National Emissions Inventory System to be Upgraded

April 28, 2008

A new National Emissions Inventory System (NEIS) will be replacing the current version in October. The system allows states to report their most commonly found pollutants (criteria pollutants), as well as the hazardous air pollutant emissions from all sources in their states. Data from the NEI are used for air dispersion modeling, regional strategy development, setting regulation, air toxics risk assessment, and tracking trends in emissions over time.

Website Shows Electric Utilities and their Air Quality Status

EPA’s Air Protection Division is presenting the region’s air quality data in an innovative way. Its public web site database now enables users of Google Earth mapping software to view an interactive map of electric utilities in Region 3. After downloading Google Earth software and fulfilling other conditions, the EPA Google Earth file data can be viewed. When opened, each electric utility is represented as a point on a map which, when clicked, reveals a chart showing the selected facility’s annual emissions of six major air pollutants.

25% Increase in Fuel Efficiency Standards Over 5 Years Proposed for Passenger Vehicles and Light Trucks

Fuel efficiency standards for both passenger vehicles and light trucks would increase by 4.5 percent per year over the five-year period ending in 2015—a 25% total improvement that exceeds the 3.3% baseline proposed by Congress last year—under a proposal announced by DOT Secretary Mary E. Peters.

“This proposal is historically ambitious, yet achievable,” Secretary Peters said. “It will help us all breathe a little easier by reducing tailpipe emissions, cutting fuel consumption, and making driving a little more affordable.”

For passenger cars, the proposal would increase fuel economy from the current 27.5 miles per gallon to 35.7 miles per gallon by 2015. For light trucks, the proposal calls for increases from 23.5 miles per gallon in 2010 to 28.6 miles per gallon in 2015.

All told, the proposal will save nearly 55 billion gallons of fuel and a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions estimated at 521 million metric tons. The plan will save America’s drivers over $100 billion in fuel costs over the lifetime of the vehicles covered by the rule, Secretary Peters said.

As required by Congress, the proposed rule allows for automakers to earn credits for exceeding Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards. This will serve as an incentive for companies to exceed these goals while giving manufacturers flexibility to meet the standards without compromising their economic vitality. The goal is to save fuel, not endanger jobs, Secretary Peters said.

“Looking at the fuel-efficient technologies already available, it’s easy to see a not-too-distant future when cars fueled by something other than gasoline will be readily available and affordable,” Secretary Peters said. “Until that time, however, we will continue to do what we can, safely and efficiently, to improve gas mileage and help consumers spend less time and less money at the pump.”

Over the last six years, the Administration has twice made changes to the nation’s CAFE standards, including the first since 1975 to increase mileage requirements for light trucks. Last year, President Bush called for an energy plan that goes even further by requiring attribute-based fuel efficiency standards for passenger vehicles. A copy of the CAFE proposal is found on the NHTSA website and a copy of the Secretary’s speech may be viewed by clicking here.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined with 11 other governors in sending a letter to President Bush expressing disappointment that the administration has chosen not to support the states’ efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) proposed rulemaking on CAFE standards is an attempt to preempt states that are working to control greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to the letter to the President, these states also sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to protest this provision and insist on a CAFE regulation that is consistent with Congress’ intent.

California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. attacked the new fuel economy rules, calling them “a covert assault” on California’s landmark tailpipe greenhouse gas regulations. “This fuel economy plan, while attractive on the surface, is a shameful and unlawful assault on California’s landmark vehicle emissions standards,” Attorney General Brown said.

The federal vehicle standard, an increase to 31.6 MPG by 2015, falls short of state efforts which curb greenhouse gas emissions directly and are estimated to be equivalent to 36 MPG by 2016.

The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) required the Bush Administration to increase gas mileage standards. But the in proposed regulations, buried on page 378, there is an attempt—in violation of law—to ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA and two district court opinions which affirm that gas mileage standards are separate from state greenhouse gas regulations.

The regulations purport to preempt “any state regulation regulating tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles...” This violates legal precedent which clearly established that pollution emissions from cars, including greenhouse gases, are regulated by the EPA and the State of California, not NHTSA.

