June 03, 2019
On May 22, EPA published a revised Construction General Permit
(CGP), which goes into effect on June 27, 2019. The new permit includes the following changes:
- Stormwater discharges from earth-disturbing activities associated with the construction of staging areas and the construction of access roads conducted prior to active mining are now eligible for coverage under the CGP
- EPA added a new explicit prohibition of non-stormwater discharges of external building washdown waters containing hazardous substances, such as paint or caulk containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
- EPA added minor wording that clarifies the applicability of requirements to control erosion on-site caused by stormwater, provided additional details on areas where buffers are required, and clarified requirements for soil stabilization, preservation of topsoil and pollution prevention measures
- EPA changed the requirement for temporary stabilization for stockpiles or land clearing debris piles from “where practicable” to requiring cover or appropriate temporary stabilization for all inactive piles that will be unused for 14 or more days, consistent with the temporary stabilization deadlines in Part 2.2.14 of the CGP.
- EPA provided an incentive to disturb less land at any given period of time by providing longer stabilization timeframes if the disturbance is kept below a threshold level.
- The 2017 CGP now requires operators to keep waste container lids closed when not in use and at the end of the business day for those containers that are actively used throughout the day, or, for waste containers that do not have lids, provide cover or a similarly effective means to minimize the discharge of pollutants.
- EPA added a requirement to implement controls on sites discharging to PCB-impaired waters to minimize the exposure of building materials containing PCBs to precipitation and stormwater.
- EPA added three questions to the NOI form:
- The type of construction site (9 options)
- A yes/no question asking if there is demolition of a structure with at least 10,000 square feet of floor space that was built or renovated before January 1, 1980
- A yes/no question asking whether the predevelopment land use was agriculture
Free Amazon HD 10 Tablet with RCRA and DOT Training
Annual hazardous waste training is required for anyone who generates, accumulates, stores, transports, or treats hazardous waste. Learn how to manage your hazardous waste in accordance with the latest state and federal regulations. Learn how to complete EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest, and the more than 60 changes in EPA’s new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule. Environmental Resource Center’s Hazardous Waste Training
is available at nationwide locations, and via live webcasts. If you plan to also attend DOT hazardous materials training
, call 800-537-2372 to find out how can get your course materials on a new Amazon Fire HD10 tablet at no extra charge.
Consumers Recycle More When They Know What Recyclable Waste Can Make
Researchers from Penn State University and Boston College published a new paper in the Journal of Marketing
, which finds that helping consumers think about how recyclables become new products inspires consumers to recycle more.
Around the world, sustainability programs are fast becoming a staple of the private sector. However, consumers’ recycling habits have not kept pace. In fact, only 25.8% of waste was recycled in the United States and only 13% of municipal solid waste was recycled globally in 2015. The research team conducted six studies to test how promoting recyclable waste will be transformed into new products (product transformation salience) can increase recycling rates.
In the first study, participants were asked to dispose of some scratch paper. Participants who saw a recycling message involving recycled material being transformed into the same product—paper (80.5%), or a different product, a guitar (79.1%)—recycled more than participants who saw a generic recycling message not involving product transformation (50.9%).
The second study showed that participants who viewed advertisements for products made from identified recycled plastic items were more likely to recycle (87.7%) than those who viewed advertisements for products that only mention the company engages in recycling practices (71.7%).
The third study compared three messages to confirm that transformation salience increases recycling even when no specific product output is identified from the transformation (i.e., simply telling consumers that recycling gives recyclables a new life). The research team found that transformation messaging increases recycling by inspiring people to recycle—in other words, getting people to think about the possibilities from transformation is the key to increased recycling rates.
