New Rule to Reduce Methane Emissions

November 21, 2016

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell recently announced the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule—a final rule that will reduce the wasteful release of natural gas into the atmosphere from oil and gas operations on public and Indian lands. The rule updates 30-year old regulations governing venting, flaring, and leaks of natural gas, and will help curb waste of public resources, reduce harmful methane emissions, and provide a fair return on public resources for federal taxpayers, tribes, and states.

“This rule to prevent waste of our nation’s natural gas supplies is good government, plain and simple,” said Sally Jewell. “We are proving that we can cut harmful methane emissions that contribute to climate change, while putting in place standards that make good economic sense for the nation. Not only will we save more natural gas to power our nation, but we will modernize decades-old standards to keep pace with industry and to ensure a fair return to the American taxpayers for use of a valuable resource that belongs to all of us.”

The United States is the largest natural gas producer in the world, yet the American public has not benefited from the full potential of this energy resource due to venting, flaring, and leaks of significant quantities of gas during the production process. In fact, enough natural gas was lost between 2009 and 2015 to serve more than 6 million households for a year. According to a 2010 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, that amount of wasted gas means states, tribes and federal taxpayers lose millions of dollars annually in royalty revenue for the Federal Government and the states that share it.

In addition, venting and leaks during oil and gas operations lead to significant emissions of harmful methane—a greenhouse gas at least 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

The rule, which will be phased in over time, requires oil and gas producers to use currently available technologies and processes to cut flaring in half at oil wells on public and tribal lands. Operators also must periodically inspect their operations for leaks, and replace outdated equipment that vents large quantities of gas into the air. Other parts of the rule require operators to limit venting from storage tanks and to use best practices to limit gas losses when removing liquids from wells. To ensure a fair return to the American taxpayer, the rule also clarifies when operators owe royalties on flared gas, and restores the government’s congressionally authorized flexibility to set royalty rates at or above 12.5% of the value of production.

The rule also protects the environment. Without government action, U.S. methane emissions are projected to increase substantially. The rule makes an important contribution to the Obama Administration’s goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40–45% from 2012 levels by 2025. This rule projects cutting methane emissions by as much as 35%.

“This rule will benefit the American public and the environment,” said Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice Schneider. “The rule responds to recommendations from several government studies, as well as stakeholder and tribal input. The result is an effective rule that not only gets more of our nation’s natural gas into pipelines but also reduces pollution and cuts greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) developed the final rule after robust outreach efforts. In 2014, the agency conducted initial public and tribal meetings. Publication of the draft rule was followed by a public comment period that generated hundreds of thousands of comments, and during which the BLM held additional public meetings and tribal consultation. The BLM also carefully coordinated with states and the Environmental Protection Agency to avoid inconsistency or redundancy in regulations.

The BLM’s previous rules addressing venting and flaring were adopted long before new technologies unlocked vast new natural gas supplies in the United States. But recent technological advances allow operators to produce more oil and gas with less waste. About 40% of natural gas now vented or flared from onshore Federal leases could be economically captured with currently available technologies, according to a 2010 GAO report.

“America's natural gas helps power our economy—it's a resource, not a waste product, and it's time we start treating it that way,” said BLM Director Kornze. “With better planning and today's affordable technology, we can cut waste in half. This common-sense rule will save enough gas to supply every household in the cities of Dallas and Salt Lake City combined—every year.”

More information about the rule is available here along with Regulatory Impact Analysis and Environmental Assessment. A fact sheet on the rule is also available.

Charlotte RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Charlotte, NC, on November 29–December 1 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Burbank RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management in California and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Burbank, CA, on December 6–8 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Cleveland RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Cleveland, OH, on January 3–5 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

EPA Expands Refrigerant Management Requirements Under the Clean Air Act

The Clean Air Act prohibits the knowing release of ozone-depleting and substitute refrigerants during the course of maintaining, servicing, repairing, or disposing of appliances or industrial process refrigeration. The existing regulations require that persons maintaining, servicing, repairing, or disposing of air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment containing more than 50 lb of refrigerant observe certain service practices that reduce emissions of ozone-depleting refrigerant.