The preemption provisions clearly contradict language in the original EISA statue itself which states that nothing in the law, “supersedes, limits the authority provided or responsibility conferred by, or authorizes any violation of any provision of law (including a regulation), including any energy or environmental law or regulation.”

Two federal district courts, Vermont and the Eastern District of California, determined that California’s authority to control greenhouse gas emissions cannot be overruled by NHTSA.

California’s law requires a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions standards from motor vehicles by 2016. Under the Clean Air Act, California can adopt stricter standards by obtaining a waiver from EPA. California is the world’s 12th largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions and the state’s auto regulations are an important part of California’s strategy to fight global warming. The regulations would account for about 17 percent of the state’s goal, set under AB 32 the Global Warming Solutions Act, of reducing emissions 25% by 2020.

Seventeen other states have adopted or are poised to adopt California’s landmark regulations: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.

Brown recently expanded the Attorney General's website to provide valuable and up-to-date information about how public officials, industry leaders, and private citizens can join the fight against global warming.

President Bush Sets Goals for Greenhouse Gas Emissions

President Bush announced a new goal to stop the growth in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. To reach that goal, the President also called for electric utilities to slow the growth in their greenhouse gas emissions so that they peak within 10 to 15 years and decline thereafter. As noted by the President, all responsible approaches to achieving such greenhouse gas reductions depend on accelerating the development and deployment of new technologies. Specifically, President Bush called for new policies that spur investment in the new technologies needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. The President also called for long-term incentives to make lower-emission power sources more competitive with higher-emission power sources.

The President’s new goal is the first absolute goal for stopping greenhouse gas emissions on the federal level. Back in 2002, President Bush set a goal of reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas intensity by 18% by 2012, and the U.S. is on track to meet that goal. However, greenhouse gas intensity is defined as the amount of greenhouse gases emitted per unit of gross domestic product, so in a growing economy, greenhouse gas emissions can increase even though greenhouse gas intensity is decreasing. In contrast, the new goal sets a specific date for a peak in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. See the President’s speech and a White House fact sheet on the new goal.

Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change said, “The proposal announced by President Bush is a step backwards for U.S. climate policy. In 2002 the administration laid out a plan that allowed U.S. emissions to grow until 2012—the current proposal will allow our emissions to grow until 2025. This proposal is a non-starter both domestically and internationally. The only good news is that this is irrelevant—both in the U.S. and globally—because this administration has only 9 months left in office and we have three presidential candidates who will take this issue seriously.”

Checking Your Tire Pressure is as Easy as Pumping Gas

The California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) and the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) launched National Tire Safety Week to reminder drivers of the importance of simple tire maintenance.

“Maximizing tire performance and safety depends on regular maintenance,” said Daniel Zielinski, RMA Senior Vice President, Public Affairs. “By checking tire pressure monthly during a stop for gas—or other routine maintenance--drivers can greatly impact tire life, gas mileage, and passenger safety.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), low tire pressure-related crashes are to blame for 660 fatalities and 33,000 injuries every year.

These alarming statistics are a critical reason why RMA is sponsoring the annual National Tire Safety Week, which runs April 20-26, in partnership with CIWMB.

“There is a real need to educate drivers about tire maintenance in order to increase vehicle safety and tire performance, as well as to extend the life of the tires and save money on gas,” explains Margo Reid Brown, CIWMB Board Chair. “California currently generates 42 million scrap tires annually which have significant impacts on our environment.”

At a recent event, motorists at a Chevron service station in San Francisco received “report cards” on their tire air pressure and tread depth. Specialists from AAA of Northern California demonstrated how easy it is to check tire pressure.

In previous research by the CIWMB, consumers indicated awareness of the need to check tire pressure, yet fewer than half reporting checking their tire inflation regularly, citing a lack of time to do so. Today’s event showed drivers that they can spend 3-5 minutes checking tire air pressure during a routine stop for gas, ensuring vehicle safety, and better fuel economy.

According to the California Air Resources Board, tires lose one PSI of tire pressure per month, which eventually decreases vehicle fuel efficiency by more than one-third.

With an estimated 74 percent of vehicles having at least one under-inflated tire, and 27 percent having at least one tire averaging 6.8 PSI below recommended proper tire pressure levels, the loss of fuel efficiency is enormous. It is estimated that Californians would save 47.9 million gallons of fuel annually if tires are properly inflated.