The final three studies were conducted in the field. In the first study, a Google Ads campaign for a jeans recycling program generated a click-through rate of 0.26% for a product transformation recycling advertisement versus 0.18% for a recycling advertisement not emphasizing product transformation. In the next study, conducted before a university football game, tailgating fans recycled 58.1% of their waste after being told what products could be made from recyclables, whereas those receiving a traditional recycling message about what could be recycled only recycled 19% of their waste. Finally, the team did an audit of two university residence hall waste collection stations. On the product transformation salience floor, when the signage included products made from recyclables, 51.5% of the material headed to the landfill could have been recycled, whereas 62.9% of the material in the control floor’s landfill bin was recyclable, suggesting that the transformation message led students to place more of their recyclable material in recycling bins instead of the landfill bin.
“This research has important implications for companies and organizations seeking to increase recycling rates. These studies provide compelling evidence that when consumers consider that recyclables are transformed into something new, they recycle more,” said Winterich. “Increasing transformation salience among consumers should be a priority for any organization seeking to increase collection rates. Increased recycling offers not only societal and environmental benefits, but also provides the source materials companies need for sustainable production of goods in a circular economy.”
Tesoro Fined $1.36 Million for Low Carbon Fuel Standard Violations
The California Air Resources Board announced a $1.36 million settlement with Tesoro Refining & Marketing, LLC for violating the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). The LCFS requires that regulated fuel producers report the carbon generated in the production of transportation fuels sold in California. In thiscase, the company misreported 1.9 billion gallons of gasoline, diesel, biodiesel and ethanol, including underreporting 403 million gallons of LCFS deficit-generating fuels.
“California’s programs to address climate change require accurate reporting. This settlement is a reminder to fuel producers that accuracy matters,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard W. Corey. “The LCFS is an important part of our work as Californians expect more clean fuel choices that offer alternatives to petroleum and reduce emissions of pollutants that adversely impact public health and reduce greenhouse gases.”
In March 2017, Tesoro notified CARB that the company had misreported fuel data from 2011 to 2016. The inaccurate information spanned 24 quarterly reports. Tesoro formally acknowledged the mistake in a letter outlining the problems, and worked with CARB to account for all the fuel provided and correct their reports. Because of the company’s cooperation, the settlement is for far less than the maximum possible penalties.
The money from the fine will be deposited in the state Air Pollution Control Fund where it can be appropriated by the legislature for air quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction efforts.
The LCFS encourages the use of cleaner, low-carbon fuels in California. It also encourages the production of those fuels, and therefore, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
The LCFS standards are expressed in terms of the "carbon intensity" (CI) of gasoline and diesel fuel and their various substitutes. CI is calculated based on the "life cycle" greenhouse gas emissions of a fuel. Those emissions include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxide and other greenhouse gas contributors. This life cycle assessment examines the greenhouse gas emissions associated with each step of the production, transportation and use of a given fuel, sometimes referred to as “well-to-wheel” analysis.
Under the LCFS, fuel producers generate deficits or credits based on an annual baseline CI. Fuels with a CI above the baseline create deficits; fuels with a CI below the baseline generate credits. Companies with credits can sell them to companies with deficits.
The LCFS provides consumers with a growing variety and volume of cleaner fuels. Renewable liquid fuels – including renewable and biodiesel – displaced over 568 million gallons of diesel in 2018. Nearly 120 million gallons of diesel were displaced by renewable natural gas, and electricity – used to run hundreds of thousands of plug-in cars and trucks – displaced about 96 million gallons of petroleum.
The LCFS is one of several programs developed under The Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32). It works with other AB 32 programs such as Cap-and-Trade, the zero-emission vehicle program and the Renewables Portfolio Standard to achieve California’s groundbreaking GHG reduction goals.
Illinois House and Senate Pass Landmark Legislation to Clean Up Coal Ash
On May 27, the Illinois Legislature passed SB9, The Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act
, which now heads to the Governor’s desk. The bill addresses the many waste pits filled with coal ash, the toxic byproduct of burning coal, located all over the state. Illinois is now the third state in the country to pass legislation providing significant coal ash protections above and beyond federal requirements. The legislation creates a regulatory framework to ensure polluters, not taxpayers, pay for needed closure and cleanup, guarantees public participation and transparency around cleanups for affected communities, and provides Illinois EPA the funds it needs to properly oversee closure and cleanup. It also requires Illinois to put in place standards for coal ash impoundments that are at least as protective as federal coal ash rule requirements, with additional protections against dust and water pollution.
