Where Will EPA's Big Budget Increase Go?

June 01, 2021
The Administration submitted the President’s Budget for fiscal year 2022 to Congress. The Budget advances key EPA priorities, including tackling climate change, advancing environmental justice, protecting public health, improving infrastructure, creating jobs, and supporting and rebuilding the EPA workforce.
“The FY 2022 President’s Budget proposes the investments needed to advance EPA’s mission across the board. The Budget boosts support to our state, local, and Tribal partners, increases support for national treasures like the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay, accelerates job-creating water infrastructure improvements, elevates environmental justice across the agency, increases support for science, and importantly, makes sure all EPA offices have the operational budgets and workforces they need to deliver for the American people,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.
The President’s FY22 Budget Request supports:
  • Rebuilding Infrastructure and Creating Jobs. Preventing and cleaning up environmental damage that harms communities and poses a risk to public health and safety is an economic and moral imperative. The Budget provides $882 million for the Superfund program to clean up some of the nation’s most contaminated land, reduce emissions of toxic substances and greenhouse gases from existing and abandoned infrastructure, and respond to environmental emergencies, oil spills, and natural disasters. With this funding, the EPA would begin the cleanup of more than 20 National Priority List (NPL) sites and accelerate work at more than 15 NPL sites with ongoing construction projects, and allow for enhanced engagement at lead contaminated sites. A $40 million increase to the Brownfields Projects Program is anticipated to stimulate economic development and promote environmental revitalization. An innovative Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program is funded at $80 million to unlock more affordable credit to communities and create jobs by rebuilding and repairing our nation’s water infrastructure. Under the Homeland Security: Critical Infrastructure Protection Program, $15 million will be used to prepare water system operators for potential hacking threats.
  • Protecting Public Health. Protecting public health is at the heart of everything EPA does. To this end, the Budget includes $75 million to accelerate toxicity studies and fund research to inform the regulatory developments of designating PFAS as hazardous substances while setting enforceable limits for PFAS. In FY 2022, the agency will advance public health by providing an additional $15 million and 87 FTE to build agency capacity in managing chemical safety and toxic substances under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The DERA program, with a $60 million increase in funding, will reduce pollution from diesel school buses and help protect the health of children in underserved communities.
  • Tackling the Climate Crisis. The FY 2022 Budget restores the Air, Climate and Energy Research Program and increases base funding by more than $60 million, including $30 million for break-through research through ARPA-C with the Department of Energy. The FY 2022 Budget provides an additional $6.1 million and 14 full-time equivalent employees (FTE) to implement the recently enacted American Innovation in Manufacturing Act and reduce potent greenhouse gases while supporting new manufacturing in the United States. To support international partners with the phase-out of HFCs, the Budget includes more than a $9 million increase for the Stratospheric Ozone Multilateral Fund.
  • Advancing Environmental Justice and Civil Rights. The Budget includes over $900 million in investments for environmental justice-related work, collectively known as EPA’s Accelerating Environmental and Economic Justice Initiative, elevating environmental justice as a top priority across the Agency. The Budget also proposes a new national program dedicated to EJ to further that goal. The Budget provides $150 million for new environmental justice grant programs that aim to implement solutions to environmental burdens. The Budget also plans to overhaul the External Civil Rights Compliance Program with nearly $14 million directed to ensure enforcement of federal civil rights. The Budget proposes $100 million for the development of a new community monitoring and notification program in the Air Office that will monitor and provide real-time data to the public on environmental pollution, focusing on those communities with the greatest exposure to harmful levels of toxins.
  • Supporting States, Tribes and Regional Offices. More than half of the total budget request, $5.1 billion, will support states, Tribes, and localities through the State and Tribal Assistance Grants account. Within this amount, $1.2 billion in Categorical Grants will help EPA partners operate their environmental programs. This includes nearly $322 million for State and Local Air Quality Management and $21 million for Tribal Air Quality Management. The water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) ensure clean and safe water for communities across the nation, and in FY 2022 the Budget proposes $3.2 billion for the SRFs, an increase of $460 million to work to close the infrastructure financing gap. The Budget increases every Geographic Water Program, from Puget Sound to Long Island Sound, and includes $578 million to ensure restoration and sustainable use of these national treasures.
