black-board or side-walk chalk, especially by children.

EPA issued another Stop Sale Order against Amazon in January 2016 after discovering that certain unregistered or misbranded insecticide bait products were being offered for sale on Amazon.com. After receiving the stop sale orders, Amazon immediately removed the products from the marketplace, prohibited foreign sellers from selling pesticides, and cooperated with EPA during its subsequent investigation. The orders, as well as EPA’s subsequent engagement with the company, prompted Amazon to more aggressively monitor its website for illegal pesticides. As a result, Amazon has created a robust compliance program comprised of a sophisticated computer-based screening system backed-up by numerous, trained staff.

In October 2016, Amazon notified all customers who purchased the illegal pesticides between 2013 and 2016 to communicate safety concerns with these products and urge disposal. Amazon also refunded those customers the cost of the products, approximately $130,000.

Non-English speaking members of the public are at increased risk from these pesticides that are illegal in the US but have long been used throughout Asia. These populations’ familiarity with these products make it more likely they will order them from online sources such as Amazon. By removing such products from Amazon’s online platform and by educating third party sellers on the hazards of these unregistered and misbranded pesticide products, this agreement will decrease the availability of these unsafe products and protect these vulnerable groups.

Shell Chemical LP Ordered to Install $10 Million Pollution Monitoring and Control Equipment for Clean Air Violations

The Department of Justice, the EPA, and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) announced a settlement with Shell Chemical LP that each year will eliminate more than 150 tons of excess emissions of harmful air pollutants from Shell’s chemical plant located in Norco, Louisiana, in St. Charles Parish. The settlement resolves allegations that Shell violated the Clean Air Act and State law by failing to properly operate industrial flares at the facility.

The settlement, in the form of a Consent Decree, will require Shell to spend approximately $10 million to install and operate air pollution control and monitoring technology to reduce harmful air pollution from four industrial flares at the Norco plant. Once fully implemented, the pollution controls required by the settlement are estimated to reduce air emissions of VOCs by approximately 159 tons per year, and reduce other harmful air pollutants, including benzene, by approximately 18 tons per year.

“This settlement will improve air quality for citizens of Louisiana by reducing emissions of harmful air pollution,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Today’s agreement demonstrates EPA’s dedication to working with states to pursue violations of laws that are critical to protecting public health and bring companies into compliance.”

“We are proud to partner with the State of Louisiana on this important Clean Air Act settlement, which will benefit the citizens of Louisiana,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This agreement is the latest in EPA’s and the Justice Department’s continuing efforts to work with our state partners to protect the American public from harmful air pollution.”

“We are committed to working hand-in-hand with our federal partners to reduce air pollution in Louisiana,” said LDEQ Secretary Dr. Chuck Carr Brown. “Actions like this one not only serve to clean up the air our citizens breathe, they send a message that we will not tolerate violations of federal or state laws.”

VOCs and benzene can seriously harm public health. VOCs are a key component in the formation of smog or ground-level ozone, a pollutant that irritates the lungs, exacerbates diseases such as asthma, and can increase susceptibility to respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Chronic exposure to benzene, which EPA classifies as a carcinogen, can cause numerous health impacts, including leukemia and adverse reproductive effects in women.

The settlement agreement will reduce flaring and improve Shell’s flaring practices, reducing emissions at the facility. Industrial flares burn waste gases that otherwise would be released to the atmosphere. Well-operated flares have high “combustion efficiency,” meaning they burn nearly all the harmful components in the waste gas, including VOCs and hazardous air pollutants, turning them into water and carbon dioxide.

Under the consent decree, Shell will take steps to minimize the amount of waste gas sent to the flares. Shell will also operate a flare gas recovery system at the facility, which will save the company money by allowing it to use waste gas as fuel; this waste gas would otherwise be sent to the facility’s flares. In addition, by installing and maintaining state-of-the-art monitoring and control technology at its flares, Shell will ensure that the flares are operated at a high combustion efficiency. Finally, Shell will install and maintain monitoring equipment to detect air pollution along the facility fence line and publish the monitoring results on a public website. Shell will also pay civil penalties totaling $350,000, including $87,500 for LDEQ.