SB9 amends the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and was sponsored by State Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign). State Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Champaign) sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives. A large coalition of activists from around Illinois championed the legislation that will now proceed to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk to be signed into law, including; Central Illinois Healthy Communities Alliance, Citizens Against Longwall Mining, Citizens Against Ruining the Environment, Clean Power Lake County, Earthjustice, Eco-Justice Collaborative, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Faith in Place Action Fund, Illinois Environmental Council, Illinois People’s Action, Metro-East Green Alliance, Prairie Rivers Network, Protect the Middle Fork, Sierra Club Illinois Chapter, and Springfield Clean.
Illinois has the highest concentration of coal ash impoundments in the country. The Illinois EPA has found groundwater contamination from coal ash waste sites dating back to 2009. A 2018 report
from environmental groups Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice, Prairie Rivers Network and Sierra Club analyzing data collected by ash dump owners under the federal coal ash rule found that 22 of 24 of Illinois’ reporting coal ash dumpsites have unsafe levels of toxic pollutants in the groundwater. Illinois will be joining Virginia and North Carolina in addressing coal ash through state level legislation.
Wastewater Treatment Operator Guilty of Discharging Untreated Wastewater
Gary Hallinan, age 61, of Oswego, New York, pled guilty yesterday in federal court in Syracuse to negligently discharging wastewater from the City of Oswego Wastewater Treatment Plant into Lake Ontario in violation of the Clean Water Act on three dates between March 2015 and June 2015, announced United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith, Tyler Amon, Special Agent in Charge of the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID) in New York, and Bernard Rivers, Director of Law Enforcement, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
In pleading guilty, Hallinan admitted that in December 2014, while he was the Superintendent of the Oswego Wastewater Treatment Plant, the plant’s centrifuge, an essential piece of equipment to process wastewater and remove untreated or improperly treated sewage, stopped operating. As a result, the plant could no longer properly remove sewage from its wastewater. Over the next five months, Hallinan, as the superintendent of the plant, failed to take action to remove sewage from the plant’s wastewater or to report the broken centrifuge to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. As a result of the defendant’s negligence, the Oswego Wastewater Treatment Plant discharged wastewater containing solid sewage in violation of its permit under the Clean Water Act. These discharges took place on March 1, 2015; June 19, 2015; and June 23, 2015. The concentration of solid matter in the water discharged into Lake Ontario on June 23, 2015, was approximately 60 times higher than allowed by the plant’s permit.
The charge to which Hallinan pled guilty yesterday carries a maximum penalty of up to 1 year in prison, a fine of up to $100,000, and a term of supervised release of up to 1 year. The defendant will be sentenced on September 24, 2019 by United States Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and other factors.
Marinas Cited for Stormwater and SPCC Violations
EPA announced several enforcement actions that will reduce pollution and improve compliance with critical clean water laws at marina and boat yard facilities in Massachusetts.
"Marinas are critical to the economic vitality of numerous communities across New England, and it's imperative that those communities have clean water to support local tourism and recreation, especially with summer coming," said EPA New England acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. "EPA is committed to working with marinas to be good stewards for the benefit of the communities they support and for New England's coastal waters."
EPA indicated that the Agency will continue to actively inspect marinas and boat yards as the boating season soon starts in New England to ensure marinas and boat yards are fully complying with their obligations under the Clean Water Act. Industrial marine activity has the potential to contain significant quantities of pollutants in its stormwater
, and polluted stormwater can have a detrimental impact on the surrounding water quality and aquatic life. Marinas also often store quantities of oil that require a facility to have a current oil spill prevention plan
The recent enforcement actions include:
- Martha's Vineyard Shipyard, Inc. (Vineyard Haven, Mass.): The company could not produce documentation to EPA showing it had conducted routine facility inspections, assessments, or monitoring and had not submitted annual reports, as required under the Clean Water Act. Failure to perform these actions left the facility without information needed to minimize the mixing of stormwater with pollutants and discharging to the nearby waters. MV Shipyard also did not have an oil spill prevention plan. While EPA is not aware that a spill has occurred, the failure to prepare a current plan created an increased risk of environmental harm should a spill occur. MV Shipyard agreed to pay a $26,526 penalty to resolve the violations.
