White House Releases Report Concluding that Humans Contribute to Climate Change

November 06, 2017

The U.S. Global Change Research Program’s (USGCRP) Climate Science Special Report (CSSR), which serves as Volume I of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), describes current trends in the climate globally and for the U.S., and projects trends in temperature, precipitation, sea-level rise and Arctic sea ice for the remainder of this century.

Findings include:

Global and U.S. temperatures continue to rise

  • The annual average temperature for the globe and the contiguous U.S. has increased 1.8 degrees F from 1901 to 2016.
  • Sixteen of the warmest years on record for the globe occurred in the last 17 years; the last three years were the warmest.  

 

Variability in temperature and precipitation is increasing

  • Heavy precipitation has increased in intensity and frequency across most parts of the U.S. since 1901, though there are important regional differences.
  • Heatwaves have become more frequent in the U.S. since the 1960s.
  • Cold temperatures and cold waves have decreased since the early 1900s.
  • Annual trends toward earlier spring snowmelt and reduced snowpack are already affecting water resources in the western U.S.

 

Ocean temperatures are warming and an increase in sea level

  • Global average sea level has risen by about 7–8 inches since 1900.
  • Global average sea level is expected to rise by several inches in the next 15 years.

 

Temperature increases in Alaska and across Arctic are greater than the rest of the globe

  • Annual average near-surface air temperature in Alaska and across the Arctic has increased over the last 50 years at a rate more than twice as fast as the global average temperature.
  • Since the early 1980s, Arctic sea ice extent has decreased between 3.5% and 4.1% per decade, has become thinner by between 4.3 and 7.5 feet, and on average the season of melting lasts 15 more days per year.  

 

The report was released by NOAA, which is one of 13 USGCRP federal agencies that contributed significantly to the CSSR and the draft NCA4.

Orlando RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Orlando, FL, on November 14–16 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Wilmington RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Wilmington, DE, on December 5–7 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Burbank RCRA and DOT Training

Register for California Hazardous Waste Management and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Burbank, CA, on December 5–7 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

EPA Won’t Allow Grant Recipients on EPA Science Committees

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a new directive recently to ensure that any advisors serving on an EPA Federal Advisory Committee (FAC) are independent and free from any real, apparent, or potential interference with their ability to objectively serve as a committee member. 

The directive explains that: members shall be independent from EPA, which shall include a requirement that no member of any of EPA’s federal advisory committees be currently in receipt of EPA grants, either as principal investigator or co-investigator, or in a position that otherwise would reap substantial direct benefit from an EPA grant. This principle would not apply to state, tribal or local government agency recipients of EPA grants. An accompanying memorandum issued by EPA Administrator Pruitt explains the directives to improve the independence and integrity of EPA’s FACs in ways that advance the Agency’s mission.

Pruitt also announced his plan to appoint new leadership and new members to SAB, CASAC, and BOSC. He intends to appoint members that will increase geographic diversity and state, tribal, and local government participation on the committees.  A list of members will be posted in coming days.

The directive focuses on the importance of the following areas pertaining to EPA FACs:

  • Strengthen Member Independence:  Members shall be independent from EPA, which shall include a requirement that no member of an EPA federal advisory committee be currently in receipt of EPA grants, either as principal investigator or co-investigator, or in a position that otherwise would reap substantial direct benefit from an EPA grant. This principle shall not apply to state, tribal or local government agency recipients of EPA grants.
  • Increase State, Tribal and Local Government Participation:  In the spirit of cooperative federalism and recognition of the unique experience of state, tribal and local government officials, committee balance should reflect prominent participation from state, tribal and local governments. Such participation should be appropriate for the committee’s purpose and function.
  • Enhance Geographic Diversity:  Given the range of environmental and public health considerations across the country, membership should be balanced with individuals from different states and EPA regions. Emphasis should be given to individuals from historically unrepresented or underrepresented states and regions.
  • Promote Fresh Perspectives:  To encourage and promote the inclusion of new candidates with fresh perspectives and to avoid prolonged and continuous service, membership should be rotated regularly.

 

Pennsylvania Has Extended PAG-02 Stormwater General Permit

In order to ensure the continued coverage of existing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination (NPDES) permitted activities, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is taking a number of steps related to its General Permit for stormwater discharges associated with construction activities. This General Permit, known as PAG-02, is required when a construction site larger than one acre will discharge stormwater to surface water bodies, and is the department's most commonly applied-for general permit for stormwater discharges associated with construction activities.