This rule, which goes into effect on January 1, 2017, updates those existing requirements as well as extends them, as appropriate, to non-ozone depleting substitute refrigerants, such as hydrofluorocarbons. Updates include strengthened leak repair requirements, recordkeeping requirements for the disposal of appliances containing more than five and less than 50 lb of refrigerant, revisions to the technician certification program, and revisions for improved readability and compliance. As a result, this action reduces emissions of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and gases with high global warming potentials.

Some of the significant revisions include:

  1. Extending the regulations to cover substitute refrigerants
  2. Lowering the thresholds that trigger leak repair requirements
  3. Extending the sales restriction to substitute refrigerants, with an exception for small cans of MVAC Refrigerant
  4. Establish recordkeeping for appliances containing more than 5 and less than 50 lb of ODS and non-exempt substitute refrigerant
  5. Updating the technician certification program to include HFCs and other non-exempt substitutes
  6. Improving readability and restructuring the requirements

Ohio Proposes to Add New Universal Waste

Ohio EPA has prepared a package of draft hazardous waste management rules pertaining to the classification of certain hazardous wastes as Ohio-specific universal wastes. The new universal wastes include hazardous non-empty aerosol cans, hazardous antifreeze, and hazardous paint and paint-related wastes. Comments on the proposal are due December 21, 2016. The draft rules, the letter inviting interested parties to review the rules, and the Business Impact Analysis, and are available for download on the DERR website on the hazardous waste rules Interested Party Tab. For additional information on the proposal, contact Karen Hale at karen.hale@epa.ohio.gov.

Ohio Proposes to Revise Release Notification Requirements

On behalf of the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), Ohio’s Division of Air Pollution Control (DAPC) has proposed amended Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) rule 3750-25-25 to the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR). This rule is being amended to incorporate the one-call emergency notification system for oil and gas related emergencies.

The notification system designates the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to be the single point of contact for state agency notification for spills or releases at oil and gas regulated facility sites. 
Ohio EPA will be holding a public hearing on the amended rules on Monday, December 19, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. at Ohio EPA Central Office, Columbus, Ohio.

See the public hearing notice, response to comments, proposed rule language and the synopsis of changes (linked below) for information on the changes and how to submit comments/attend the hearing:

EPA Finalizes the Fourth Contaminant Candidate List

The Safe Drinking Water Act requires EPA to publish a list, known as the Contaminant Candidate List (CCL), of currently unregulated contaminants that are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems and which may require regulation.

EPA just issued the final fourth Contaminant Candidate List (CCL 4), which includes 97 chemicals or chemical groups and 12 microbiological contaminants. Using information collected from the CCL, EPA will determine whether to regulate five or more contaminants on the CCL. The CCL is also used to prioritize agency research and serves as the primary tool for identifying contaminants to be monitored under EPA’s UCMR program.

EPA to Add Nonyphenol Ethoxylates to TRI List

EPA has proposed to add a nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) category to the list of toxic chemicals subject to reporting under section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and section 6607 of the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA). EPA is proposing to add this chemical category to the EPCRA Section 313 list because EPA believes NPEs meet the EPCRA Section 313(d)(2)(C) toxicity criteria. Specifically, EPA believes that longer chain NPEs can break down in the environment to short-chain NPEs and nonylphenol, both of which are highly toxic to aquatic organisms. Based on a review of the available production and use information, members of the NPEs category are expected to be manufactured, processed, or otherwise used in quantities that would exceed EPCRA Section 313 reporting thresholds.

EPA Updates Standards for Toxic Pollutants in Washington Waters

EPA recently announced actions to update the limits for toxic pollutants in Washington's surface waters, which will protect water quality and people who eat fish from those waters.

The Clean Water Act sets clear expectations for the nation’s water quality and calls for establishing health-based standards using the best available science to ensure that all people can safely fish and swim in U.S. waters. The recent actions set standards aimed at protecting those who eat salmon and other fish and shellfish from Washington waters.

Specifically, EPA approved 45 of the pollution standards the Washington Department of Ecology adopted earlier this year and finalized updates to 144 additional federal standards. For a complete list of the pollutants addressed in this action go to click here.

As part of the recent actions, EPA also approved Ecology’s revisions to its variance and compliance schedule provisions, which give the state and affected industries and municipalities needed flexibility and time to implement these new standards while making reasonable progress in improving water quality.