- Ryan Marine Services, Inc. (Marblehead, Mass.): EPA issued a formal order to Ryan Marine Services to stop discharging wastewater from its facility without a permit and to fully comply with the terms of its Clean Water Act stormwater permit. Within one year of EPA's order, the company is required to send EPA a progress report summarizing whether RMS has fulfilled its obligations under its permit. RMS also agreed to pay a $20,000 penalty to resolve these wastewater and stormwater violations.
- Prime Marina Vineyard Haven (Vineyard Haven, Mass.): During an EPA inspection, the company could not produce documentation showing it had been conducting routine facility inspections, assessments or monitoring or producing the annual reports required under the Clean Water Act. Prime Marina also did not have a current oil spill prevent plan in place, only one from 2004 when the facility was owned and operated by a different company. Prime Marina agreed to pay a $15,721 penalty to resolve these violations.
- Marblehead Trading Company (Marblehead, Mass.): MTC operates three sites in Marblehead and could not produce documentation of required routine facility inspections, quarterly visual assessments, water quality monitoring results or annual reports required under the Clean Water Act for most of the quarters since 2015. The company agreed to pay a $15,000 penalty to resolve the violations.
- Beverly Port Marina (Beverly, Mass.): EPA found that the marina was not performing and documenting certain types of mandatory Clean Water Act facility inspections and water quality monitoring efforts and lacked an oil spill prevention plan. EPA also observed evidence of a failure to prevent wastewater from boat pressure washing operations from reaching the Danvers River. Under agreements with EPA, the marina agreed to improve compliance with the clean water permitting requirements, develop stormwater and oil spill management plans, perform and document regular facility inspections and pay a $3,500 penalty.
- Liberty Marina (Danvers, Mass.): Based on EPA's inspection and evaluation of additional related information, the agency determined that Liberty Marina failed to submit all of its required annual reports and take corrective actions to address discharges of certain pollutants of concern above certain benchmark standards, as required by the Clean Water Act. EPA issued a formal order to Liberty Marina requiring it to come into compliance with its Clean Water Act permit, reevaluate its water sampling locations and provide EPA with a report on its actions to comply with its permit after one year.
Ohio EPA Accepting Comments on General Permits for Ohio Department of Transportation Projects
Ohio EPA is accepting comments regarding a renewal of a draft statewide general permit for road construction and repair. An information session and public hearing will begin at 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, in the Summer Conference Room at Ohio EPA’s Central Office, 50 West Town Street, Suite 700, Columbus. Visitors should bring photo identification to register at the security desk.
To alter stream banks, streambeds or wetlands in Ohio, individuals or organizations must receive authorization from Ohio EPA. To receive authorization, applicants must explain why their action will not harm the environment or, if an area is negatively affected, detail how those changes will be mitigated.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, on behalf of the Ohio Department of Transportation, has requested that Ohio EPA combine road construction, maintenance and bank stabilization into one certification for the upcoming renewal. Combining permits into one certification is allowed if activities are substantially similar in nature and cause only minimal environmental impacts. If approved, the permit would offer coverage for five years.
Ohio EPA will accept written comments on the draft permit through June 15. Anyone may submit comments or request to be on the mailing list for information. Written comments may be submitted at the hearing or sent to: Ohio EPA, Division of Surface Water, Attn: Permits Processing Unit, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
ADEQ Seeking Penalties and Injunctive Relief in Excess of $100 Million from Johnson Utilities, LLC
On May 22, 2019, The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office (AGO) filed a civil case in Arizona Superior Court against Johnson Utilities, LLC, seeking penalties and injunctive relief in excess of $100 million. This case is about bringing relief to the San Tan Community from the negative impacts to residents, businesses and economic development for years by Johnson Utilities.