HPI Products Inc. Cited for Unsafe Storage of Hazardous Chemicals and Wastes

The US and the State of Missouri filed a motion asking a federal court to hold in contempt HPI Products, Inc., its owner William Garvey, and St. Joseph Properties, LLC, for failing to comply with a 2011 environmental settlement by illegally storing thousands of pounds of hazardous chemicals in unsafe and dilapidated facilities in western Missouri.  The Department of Justice, on behalf of the EPA, and the Missouri Attorney General, on behalf of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, filed the motion in US District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

The contempt motion also requests that the court appoint a receiver to oversee the operation of the defendants’ business in compliance with the 2011 consent decree and applicable law. 

The defendants own and operate a pesticide formulating business with six facilities in St. Joseph, Missouri.  The 2011 consent decree was intended to resolve numerous violations of federal and state environmental laws and requires the defendants to characterize and properly manage large quantities of hazardous wastes generated or stored at its St. Joseph facilities. 

Despite a May 2017 court order requiring the defendants to comply with the 2011 consent decree, HPI and Garvey have continued to store thousands of pounds of uncharacterized, often unidentified, chemicals, some with labels indicating that they have been stored for a dozen years or more. In addition, many of HPI’s facilities lack functional fire suppression equipment, two facilities previously suffered partial collapse, one burning down, and many of them are in extreme disrepair and in danger of collapse.  Chemical wastes at these facilities are exposed to the elements and are readily accessible to members of the public, posing a significant danger to public health and safety and the environment.

“Today, we are asking the court to hold the defendants in contempt for their utter failure to comply with federal and state hazardous waste laws at their property,” said Jeffrey H. Wood, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This is a serious public health and safety matter. We also are asking the court to appoint a receiver to manage the defendants’ hazardous wastes in a manner that protects the citizens of St. Joseph, ensures the safety of employees at HPI, and prevents harm to the environment.”

“EPA works with companies to assist them in complying with federal environmental laws when we have a willing party,” said James Gulliford, EPA Region 7 Administrator. “We have passed that stage with HPI and value the diligent work of the Department of Justice in helping EPA carry out our Congressional mandate to enforce federal laws that protect human health and the environment."

Popular Scented Products May Cause Air Pollution

Emissions from volatile chemical products like perfumes, paints and other scented consumer items now rival vehicles as a pollution source in greater Los Angeles, according to a surprising new NOAA-led study.

Even though 15 times more petroleum is consumed as fuel than is used as ingredients in industrial and consumer products, the amount of chemical vapors emitted to the atmosphere in scented products is roughly the same, said lead author Brian McDonald, a CIRES scientist working at NOAA. The paper presenting these study findings was published in Science.

The chemical vapors, VOCs, react with sunlight to form ozone pollution, and, as this study finds, also react with other chemicals in the atmosphere to form fine particulates in the air.

“As the transportation sector gets cleaner, these other sources of VOCs become more and more important,” McDonald said. “A lot of stuff we use in our everyday lives can impact air pollution.”

Since adoption of the Clean Air Act in 1970, air quality programs have focused on controlling transportation-related pollution emitted by everything from cars and trucks to oil and gas refineries. But McDonald and his colleagues couldn’t reconcile atmospheric measurements made over Los Angeles in 2010 with estimates of transportation emissions. So, they reassessed urban pollution sources by cataloging chemical production statistics, evaluating indoor air quality measurements made by others and then determining if the new information filled the gap.

The disproportionate air-quality impact of chemical products is because of a fundamental difference between those products and fuels, said NOAA atmospheric scientist Jessica Gilman, a co-author of the new paper.

Fuel systems minimize the loss of gasoline to evaporation in order to maximize energy generated by combustion, she said. But common products like paints and perfumes are literally engineered to evaporate.