“Washington maintains one of the strongest water programs in the entire nation,” said EPA Regional Administrator Dennis McLerran. “Now, the state will have updated standards on the books and the needed flexibility to make progress meeting these more protective standards over time.”

Surveys of local residents in the Pacific Northwest, including tribes with treaty-protected rights, reflect that Washingtonians eat fish and shellfish at levels much higher than the rate that was previously used to set standards for toxics in Washington’s waters. EPA and Ecology have been working to establish these new water quality standards based on a far more realistic estimate of the amount of fish Washingtonians eat.

“We applaud the Governor and Ecology’s decision to increase the fish consumption rate recognized in the standards and to retain the state’s protective one-in-a-million cancer risk level. The fish consumption rate and risk level in the standards match those established in Oregon and clearly recognize that greater protection of people who eat larger amounts of fish is appropriate in the Pacific Northwest where fishing is a part of our heritage,” McLerran said.

Most of Washington's human health standards for toxics in surface water haven't been updated since 1992. This new set of standards is based on the latest science about health protection and fish consumption rates. The recent actions ensure that water quality standards are now in place at levels that will adequately protect fish consumers in Washington, including tribes with treaty-protected rights, from exposure to toxic pollutants.

The region’s tribes helped both the EPA and the state better understand the particular health risks that tribal members have long faced due to their consumption of large amounts of fish. In establishing a fish consumption rate that better reflects the amount of fish people eat, the Ecology and EPA standards will help to lower health risks from eating fish for all Washingtonians, even those, such as tribal members, who regularly consume large amounts of fish and shellfish. EPA’s final rule incorporates Washington’s 175 grams per day fish consumption rate and a one-in-one million cancer risk level.

In practice, Ecology and EPA will continue to work together to determine the right level of regulatory flexibility and the feasibility of meeting the new standards when incorporating the new pollution limits into state permits and in other Clean Water Act programs. Flexibility in implementing these new standards will be important as pollutant detection and control technologies are developed.

EPA’s rule and Washington’s approved water quality standards will take effect 30 days after publication of the rule in the Federal Register. The rule was signed on November 15 and is expected to be published in the Federal Register in one to two weeks.

WaterSense Releases Draft Specification for Irrigation Spray Sprinkler Bodies

EPA’s WaterSense has released a draft specification to reduce the water waste that occurs when irrigation spray sprinklers operate at pressures higher than optimal levels. Controlling water pressure for a sprinkler helps avoid excessive water flow, misting, fogging, and uneven irrigation coverage, which wastes water and is bad for landscapes. EPA estimates that the average household using 50,500 gallons per year for outdoor water use could save nearly 5,600 gallons of water per year by installing WaterSense labeled sprinkler bodies.

Texas Considers Revisions in Emissions Banking and Trading Rule

The TCEQ has scheduled meetings to inform stakeholders of the pending draft revisions to the Emissions Banking and Trading (EBT) rules in 30 Texas Administrative Code Chapter 101, Subchapter H, Divisions 1 and 3. The meetings will focus specifically on draft rule amendments regarding the generation and use of emission credits by area and mobile sources.

The meetings are open to the public and anyone interested may attend. Meetings are scheduled for:

  • Houston: December 6, 2016, 2:00–5:00 pm, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Auditorium, 7600 Washington Avenue, Houston, TX 77007
  • Dallas-Fort Worth: December 7, 2016, 2:00–5:00 pm, The Regional Forum Room at North Central Texas Council of Governments, 616 Six Flags Drive, Arlington, TX 76011
  • Austin: December 9, 2016, 9:00–11:30 am, TCEQ Headquarters, Building E, Room 201, 12100 Park 35 Circle, Austin, TX 78753

The current EBT rules allow an area or mobile source to generate emission reduction credits (ERCs) from emission reductions that are demonstrated to be real, quantifiable, permanent, enforceable, and surplus to the state implementation plan (SIP) and all applicable rules. The current rules also allow an area or mobile source to generate discrete emission reduction credits (DERCs) from reductions that are real, quantifiable, and surplus to the SIP and all applicable rules.