During the event RMA urged motorists to follow several maintenance tips, including:

  • Measure tire pressure monthly using a good quality tire gauge. A visual inspection is not sufficient to detect under-inflated or over-inflated tire problems.
  • Have tires aligned regularly and check owner’s manual for specific recommendations. A pulling or vibration sensation means that alignment should be checked sooner.
  • Rotate tires regularly, usually every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.
  • Monitor tread wear and replace tires when tire tread is worn down to 1/16 of an inch. Proper tire tread prevents skidding and hydroplaning.
  • Tires should be balanced periodically or when drivers feel a vibration.
  • Conduct a visual check for embedded stones, glass and other foreign objects that could work their way into the tire and cause a leak.
  • More than 18,000 tire dealers, auto dealers, AAA clubs and others throughout the country will make RMA tire care information brochures available to consumers during National Tire Safety Week. Additionally, most tire retail locations provide free tire pressure services to motorists throughout the year. In Northern California, Les Schwab Tires Centers has partnered with CIWMB and RMA to advertise free tire safety checks to all drivers during the entire month of April.

For information about National Tire Safety Week, go to RMA’s “Be Tire Smart” program.

Giving Small Water Systems a Free Check Up

EPA is rolling out an important management tool for small drinking water and wastewater systems. EPA’s Administrator Stephen L. Johnson has announced the availability of “Check Up Program for Small Systems” (CUPSS). This user-friendly computer-based program assists owners and operators in developing and using plans for maintaining their systems and providing service to their customers. Administrator Johnson emphasized that CUPSS, with the support of EPA’s partners in the effort, will make a difference and help bridge the growing financial gap faced by small drinking water and wastewater systems as they repair, and replace infrastructure.

CUPSS uses information provided on the system’s assets, operation and maintenance activities and financial status to produce a prioritized asset inventory, financial reports and a customized asset management plan. Asset management programs support informed budget discussions, boost efficiency of the utility, and improve customer service by ensuring clean and safe water at competitive prices. CUPSS was developed by the Office of Water as part of the agency’s Sustainable Infrastructure Initiative. The effort received input from a large stakeholder workgroup, including representatives from several states, the National Rural Water Association, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, and Environmental Finance Centers.

The CUPSS program and all supporting materials are available for immediate download. Kits including the material will also be available in May. EPA’s newly updated website for small public water systems is available at Safe Water for Small Systems.

Wastewater Operator Arrested for NPDES Violations

Marios Papadopoulos, of Ruston, La., was arrested and charged with 16 counts of exceeding water discharge permit limits, 22 counts of submitting false documents pertaining to the permits, and four counts of negligent violation by exceeding permitted discharge limits. All charges are related to permit violations under the Louisiana Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

Papadopoulos owns American Water and Wastewater Management and operates numerous wastewater treatment plants in northern Louisiana. Louisiana DEQ alleges that he did not report discharges from one of his facilities for more than two years, from 2005-2007, and that discharges from two other facilities during that time exceeded his permitted limits.

If convicted, Papadopoulos faces a maximum of $50,000 in fines and three years in prison per charge for knowingly violating state laws covering an illegal discharge. Filing false reports carries a maximum of $10,000 in fines and two years in prison per charge. The case was referred to DEQ’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) after the department’s inspectors discovered his business was conducting possible illegal activity.

“As a department, it is our mission to ensure that the public is safe from harmful, or potentially harmful, environmental activities,” said Peter Ricca, DEQ CID chief. “Criminal enforcement is one way to ensure people are abiding by the environmental regulations.”

Louisiana DEQ Small Business Assistance Program Seminar Explains Regs to Small Businesses

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Small Business Assistance staff will be presenting a seminar to business people in Morgan City. The presentation will be given at the Louisiana Business and Technology Center’s Mobile classroom on April 30.

The main function of the DEQ Small Business/Small Community Assistance program is to help businesses and communities understand and comply with complex state and federal regulations. The program also offers assistance with permit applications, identification of emission sources and pollutants, resolution of environmental issues and general guidance for newly permitted facilities.