  • Prioritizing Science and Enhancing the Workforce. The FY 2022 Budget request includes an increase of 1,026 FTE to stop the downward slide in the size of EPA’s workforce in recent years to better meet the mission. The agency’s regional and headquarters offices have seen declining workforces over the last four years and the demands of protecting public health and serving communities demands a restoration of programmatic support and capacity. Within this increase are 114 FTE to propel and expand EPA’s research programs to ensure the agency has the science programs and communities demand from the EPA. Also included are 86 additional FTE to support the criminal and civil enforcement programs to ensure environmental laws are followed. These investments are essential in guiding Agency policy making and regulatory action to ensure the safety of human health and the environment for years to come.
For more information about the EPA’s FY 2022 Congressional Justification and Budget in Brief, see https://www.epa.gov/planandbudget/cj.
An increase in spending on workplace safety was also proposed. The department’s worker protection agencies have lost 14 percent of their staff over the past 4 years, limiting their ability to perform inspections and conduct investigations to protect the health, safety, rights and financial security of workers in America. The Administration’s budget reverses this trend with increases totaling nearly $300 million in the worker protection agencies, including $73 million for OSHA, $67 million for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, $35 million for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and $37 million for the Employee Benefits Security Administration. The American Jobs Plan further bolsters the department’s worker protection agencies with an additional investment of $7.5 billion over 10 years. These increases will rebuild enforcement capacity, expand whistleblower protection programs and increase outreach and compliance assistance.
Stormwater Could Be a Large Source of Microplastics and Rubber Fragments to Waterways
In cities, heavy rains wash away the gunk collecting on sidewalks and roads, picking up all kinds of debris. However, the amount of microplastic pollution swept away by this runoff is currently unknown. Now, researchers in ACS ES&T Water report that stormwater can be a large source of microplastics and rubber fragments to water bodies and, with a proof-of-concept experiment, show that a rain garden could keep these microscopic pieces out of a storm drain.
Most cities’ storm drains end up discharging directly into wetlands, creeks or rivers. Rainwater running into these drains becomes a concoction of whatever is on the ground, including dirt and grass clippings, leaked car fluids, fertilizer and garbage. Recently, researchers also found that strong rains can displace microplastics, sweeping them into stormwater, but the importance of this runoff as a source of contamination is not well understood. So, Chelsea Rochman and colleagues wanted to see whether microplastics and other tiny particles are carried into waterways by storms in urban areas, and whether a rain garden could prevent that from happening.
The researchers collected water during heavy rainstorms from 12 streams flowing into the San Francisco Bay. First, they separated floating microparticles — which they define as less than 5 mm in size — by color and shape and tallied them, finding higher concentrations in the streams than previous researchers had found in treated wastewater that was discharged into the bay. Microscopic fibers and black rubbery fragments were the most common microparticles, while natural debris, glass, paint and wool were only minor components. Then, the team identified a subset of plastic- or rubbery-looking fragments as being made mostly of plastic polymers or other synthetic materials, and many of the black rubbery particles originated from tires. Finally, the researchers compared the microparticles entering a rain garden to those at the garden’s outflow into a storm drain. Their results showed that the rain garden captured 91 to 98% of the microparticles and 100% of the black rubbery fragments during three rain events. The researchers say that while rain gardens are known to reduce the amount of metals, nutrients and other pollutants in stormwater runoff, this study shows rain gardens could also be effective at reducing microplastic pollution.
The authors acknowledged funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the California Department of Water Resources, the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, the University of Toronto’s Research Opportunities Program and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
EPA Settles Federal Stormwater Violations with ZWJ Properties
EPA has settled a series of Clean Water Act violations by ZWJ Properties, LLC for its Win Hollow Subdivision construction site in Boise, Idaho that discharges to Crane Creek, a tributary of the Boise River.
EPA alleged that ZWJ Properties:
  • Discharged uncontrolled wastewater from washout of concrete and failed to take corrective action in response to the unpermitted discharge.
  • Failed to minimize the discharge of pollutants in stormwater from its construction activities, which resulted in turbid discharges from the site into waters of the United States.
  • Failed to maintain an adequate Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan.