“Perfume and other scented products are designed so that you or your neighbor can enjoy the aroma,” Gilman said. “You don't do this with gasoline.” Gilman added that researchers studying the problem ended up taking a close look at things they once took for granted. “Some of my colleagues at NOAA literally spent days watching paint dry,” she said. “We learned a lot.”

While the focus of this study was Los Angeles, the authors believe the results are applicable to all major urban centers.

“We hope this study spurs collaboration between atmospheric scientists, chemical engineers and public health researchers, to deliver the best science to decision-makers,” said McDonald. “The strategies that worked in the past might not necessarily work as well in the future.”

New Research on Particulate Matter May Improve Vehicle Fuel Efficiency 

Researchers are looking to neutrons for new ways to save fuel during the operation of filters that clean the soot, or carbon and ash-based particulate matter, emitted by vehicles.

A team of researchers from the Energy and Transportation Science Division at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory is studying soot and ash collection and removal in particulate filters with neutron imaging, a technique sensitive enough to detect fine layers of material. Using the Neutron Imaging Facility instrument, beamline CG-1D, at ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor, they are investigating the structure of particulate layers generated by a series of gasoline fuels.

Since 2007, US emissions regulations have required particulate filters to control soot from diesel vehicles. Now, researchers are investigating how to use these filters for gasoline direct-injection engines, which release particles even smaller than those produced by diesel-powered engines. The ORNL team set out to decipher the differences between the ways diesel and gasoline particulates interact with the filters and learn how best to manage filter operation in both categories.

“The purpose of our research is enabling more fuel-efficient vehicles, whether that’s understanding how the soot regenerates in diesel vehicles to improve fuel economy, or evaluating how a future gasoline filter would handle soot,” said ORNL’s Todd Toops.

Because soot particulates have a carbon base, filters can be restored to their original states by removing carbon-based material through heat treatments and oxidation methods, which researcher Charles Finney said are “comparable to those of a self-cleaning oven.” The removal process, known as “regeneration,” requires additional fuel injection that reduces fuel efficiency.

In addition to problems with efficient soot regeneration, the researchers face challenges with ash-based particulates, which cannot be regenerated with heat treatments. These metal oxide particles accumulate in the filter over time and clog some of the filter pores. As a result, the team seeks to understand how ash levels affect soot collection.

Their strategy involves successively oxidizing more and more particulate matter within the particulate filters to see how the regeneration progresses and how the ash accumulates.

“A key result of our neutron study will be to observe how the particulate matter layer is removed during successive oxidation steps,” said researcher Melanie DeBusk. “The images generated from this work will allow us to look at how the thickness of the layer changes throughout these oxidation stages.”

As they continue studying carbon and ash-based particulate interactions, the researchers hope their findings could have profound implications for cleaner, safer vehicles.

Energy Waste Reduction and Renewable Energy Report Released for Michigan 

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) released its annual energy waste reduction (EWR) and renewable energy reports for 2016, highlighting continued customer benefits of utility EWR programs, and the growth of renewable energy projects.

The Utility Energy Waste Reduction Programs report noted Michigan utility providers met a combined average of 128% of their electric energy savings targets and 125% of their natural gas energy savings targets in 2016. EWR programs saved more than 1.19 million megawatt hours of electricity and more than 5.24 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

All electric and natural gas providers in Michigan are required by Public Act 295 to have energy waste reduction programs. Provisions in the energy laws that went into effect in April require rate-regulated utilities to include EWR programs in their integrated resource plans, which look ahead to make sure customer needs will be met in a safe, affordable and reliable manner. 

Highlights of the EWR report:

  • Sixty-four utility providers spent $263 million to provide electric and natural gas programs, which equates to a lifetime savings benefit of more than $1 billion.
  • Every $1 spent on EWR programs translates to $4.29 in savings.
  • Just over 10% of the program expenditures went to low-income customers.
  • EWR resources cost $16.07 per megawatt hour, while generating power at a new natural gas combined cycle plant costs about $55 per megawatt hour.
  • EWR programs delay the need for utilities to build new generation, reduce emissions, save hundreds of millions of dollars to import fuel to Michigan, and create demand for jobs and equipment that cut energy use, all costs which otherwise would be recovered in utility rates.