Ryan Brignac, with DEQ’s Acadiana Regional office, will present a seminar on the program on April 30 at 10:45 a.m. The mobile classroom will be located at the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium, on April 29 and 30.

The seminars are free; however, registration is required due to limited seating. To register, call 985-380-4639 or email asheff1@lsu.edu. For more information on the DEQ Small Business/Small Community Assistance Program, go to the DEQ website or call 800-259-2890.

Homeowners Fined for Asbestos Violations

Daniel M. and Jacqueline S. Rutowicz will pay the Commonwealth of Massachusetts a $2,000 penalty for violations of the Department of Environmental Protection’s (MassDEP) asbestos regulations. The violations occurred during the removal of asbestos-containing transite roofing materials from their residential property located at 667 Highland Street in Holliston.

During an inspection of the property, MassDEP personnel found that the roofing materials had been removed by a roofing contractor, hired by the Rutowiczs, without having provided prior notification to MassDEP, and without following the required handling, packaging, and disposal procedures. Dry, uncontained pieces of asbestos-containing materials were observed on the ground at the property.

Upon discovery of the violations, Mr. and Mrs. Rutowicz were required to hire a Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety licensed asbestos contractor to properly handle, package, and dispose of all the asbestos-containing waste materials, and to decontaminate all impacted areas of the property. Under the terms of the negotiated settlement, MassDEP assessed a penalty of $27,620 and suspended all but $2,000 of the penalty amount provided there is no repeat of the violations for one year.

MassDEP regulations require asbestos-containing transite materials to be removed wet, in a manner that minimizes breakage, and then carefully lowered to the ground. The regulations also mandate that asbestos waste be sealed, while wet, into leak-tight containers that have the appropriate asbestos warning labels affixed to them.

“Homeowners and contractors alike must recognize that improper removal and handling of asbestos is a serious matter, which potentially exposes their families, workers, and neighbors to a known carcinogen,” said Martin Suuberg, director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester. “Failure to remove asbestos-containing materials in compliance with the regulations inevitably results in a higher financial burden in terms of escalated cleanup, decontamination, and monitoring costs, as well as significant penalty exposure.”

Property owners or contractors with questions about asbestos-containing materials, notification requirements, proper removal, handling, packaging, storage and disposal procedures, or the asbestos regulations are encouraged to contact the appropriate MassDEP regional office for assistance.

New York DEC Joins Six Public and Private Organizations on North America’s Largest Climate Initiative

To celebrate Earth Day 2008, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced that DEC and six public and private organizations have signed on to a pioneering effort to track emissions that lead to climate change. The “Founding Reporters” participating in The Climate Registry’s nationwide initiative now include DEC, the cities of Syracuse and Rochester, New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, and the New York Power Authority.

“I am proud that private and public organizations are continuing New York State’s leadership in the fight against climate change,” Grannis said, “Participants in The Climate Registry have agreed to inventory greenhouse gas emissions, have the inventories verified by a third party, and report the information publicly. These are critical steps in making the right decisions to achieve real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Climate Registry, North America’s largest climate initiative, is a not-for-profit organization that has established a common system for state and tribally recognized greenhouse gas emissions records. On April 2, 2008, the Registry released its General Reporting Protocol, which defines the methods that will be used to calculate, verify, and publicly report greenhouse gas emissions.

“These New York organizations have demonstrated environmental leadership by courageously stepping forward to support The Climate Registry in its preliminary stages. We are deeply grateful for their integral support in helping to address the challenge of climate change,” said Gina McCarthy, Chair of The Climate Registry.

Commissioner Grannis continues to encourage all New York businesses, not-for-profit organizations, universities and municipalities to join The Climate Registry and to begin measuring and reporting their greenhouse gas emissions. More than 90 leading corporations, organizations, cities, and counties have already enrolled to report their greenhouse gas emissions to The Climate Registry. Organizations that join The Climate Registry as reporters before May 1, 2008, receive a special designation for their environmental commitment by being designated as “Founding Reporters.”

Information on The Climate Registry is available online. Organizations interested in joining the Registry may contact Mark Lowery in DEC’s Office of Climate Change at 518-402-8027 or by email to climatechange@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

Taiwanese and U.S. Companies Settle Clean Air Violations

A Taiwanese manufacturer and three American corporations will pay a $2 million civil penalty for allegedly importing and distributing approximately 200,000 chainsaws in the U.S. that failed to meet federal air pollution standards, the Justice Department and EPA announced. The companies also agreed to spend approximately $5 million on projects to reduce air pollution.