On October 21, DEP extended the use of the NPDES General Permit for stormwater discharges associated with construction activities (PAG-02) for one year, until December 31, 2018. The existing PAG-02 General Permit expires on December 7, 2017. This extension applies to PAG-02 General Permit authorizations obtained prior to December 7, 2017. All authorizations obtained prior to December 7, 2017 can be used through December 31, 2018.

On November 4, DEP will publish notice of its intent to reissue the current PAG-02 for a five-year term in order to allow the agency time to propose sound revisions to the current General Permit.

The PAG-02 reissuance process requires: a) publication of proposed reissuance, which will occur on November 4; b) a 30-day public comment period which begins on November 4; c) EPA approval; d) consideration of public comments, if any; and e) publication of final PAG-02.

DEP has requested expedited approval from the EPA to reissue the PAG-02 to minimize any gap between the December 7, 2017 expiration date and reissuance of the PAG-02. DEP would like to complete this process before December 31, 2017.

After December 7, 2017, and before any PAG-02 final reissuance, applicants who wish to conduct earthmoving requiring an NPDES permit may apply for an individual permit. Please contact the relevant DEP Regional Office prior to preparation of an individual permit application. Individual permittees who were previously eligible for PAG-02 will be charged the current PAG-02 review fee until the PAG-02 is reissued.

DEP expects to propose revisions to the PAG-02 sometime during the 5-year permit term; revisions will include notice and a public participation process.

“DEP is taking steps to ensure the continued coverage of existing NPDES permitted activities while we work to revise the PAG-02 permit,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Beginning this Saturday, interested parties may comment on the proposed PAG-02 reissuance. We encourage the publics input on the reissuance of our existing General Permit.”

The proposed PAG-02 is available at www.elibrary.dep.state.pa.us (select Permit and Authorization Packages, the Clean Water, then PAG-02). DEP invites public comments on the proposed draft. Interested persons are invited to submit written comments through December 3, 2017. Commentators are encouraged to use DEPs online eComment system at http://www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/eComment/.

Written comments may be mailed to ecomment@pa.gov, or mailed to the Department of Environmental Protection, Policy Office, 400 Market Street, P.O. Box 2063, Harrisburg, PA, 17105-2063. All comments submitted during the 30-day comment period will be retained and considered in finalizing the PAG-02.

GOP Tax Bill Ends Electric Vehicle Tax Credit, Overhauls Other Energy Taxes

A massive GOP tax-reform bill would end a $7,500 credit for the purchase of electric vehicles and overhaul other energy-related provisions within the tax code. The 429-page bill would repeal the electric vehicle tax credit.

31 Minnesota Enforcement Cases in Third Quarter of 2017

In its ongoing efforts to promote environmental compliance, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) concluded 31 enforcement cases in 25 counties throughout Minnesota during the third quarter of 2017.  Penalties from all 31 cases totaled just over $170,000.

Environmental enforcement investigations often take several months, and in highly complex cases more than a year. Although, in rare instances, they can involve courts, they are most often negotiated settlements where the goal is compliance with environmental rules. Fines issued are targeted to match the environmental harm, economic advantage gained or environmental corrective actions.

In addition to these 31 recently-completed cases, the MPCA also has 39 ongoing enforcement investigations, 19 of which were opened as new cases during the third quarter of 2017.  Not all investigations lead to fines or other official action.

Imposing monetary penalties is only part of the MPCA’s enforcement process.  Agency staff continue to provide assistance, support, and information on the steps and tools necessary to achieve compliance for any company, individual, or local government that requests it.

Click here to see a list of enforcement actions.

Lawsuit Demands U.S. Restrictions on Formaldehyde in Wood Products

The New Orleans-based group A Community Voice and the Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit to require the EPA to stick to a firm and final deadline for compliance with the Formaldehyde Emissions Standards for wood products made, imported and sold in the United States.

The unlawfully-postponed standards limit the amount of hazardous formaldehyde gas that can be released from various types of wood products, including materials often used in emergency housing and inexpensive furniture.

Congress passed in 2009—and President Barack Obama signed in 2010—a law requiring the EPA to issue a final rule by 2013, limiting formaldehyde emissions from certain wood products, but EPA missed the deadline. Although EPA finally published the formaldehyde standards in December 2016, with compliance required one year later, the Trump administration recently extended the compliance deadlines by one additional year.