 

The Renewable Energy Standard report shows that wind energy continues to be the primary source of new renewable energy in Michigan, with more projects expected as the state’s renewable energy mandate increases over the next few years.

At the end of 2017, there were 1,925 megawatts of utility scale wind projects operating in the state. Three wind farms with 294 MW of wind capacity began operating during 2017 and January 2018. Two others – Cross Winds III in Tuscola County and Pine River Wind in Gratiot and Isabella counties with a total of more than 235 megawatts of capacity – are expected to begin operating in the next several years.

All investor-owned, cooperative and municipal electric utilities as well as alternative electric suppliers met the state-mandated standard of supplying the same amount of renewable energy used to comply with the 10% standard in 2015. The standard increases to at least 12.5% in 2019 and 2020 and 15% in 2021. By 2025, state law sets a goal of meeting at least 35% of Michigan’s electric needs through renewable energy and EWR programs.   

Highlights of the renewable energy report:

  • Wind accounts for 69% of renewable energy capacity in Michigan, hydroelectric 13%, biomass 7%, landfill gas 5%, and solar and municipal solid waste both at 3%.
  • In 2017, DTE Electric completed the largest solar project in Michigan, a 48-megawatt facility in Lapeer County.
  • The alternative energy sector accounted for 9,100 jobs in Michigan through the second quarter of 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. That’s up from 6,775 in 2005. The Bureau expected the sector to grow 7.1% by between 2010 and 2020.
  • There has been $3.3 billion of investment in the renewable energy sector statewide since the passage of PA 295 in 2008, resulting in approximately 1,670 megawatts of projects coming on-line through 2017.
  • The average cost for renewable energy contracts is $72.60 per megawatt hour, lower than the $133 per megawatt hour for coal.
  • The EWR and renewable energy reports must be filed to the Legislature by Feb. 15 each year.

 

National Academies of Sciences Environmental Health Initiative

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have launched an Academies-wide initiative to transform how the nation addresses the complex issues associated with environmental health—a field that examines how the environment affects human health.  The initiative brings together expertise across the institution, including environmental, medical, and social science, energy, and engineering, and involves leaders from government, corporate, and academic entities to explore the latest science, identify promising solutions, and create innovative pathways toward improving environmental health. 

The Academies’ rich history of providing guidance and leadership in environmental health research and policy includes a wide array of work, including consensus reports that have had significant impacts on toxicity testing, risk assessment and problem formulation, and science for the future of EPA.  The Academies also have a range of other work in fields that could intersect with environmental health, including building healthy, resilient, and sustainable communities after disasters and characterizing risk in climate change assessments.

Through the Environmental Health Matters Initiative (EHMI), the Academies will provide leadership by convening and facilitating efforts to identify and plan how to address the big questions in the discipline that need to be undertaken, explore their complexity, enable the development of holistic and sustainable options, and provide rapid expert input when crises demand. 

A multidisciplinary steering committee was appointed to launch the initiative in advising the nation on environmental health issues and creating outreach mechanisms to enable a broader range of stakeholders to engage and use the breadth of relevant work.  The committee is chaired by Thomas Burke, Jacob I.  and Irene B. Fabrikant Professor and chair at Johns Hopkins University. 

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.

Administrator Pruitt Toured Hydroelectric Facility on Region One Visit

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Commissioner Neil Chatterjee toured a local hydroelectric facility.  Administrator Pruitt also visited EPA’s New England (Region 1) office and met with employees.

“Commissioner Chatterjee and I saw firsthand the way this facility uses innovative technology to power the region,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “EPA will continue to work with our partners in the states to make responsible use of our country’s tremendous natural resources.”