The settlement resolves violations of the Clean Air Act by MTD Southwest of Tucson, Ariz., its parent company, MTD Products of Cleveland, Ohio, Jenn Feng Industrial Company of Taiwan, and its subsidiary, McCulloch Corp. of Santa Fe Springs, Calif. Jenn Feng manufactured the engines for sale in the U.S. and McCulloch obtained certificates of conformity from EPA for the engines. MTD Products/MTD Southwest purchased the engines from Jenn Feng and imported and distributed the engines to the U.S.

“In addition to securing a significant civil penalty, today’s settlement more than compensates the environment for the illegal emissions caused by these violations,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The settlement requires the companies to reduce nearly four times the estimated excess hydrocarbon emissions resulting from the violations, as well as reducing approximately 13,000 tons of other air pollutants.”

“EPA will continue to enforce the Clean Air Act and stop illegal imports,” said Granta Y. Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Reliable and effective pollution control systems are essential to protect human health and the environment from harmful emissions from non-road engines.”

The settlement involves the largest civil penalty for violations of federal air pollution emissions standards for engines in “non-road” equipment. These engines are used in a variety of equipment, including chain saws, lawnmowers, trimmers, and blowers.

More than 100,000 of the chainsaws were sold to consumers at Sears, McCulloch, and Troy-Bilt retail outlets. EPA estimates that these chainsaws will emit approximately 268 tons of excess hydrocarbons into the environment over their lifetime.

In addition to the penalty, the companies will conduct the following projects to reduce air pollution to remedy the impact of the alleged violations. These projects are expected to reduce more than the excess emissions resulting from the violations:

  • Install streetlights with light-emitting diodes (LED) in selected cities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 11,460 tons and reduce energy consumption
  • Install low-permeable fuel lines in at least 1 million engines used in lawn and garden equipment to reduce hydrocarbon emissions by about 1,000 tons
  • Purchase nitrogen oxides emissions allowances and surrender them to EPA to prevent about 1,470 tons of nitrogen oxide emissions represented by those allowances from ever entering the environment.

The settlement also requires that the companies prevent future violations by implementing rigorous plans to ensure that all imports meet emissions and design standards. Under the settlement, the importers will randomly sample imported engines and test for compliance with air standards. The settlement also requires the companies to set up compliance hotlines that will allow people to submit confidential, anonymous information about each company’s compliance with the non-road regulations. The companies are required to export from the U.S. any illegal chainsaws that have not yet been sold.

The government’s complaint alleges that the chainsaw engines did not conform to specifications provided by McCulloch in its applications for certification. McCulloch’s applications claimed that the 2006 model year engines would be built with catalytic converters to control air pollution and meet air emissions standards. The complaint also alleges that a number of 2005 model year chainsaws did not conform to the specifications in the certification application.

MTD notified EPA regarding the potential violations. During the subsequent investigation, EPA discovered that the 2006 model year engines were built without catalytic converters and did not meet federal emissions requirements.

In 1995, EPA established regulations to reduce emissions of hydrocarbons from small gasoline powered non-road engines. To obtain a certificate of conformity from EPA, a manufacturer must submit an application to EPA that describes the engine and its emission control system, and that demonstrates that the engines will meet federal emissions standards for nitrogen oxides and total hydrocarbons.

Non-road engines emit volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, which contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog. Exposure to even low levels of ozone can cause respiratory problems, and repeated exposure can aggravate pre-existing respiratory diseases.

In addition to the settlement, EPA has imposed nearly $2.4 million in fines during the past 18 months against more than 58 importers for engines that failed to have required certification or emission controls. Without the proper controls, engines can emit 30% more pollution than allowable under EPA standards.

New Mexico Reaches $60.8 Million Settlement with DCP Midstream for Numerous Air Quality Violations

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) reached $60.8 million settlement agreement with DCP Midstream, L.P., formerly Duke Energy Field Services, for numerous air quality violations at three of the company’s natural gas plants in southeastern New Mexico. The settlement, which includes cash penalties and environmental projects and facility upgrades, requires the reduction of air pollution, including sulfur dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, that address climate change.

