December 24, 2018
EPA has proposed amendments
to the rulemaking titled "Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New, Modified, and Reconstructed Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units (EGUs)," which the EPA promulgated by notice dated October 23, 2015 (i.e., the 2015 Rule).
The proposal would amend its previous determination that the best system of emission reduction (BSER) for newly constructed coal-fired steam generating units (i.e., EGUs) is partial carbon capture and storage (CCS). Instead, the EPA has proposed to find that the BSER for this source category is the most efficient demonstrated steam cycle (e.g., supercritical steam conditions for large units and subcritical steam conditions for small units) in combination with the best operating practices. EPA will revise the standard of performance for newly constructed steam generating units as separate standards of performance for large and small steam generating units that reflect the Agency's amended BSER determination.
EPA has also proposed to revise the standard of performance for reconstructed steam generating units to be separate standards of performance for reconstructed large and small steam generating units, consistent with the proposed revised standards for newly constructed steam generating units. The Agency also proposed separate standards of performance for newly constructed and reconstructed coal refuse-fired EGUs. In addition, the EPA proposes to revise the maximally stringent standards for large modifications of steam generating units to be consistent with the standards for reconstructed large and small steam generating units.
The EPA is not proposing to amend and is not reopening the standards of performance for newly constructed or reconstructed stationary combustion turbines. The EPA is also proposing to make other miscellaneous technical changes in the regulatory requirements.
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Wastewater Operator Faked Discharge Monitoring Reports
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that David D. Klepadlo, age 63, of Clarks Summit, and the company he owns, David D. Klepadlo & Associates, Inc., pleaded guilty on December 19, 2018, before United States District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo to making false statements in violation of the Clean Water Act and tampering with a government witness.
According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Klepadlo was certified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a waste water treatment plant operator. Klepadlo and his company contracted with local municipalities to operate and manage the municipalities’ waste water treatment plants in accordance with regulations and limitations in permits issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and the EPA.
The permits required that the permittee at all times maintain in good working order, and properly operate all facilities and systems installed and used to achieve compliance with the terms and conditions of the permits. For approximately two years, beginning in May 2012 and continuing through June 2014, Klepadlo and his company failed to properly operate and maintain the facilities (Greenfield Township Sewer Authority, Lackawanna County, and the Benton/Nicholson Sewer Authority, both Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties) and systems of treatment and control, in accordance with terms and conditions of the permits.
Klepadlo knowingly failed to take daily and weekly samples and measurements required for the purpose of monitoring pollutants discharged into waterways of the United States; knowingly created false test results and falsely reported those results in discharge monitoring reports submitted monthly to the PADEP and the EPA.
Klepadlo also admitted to attempting to persuade a government witness to fabricate a false explanation for the Clean Water Act violations for the purpose of influencing testimony of a witness in an official proceeding involving the testing and registering requirements of the permits.
Waste water from the Greenfield publicly-owned treatment plan is discharged into a tributary of Dundaff Creek, which flows into Tunkhannock Creek, which flows into the Susquehanna River. Waste water from the Benton/Nicholson facility flows into a tributary of South Branch Tunkhannock Creek, which also flows into the Susquehanna River.
“For personal profit, the Defendant in this case violated the Clean Water Act and tampered with a government witness,” said U.S. Attorney Freed. “His failure to complete appropriate and necessary testing violated the trust of our citizens who depend upon public entities to ensure clean, safe drinking water. The one constant uniting the diverse communities of the Middle District of Pennsylvania is the Susquehanna River, providing us with an abundant natural resource as well as commercial and recreational opportunities. Working with our partners at EPA Criminal Enforcement, the FBI and the Pennsylvania DEP we are committed to protecting this important asset and ferreting out violations of the Act.”
“The defendant not only violated the Clean Water Act by failing to properly operate a waste water treatment facility, but also created false test results to mislead state and federal officials,” said Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Lynn of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Pennsylvania. “He then attempted to persuade a government witness to fabricate a false explanation of the violations. EPA and its law enforcement partners are committed to the protection of public health and will continue to pursue those who undermine those efforts.”
“At every turn, it seems, David Klepadlo opted to cut corners and tell lies,” said Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division. “After tampering with his water samples, he sought to do the same with a government witness. The FBI will continue to work with our state and federal partners to investigate and stamp out such corruption.”
The charges stem from an investigation jointly conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Olshefski is prosecuting the case.
A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. In this case, the maximum penalty for the Clean Water Act violation is punishable by up to 2 years’ imprisonment and a sliding scale for fines of $5,000 to $25,000 per violation, per day. The maximum penalty under the tampering with a witness statute is 20 years’ imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine. Each crime also carries a term of supervised release following imprisonment.
Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.
Compliance Assistance Calendars Available to Dry Cleaners
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management is providing complimentary compliance calendars again this year. The calendars support the ADEM’s efforts to assist small businesses in their efforts to comply with environmental regulations.
Dry cleaners that utilize the chemical perchloroethylene, or PERC, are required to comply with strict control device standards to minimize air emissions. In addition, these facilities are required to comply with specific monitoring and recordkeeping requirements as set forth by the EPA.
ADEM created a compliance calendar, which includes charts to document pertinent monitoring data, to assist with the recordkeeping requirements. The calendar also features monthly tips to remind small businesses of their regulatory requirements and the frequency at which their machines should be monitored.
To obtain a copy of the compliance calendar, please call the ADEM - Air Division at 334-271-7861 or the ADEM Ombudsman Office at 800-533-2336.
DOT to Cut Two Regulations for Each New Regulation
The DOT released two new policies to overhaul its administrative procedures and effect regulatory reform. These policies, issued by the Department’s General Counsel, apply to all guidance and rulemaking activities conducted by all components of the Department.
The first is an Order that updates policies and procedures governing the development and issuance of regulations. Among its major improvements, the Order permanently incorporates the Trump Administration’s regulatory reform strategies into the Department’s procedures, including the “2-for-1,” regulatory budgeting, and Regulatory Reform Task Force requirements. The Order also includes enhanced procedures for the issuance of rules that are likely to impose exceptionally significant costs.
A primary goal of the Department is to allow the public to understand how decisions are made. Above all, transparency and meaningful engagement mandate that regulations should be straightforward, clear, and accessible to any interested stakeholder. The Department also embraces the notion that there should be no more regulations than necessary and existing regulations are rigorously reviewed.
The second is a Memorandum that establishes enhanced procedures for the review and clearance of guidance documents. The Memorandum ensures that guidance documents remain lawful, reasonable, consistent with Administration policy, understandable, readily accessible to the public, and do not impose hidden costs on regulated entities.
Two Maine Companies Fined for Hazardous Waste Violations
A Hartland, Maine, tannery has agreed to come into compliance with state and federal hazardous waste laws and to pay a penalty of $48,000 to settle claims by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it violated these laws at its facility in Hartland. Another Maine company, GVS North America of Sanford, also recently came into compliance with state and federal hazardous waste laws and agreed to pay a penalty to settle charges of violations of hazardous waste regulations by EPA's New England office.
"These settlements improve compliance with important federal and state laws that protect Maine communities, facility employees and first responders from hazardous waste exposure," said EPA New England Regional Administrator Alexandra Dunn. "The companies' work with EPA and steps taken to return to compliance will help us together to advance public and worker health and safety."
Tasman Leather Group, LLC agreed to correct all violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and State of Maine Hazardous Waste Management Rules, and certified compliance with these requirements. This case stems from a June 2016 inspection by EPA inspectors who found that the facility had failed to get a site-specific identification number, maintain a compliant hazardous waste contingency plan, conduct an annual review of hazardous waste training, and conduct an adequate hazardous waste determination, among other alleged violations. Without a site-specific identification number, a facility may avoid regulatory oversight. Without a compliant contingency plan and proper training, facility employees and emergency responders may not know how to respond in an emergency.
These violations posed a threat to the health and safety of employees and the surrounding community because they could have led to hazardous waste releases. This settlement reduces the likelihood of a release of hazardous waste to the Hartland community. The Hartland facility, which re-tans and finishes leather for the military, footwear and fashion industries, generates hazardous waste, including flammable solvents.
According to EPA, GVS North America – a Delaware-based subsidiary of a company based in Italy – was found to be out of compliance in that they failed to provide employee hazardous waste management training, failed to have adequate space between containers of hazardous waste, and failed to do weekly inspections of hazardous waste containers, among other violations of RCRA and the State of Maine Hazardous Waste Management Rules.
In the case of GVS North America, the company is now doing the training and inspections necessary to comply with federal and state hazardous waste laws. GVS also agreed to pay a penalty of $63,036 to settle claims by EPA that it failed to properly manage its hazardous waste. The Sanford facility, which makes filters for life sciences applications as well as throttle plates for cars, generates hazardous wastes containing sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid, methanol NMP, flammable solids, universal wastes, and chromium.
Could this Happen in the US? It did.