However, research shows significant implementation issues associated with ensuring that area and mobile source credits meet the EPA and Federal Clean Air Act requirements.

To address implementation issues associated with generating and using area and mobile credits, the TCEQ is considering proposing new requirements related to:

  • The types of sources that would be eligible to generate credits
  • The quantity of credits that could be generated by area and mobile sources
  • The timeframe for credit generation
  • Record keeping and reporting

These potential new requirements, as well as any suggestions raised by meeting participants, will be discussed at these meetings. For more information about these meetings, contact Guy.Hoffman@tceq.texas.gov or Daphne.McMurrer@tceq.texas.gov.

Morgan Materials Site Improperly Stored Chemicals and Hazardous Wastes

The New‎ York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently issued a Summary Abatement Order (SAO) against Morgan Materials and its owner Donald Sadkin for the improper and unsafe storage of chemical and hazardous waste at their warehouse in Tonawanda, New York. After numerous inspections and multiple attempts to force the company to voluntarily improve conditions at its facility, DEC has taken strong regulatory action to secure the site and to oversee proper removal of hazardous material.

The SAO requires the company to immediately cease purchasing, receiving or acquiring chemical materials. The SAO also enables DEC to establish full control over the site, and as of November 10, 2016, DEC has provided 24-hour security. The site is secured and no unauthorized access will be allowed (including preventing further access to the site by its current owner).

DEC will partner with the EPA’s Emergency Response Team to secure the site, inventory all materials and carefully remove any considered hazardous for disposal at an appropriate facility. DEC will oversee the safe transport and disposal of all materials removed from the site, and the state's multi-agency contingency team will be on site to immediately address any safety issue should one arise.

Morgan Materials purchases off-specification chemicals, or excess materials and attempts to resell these chemical "seconds" to domestic and international entities. Morgan Materials has accumulated substantial quantities of these chemicals and materials and repeated inspections indicate that they have engaged in improper, illegal storage practices.

DEC is coordinating with the Attorney General's office to investigate and take appropriate legal action against the company and its owner.

See the DEC factsheet for additional information. Members of the community and school district with questions regarding this facility may contact DEC at 716-851-7220 (M–F 8:30–4:30) or 1-877-457-5680 after business hours or in case of an emergency.

Record Radon Level Found in Pennsylvania Home

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has detected a new record-high level of radon and is once again encouraging state residents to test their homes for this radioactive gas, a leading cause of lung cancer.

In October, a home in southern Lehigh County showed a radon level of 6,176 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), the highest recorded in the state. The EPA has set an action level for radon concentration in homes at 4 pCi/L. Homes testing above this level should have a radon reduction system installed.

“We encourage people to buy a radon home test kit and take the steps necessary to protect themselves and their families,” said DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Fall and winter are an ideal time to test, because the gas becomes trapped inside when doors and windows are closed.”

Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally through the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks. It can enter a home through cracks in the foundation or other openings.

The National Toxicology Program, comprising the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Food and Drug Administration, classifies radon as a known human carcinogen. Scientists estimate that about 20,000 lung cancer deaths yearly are related to radon. It’s the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and second leading cause in smokers.

Because of its geology, Pennsylvania is prone to high radon levels. Radon has been detected in all 67 counties, and about 40% of homes in the state have levels above EPA’s action level. In 2014, a number of homes in the southern Lehigh County area were found to have radon levels over 1,000 pCi/L. That area is near the Reading Prong, a geological section of granite rock that historically has generated high levels of radon.

Testing is the only way to know if a home, school, workplace or other structure has elevated levels of radon. An easy home test kit can be purchased at hardware or home improvement stores for about $20 to $30. People may also hire a state-certified testing company.

If a level above 4 pCi/L is found, a radon mitigation, or reduction, system should be installed. This is essentially a pipe with a fan to suction the gas from the ground and discharge it above the roofline, where the radon is dispersed. DEP recommends that home builders install radon reduction systems during construction.

DEP certifies all radon testers, mitigators, and laboratories doing business in the state, to ensure reliable results.

For more information, including information on interpreting radon test results and finding a Pennsylvania-certified radon contractor, visit the DEP Radon Division website or call 800-23-RADON (800-237-2366).