Administrator Pruitt toured First Light’s Northfield Mountain Generating Station with Commissioner Chatterjee to see how this hydroelectric facility is using the Connecticut River to power more than one million homes in the region.

Administrator Pruitt also visited EPA’s Region 1 office, which serves Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. He applauded the Region’s emphasis on effective Superfund cleanups and efforts to work with state and local emergency responders to provide the compliance assistance and targeted enforcement necessary for protecting communities from dangerous chemical accidents.  He also discussed the unique challenges this region faces and how EPA and the States can continue to work together to achieve positive environmental outcomes.

TCEQ Executive Director Richard Hyde to Retire

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality commissioners announced the retirement of Executive Director Richard A. Hyde, P.E., effective this April.

 “It has been a privilege to work for the people of this great state, but now it’s time for myself and my family to begin the next chapter in our lives,” Hyde said. “I’m thankful to have worked with so many dedicated employees at the TCEQ. TCEQ’s employees work hard every day to protect the environment using good science and common sense.”

Hyde began his career in state government more than 25 years ago as a permit writer with the Texas Air Control Board, a predecessor agency of the TCEQ. He has worked in several areas of the agency, including director of the Air Permits Division, deputy director of the Office of Permitting and Registration, deputy director of the Office of Compliance and Enforcement, deputy executive director, and executive director since January 2014.

“Throughout his many years at the TCEQ, Richard has worked tirelessly for the state of Texas and the employees of the TCEQ,” said TCEQ Chairman Bryan W. Shaw, Ph.D., P.E. “As someone who has grown within the agency, he knows the agency process inside and out. We owe a tremendous debt to Richard for his service and leadership of this agency.”

“With all the demands of running a large state agency, Richard has remained laser-focused on protecting public health and the environment,” TCEQ Commissioner Jon Niermann said. “He has approached this mission with excellent judgment and superb leadership. Texans have been fortunate to have a public servant of Richard’s caliber.”

“The executive director of the TCEQ is a tough and often thankless job, and Richard did it with the highest degree of competence and integrity,” TCEQ Commissioner Toby Baker said. “He has served this agency and the state of Texas honorably over a long and impressive career, and we wish him the very best.”

Commissioners will work expeditiously to identify a quality successor, so the TCEQ can continue to uphold its commitment to Texans and to environmental quality across the state. Hyde will step down as executive director at the end of March, but will remain at the TCEQ throughout the month of April to allow the agency to transition smoothly.

Environmental News Links 

EPA Eases Path for New Chemicals, Raising Fears of Health Hazards

Court Rules Energy Department Must Implement Obama Efficiency Rules

EPA Penalties for Polluters Cut in Half Under Trump, Study Finds

IEA Commends Australia’s Commitment to Affordable, Secure and Clean Energy

Far More Methane Leaking and Oil, Gas Sites in Pennsylvania Than Reported

Trump Takes Aim at Obama-Era Rules on Methane Leaks and Gas Flaring

Sea Level Rise is Accelerating: 4 Inches Per Year (or More) by 2100

Tax Breaks and Google Startup Bringing Earth’s Heat into Homes

Pending Updates to California Climate Change Analysis Provide Limited Answers to Difficult Questions

Coffee Threatened by Climate Change, Disease, Pests

New White Paper on Quantifying Sustainability Impacts and Setting Successful Sustainability Goals

EPA Sues Trident over Alaska Fish Processing Waste Discharge

Tap Water in More Than 1000 Communities Tainted with Lead Above Action Level

Debate Over Regulating Glider Emissions in Full Swing as EPA Moves to Rescind Obama-Era Regs

Dunkin’ Globally Eliminates Styrofoam Cups

The Evolving Battery Recycling Journey

Greens Sue Trump Over Fracking Waste in Gulf

USC Pays Over $80,000 in Hazardous Waste Settlement

Trivia Question

How much of the US federal budget is currently allocated to EPA?

a) 0.22%

b) 1.22%

c) 2.22%

d) 3,22%

 

Answer: a