The recent lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. It charges that the EPA’s extension oversteps the agency’s authority and is illegal.

Formaldehyde is used to bind plywood, particleboard, and other wood products used in a wide array of consumer products, such as paneling, flooring, cabinets, furniture, and recreational vehicles (RVs). It is a carcinogen that also causes or exacerbates respiratory ailments, and was blamed for numerous illnesses among Gulf Coast residents housed in travel trailers and mobile homes supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

“It is outrageous that people recovering from this year’s hurricanes might have to deal with the same health issues in their emergency housing that the EPA has known about—and was supposed to address—years ago,” said Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman. “It is long past time to put an end to cheap, imported wood products that needlessly make people sick.”

Members of Louisiana’s A Community Voice have witnessed these health problems firsthand.

“Formaldehyde is so dangerous for our health that A Community Voice is fighting to have it regulated more, not less,” said Debra Campbell, A Community Voice secretary-treasurer. “We believe that many of us have had harms to our health due to living in FEMA trailers after Hurricane Katrina, including my own mother’s suffering from COPD. We need more regulation of toxins, not less. Thankfully, Earthjustice is on the case.”

The Sierra Club has been involved with this issue for a decade, in dialogue with such groups as the Composite Panel Association and the nonprofit National Center for Healthy Housing to make California’s tough, state formaldehyde standards the federal requirement.

“It is completely unacceptable that the EPA is attempting to delay this lifesaving, commonsense rule that will protect families’ health and safety and create jobs here at home,” said Leslie Fields, director of the Sierra Club’s Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships Program. “The very last thing people who are recovering from natural disasters should have to worry about is whether their housing is making them sick.”

It is critical that the EPA no longer be allowed to drag its feet and continue to allow the use of dangerous wood products that harm people’s health.

PDC Energy Fined $2.5 Million for VOC Emission Violations

The Department of Justice, the EPA, and the State of Colorado recently announced a settlement with Denver-based PDC Energy, Inc. resolving Clean Air Act violations alleged in a civil complaint. The complaint filed June 26, 2017 alleged that PDC violated requirements to reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from its oil and gas exploration and production activities in the Denver area.

This case arose from a series of Colorado inspections that found significant VOC emissions from PDC’s condensate storage tanks. Under the settlement, PDC will spend an estimated $18 million on system upgrades, improved operations and maintenance practices, monitoring, and inspections to reduce emissions. PDC will also be required to implement environmental mitigation projects at certain sites to further reduce VOC and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions at a cost of $1.7 million. The settlement includes a $2.5 million civil penalty, which will be split evenly between the United States and the State of Colorado. The state’s share of the penalty may be offset by up to $1 million by performing one or more state-only supplemental environmental projects.

EPA estimates that modifications to the vapor control systems, along with operational and maintenance improvements and increased monitoring, will reduce VOC emissions by more than 1,600 tons per year. PDC already has begun this work, which must be completed on a phased schedule with a deadline of June 30, 2019 for the last phase.

“This agreement will result in cleaner air in the Denver area and shows that EPA is committed to enforcing the law in order to ensure public health is protected,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “This case exemplifies the strong partnerships with states that are integral to delivering results for American communities and finding solutions that build compliance with the law and prevent future violations.”

“As a result of state and federal efforts, PDC has agreed to take comprehensive action to address excess VOC emissions from its oil and gas operations,” said Associate Attorney General Rachel L. Brand of the Department of Justice.  “We are proud that we were able to work side by side with EPA and Colorado to bring these facilities into compliance with the law.”

The settlement covers approximately 650 PDC tank batteries and resolves claims that PDC failed to adequately design, size, operate and maintain vapor control systems on its controlled condensate storage tanks, resulting in VOC emissions. VOC are a key component in the formation of smog or ground-level ozone, a pollutant that irritates the lungs, exacerbates diseases such as asthma, and can increase susceptibility to respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. The tank batteries that are subject to the settlement are all located in an ozone non-attainment area, meaning that the area does not meet the national air quality standard that EPA set for this pollutant.