The settlement amount, which is among the largest the department has negotiated, settles longstanding violations of air pollution laws at the company’s plants at Linam Ranch, Artesia, and Eunice. The violations involve the combustion of gases in flares that cause air pollution. The plants, which are in Eddy and Lea counties, process natural gas from the Permian basin. “I commend Secretary Curry and his staff for their perseverance in negotiating this important settlement for the State of New Mexico,” said Governor Bill Richardson. “This tough agreement will hold a company responsible for violations and will yield significant air quality improvements and greenhouse gas reductions in the Southeast part of our state.”

“This is part of a departmental initiative to clean up gas plants that comprise a major portion of the industrial sector and are a major source of unhealthy air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in New Mexico,” said NMED Secretary Ron Curry. “We want the people of New Mexico to breathe clean air and this settlement exemplifies our commitment to improve air quality in our state. We will monitor DCP’s plants closely to make sure the company complies with requirements of the agreement including significantly reducing air pollution in southern N.M. and installing the latest technological equipment to achieve that end.”

The settlement requires DCP to pay cash penalties of $1.8 million dollars, including $1.2 million to the general fund and $600,000 for supplemental environmental projects to address climate change. The department agreed to allow DCP to construct emissions reduction environmental projects totaling $59 million. Those environmental projects include improving electrical reliability and reducing emissions at the Eunice plant caused by power disruption; installing Acid Gas Injection equipment at Linam Ranch to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 1,630 tons per year, hydrogen sulfide emissions by 26 tons per year and carbon dioxide emissions by 73,100 tons per year; upgrading and replacing flares at the plants to reduce emissions created during flaring events. The company must also use the $59 million to complete other projects to reduce emissions at the plants.

Scotts Miracle Gro Ordered to Stop Selling Certain Pesticides

EPA Region 5 has issued a “stop sale, use or removal” order against Scotts Miracle Gro Co. and three affiliates, all of Marysville, Ohio, for illegal, unregistered, and misbranded pesticides. EPA will also issue a stop sale order to Scotts Lawn Care Service.

Scotts has agreed to recall these products from all retail locations across the U.S. and to set up a process for consumers to safely return any unregistered products they may have purchased.

An EPA consumer hotline to answer questions about the action has been established at 888-838-1304 (9 a.m.–4:30 p.m, Central Daylight Time). Questions may also be answered by the National Pesticide Information Center at 800-858-7378 (6:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time, including weekends). A Fact Sheet and regularly updated information are posted online.

At this time the risks, if any, posed by these unregistered products are unknown. EPA and its state partner Ohio Department of Agriculture are conducting a laboratory analysis of these products. Updated information will be posted online when it becomes available. Until EPA has more information about the contents of these products, consumers are advised not to use these products and to store them in a safe, cool and dry place such as a garage or utility shed. Do not dispose of them down the drain, in the garbage or at a community disposal site.

EPA ordered the companies, collectively an international producer and distributor of lawn care products, to immediately stop selling and distributing two products which can be identified by the invalid “EPA registration number” listed on the package. Invalid registration number 62355-4 is marketed under names including “Garden Weed Preventer + Plant Food” and “Miracle Gro Shake ‘n’ Feed All Purpose Plant Food Plus Weed Preventer.” Invalid registration number 538-304 is used primarily by Scotts Lawn Service, a lawn care company. It is marketed under names including “Scotts Lawn Service Fertilizer with .28% Halts,” “Scotts Lawn Service Fertilizer 0-0-7 Plus .28% Halts Pro,” “Scotts Lawn Service Fertilizer 14-2-5 Plus .28% Halts Pro,” and “Scotts Lawn Service Fertilizer 22-0-8 Plus .28% Halts Pro.”

In an effort to make sure these products are immediately removed from the marketplace, EPA will also issue stop-sale orders to major retailers that carry these products.

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), all pesticides must be submitted to EPA for review, evaluation, and registration to ensure that they do not pose an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. EPA’s review and registration process is internationally recognized. Pesticide products that have not undergone EPA review may pose risks to human health and the environment.