Pennsylvania to Investigate PFC Contamination in Bucks County

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is investigating perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) found in exceedance of the 2016 Health Advisory (HA) established by EPA in parts of East Rockhill and West Rockhill townships, and Perkasie Borough.

DEP began its initial investigation after being notified that one public supply well was found to contain combined concentrations of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) that exceeded the HA established by EPA, and another public supply well that was found to contain combined concentrations slightly below the HA.

Private well owners and community well owners serving highly sensitive populations, such as nursing homes and daycares, within approximately one mile of the impacted public wells will be contacted to schedule water sampling for PFCs. Bottled water will be immediately provided to any residence whose samples exceed the EPA’s Health Advisory for these contaminants. Initial sampling results will form the foundation for further analysis of the extent of contamination in the area, potential remediation options and long-term solutions for residents. Activities pertaining to this investigation, including sampling and any necessary bottled water distribution, are fully funded by DEP’s Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, DEP does not regulate private wells. Although DEP is testing for PFCs, it is recommended that all Pennsylvania residents with a private well have their well water sampled every 3 to 5 years for a variety of chemical compounds to ensure the water is safe to drink. DEP recommends private well owners contract with a state-certified lab that conducts drinking water tests. Should a resident desire PFC sampling separate from DEP’s investigation, it is advised to confirm with the lab before proceeding with sampling. Not all labs are capable of performing a comprehensive evaluation, and the number of labs certified to test for PFCs is limited.

More information on the Ridge Run PFC investigation will be made available on DEP’s website, http://www.dep.pa.gov/pfcs, including information sheets, sampling maps, details for future public information sessions and more as it becomes available.

Owners Fined for Sunken Fishing Vessel on Washington Coast

The owners of a fishing vessel that crashed into Jetty A and sank near Ilwaco on the Washington side of the Columbia River on December 5, 2014, were issued a $10,500 penalty and ordered to reimburse the state $8,000 for the cost of its response to the incident.

The 78-foot fishing vessel Titan went down with approximately 4,600 gallons of oil and fuel on board. The crash and spill left a visible oil sheen on the Columbia River for three days. Fifty-thousand pounds of crab were also lost. It was the Titan’s maiden fishing trip.

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) launched a successful 3 a.m. rescue mission of the five crew members after the vessel struck the jetty and water flooded the engine room. The vessel was secured to the jetty, but shifted to the southwest. Weather, tides and currents prevented crews three separate times from salvaging the vessel.

"Safety was a huge factor in this response," said David Byers, response section manager. "A series of storms hampered our ability to salvage the vessel without putting our responders at risk."

On January 7, 2015, divers found the Titan on the bottom of the Columbia River in Washington waters still tethered to its anchor and its stern covered with sand. Attempts to salvage the vessel were unsuccessful due to strong currents and concerns about diver safety. A joint decision was made by the USCG, Ecology and the vessel owner’s salvage contractor to leave the vessel in place.

Report Offers Road Map and Recommendations to Help U.S. Cities Become More Sustainable

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine offers a road map and recommendations to help U.S. cities work toward sustainability, measurably improving their residents’ economic, social, and environmental well-being. The report draws upon lessons learned from nine cities’ efforts to improve sustainability—Los Angeles; New York City; Vancouver, B.C.; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Grand Rapids and Flint, Michigan. The cities were chosen to span a range of sizes, regions, histories, and economies.

The report recommends that every U.S. city develop a sustainability plan that not only accounts for its own unique characteristics but also adapts strategies that have led to measurable improvements in other cities with similar economic, environmental, and social contexts.

“Given than 80 percent of the U.S. population now lives in urban areas, cities are pivotal in efforts to improve sustainability,” said Linda Katehi, chair of the committee that wrote the report, and chancellor emerita of the University of California, Davis. “While there is no cookie-cutter approach, the innovative methods now being developed in some cities should be helpful to others.”

The report examines the nine cities’ experiences and extracts lessons from them that should be applied in other cities, such as:

  • Sustainability planning should take a city’s regional and national context into account. Actions in support of sustainability in one area should not be taken at the expense of another; urban leaders should integrate sustainability policies and strategies across scales, from block to neighborhood to city, region, state, and nation.
  • Cities’ efforts to improve sustainability should include policies to reduce inequality. This aspect of sustainability planning is often overlooked but is essential to improving quality of life both for those with the fewest resources and opportunities and for a city’s entire population.
  • City planners should be aware of the rapid pace of factors working against sustainability—such as climate change, scarce resources, and economic shifts—and prioritize sustainability initiatives with appropriate urgency.

