Utah Governor Mike Leavitt was confirmed Tuesday, October 28, 2003, by an overwhelming majority (88-8) by the U.S. Senate to be the next Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Acting EPA Administrator Marianne Horinko issued the following statement:
"Today's Senate vote confirming Mike Leavitt is great news for the Agency, and for our mission of continued protection of human health and the environment. Mike is a thoughtful leader who will bring to EPA his strengths of collaborative environmental management, his commitment to air and water quality and land conservation and his dedication to ensuring effective stewardship of our natural resources.
"From what I understand, he is expected to start here as early as the end of next week. I know Mike Leavitt is looking forward to coming here as much as we are looking forward to having him. I know he will be a great Administrator and I am pleased at the Senate vote today."
EPA Cites American Progressive Circuits for Hazardous Waste Violations
EPA Region 5 has filed a complaint against American Progressive Circuits Inc. of Addison, Ill., for alleged violations of the federal law governing hazardous waste and used oil. The complaint proposes a penalty of up to $27,500 per day for most of the violations.
EPA cited American Progressive Circuits on six counts of violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act including failure to: have a hazardous waste storage permit, conduct required inspections and assessments, train personnel about hazardous waste handling procedures, establish spill-prevention procedures and properly label a used oil container.
EPA regulates hazardous waste from its production to final disposal. The company can request a settlement conference or hearing.
American Progressive Circuits Inc. makes circuit boards.
EPA Files Complaint Against Clarkson University for Hazardous Waste Violations
Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York faces a penalty of $60,500 for alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations. EPA, as part of its ongoing efforts to ensure the protection of those working at and attending institutions of higher learning, has issued a civil enforcement action against the university, alleging violations of federal and state hazardous waste laws.
EPA charged Clarkson University with several violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), as well as violations of state laws. Specifically, EPA found that Clarkson: failed to determine whether the wastes generated in two of its buildings were hazardous wastes; failed to comply with requirements for separating or protecting wastes which are incompatible with each other; stored hazardous waste without a permit; and failed to qualify for an exemption from permitting requirements. EPA's complaint is based upon its November 2002 inspection of the university and upon information which Clarkson provided in response to an EPA request for information. As part of its enforcement action, EPA ordered Clarkson to promptly address the alleged deficiencies to the extent that the university had not already done so. Clarkson has the right to a hearing on the order.
EPA continues to encourage participation in its Colleges and Universities Initiative, which has been in place since 1999. EPA established the initiative because it found that many such institutions were not aware of their responsibilities under various environmental laws. As part of the initiative, EPA sent letters to colleges and universities in New Jersey, New York, and Puerto Rico; held free workshops to help colleges and universities comply; set up a Web site that provides information about their duties under the law; and warned them that EPA inspections of their facilities - with the risk of financial penalties - were imminent. EPA attempted to make the institutions aware of the Agency's Voluntary Audit Policy through which institutions can investigate and disclose hazardous waste violations to the Agency and, if the necessary conditions are met, receive a partial or complete reduction in financial penalties. Clarkson did participate in the Voluntary Audit Policy program, but only decided to do so after EPA conducted its inspection.
The Colleges and Universities Initiative is an ongoing program with additional investigations anticipated. More information on EPA's Voluntary Audit Policy is available at http://www.epa.gov/region02/capp/cip/. The Web site for the Colleges and Universities Initiative is http://www.epa.gov/region02/p2/college/.
Fuel Suppliers Prepared to Meet Future Low-Sulfur Diesel Requirements
Refiners are on target to supply significantly cleaner highway diesel fuel in the next four to six years, according to EPA's analysis of industry reports.
"EPA's clean diesel standards are an important reason Americans can expect air quality to continue to improve in the years ahead," said EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Jeff Holmstead. "We're pleased with the preliminary indications from fuel suppliers, because the new clean diesel fuel – in combination with EPA's Acid Rain Program, cleaner vehicles and more stringent standards for ground-level ozone and particle pollution – will help us meet the goals of the Clean Air Act and further protect public health and the environment."
Although the industry information compiled, analyzed and summarized by EPA is preliminary, the results provide the clearest snapshot currently available of the highway diesel fuel market. Based on current projections for 2006, 96 percent of the nearly 3 million barrels of highway diesel produced per day will meet the 15 parts per million (ppm) standard.
EPA's analysis of information from 126 refiners shows that fuel suppliers are positioned to comply with the 15 ppm sulfur standard on time; highway diesel fuel production will be sufficient to meet demand; and 15 ppm sulfur diesel fuel will be widely available nationwide. Reducing the sulfur content in diesel will enable advanced emission control technology in diesel engines and substantially contribute to air quality improvement, help states meet Clean Air Act goals and further protect public health and the environment.
Under the January 2001 "Clean Diesel Rule," any refiner or importer planning to produce or import highway diesel fuel in 2006-10 is required to submit a "pre-compliance report" to EPA. The reports are due annually from June 2003 through 2005 and must contain information that includes the amount of low-sulfur fuel that will be produced or imported; the number of credits that will be generated or used; and a projected compliance time line.