As part of the settlement, PDC has agreed to evaluate the design and capacity of its vapor control systems, modify those vapor control systems as necessary to ensure that that they are adequately designed and sized to collect and convey emissions to a control device, implement an enhanced inspection and maintenance program, and undertake periodic infrared camera inspections to identify any emissions and take prompt corrective action to address those emissions. Where monitoring and recordkeeping indicates recurring issues resulting in emissions, PDC will take proactive measures to identify the cause of these issues and prevent their recurrence.

In addition, PDC will implement two environmental mitigation projects to further reduce emissions of ozone precursors from certain PDC well pads in the nonattainment area by an estimated combined 425 tons per year. These efforts are in addition to measures PDC has already taken to reduce emissions from its well pads, such as implementing techniques at all locations equipped with automation capability to sell oil from storage tanks without the need to open thief hatches for sampling or gauging. 

The consent decree, lodged in the District Court of Colorado, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

Pharmaceutical Innovations Fined $250,000 for Use of Unregistered and Mislabeled Antimicrobial Pesticides

The EPA recently announced that it reached an agreement with Pharmaceutical Innovations of Newark, New Jersey resolving alleged violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The EPA had alleged that Pharmaceutical Innovations sold and distributed the unregistered and misbranded antimicrobial pesticides “PI Spray” and “PI Spray 2.”

The unregistered and misbranded pesticides were used to clean ultrasound and mammography equipment and other surfaces in health care facilities. As a result of the settlement, Pharmaceutical Innovations stopped producing and selling their unregistered and misbranded products called “PI Spray” and “PI Spray 2” and did a voluntary recall of both products.

“These products were marketed to health care facilities and their patients, which of course relied on the claims that they kill microorganisms, but in this case those claims were not properly substantiated through the EPA registration process,” said Pete Lopez, EPA Regional Administrator. “When the EPA registers products, EPA requires that companies demonstrate that products do what they claim and that they don’t present unacceptable risk if used properly.”

The product labels, product inserts, and promotional material for both products:

  • Made unsubstantiated claims to control bacteria and kill viruses
  • Made unsubstantiated claims as to the efficacy and safety of the product
  • Did not list the inert ingredients or bear the name and percentage by weight of each active and inert ingredient

 

In the settlement, Pharmaceutical Innovations agreed to pay a civil penalty of $250,000 and certified that it has come into compliance with FIFRA.

The sale and distribution of unregistered and misbranded antimicrobial pesticides pose a danger to people’s health. Without the company’s submission of efficacy and safety data and product labels to EPA for review and approval, as required by law, health care facilities and their patients may use the product inappropriately and are deprived of important health and safety information.   

The settlement will help ensure that sellers and distributors of antimicrobial products do not make claims about pesticides without first registering their products with EPA. It will also help ensure that antimicrobial products are not mislabeled with unsubstantiated claims or without important information for use.

The goal of FIFRA is to promote the appropriate use of pesticides and to minimize the risks to the public, pesticide applicators, and the environment from their use. FIFRA requires that pesticides sold in the U.S. be registered with EPA to ensure they are effective for their intended use and distributed with labels bearing approved claims and all required information. Facilities that produce pesticides must also be registered with EPA and are required to submit annual production reports.

EPA Settlement with UConn Resolves Improper PCB Disposal Activity

The University of Connecticut has taken steps to ensure its PCB waste is properly disposed of in the future to settle claims by the EPA that it improperly disposed of PCBs during a 2013 renovation project at its Storrs campus.

The university disposed of the waste containing polychlorinated biphenyls during a 2013 window replacement project in violation of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act. Working with its contractors and an environmental consultant, UConn’s renovation project led to the removal of soils contaminated with PCBs from the window caulk, which are classified as PCB "remediation waste." PCB remediation waste can be disposed of only at approved facilities, but the transportation manifest did not identify the material as such, and the material consequently was shipped to a facility not licensed for this disposal. Earlier this year, EPA notified UConn of its potential liability under federal law. UConn and EPA then reached an agreement to resolve the violation. UConn will also pay a penalty of $28,125 as part of this settlement.

"This action demonstrates how important it is that all parties involved with PCB waste ensure that every step in the handling and disposal of the PCBs is done consistent with the regulations," said Deb Szaro, acting regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. "EPA appreciates the steps UConn has taken to minimize future violations."

Once in the environment, PCBs do not readily break down and therefore may remain for long periods of time, cycling between air, water, and soil. PCBs are classified by EPA as a probable human carcinogen and have been shown to cause other adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system.