  • Failed to install and maintain Best Management Practices, such as erosion and sediment control measures; and
  • Failed to conduct required inspections.
  • ZWJ Properties agreed to pay a civil penalty of $62,000 to resolve EPA’s allegations.
Managing stormwater at construction sites prevents erosion.  Uncontrolled stormwater runoff can cause serious problems for the environment and people, including sediment choked rivers and streams; flooding and property damage; impaired opportunities for fishing and swimming, and in some extreme cases, threats to public drinking water systems.
Clean Water Act Analytical Methods Updated
EPA has finalized changes to its test procedures required to be used by industries and municipalities when analyzing the chemical, physical, and biological properties of wastewater and other environmental samples for reporting under EPA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program. The Clean Water Act (CWA) requires EPA to promulgate these test procedures (analytical methods) for analysis of pollutants. EPA anticipates that these changes will provide increased flexibility for the regulated community in meeting monitoring requirements while improving data quality.
In addition, this update to the CWA methods has incorporated technological advances in analytical technology. This final rule will become effective 19 July 2021. For additional information, contact Meghan Hessenauer, Engineering and Analysis Division (4303T), Office of Water, EPA, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20460-0001; 202-566-1040; email: Hessenauer.Meghan@epa.gov.
OSHA to Participate in EPA Listening Sessions on Chemical Accident Prevention Regulations
OSHA will participate in virtual listening sessions on June 16, 2021, and July 8, 2021 hosted by the EPA. The goals of the sessions are to solicit input from stakeholders about the EPA Risk Management Program regulation revisions since 2017 and address new priorities, as directed under Executive Order 13990: Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis. OSHA will receive comments on its Process Safety Management standard to continue coordination with EPA. The standard contains workplace safety requirements for managing processes using highly hazardous chemicals.
The listening sessions will be open to the public and take place on June 16 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT and on July 8 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. EDT. Those interested in speaking must pre-register at https://www.epa.gov/rmp/forms/virtual-public-listening-sessions-risk-management-program-rule. Register to speak at the June 16 listening session by June 14. For the July 6 meeting, register to speak by July 8.
OSHA encourages public comments in writing and submit them electronically by July 15 at https://www.regulations.gov/. Comments must be identified with Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OLEM-2021-0312. Read the Federal Register notice for more information.
Learn more about OSHA’s Process Safety Management standard. Visit EPA’s Risk Management Plan Rule webpage for more information on RMP regulations.
Owner of a Tanker Truck Repair Company Pleads Guilty to Making Illegal Repairs
Loren Kim Jacobson, 65, of Pocatello, and owner of a tanker testing and repair company, KCCS Inc., pleaded guilty to making an illegal repair to a cargo tanker in violation of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA) and lying to OSHA, Acting U.S. Attorney Rafael M. Gonzalez, Jr. announced. The case arose from an explosion that occurred at KCCS during a cargo tanker repair on August 14, 2018, severely injuring a KCCS employee.
According to the plea agreement, the KCCS employee’s welder flame pierced the skin of the tanker, which contained residual flammable material, resulting in the tanker exploding.  After the explosion, an OSHA investigator interviewed Jacobson about the circumstances surrounding the accident, as part of an investigation into whether Jacobson had violated OSHA safety standards for cargo tanker repair work. Jacobson made a materially false statement to the OSHA investigator during that interview, namely that his employee was merely an “observer,” not an employee, and that KCCS did not have any employees. This was an important point because OSHA requirements only apply to “employers.” Jacobson lied about not having employees to evade legal repercussions and penalties for his violation of various Occupational Safety and Health Act safety standards during the repair that resulted in the explosion.
“The terrible injuries involved this case are a stark reminder of the need for workplace safety requirements and enforcement,” said Gonzalez. “I commend the investigators at OSHA, the DOT and the EPA for uncovering the evidence in this case. Working with our partners, our office will continue to hold employers accountable for criminally endangering their employees.”