The federal government’s leading expert on the human health impacts of climate change is the target of a wide-ranging reprisal campaign which began days after the Trump inauguration. He has been gagged, reassigned, had his program dismantled, and has been subjected to a welter of seemingly farcical charges, as detailed in documents posted by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Dr. George Luber, an epidemiologist, is Chief of the Climate and Health Program, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). He had been the very public face of climate science at CDC, frequently appearing on TV news and speaking at professional conferences. He is the lead author for the Fourth National Climate Assessment’s Chapter on Human Health, released last month, and was also the lead author for a report the U.S. Supreme Court cited in its seminal 2007 ruling that greenhouse gases should be regulated under the Clean Air Act.
In February 2017, CDC cancelled, over his objections, a symposium Dr. Luber was slated to host featuring Al Gore. He was then directed to stop using the phrase “climate change” and forbidden from responding to any further media or congressional inquiries.
In March 2018, CDC revoked his badge, phone, and credentials, placing him on a BOLO (be on the lookout) list as a security risk, barring him from entering the facility except under armed guard and with prior approval, and then only to retrieve materials. Every time he goes to his office, Dr. Luber and his car are thoroughly searched in front of his colleagues.
“CDC is deliberately humiliating and degrading a prominent researcher because of the subject matter of his work,” stated PEER Staff Counsel Kevin Bell, noting that Dr. Luber’s Climate Heath Program has also been collapsed into a larger Community Health program, with no mention of climate change in its title. “To please new political masters, CDC has exiled climate science to an organizational penal colony.”
The pressure on Dr. Luber continues to mount. In a letter dated October 22, 2018, CDC Environmental Health Center Director Patrick Breysse (the same official who ordered Dr. Luber to stop using the term “climate change”) proposed his removal based upon an alleged failure to obtain permission to author a 2015 book, give lectures at Emory University, and a kitchen sink list of more than 30 other charges. Dr. Luber provided a detailed refutation of all these charges concerning which he was never previously interviewed. In his prior 16 years at CDC, Dr. Luber has had a spotless record.
This week, after a reporter made inquiries, Mr Breysse abruptly rescinded the removal and indicated in an email to Dr. Luber: “This is to inform you that I have received your response dated November 20, 2018 regarding the ‘Proposal to Remove’ memo addressed to you on dated October 22, 2018. After reading your response and thoughtful consideration, I will rescind the ‘proposal for removal’ memo and provide you with a new notice of disciplinary or adverse action in the future.”
“While we’re pleased with the withdrawal of the proposed removal, Dr. Luber is still facing restrictions on his ability to work freely in his field,” added Bell, who is part of the PEER legal team representing Dr. Luber. “PEER will be taking action to secure the recovery of his program, the restoration of his job duties, and his ability to communicate about the health aspects of climate change to the public.”
Until news of Breysse’s reversal, PEER had been preparing to pursue a complaint with the OSC charging violations of the Whistleblower Protection Act. The complaint focused on CDC’s illegal retaliation for his protesting illegal diversion of climate science funding and staffing, documenting the public health dangers springing from national inaction against climate change, and pointing out violations of CDC’s own Scientific Integrity Policy.
Resolve to Reduce Plastic Waste
It's the time of year when people make resolutions to make improvements in their lives. Resolve to improve the environment. It might even be easier than other resolutions you’ll make. How about resolving to reduce the amount of plastics you use?
Plastic is everywhere. It’s used in disposable products as well as packaging, it’s difficult to recycle, and it requires natural resources to produce.
Understanding the life cycle of plastic can help you understand its total impact on the environment. Think about the products you use every day. Each stage of the life cycle for each piece of plastic—from raw materials to manufacturing, to disposal—requires resources like energy and water.
Since plastic is challenging to recycle, much of it ends up in landfills. In fact, it was the second largest component of the municipal solid waste to be sent to landfills in 2015—making up almost 19 percent of landfilled material.
Recycling plastic is difficult because not all recycling programs and facilities accept all plastic products, so you can’t just throw all plastics in the recycling bin. The numbered triangle on the bottom of that plastic bottle looks like a recycle symbol, but this does not necessarily mean it can be recycled. The number must match what is accepted by your local program.
Make plastic reduction part of your resolutions for 2019 and beyond. Check out the infographic “This New Year, Resolve to Use Less Plastic,” for tips to help you get started.
Take Care of Texas is a statewide campaign from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that encourages all Texans to help keep our air and water clean, conserve water and energy, and reduce waste. To learn more, visit TakeCareOfTexas.org
. Pledge to do your part to Take Care of Texas, and they’ll mail you a Texas State Parks: Official Guide.
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