For more information about health concerns and safe handling practices for PCBs click here.

Public Hearing on Proposed Repeal of Clean Power Plan

Soon after the Obama Administration issued the Clean Power Plan in 2015, 27 states, 24 trade associations, 37 rural electric co-ops, and three labor unions challenged the proposal. A few months later, the United States Supreme Court stayed the CPP, immediately halting implementation—the first time the Supreme Court had ever issued a stay to block the enforcement of a regulation.

On March 28, 2017, EPA Administrator Pruitt signed a notice indicating the EPA’s intent to review the Clean Power Plan, in accord with the President’s Energy Independence Executive Order.  On October 16, the EPA proposed to repeal the Clean Power Plan, proposing that it is not consistent with the Clean Air Act. EPA is now taking comment on that proposal and has extended the public comment period to January 16, 2018.  

EPA will hold a public hearing on the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan in Charleston, West Virginia, on November 28–29, 2017.  All persons wanting to speak are encouraged to register in advance.

The hearing will be held November 28-29 at the West Virginia Capitol Complex, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East, Charleston, West Virginia 25305.  The hearing will convene each day 9:00 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time) and will conclude at 5:00 p.m. If the EPA receives a high volume of requests, the Agency may continue the public hearing to November 30, 2017. The EPA may also hold an additional hearing to be announced at a later date.  See the website for updates about the hearing.

Registration information will be posted at: https://www.epa.gov/stationary-sources-air-pollution/electric-utility-generating-units-repealing-clean-power-plan. Pre-registration to provide an oral presentation will begin when the notice is published in the Federal Register and close on November 16, 2017. People will be contacted about speaking slots via email starting on November 17, 2017.

Oral comments and supporting information presented at the public hearing will be considered with the same weight as written statements and supporting information submitted during the public comment period. Written comments must be received by the last day of the comment period, which has been extended to January 16, 2018. Comments should be identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0355 and may be submitted by one of the methods listed on the Clean Power Plan Proposed Repeal: How to Comment web page.

Twin Cities Scrap Metal Recycler Penalized for Polluting Hennepin County Creek

An oily film, discoloration and an obnoxious odor in Bridal Veil Creek resulted in an enforcement action for improper industrial stormwater discharges and hazardous waste mismanagement at a Twin Cities facility.

Metro Metals Corporation, which has been conducting recycling operations in St. Paul since 2003, agreed to pay a $20,000 penalty and complete eight compliance actions as part of a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) industrial stormwater and hazardous waste enforcement agreement, the agency announced recently.

Site inspections, photographs and detectable odors confirmed multiple occurrences of improper industrial stormwater discharges and used oil storage between May 2015 and May 2016.

In addition to paying the penalty, Metro Metals agreed to improve existing stormwater best management practices, install and implement new BMPs, document completed debris and spill cleanups, create a BMP monitoring and maintenance plan, and correctly store used oil containers and manage related wastes appropriately. Many of the corrective actions have already been completed.

The stipulation agreement is one tool that the MPCA uses to achieve compliance with environmental laws.  When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it was a first time or repeat violation and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities.  The agency also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.

For more information, see the MPCA's Enforcement webpage.

Utah to Get $35 Million from VW Settlement

Efforts to improve Utah’s air quality are getting a big boost thanks to a nationwide $15.7 billion settlement with Volkswagen (VW) for violations of the Clean Air Act.

Utah is set to receive approximately $35 million from the settlement to offset nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from the approximately 7,000 VW, Audi, and Porsche vehicles in the state affected by VW’s violations. Governor Herbert designated the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) as the lead agency to administer these monies.

Beginning November 1, 2017, the public has an opportunity to comment on how the money should be spent.

DEQ Executive Director Alan Matheson views this as an opportunity to leverage resources and partnerships to achieve measureable improvements in air quality.

“While we continue to make progress at reducing emissions, we still have work to do to ensure we all breathe healthy air.” said Matheson. “We will direct funds from the VW settlement toward eligible strategies that give us the most air-quality benefit per dollar spent.”