The report also offers a road map that cities can use to guide their efforts, walking planners through the process from planning and adopting principles, to design and implementation, to assessing impacts and learning from outcomes.

EPA Celebrates America Recycles Day and the 750,000 Jobs Supported by Recycling

In honor of America Recycles Day, the EPA is released significant findings on the economic benefits of the recycling industry with an update to the national Recycling Economic Information (REI) Study. This study analyzes the numbers of jobs, wages, and tax revenues attributed to recycling.

Recycling is a key element of Sustainable Materials Management (SMM), a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles. SMM represents a global shift in the use of natural resources and environmental protection. America’s recycling and reuse activities accounted for 757,000 jobs, produced $36.6 billion in wages and generated $6.7 billion in tax revenues in 2007, based on the most recent census data. This equates to 1.57 jobs for every 1,000 tons of materials recycled. For this update, the Agency used a revised waste input-output methodology that focuses on the life cycle of materials, and defining recycling.

“Recycling is not only an asset to our environmental and social goals, but a boost to our economy,” said Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator to the Office of Land and Emergency Management. “America’s great strides toward prioritizing recycling are evident. We’ve educated our communities, citizens and businesses to recycle more, quadrupling our recycling rate since 1976 and creating a more sustainable world.”

The national recycling rate has more than quadrupled from 7 to 34% since 1976, and the slogan Reduce, Reuse, Recycle has become a well-used phrase in American life. Recycling bins are now common in our homes, schools and work places; restaurants are composting their food waste and businesses are working with communities to offer consumers reuse and recycling opportunities. As we continue to reduce, reuse and recycle, we are evolving our resource conservation efforts to use materials in the most productive way, with an emphasis on using less and advancing a circular economy. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicts that global demand for materials will increase by more than 35% over the next 15 years, reaching 100 billion metric tons per year. One half to three quarters of annual raw material inputs to industrial economies are returned as waste to the environment within a year.

Americans can continue to lift the national economy by recognizing the value of materials and improving their recycling practices. In honor of the celebration, President Obama signed a proclamation to celebrate how far our nation has come and to urge all Americans to continue finding new ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. This America Recycles Day, EPA encourages everyone make a difference for the environment and incorporate more recycling into their daily routines. EPA is launching the Materials Management Wizard to make it easier for individuals and organizations to find EPA sustainability tools and resources: https://www.epa.gov/sustainability/mwiz.

The Agency provides a variety of resources to help citizens and businesses get involved:

At Home:

For Businesses:

For Teachers and Parents:

To read the Presidential Proclamation: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/11/14/presidential-proclamation-america-recycles-day-2016.

To read the Recycling Economic Information (REI) Study: https://www.epa.gov/smm/recycling-economic-information-rei-report.

USDA, EPA Announce U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy recently announced the inaugural class of the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, U.S. businesses and organizations pledging concrete steps to reduce food loss and waste in their operations 50% by 2030. Champions announced include Ahold USA, Blue Apron, Bon App?tit Management Company, Campbell Soup Company, Conagra Brands, Delhaize America, General Mills, Kellogg Company, PepsiCo, Sodexo, Unilever, Walmart, Wegman’s Food Markets, Weis Markets, and YUM! Brands.

“The founding 2030 Champions have shown exceptional leadership in the fight to reduce, recover and recycle food loss and waste,” said Vilsack. “The staggering amount of wasted food in the United States has far-reaching impacts on food security, resource conservation and climate change. To help galvanize U.S. efforts to reduce food loss and waste, USDA and EPA announced the first U.S. food loss and waste reduction goal in September 2015. Today, the first 15 Champions are stepping up to do their part to help the nation reach this critical goal.”

“Reducing food waste is good for business, it’s good for the environment, and it’s good for our communities,” said McCarthy. “We need leaders in every field and every sector to help us reach our food loss goal. That’s why we’re excited to work with the 2030 Champions and others across the food retail industry as we work together to ensure that we feed families instead of landfills.”