“Johnson Utilities has continuously failed to follow through in the normal collaborative process that ADEQ prefers to remedy non-compliance issues,” said Misael Cabrera, ADEQ Director. “Johnson Utilities has left the Department with no other choice than to pursue legal action.”
Since 2017, Johnson Utilities is the most cited private utility by ADEQ. In that time frame, ADEQ also received nearly 300 complaints from community members about Johnson Utilities, accounting for 68 percent of the total complaints received by the Water Quality Division.
The civil case is based on the statutory maximum fines for 57 counts listed in the complaint, which includes:
- Sanitary sewer overflows
- Discharges without a permit
- Overtopping of impoundments
- Monitoring and reporting violations
- Water pressure violations
- Unauthorized modifications
- Offensive odor
The statutory maximum fines range from $500 to $25,000 per day, per violation. ADEQ is requesting injunctive relief for ongoing violations.
Compostable Food Containers Could Release PFAS into Environment
Compostable food containers seem like a great idea: They degrade into nutrient-rich organic matter, reducing waste and the need for chemical fertilizers. But much of this packaging relies on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to repel water and oil. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology Letters
have shown that PFAS can leach from the containers into compost. However, the potential health effects of applying this material to crops are unknown.
PFAS are widely used in manufacturing because of their flame-retardant and water- and oil-repellent properties. Two long-chain PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), have been linked to negative health effects, so companies in the U.S. have voluntarily phased out their production. As a result, many manufacturers have switched to shorter-chain PFAS, whose health effects are less well known. Previous research has shown that PFAS in biosolids applied as fertilizer can migrate from soil to plants and then accumulate in humans through the food chain. Because compostable food packaging is becoming increasingly popular, Linda Lee and colleagues wanted to find out how much PFAS end up in the composted material.
The researchers obtained 10 samples from five states: nine from commercial facilities and one from a backyard compost bin. The researchers extracted perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs), which are compounds produced by microbial degradation of PFAS during composting, and analyzed them using mass spectrometry. The samples from seven facilities that accepted compostable food packaging had higher total levels of PFAAs than the two that didn’t or the one from the backyard bin, which did not contain food packaging. The researchers found PFAAs corresponding to PFOA and PFOS, which are still produced in some countries, in all of the samples, but most of the detected compounds were short-chain PFAAs. The results from this study contributed to the passage in 2018 of the State of Washington’s Healthy Food Packaging Act, which will ban the use of PFAS in paper food packaging after January 1, 2022, the researchers say.
California to Revise Indoor Air Cleaner Regulation
California has proposed amendments to the current air cleaner regulation that are intended to strengthen and streamline its implementation and make it easier for manufacturers to achieve and maintain compliance. Proposed amendments include changes to the types of air cleaning devices that are subject to the regulation and modifications to the current list of industrial exemptions. Under the proposal, in-duct air cleaners will no longer be exempt. A public workshop
on the proposal is being held today, June 3, from 9:30 to 11:30 am Pacific Time.
Antibiotics Found in Some of the World’s Rivers Exceed Safe Levels
Researchers looked for 14 commonly used antibiotics in rivers in 72 countries across six continents and found antibiotics at 65% of the sites monitored. Metronidazole, which is used to treat bacterial infections including skin and mouth infections, exceeded safe levels by the biggest margin, with concentrations at one site in Bangladesh 300 times greater than the ‘safe’ level.
In the River Thames and one of its tributaries in London, the researchers detected a maximum total antibiotic concentration of 233 nanograms per litre (ng/l), whereas in Bangladesh the concentration was 170 times higher.
The most prevalent antibiotic was trimethoprim, which was detected at 307 of the 711 sites tested and is primarily used to treat urinary tract infections.