Jacobson also admits in the plea agreement that he did not possess the necessary certification to conduct cargo tanker repairs that he regularly conducted. Under the HMTA, all repairs to the skin of a cargo tanker require that the repairperson hold an “R-stamp,” which can be obtained only after meeting extensive training requirements. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that those conducting repairs on cargo tankers (which often haul flammable materials) have adequate training and expertise to do so safely. Jacobson admitted that he had a regular practice of making repairs requiring an R-stamp, despite knowing he did not have one, and that he would send employees into the cargo tankers to weld patches from the inside of the tanker so that the illegal repairs would not be visible from the outside. Jacobson did not follow OSHA safety standards for protecting employees from such dangerous “confined space entries.” According to the plea agreement, Jacobson directed his employee to conduct a hidden repair of this type on the tanker that subsequently exploded, in violation of both OSHA safety standards and the R-stamp requirement.
“The Environmental Crimes Section’s Worker Safety Initiative is designed to make sure that employers like Loren Jacobson, who shirk safety requirements and put their employees, customers, and the public at risk, are held accountable for their actions,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jean Williams for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We are committed to protecting the lives and health of those who do the important work of keeping safe cargo vehicles on the road. This prosecution makes clear to others who might be tempted to ignore these certification and safety programs that they will face felony consequences for putting their employees and the public in danger. Our thanks go out to the investigators from OSHA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Transportation who worked diligently to bring these violations to light. And our thoughts are with the victim of this horrible accident.”
“Loren Jacobson lied to Occupational Safety and Health Administration Investigators to cover up the extreme risks he had been taking with his employees,” said Special Agent in Charge Quentin Heiden of the U.S. Department of Labor - Office of Inspector General, Los Angeles. “The Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of American workers.”
“Today’s guilty plea is a sober reminder that endangering the health and safety of commercial industry workers and the public by violating federal hazardous materials transportation requirements will not be tolerated,” said Special Agent in Charge Cissy Tubbs of the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General - Western Region Office of Investigations. “We offer our sincerest condolences to the victim of the August 2018 explosion and remain steadfast in our commitment to working with our law enforcement and prosecutorial partners to hold accountable those who flaunt federal requirements to place financial gain above public safety.”
“OSHA’s mission is to ensure that every American comes home safe and sound after the day’s work,” said Boise OSHA Director David Kearns. “When an employer lies to OSHA, he passes the buck, leaving the door open to more workplace injuries and deaths. No one should be killed or injured for a paycheck. Dishonesty is not a means to protect workers. OSHA was pleased to work with our investigative partners and the Department of Justice to hold this employer criminally liable for his deceit.”
Jacobson is scheduled to be sentenced on August 25, 2021 before U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill at the federal courthouse in Pocatello.
Both the HMTA violation and the false statement offenses that Jacobson pleaded guilty to are punishable by up to five years in prison, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.
Trial Attorney Cassandra Barnum of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit of the District of Idaho are prosecuting this case. The investigation was handled by the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and OSHA.
19 Oregon Facilities Fined for Environmental Violations
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued 19 penalties totaling $290,652 in April for various environmental violations.  Fines ranged from $1,500 to $74,484. Alleged violations included operating without an air quality permit, one company violating underground fuel storage tank rules at two facilities in the same city, and discharging raw sewage into the Pacific Ocean.
DEQ issued civil penalties to the following organizations:
  • ARS-Fresno, LLC, $1,500, Oregon City, air quality
  • Baker County, $8,400, Baker City, asbestos
  • Biggs Service District, $3,000, Wasco, stormwater
  • Bretthauer Oil Company, $27,253, Hillsboro, underground fuel storage tank
  • Bretthauer Oil Company, $25,725, Hillsboro, underground fuel storage tank
  • City of Astoria, $14,700, Astoria, wastewater
  • City of Dundee, $17,736, Dundee, water quality
  • City of Newport, $28,400, Newport, wastewater
  • City of Rainier, $7,200, Rainier, wastewater
  • DS Canby LLC, $1,500, Canby, air quality
  • Hydro Extrusion USA, LLC, $74,484, The Dalles, wastewater
  • Kamph John Fred & Vivian M, $16,800, McMinnville, stormwater
  • Lane County Public Works, $4,200, Oakridge, solid waste
  • Morgan Truck Body, LLC, $6,668, Salem, stormwater
  • Portland General Electric, $19,200, Estacada, water quality
  • Riverbend Landfill Co., $9,600, McMinnville, solid waste
  • Roseburg Forest Products Co., $10,800 Dillard, air quality
  • Sunriver Owners Association, $11,386, Sunriver, stormwater
  • Timothy Frederick O'Gara, $2,100, Oregon City, underground fuel storage tank
The organizations or individuals must either pay the fines or file an appeal within 20 days of receiving notice of the penalty. They may be able to offset a portion of a penalty by funding a supplemental environmental project that improves Oregon’s environment.