In the United States, EPA estimates that more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our everyday trash, about 21% of the waste stream. Keeping wholesome and nutritious food in our communities and out of landfills helps communities and the 42 million Americans that live in food insecure households. Reducing food waste also impacts climate change as 20% of total U.S. methane emissions come from landfills.

Each 2030 Champion establishes a baseline marking where they are today and will measure and report on their progress toward the goal in a way that makes sense for their organization. There are many ways to look at food loss and waste and definitions vary. 2030 Champions are encouraged to consult the Food Loss and Waste Protocol for information on defining and transparently measuring food loss and waste.

For food waste in the U.S., EPA’s Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures provides an estimate of the amount of food going to landfills from residences; commercial establishments like grocery stores and restaurants; institutional sources like school cafeterias; and industrial sources like factory lunchrooms. USDA’s Economic Research Service estimates that the amount of food that went uneaten at the retail and consumer levels in the baseline year of 2010 represented 31% of the available food supply, about 133 billion lb of food worth an estimated $161.6 billion.

Cutting food waste in half by 2030 will take a sustained commitment from everyone. Success requires action from the entire food system including the food industry, non-profits, governments and individuals.

USDA research estimates that about 90 billion lb comes from consumers, costing $370 per person every year. USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion produces a resource, called Let’s Talk Trash, which focuses on consumer education, highlighting key data and action steps consumers can take to reduce food waste.

New York DEC Recognizes Eight New York Businesses and Organizations as Innovation and Sustainability Leaders

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently recognized eight organizations for state-of-the-art programs and commitment to environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and economic viability at the 13th Annual New York State Environmental Excellence Awards, held at Union College's Park Hall.

"DEC is proud to present Environmental Excellence Awards to these eight businesses and organizations that have demonstrated outstanding leadership in adopting innovative solutions to protect our environment and enhance our economy," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "These projects set a high bar for others to follow in addressing critical environmental and public health issues such as increasing energy efficiency, cleaning up our waters, keeping materials out of landfills, and making our healthcare sector more sustainable. Congratulations to all of our well-deserved award winners."

The 2016 Environmental Excellence Award Winners are:

  • The New York Yankees were honored for their outstanding and ongoing commitment to environmental excellence, sustainability, and fan engagement. The new Yankee Stadium is energy efficient and offers composting and recycling for guests and stadium staff, and is diverting more than 4,000 tons of waste from landfills. The Yankees Organization donates more than 125,000 lb of unserved food to senior centers, homeless shelters, and other charities. The Yankees are committed to purchasing greener products, including those with recycled content. This world-renowned organization is setting an example for national and international sports organizations and venues and is encouraging millions of fans to become more sustainable at work, at home, and while enjoying baseball, either home or at Yankee Stadium.
  • The Adirondack Mountain Club, working in partnership with The Nature Conservancy Adirondack Chapter, was honored for the High Peaks Steward Program, which protects, preserves, and rehabilitates New York's fragile alpine habitat through hiker education, trail work, and research. The results achieved by this effort are substantiated with scientific evidence of plant rebound linked to hiker behavior changes. The steward program is a model of excellence emulated in other alpine locations. The environmental and social benefits of this program reach beyond the Adirondack Park.
  • The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) New York City Transit (NYCT) Mother Clara Hale Bus Depot was honored for incorporating innovative features into the depot, such as a green roof, solar wall, and capturing and reusing rainwater for washing buses. New boilers have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 85%. It is the first LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certified bus depot in the country and sets a new standard for future depot design, construction, and rehabilitation. In addition, MTA and NYCT engaged hundreds of community members and leaders in an innovative process that influenced the depot's final design.
  • The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), State University of New York, in New York City, was honored for its sustainable initiatives, including installing 17,000 square feet of green roofs, which reduced the campus' carbon footprint by 43% and is committed to a 50% reduction by 2020. In addition, FIT's curriculum offers students unique courses focused on innovative designs and strategic business solutions that have global impacts. Projects designed by students include an innovative fabric-composting system and a state-of-the-art dye-garden for plants that have the potential to reduce or replace the use of synthetic dyes. FIT's Dining Services partners with the American Forests organization and for every meal plan sold, the organization plants a tree. More than 5,000 trees have been planted as a result.
  • SUNY Upstate Medical University (Upstate) in Syracuse was honored for taking sustainability to a new level by implementing innovative practices and working in creative partnerships. Upstate is the first in Central New York to offer a recycling program in patient rooms. The hospital has also pioneered recycling practices for operating rooms. A wide variety of programs have created a sustainable culture on campus. Upstate installed a green roof on the 90,000-square-foot Upstate Cancer Center, which collects stormwater to be used for the rooftop garden and provides patients with a calming green space for relaxation and reflection. Upstate's sustainability initiatives have decreased their waste stream by 2,000 tons and reduced the facility's carbon footprint by about 28,000 metric tons.
  • The New York Rural Water Association (NYRWA), headquartered in Columbia County, was honored for innovative and creative programming. NYRWA is improving and protecting the health of New York's waters and communities by providing unique and critical services, technical assistance, and training to small, rural communities with populations under 10,000 to help improve and protect water and wastewater facilities. An emergency 800 number gives facility operators access to 24-hour assistance. NYRWA's leak detection program has helped communities save nearly seven million gallons of water each year. Energy efficiency programs are resulting in a cost savings of more than $200,000 to residents.
  • Finger Lakes ReUse, an Ithaca-based not-for-profit, was honored for turning waste into opportunities by diverting reusable materials from the landfill. Materials are repaired and repurposed and sold at affordable prices. This successful model is advancing waste reduction and poverty relief by providing meaningful job training opportunities in an economically challenged part of the state. This organization is leading by example and has achieved significant and remarkable benefits for New York's environment and economy, as well as the Finger Lakes community. The ReUse Centers are visited by about 285,000 customers each year and more than 600,000 items have been returned to active use, generating more than $2.5 million in revenue.
  • Waste Management's High Acres Landfill and Recycling Center in Monroe County was honored for being the first facility in New York State to offer an intermodal rail solution to waste management. Transporting waste by train instead of truck reduces nearly 12,000 tons of CO2 emissions each year. The High Acres management team designed a more efficient dump truck for waste by rail operations resulting in significant environmental benefits and setting a new industry standard. Instead of using chemicals and cannons for pest control, High Acres employs a team of eight falcons. The facility is also capturing landfill gases to create green energy at an on-site renewable energy facility, which creates enough electricity to power more than 10,000 homes for a year.

DEC established the Environmental Excellence Awards in 2004 to recognize those who are working to improve and protect New York's environment and contribute to a more healthy economy by advancing sustainable practices and forming creative partnerships. To date, DEC has recognized 80 businesses and organizations. Award ceremony host Union College is a 2008 award recipient for its campus-wide commitment to sustainability.

A statewide review committee, made up of 25 representatives from the public and private sectors, provided DEC advice in selecting the award winners from an array of competitive applications received in May.

See photos of the winners in DEC's Flickr album. For additional information about the program and past winners, and to learn about applying for the 2017 Environmental Excellence Awards, visit DEC's website.

Environmental News Links

This Stunning World Map Shows the Awful State of Air Pollution

Germany and California Vow to Expand Cooperation on Climate and Environment

Maryland Petitions EPA to Reduce Air Pollution From Upwind States

New York DEC Demands EPA Require Additional Sampling for Hudson River PCB Contamination

Building Resilience to Climate Change One Landscape at a Time

Pennsylvania Governor Wolf Joins EDF, Google and People’s to Launch Methane Mapping in Pittsburgh

DEP Accepting Applications for Pennsylvania State Clean Diesel Grants

Chemical Breakdown: Risky Cargo in Population Areas

Fire Department Responds to Possible Hazardous Materials Situation in North Carolina

Hazardous Materials Illegally Dumped in Vermont

US Ecology's Permit Violations Anger Detroit Neighbors

GM Makes Largest Green Energy Purchase to Date

Nebraska Revises Universal Waste Rules to Include E-Waste

Trivia Question of the Week

What is the most common cause of pollution of streams, rivers, and oceans?

a. Animal waste

b. Surface water run off

c. Oil spills

d. Industrial wastewater

Answer