The research team compared the monitoring data with ‘safe’ levels recently established by the AMR Industry Alliance which, depending on the antibiotic, range from 20-32,000 ng/l. Ciproflaxacin, which is used to treat a number of bacterial infections, was the compound that most frequently exceeded safe levels, surpassing the safety threshold in 51 places.
The team said that the ‘safe’ limits were most frequently exceeded in Asia and Africa, but sites in Europe, North America and South America also had levels of concern showing that antibiotic contamination was a “global problem.”
Sites where antibiotics exceeded safe levels by the greatest degree were in Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana, Pakistan and Nigeria, while a site in Austria was ranked the highest of the European sites monitored. The study revealed that high-risk sites were typically adjacent to wastewater treatment systems, waste or sewage dumps and in some areas of political turmoil, including the Israeli and Palestinian border.
The project, which was led by the University of York, was a huge logistical challenge – with 92 sampling kits flown out to partners across the world who were asked to take samples from locations along their local river system.
Samples were then frozen and couriered back to the University of York for testing. Some of the world’s most iconic rivers were sampled, including the Chao Phraya, Danube, Mekong, Seine, Thames, Tiber and Tigris. Dr John Wilkinson, from the Department of Environment and Geography
, who co-ordinated the monitoring work said no other study had been done on this scale. He said: “Until now, the majority of environmental monitoring work for antibiotics has been done in Europe, N. America and China. Often on only a handful of antibiotics. We know very little about the scale of problem globally.
“Our study helps to fill this key knowledge gap with data being generated for countries that had never been monitored before.”
Professor Alistair Boxall, Theme Leader of the York Environmental Sustainability Institute
, said: “The results are quite eye opening and worrying, demonstrating the widespread contamination of river systems around the world with antibiotic compounds.
“Many scientists and policy makers now recognize the role of the natural environment in the antimicrobial resistance problem. Our data show that antibiotic contamination of rivers could be an important contributor.”
“Solving the problem is going to be a mammoth challenge and will need investment in infrastructure for waste and wastewater treatment, tighter regulation and the cleaning up of already contaminated sites.”
Recycling Executive Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison for Scheming to Landfill and Re-Sell Potentially Hazardous Waste
Recycling executive Brian Brundage was sentenced on April 12, 2019 to three years in federal prison for illegally landfilling potentially hazardous electronic waste as part of a scheme to re-sell the materials and avoid paying income taxes.
Brundage owned Intercon Solutions Inc. and EnviroGreen Processing LLC, which purported to recycle electronic waste on behalf of corporate and governmental clients. Brundage represented to the clients that the materials would be disassembled and recycled in an environmentally sound manner. In reality, from 2005 to 2016, Brundage caused thousands of tons of e-waste and other potentially hazardous materials to be land- filled, stockpiled, or re-sold at a profit to companies who shipped the materials overseas. Brundage evaded $743,984 in federal taxes by concealing the income he earned from re-selling the e-waste and from paying himself funds that he falsely recorded as Intercon business expenses. Brundage spent the purported expenses for his own personal benefit, including wages for a nanny and housekeeper, jewelry purchases, and payments to a casino in Hammond, Ind.
Brundage, 47, of Schererville, Ind., pleaded guilty last year to one count of wire fraud and one count of tax evasion. U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow imposed the three-year prison sentence and ordered Brundage to pay more than $1.2 million in restitution to his victims.
Brundage admitted in a plea agreement that he caused employees of Chicago Heights-based Intercon and Gary, Ind.-based EnviroGreen to sell some of the e-waste and other materials to vendors who Brundage knew would ship the materials overseas. Some of the materials contained Cathode Ray Tubes, which are glass video display components of computer and television monitors, and which contain potentially hazard- ous amounts of lead. Brundage admitted causing multiple tons of CRT glass and other potentially hazardous materials to be destroyed in environmentally unsafe ways and later landfilled.