“A manufacturer such as Scotts cannot ignore the important legal requirement of registering its pesticides,” said Region 5 Administrator Mary A. Gade. “This is a serious violation of EPA’s system for protecting people and the environment from the potential harmful effects of pesticides. EPA will fully investigate this violation and take appropriate actions. We are committed to keeping the public informed about any health consequences and providing information to assure the safe recall of these products as soon as possible.”

Unified Western Grocers Fined $270,000 for Pesticide Violations

EPA recently reached a $270,000 settlement with Unified Western Grocers, a Los Angeles, Calif.-based grocery distributor, for the sale and distribution of an unregistered pesticide, a violation of FIFRA.

Unified Western Grocers allegedly sold and distributed “Western Family Cleanser with Bleach,” an unregistered product that stated on the label that it “wipes out most household germs, including Staph, Salmonella, and Pseudomonas.”

“Staph, Salmonella, and Pseudomonas are harmful bacteria that can cause serious damage to human health. Products that claim to eliminate such bacteria must be registered with EPA as a pesticide,” said Katherine Taylor, Associate Director of the Communities and Ecosystems Division in EPA’s Pacific Southwest region.

FIFRA requires companies to register cleaning products as pesticides if the cleaning product makes claims to control germs. These requirements protect public health and the environment by ensuring safe production, handling, and application of pesticides, and by preventing false, misleading, or unverifiable product claims.

The case was based on inspections conducted by the State of California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation and the State of Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture in 2005 and 2006.

National Association of Manufacturers and EPA Challenge U.S. Industries to Reduce Energy Use By 10 Percent

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the EPA announced they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to help improve the energy efficiency of U.S. manufacturers. This first-ever agreement between EPA and NAM, the nation’s oldest and largest industrial trade association, is an important step toward saving energy in the industrial sector, which uses a third of the energy in the U.S. and is responsible for nearly a third of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to climate change.

“Environmental responsibility is everyone’s responsibility—and I’m pleased NAM is taking this motto to heart,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “By making smart energy choices, U.S. manufacturers are helping improve our nation’s energy and environmental outlook.”

“This new partnership with EPA leverages the unique strength of U.S. manufacturers as the world’s leaders in energy efficiency and innovative green technology,” NAM President and CEO John Engler said. “Energy efficiency is critical to a clean environment and to energy security. Building upon U.S. manufacturers’ leadership in this area makes good economic and business sense.”

Under the agreement that expands EPA’s ongoing work with the manufacturing sector, NAM will challenge its 14,000 member companies to reduce energy use by 10 percent or more in cooperation with EPA’s ENERGY STAR Challenge. EPA estimates if the manufacturing industry reduced its energy use by 10 percent, manufacturers would save nearly $10.4 billion and enough energy to power nearly 10 million American homes for one year. EPA will support NAM members in developing and refining company-wide energy management programs, share best energy management practices, provide training, and recognize the energy efficiency achievements of NAM members. EPA believes corporate-wide energy management programs are the basis for securing and sustaining long-term energy savings.

ENERGY STAR was introduced by EPA in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Today, the ENERGY STAR label can be found on more than 50 different kinds of products, new homes and commercial and industrial buildings. Products and buildings that have earned the ENERGY STAR designation prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy-efficiency specifications set by the government. In 2006, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved about $14 billion on their energy bills while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 25 million vehicles.

New Report on Particulate Matter from Gasoline Vehicles

EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ) has released a report entitled “Analysis of Particulate Matter (PM) Emissions from Gasoline Vehicles in Kansas City” covering data analysis collected during 2004 and 2005. EPA believes there may be substantial state and local stakeholder interest in this report because it offers a first look at how PM emissions from one particular segment of the onroad vehicle fleet may change compared to the currently approved mobile emissions factor model. More information on the report can be found at Mobile Source Emission Factors.

Texas Wastewater Record-Keeping and Reporting Workshops

The TCEQ Small Business and Local Government Assistance program is offering low-cost workshops on wastewater record keeping and reporting. The workshops include hands-on training to learn how to properly complete discharge monitoring reports (DMRs) and how to use the new wastewater electronic reporting system (e-DMR). TCEQ staff with wastewater knowledge will be on hand to answer questions. Participants will earn five hours of wastewater operator’s continuing education credit. Registration is $15 and includes lunch.