Penalties may also include orders requiring specific tasks to prevent ongoing violations or additional environmental harm.
Michigan Companies Cited After Demolition Collapse at Killen Power Plant Kills Two Workers
When the Killen Power Generation Station’s building collapsed unexpectedly on Dec. 9, 2020, its steel beams fell on and killed two workers employed to demolish the facility – a laborer cutting steel and a truck driver preparing to move the scrap metal off-site.
OSHA investigated the multi-employer project and cited two Michigan companies – general contractor Adamo of Detroit and SCM Engineering Demolition Inc. of East China. OSHA cited both for multiple safety violations on the demolition project, including violations of the general duty clause and failing to inspect the site regularly to detect potential hazards resulting from the demolition process, such as weakened or deteriorated floors, walls and loosened material.
OSHA also determined that the companies allowed employees to continue working under hazardous conditions without adding shoring, bracing, or other means to steady the structure, and failed to train them on identifying potential hazards.
"Some of the most dangerous construction projects are those that involve demolishing buildings," said OSHA Area Director Kenneth Montgomery in Cincinnati. "This tragedy could have been prevented if the employer protected their workers with proper planning, training and appropriate personal protective equipment and by complying with OSHA standards."
OSHA proposed penalties of $181,724 to Adamo for one willful, repeat, serious and other-than-serious safety violations. SCM Engineering faces penalties of $12,288 for three serious violations.
Woman Convicted of Smuggling Illegal Pesticides
Selene Barraza of Visalia, California, was convicted by a federal jury yesterday of smuggling illegal pesticides into the United States from Mexico.
The jury found that Barraza smuggled 25 containers of pesticides and fertilizer concealed under the seats of her vehicle into the United States at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on February 26, 2020. The pesticides included 12 bottles of Metaldane and six bottles of Furadan. The active ingredient of Metaldane is methamidophos, and the active ingredient of Furdan is carbofuran. Both methamidophos and carbofuran are cancelled pesticides, which may not be legally imported, sold, distributed or applied in the United States.
According to trial testimony, Barraza purchased the pesticides at a store in Tijuana, where she was told that it was illegal to cross them into the United States but that if the pesticides were discovered, they would simply be seized.  The amount of Metaldane alone purchased by Barraza would have lasted 100 to 200 years if applied to her property, according to the directions on the label.  Barraza told agents she intended to use the pesticides and resell them. Barraza is scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw on August 20, 2021.
“These chemicals are banned in the United States because they are toxic and dangerous,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “This verdict is an important reminder that there are serious consequences for those who attempt to smuggle illegal pesticides into the U.S. with no regard for public safety.” Grossman praised Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie Pierson, Department of Justice Trial Attorney Stephen Da Ponte and agents with Homeland Security Investigations and the EPA, Criminal Investigation Division for their excellent work to protect the public.
“The jury’s verdict sends a clear message to individuals that knowingly put people at risk” said Scot Adair, the Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in California. “With our partner agencies, EPA’s job is to protect the American people from highly toxic pesticides like the ones illegally smuggled into this country by the defendant.”
“The jury’s verdict confirms the seriousness of preventing these toxic chemicals from polluting the environment and putting people’s health at risk,” said Cardell T. Morant, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).  “HSI and our partners at Environmental Protection Agency – Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are committed to working together to stop these deadly pesticides from entering the United States.”
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie Pierson and DOJ Trial Attorney Stephen DaPonte.
CSB Releases Final Report on 2019 Hydrogen Sulfide Release at the Aghorn Operating Waterflood Station in Odessa, Texas
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released its final report and associated materials into the October 26, 2019, hydrogen sulfide release at the Aghorn Operating waterflood station in Odessa, Texas (CSB No. 2020-01-I-TX).
The Aghorn investigation file can now be located in the Closed Investigations  section of the CSB’s website, and includes:
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