“Improper management of cathode ray tubes can pose risk to human health and the environment, as they contain significant quantities of lead,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Lynn. “This case demonstrates that EPA and our law enforcement partners are committed to protecting the environment and ensuring that companies follow the law.”
“The GSA Office of Inspector General will aggressively pursue contractors who make false representations in order to obtain federal business,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Ryan.
“This sentence should serve as a reminder that HSI will continue to work with its federal, state and local partners to pursue offenders who endanger others by engaging in fraud and deceit,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Gibbons.
The case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, IRS, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, and GSA’s Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department. The case was prosecuted by a DOJ litigation team.
Golf Outlets USA Cited for Noncompliant Battery Chargers
Golf Outlets USA (Golf Outlets) is a Henderson, Nevada, based company that manufactures electric bicycles. Golf Outlets sold or offered for sale electric bicycles in California, from February 2013 to February 2018.
This case was the result of an investigation performed by California Energy Commission (Energy Commission) staff. The Energy Commission’s investigation and testing process identified that Golf Outlets was manufacturing and offering for sale electric bicycles containing a small battery charger system that did not meet the efficiency standard and were not certified to the Modernized Appliance Efficiency Database System (MAEDbS).
To settle this matter, Golf Outlets executed a Settlement Agreement
with the Energy Commission on May 15, 2019, for $3,603.00. The penalty monies are deposited into the Appliance Efficiency Enforcement Subaccount established by SB 454 of 2011 (Pavley). Golf Outlets has also agreed to a compliance plan to redesign the noncompliant model to meet the efficiency standard and certify all models to MAEDbS before continuing to sell in California.
Lawsuit Claims State Oversight Is Required by Law Under the Clean Water Act
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, as part of a coalition of 16 states and four state environmental agencies, filed a comment letter
warning the EPA that any attempt to roll back state oversight of federal projects under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) would be unlawful. The letter responds to the EPA’s request for recommendations to revise existing guidance and regulations implementing Section 401. The statute preserves states’ authority to protect the quality of the waters within their borders. The EPA’s invitation begins the implementation of President Trump’s April 2019 Executive Order issued to undermine state authority recognized under the CWA.
“This rushed process is yet another reckless attempt by the Trump Administration to weaken Clean Water Act protections for the nation’s waters,” said Attorney General Becerra. “California has an inherent right under the Clean Water Act to evaluate whether projects meet our water quality standards and to impose conditions on federal projects to protect our water resources. We won’t sit by quietly while the Trump Administration tries to rob us of our rights and degrade water quality for our people simply to benefit polluting industries.”
The CWA reflects Congress’ policy to “recognize, preserve, and protect the primary responsibilities and rights of states to prevent, reduce, and eliminate pollution” of waters within their borders. Under Section 401 of the CWA, a project requiring federal approval that may result in discharges into the waters of the United States must obtain the state’s certification that the project meets state water quality standards and other appropriate state law requirements. This certification process includes adequately assessing the water quality impacts of proposed federal actions and imposing necessary conditions to remedy these impacts. States argue that there is no need for the proposed revisions to the statute, and that neither President Trump’s Executive Order nor the EPA’s guidance or policies can undermine the CWA.
In the comment letter, the coalition objects to any efforts to abbreviate the time-frame for states to complete the Section 401 water quality certification process and ensure compliance with state water quality standards. Furthermore, the group opposes any attempt to restrict the scope of states’ review and oversight of projects under Section 401. The EPA’s request for recommendations on future revisions to the existing Section 401 guidance and regulations is simply a step towards restricting state oversight. The comment period comes ahead of the agency’s revised guidance, which the Executive Order requires to be published just 17 days after the comment period ends. The speed of this process, and the EPA’s failure to disclose its proposed revisions ahead of the comment period, points to a process with a predetermined outcome. In the letter, the state attorneys general suggest that rather than make unnecessary changes to Section 401 guidance and regulations following a sham process, the EPA should simply continue applying its existing guidance and regulations.
Trivia Question of the Week
Environmental News Links