DEQ’s responsibilities as lead agency include developing an Environmental Mitigation Plan

(EMP). The VW settlement identified certain categories of vehicles and equipment that are eligible for funding under the agreement. Utah’s EMP will determine which categories the state will target for that funding. Eligible engine or vehicle/equipment replacements that are found in Utah include:

  • Class 8 local freight trucks (large trucks)
  • Class 4-8 school buses, shuttle buses, or transit buses
  • Freight switchers
  • Class 4-7 local freight trucks (medium trucks)
  • Airport ground-support equipment
  • Forklifts

 

A portion of the funds may also go to build electric vehicle infrastructure. DEQ is seeking public input for the EMP from Nov. 1-30, 2017. “We actively seek feedback from the public about how we should invest these funds so we can take full advantage of this unique opportunity,” said Matheson.

The public can learn more about how the funds can be spent and access the public input process from DEQ’s VW website, vw.utah.gov.

Utah DEQ Urges Use of UtahAir App as Burning Rules Go into Effect

With the air turning cold, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Air Quality (DAQ) reminds Utahns that wood burning restrictions go into effect November 1, 2017, and urges the use of online and mobile tools for better monitoring of daily air particulates.

Starting this year, the fines for burning wood on mandatory action days have increased to $150 for the first violation of the burning restrictions and additional violations will be subject to penalties of $299. The penalties reflect the need to address the levels of air pollution that wood stoves contribute in light of the reclassification of the Wasatch Front counties as "Serious" non-attainment areas for fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

Wood burning restrictions aim to help reduce hard-to-see particle pollution that builds up during winter inversion periods. Restrictions are implemented as a proactive measure when fine particle matter (PM 2.5) has the potential to reach unhealthy levels from emission sources such as vehicles, as well as wood and coal burning fireplaces or stoves.

Salt Lake County has implemented mandatory burn restrictions on days when DAQ is calling for voluntary action.

The DAQ air quality alert system, developed with input from the public, aims to better communicate the complex health implications and activity restrictions related to air pollution. A phone app, UtahAir, that employs DAQ’s air quality alert system is now available for both Android and iOS users at http://www.airquality.utah.gov/aqp/currentconditions.php. App users will receive burn-ban alerts and three-day forecasts to help plan the best times to exercise outdoors, or when to make consolidated trip for errands based on current conditions.

“The UtahAir app is our most popular tool because Utahns can quickly click on the information they need at anytime and anywhere,” said Bryce Bird, director of DAQ. “This is important information people can access in order to make daily decisions that will improve air quality during the upcoming winter inversion season.”

Part 1—Action Alerts: Three basic symbols to indicate unrestricted, voluntary and mandatory actions.

  • Unrestricted Action (symbol = circle): Wood and coal burning stoves or fireplaces may be used, but please use them in a proper manner to reduce smoke emissions.
  • Voluntary Action (symbol = inverted triangle): Voluntarily do not use wood and coal burning stoves or fireplaces. Reduce vehicle use by consolidating trips. Industry should optimize operating conditions to minimize air pollution emissions.
  • Mandatory Action (symbol = X): Wood and coal burning stoves or fireplaces must not be used. Reduce vehicle use by consolidating trips. Industry should optimize operating conditions to minimize air pollution emissions.

 

When mandatory restrictions are in place the use of solid fuel appliances may result in penalties ranging up to $299 per day. If violations of the burning restrictions are observed by the public, they should be reported to DAQ by calling 801-536-4000 during business hours or by filling out a simple form online at: airquality.utah.gov/Compliance/complaint.htm.

Part 2—Health Guidance: The EPA’s national standard Air Quality Index (AQI), which is divided into six, color-coded categories that correspond to different levels of pollution and related guidance for individuals with health concerns.

The DAQ monitors air pollution hourly and provides a three-day “action forecast” on its website to help residents plan ahead and adjust their activities during periods of winter inversion. For more information on air quality and health, visit: http://health.utah.gov/asthma/airquality/health.html

http://health.utah.gov/utahair/AQI/.

Land Mart Inc. Cited for Gasoline Release

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Alec Messina has referred an enforcement action to the Illinois Attorney General's office against Land Mart, Inc., for releasing gasoline into the combined storm/sanitary sewer system in Cook County. The Agency is seeking an order requiring the owner to immediately hire a contractor to control any additional gasoline release from the site, mitigate vapors in off-site residences and businesses, pump down the observation well, and conduct air monitoring on the sewer system, as well as hire a consultant to investigate the cause of the release and remediate contamination resulting there from.