For more detailed information about the workshops and how to register, visit this link or call 1-800-447-2827.

New York to Get Drinking Water Alert System

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson and NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Emily Lloyd announced New York City (NYC) will receive $12 million from the EPA for a pilot program to develop and evaluate a contamination warning system for its drinking water distribution network. The project, called the Water Security Initiative, is expected to serve as a model for water utilities throughout the country.

“New York’s drinking water is the lifeblood of our City and creating new ways to enhance the protection of our water system is important to keeping New Yorkers safe,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “After 9/11, our City increased security and police patrols of our water system and enhanced our water quality monitoring system. I’d like to thank EPA Administrator Johnson for selecting NYC for this pilot program which will help us build on the steps we have already taken to ensure our City has a clean, reliable water supply.”

“The challenge of protecting our nation’s drinking water systems is not just an EPA challenge, a state challenge or a NYC challenge,” said EPA Administrator Steven L. Johnson. “Through technology, innovation and collaboration, we can provide clean, safe water for every American.”

“DEP already has robust water security measures in place and this project will enhance those efforts,” DEP Commissioner Lloyd said. “NYC’s drinking water is among of the best—and safest—in the world and we would like to thank the EPA for selecting the City’s proposal for this initiative.”

As part of the Water Security Initiative, DEP will install and evaluate a new warning system that features online water quality monitoring, public health surveillance data, increased sampling and analysis, enhanced security monitoring, and surveillance of consumer complaints. The Water Security Initiative will build upon NYC’s already extensive existing water quality monitoring program to provide further water quality protection and security and add a new dimension to DEP’s multifaceted program that protects the both the quality of the City’s drinking water and the infrastructure that delivers this vital resource. The initiative is part of a coordinated federal effort in response to President Bush’s homeland security directive to develop more robust surveillance systems for the nation’s water quality.

NYC has developed the most comprehensive watershed protection program for any city in the world. In July 2007, Mayor Bloomberg announced the issuance of a 10-year Filtration Avoidance Determination (FAD) by the EPA for the city’s Catskill/Delaware drinking water supply system. The FAD acknowledged the world-class quality of NYC’s drinking water system by doubling the length of previous FADs and is the first time that the City has been issued a 10 year FAD. NYC leads a select group of five large cities in the country that are not required to filter their drinking water.

DEP is responsible for operating and protecting NYC’s water supply system, one of the largest in the world, which serves nearly eight million residents of NYC and one million people in Westchester, Putnam, Orange, and Ulster Counties, as well as the millions of tourists and commuters who visit NYC every year. The watershed of NYC’s 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes includes parts of eight counties on both sides of the Hudson River—Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulster in the Catskill Region, and Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester Counties east of the Hudson.

Job Opening: Corporate Environmental Engineer

Alcon is the largest specialty eye care company in the world and leads the growing $14.5 billion market for eye care products. For ten years in a row, Fortune magazine has selected Alcon as "One of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.” Alcon is announcing a job opening for an Environmental Engineer who will support for environmental programs at multiple Alcon sites across the Americas and Europe, to assure compliance in all areas of environmental responsibility including ISO 14001, environmental permits, monitoring compliance with all applicable environmental regulations and internal Alcon standards, and more.

A Bachelor’s degree in engineering is desired with at least 5 years of industry experience with primary responsibility for environmental compliance (Masters Degree a plus). The opening is located at Alcon's Corporate Environmental Affairs Department at the company’s Corporate Headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. For more information contact David Smat at david.smat@alconlabs.com or call 817-551-4843.

Environmental News Links

California Guidance on Universal Waste Electronic Devices
EPA Scientists Complain about Political Pressure
NOAA: Greenhouse Gases Growing Faster Than Ever
NOAA: Worldwide Temperatures Set New Records
Tougher Mercury Rules Sought
18 States Commit to Take Action on Climate Change
Earth Day 2008 Photo Contest Winners
Project Green
Texas Wants Partial Reprieve from Biofuels Standard

Trivia Question of the Week

How many countries celebrate Earth Day?

a. 1
b. 94
c. 174
d. 192

Answer