For a copy of the Summary and Analysis of the 2003 Highway Diesel Fuel Pre-compliance Reports and additional information about the Clean Diesel Rule, visit http://www.epa.gov/otaq/diesel.htm.
Environmental Information Exchange Grants Awarded; New Network will Transform EPA Data Exchange
To simplify the sharing of environmental data, grants for continued work on the National Environmental Information Exchange Network were announced by Acting Administrator Marianne Horinko. Forty-three states, two U.S. territories, and 16 Native American tribes received approximately $20 million in grants in the second phase of fiscal year 2003 funding. When complete, the Exchange Network will revolutionize the way states, tribes and other partners send information to EPA. States and other partners will no longer have to spend time and dollars to resolve hardware or data incompatibility problems in order to transfer data - - they will not have to transmit the data at all. Instead they will establish nodes, special computers where they will store their environmental data, and EPA will collect the data using a universal format software language.
The creation of the Exchange Network is also part of the eGovernment Initiative of the President's Management Agenda, which mandates that the federal government take full advantage of modern information technology to make data more accessible to citizens and other interested parties. This initiative further encourages collaboration between federal, state, local and tribal affiliates in sharing technology to leverage limited state and tribal dollars. EPA anticipates that Congress will continue to fund the grant program for a third year in FY 2004.
The Network Grant Program includes four types of grants:
- Network One Stop Grants continue the work accomplished under the One Stop Program, which awarded grants to states that had already committed significant state resources to data management and reporting improvements.
- Network Readiness Grants foster network participation, such as node development, assignment of data stewardship roles and responsibility, establishment of trading partner agreements, and internal data clean up.
- Network Challenge Grants are for collaborative work that advances the Exchange Network, including projects that result in a higher level of quality data, reduce reporting burden, or provide increased public access to the data.
- Network Administration Grants are to support State/Tribal technical and administrative functions of the Network.
More information on the different types of grants and EPA's National Environmental Information Exchange Network is available at: http://www.epa.gov/Networkg/.
New Source Review Equipment Replacement Rule Published
The final New Source Review Equipment Replacement rule was published October 27, 2003 in the Federal Register. The final rule was signed and announced by Acting Administrator Marianne Horinko in late August. The rule's Federal Register publication was delayed in order to correct typographical, grammatical and other non-substantive editorial errors.
Specifics on this rule including a fact sheet and copy of the final rule as well as the errata memorandum that outlines the changes are on http://www.epa.gov/nsr. This rule was proposed in December 2002. The final rule announced in August and published this week applies only to equipment replacement. The rule becomes effective 60 days following publication in the Federal Register. States, other than those who have delegated federal New Source Review programs, will have up to 3 years to revise their state implementation plans to reflect these new requirements.
The final rule states that replacement components must be "functionally equivalent" to existing components, i.e., there would be no change to basic design or to emitting capacity. It also sets a 20 percent limit on replacement cost for equipment so that there is a clear threshold for plant projects. If these restrictions are exceeded, the replacement work is subject to the New Source Review process. EPA will continue to vigorously enforce violations of the previous New Source Review rules and will enforce any violations that occur under this new equipment replacement rule.
EPA does not believe that this rule will result in any significant changes in emissions.
The Acid Rain control program was established to cap emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) from power plants and other large sources. The program went into effect in 1995, and SO2 emissions from power plants have already been reduced by more than 40 percent from 1980 levels. EPA and states are also preparing to implement more stringent standards for particle pollution and ground-level ozone that will result in further significant improvements in air quality.
New Source Review Reconsideration Finalized
To ensure an effective and predictable regulatory process under EPA's New Source Review (NSR) program, EPA is clarifying two aspects of the program that were finalized in December 2002.
In response to petitions from environmental groups and state and local governments, in July 2003 EPA reconsidered portions of the rule and requested further comment. As a result of this reconsideration, EPA is adding a definition of "replacement unit" and specifying that plant-wide applicability limitation (PAL) baseline calculation procedures for newly constructed units do not apply to modified units. Other than these clarifications, EPA did not change either the method of measuring emission increases when existing emission units are replaced or the method for assessing air emissions from process units built after the 24-month baseline period used to establish PAL emission limits.
The reconsideration process involved a 30-day public comment period and a public hearing. EPA kept the public comment period open an additional 15 days to solicit comments on information presented at the public hearing.
The NSR revisions that were finalized in December 2002 were necessary to provide regulatory certainty, remove barriers and create incentives for large industrial sources to modernize and improve performance through pollution prevention and improved energy efficiency. The NSR program regulates power plants and other industrial sources to ensure that the maintenance and modification of facilities stay within Clean Air Act permit limits, do not significantly change basic design, and do not increase pollution emitting capacity. For more information on the NSR program visit http://www.epa.gov/nsr.