Land Mart, Inc. is the owner/operator of a Gas Depot, located at 15 E. Sibley Blvd. in South Holland.

On October 24, 2017, a South Holland Dispatch Operator contacted the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to report that the South Holland Fire Department was dispatched to investigate an odor of kerosene in a residential basement on Wabash Avenue. The odor was traced to a sewer. A short time later, the South Holland Fire Department contacted IEMA to update information about the release, noting the source was identified as the Gas Depot on Sibley and an estimated 100 gallons of gasoline had been released. An environmental contractor was said to be en route to pump the remaining liquid from the underground storage tank. Illinois EPA responded to the site where emergency actions were being directed by Office of the State Fire Marshall (OSFM) and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD).

On October 25, 2017, gasoline intrusion into the sewer system was continuing with one home and one off-site business impacted. An environmental contractor had pumped the observation well, tank sump and dispensers, but no engineering firm had been hired by the owner to investigate and remediate the release. On October 26, Illinois EPA was notified by MWRD that free product was continuing to enter the sewer system and a second home had contacted the South Holland Fire Department overnight. The owner had no information on when further pumping would occur.

In the referral, the Agency cited violations of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, in which the facility caused, threatened or allowed the discharge of contaminants so as to cause or tend to cause air pollution and water pollution and deposited contaminants upon the land creating a water pollution hazard. Illinois EPA continues to monitor the situation.

Excellence and Innovation in Clean Water Infrastructure Recognized by EPA

The EPA recently recognized 28 clean water infrastructure projects for excellence and innovation within the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) program. Honored projects include large wastewater infrastructure projects to small decentralized and agriculture projects.

EPA’s Performance and Innovation in the SRF Creating Environmental Success (PISCES) program celebrates innovation demonstrated by CWSRF programs and assistance recipients. The CWSRF is a federal-state partnership that provides communities a permanent, independent source of low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects. Over the past 30 years, CWSRF programs have provided more than $125 billion in financing for water quality infrastructure.

“For decades the Clean Water State Revolving Fund has supported critical water infrastructure projects that help grow the American economy and support our way of life,” said Mike Shapiro, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. “These projects are a testament to the power of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund in leveraging investment to meet the country’s diverse clean water needs.”

Twenty-eight projects by state or local governments, public utilities, and private entities were recognized by the 2017 PISCES program. These projects include:

Exceptional

  • Arkansas: Sewer Service Line Replacement Program – Little Rock Wastewater Utility
  • Delaware: NVF Yorklyn Site Wetland Project – DNREC Parks & WHS
  • Ohio: Howard Storage Basin-North Hill Separation Project – City of Akron
  • Rhode Island: RIAC Glycol Recovery System – RI Airport Corporation
  • Washington: On-Site Sewage System Loan Program -– Tacoma-Pierce County Health Dept.

 

Honorable Mention

  • Illinois: Phosphorus Recovery System – MWRD of Greater Chicago
  • Iowa: Bee Branch Creek Project – City of Dubuque
  • Minnesota: Implementation of Nonpoint Practices – Rock County
  • New Jersey: Green Infrastructure CSO Initiative – City of Hoboken
  • West Virginia: Septic Tank Gravity System – New Haven Public Service District

 

Recognized Excellence

  • Alabama: Biosolids Improvements for Energy Recovery – City of Albertville
  • Colorado: Biological Nutrient Removal – Boxelder Sanitation District
  • Florida: Digester Project – City of Graceville
  • Georgia: Stormwater Retention – City of Hinesville
  • Idaho: Wastewater System Consolidation and Upgrade Project – City of Fruitland
  • Indiana: Three Rivers Protection and Overflow – City of Fort Wayne
  • Louisiana: Wastewater Reuse Project – Town of Homer
  • Maryland: Southern Kent Island Sewer Collection System – Queen Anne’s County
  • Massachusetts: Organics to Energy – Greater Lawrence Sanitary District
  • Missouri: On-site Septic Remediation Program – Upper White River Basin Foundation Inc.
  • New Mexico: Montoyas Arroyo Improvement – S. Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control
  • New York: New Rochelle WWTP Upgrades – Westchester County
  • Oklahoma: Green Infrastructure Project – Oklahoma Conservation Commission
  • Pennsylvania: Green Infrastructure – City of Philadelphia
  • South Carolina: 4th Avenue Ocean Outfall – City of Myrtle Beach
  • Texas: Grand Lakes Reclaimed Water System – North Fort Bend Water Authority
  • Virginia: Wetland Stormwater Retention System – City of Waynesboro
  • Wisconsin: New Water R2E2: Resource Recovery & Electric – Green Bay MSD

 

2017 Maine Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards

Governor Paul R. LePage and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. The awards, which are administered by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, recognize businesses, public entities and individuals for their extraordinary efforts to protect and improve Maine’s environment. “Maine DEP is pleased to spotlight this year’s winners, who provide solid examples of innovation and sustainability for Maine businesses and citizens to follow,” said Maine DEP Commissioner Paul Mercer.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is committed to improving our State’s regulatory climate and to creating a stronger culture of cooperation between government and Maine people and businesses. The 2017 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence will be awarded to the following:

  • Pratt & Whitney; North Berwick – Pratt & Whitney, with approximately 33,500 employees worldwide and 1,800 employees at the North Berwick facility, is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, auxiliary and ground power units and small turbojet propulsion products for both commercial and military sectors. PWNB has recently implemented a coolant reconditioning program in which coolant is recycled through a three-tank system. The coolant reconditioning program has the potential once it reaches its full utilization to save 100 gallons of coolant per day and the potential to save nearly 1,100 gallons of water daily.
  • Kenneth Locke, Director of Environmental Services, City of Brewer – Ken Locke has worked for the City of Brewer since 1992 in a variety of capacities, before becoming the Director of Environmental Services for the City in 2000. Since 2003, Mr. Locke has taken a proactive and aggressive approach to maintaining Brewer’s Stormwater Management Program and has shown he is committed to protecting the health and safety of its citizens and the quality of the surface waters of Maine. Additionally, Ken Locke organized the annual Brewer Stream Cleanup event, which has attracted 200 volunteers and collected three to five tons of trash annually. Both professionally and personally, Mr. Locke has dedicated considerable time to educating local students, citizens of Brewer and neighboring communities about stormwater pollution and the importance of clean water.
  • James Atwell, Retired Senior Project Manager, Sevee & Maher Engineers. Inc. – Throughout his 50-year career as a civil and environmental engineer, James Atwell of Falmouth has used his professional skills to make Maine a better place to work and live. Mr. Atwell has devoted much of his energies to helping reinvent the struggling forest products industry as well as support biomass conversion technologies to enhance Maine’s competitiveness in producing sustainable forest bioproducts, particularly biofuels. He has been a strong voice in balancing natural resource protection with the growing infrastructure needs of municipalities, businesses and individuals. His work has focused on incorporating clean technologies into many environmental and infrastructure projects, and he has distinguished himself as a leader in many facets of environmental engineering. Mr. Atwell’s work in waste management, energy reduction, sustainability and environmental stewardship has directly or indirectly benefitted every person in Maine.

 

In the coming weeks, DEP Commissioner Paul Mercer will be making site visits to the honorees at their business establishment to make the award presentations.

Environmental News Links

EPA Releases Guidance on Air Emissions

Concerns Linger as Ohio EPA Continues to Monitor Air-Quality, Health Risks Following Arco Dump Fire

Hazardous Waste Fire in Tractor-Trailer Throws I-495 Commute into Disarray

DEC Looking into Waste Drums Left Sitting Along a Rural Road

New Lawsuit Filed Against Lewiston Hazardous Waste Landfill

Strange, White Powder Found at Hanford; Officials Object to Being Fined for Doing Nothing About It Yet

More Greenland Glaciers Threatened by Climate Change than Previously Thought

IPCC Chair Discusses Limiting Global Warming to 1.5°C

Federal Trade Panel Calls for Restrictions on Imported Solar Cells – Which Trump Could Soon Implement

Refrigerants – Cooling with Propane

Pruitt’s EPA Strategic Plan Is a Cynical Joke

Wolf Administration Invites Pennsylvania’s Environmental Stewards to Apply for 2018 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence

EPA’s National Clean Diesel Rebate Program – There Is Still Time to Apply

Water at Puerto Rico Superfund Site is Fit for Consumption

Texas to Eliminate Basin Cycle Permitting

Trivia Question of the Week

In the last 115 years, the planet has warmed by how much? 

a. 0.8°F

b. 1°F

c. 1.8°F

d. 8.1°F

 

Answer: c