Water Online's EPA Update: February 9, 2011
Welcome to Water Online's review of the latest U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, resources, and activities related to the water, wastewater, and stormwater industries. EPA offices and programs covered in this installment are listed below. Click on an office or program name to go directly to that section of the article. Office of Water (OW) EPA To Develop Regulation For Perchlorate And Toxic Chemicals In Drinking Water EPA Seeks Applications For Environmental Community Grants EPA Releases WaterSense Revised Draft Specification For Weather-Based Irrigation Controllers EPA Grants Continue To Protect Beachgoers National Risk Management Research Laboratory
(NRMRL) Safe Drinking Water Technology — A Century of Innovation Looking Ahead This wide-ranging mission is the natural outgrowth of the water safety research that had its beginnings a century ago. The efforts of research pioneers and visionaries over the years have set the scientific standards for the passage of legislation that continues to improve water safety for humans and the environment everywhere. Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Program ETV Verified Technologies
Upcoming Conferences and Meetings
For more information on the ETV, visit www.epa.gov/etv. Other EPA News Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Testimony Before The U.S. Senate Committee On Environment And Public Works EPA Solicits Public Input On Using Vapor Intrusion Threats As Criteria For Superfund Sites More information on the HRS: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/programs/npl_hrs/hrsint.htm
EPA Seeks Applicants For $1.2 Million In Environmental Justice Grants To Address Local Health And Environmental Issues
Environmental justice means the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race or income, in the environmental decision-making process. Environmental justice issues often involve multiple sources of contamination, like pollution from several industrial facilities within one neighborhood, environmental hazards at the workplace or home, or contamination resulting from the consumption of fish or other subsistence food. Administrator Jackson, SBA Administrator Mills Announce Launch Of Water Technology Innovation Cluster
In addition, WTIC will move forward with the development of green infrastructure, including rain gardens. The rain gardens will be designed to receive stormwater runoff from roads, roofs, and parking lots. The rain gardens' sandy soils allow stormwater to gain access to the native soils below and eventually contribute to groundwater recharge. Pollutants and nutrients in stormwater runoff are removed by rain garden vegetation and soils through biological and physical processes. EPA Announces Next Steps On Emissions Standards For Boilers, Certain Incinerators EPA To Defer GHG Permitting Requirements For Industries That Use Biomass EPA Halts Disposal Of Mining Waste To Appalachian Waters At Proposed Spruce Mine
Additionally, during the permitting process there was a failure to consider cumulative watershed degradation resulting from past, present, and future mining in the area. SOURCE: EPA
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson recently announced the agency's decision to move forward with the development of a regulation for perchlorate to protect Americans from any potential health impacts, while also continuing to take steps to ensure the quality of the water they drink. The decision to undertake a first-ever national standard for perchlorate reverses a decision made by the previous administration and comes after Administrator Jackson ordered EPA scientists to undertake a thorough review of the emerging science of perchlorate.
Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and man-made chemical, and scientific research indicates that it may impact the normal function of the thyroid, which produces important developmental hormones. Thyroid hormones are critical to the normal development and growth of fetuses, infants and children. Based on this potential concern, EPA will move forward with proposing a formal rule. This process will include receiving input from key stakeholders as well as submitting any formal rule to a public comment process.
In a separate action, the agency is also moving towards establishing a drinking water standard to address a group of up to 16 toxic chemicals that may pose risks to human health. As part of the Drinking Water Strategy laid out by Administrator Jackson in 2010, EPA committed to addressing contaminants as a group rather than one at a time so that enhancement of drinking water protection can be achieved cost effectively. This action delivers on the promise to strengthen public health protection from contaminants in drinking water.
Action on Perchlorate:
EPA will continue to evaluate the science on perchlorate health effects and occurrence in public water systems. The agency will also now begin to evaluate the feasibility and affordability of treatment technologies to remove perchlorate and will examine the costs and benefits of potential standards.
More information on perchlorate: http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/unregulated/perchlorate.cfm
Action on Drinking Water Strategy:
EPA will also be developing one regulation covering up to 16 chemicals that may cause cancer. This group of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are chemicals such as industrial solvents, includes trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE) as well as other regulated and some unregulated contaminants that are discharged from industrial operations. The VOC standard will be developed as part of EPA's new strategy for drinking water, announced by the administrator in March 2010. A key principle of the strategy is to address contaminants as groups rather than individually in order to provide public health protections more quickly and also allow utilities to more effectively and efficiently plan for improvements.
More information on the drinking water strategy:
Administrator Jackson's 2010 Speech on EPA's New Drinking Water Strategy:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making approximately $2 million available in 2011 to reduce pollution at the local level through the Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) program. CARE is a community-based program that works with county and local governments, tribes, non-profit organizations and universities to help the public understand and reduce toxic risks from numerous sources. Since 2005, CARE has reached 78 communities in several states and territories. A recent evaluation by the National Association of Public Administration (NAPA) recognized the CARE program as a solid tested framework for engaging communities and other stakeholders.
EPA will award CARE cooperative agreements in two levels. Level I awards range from $75,000 to $100,000 each and will help establish community-based partnerships to develop local environmental priorities. Level II awards range from $150,000 to $300,000 each and will support communities that have established broad-based partnerships, have identified the priority toxic risks in the community, and are prepared to measure results, implement risk-reduction activities and become self-sustaining. (Please note that due to appropriation law concerns, until Congress provides separate authorization, EPA can only award CARE Level II cooperative agreements to applicants that have already received CARE Level I cooperative agreements).
Applications for the CARE assistance agreements are due by March 22, 2011, 4:00 p.m. EST. EPA will conduct two webcasts to answer questions from prospective applicants about the application process on February 23 and March 2 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
In 2010, EPA's CARE program distributed $2 million throughout 14 communities. Among the grant recipients, projects included tackling drinking water and stormwater pollution. For more information about the CARE assistance agreements and the webcasts visit: http://www.epa.gov/care/
For the 2011 CARE Request for Proposals (RFP) visit:
For the full news release:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the WaterSense Revised Draft Specification for Weather-Based Irrigation Controllers. The revised draft addresses stakeholder comments on the initial draft released in November 2009.
With more than 13.5 million irrigation systems currently installed in the United States, replacing existing standard clock timer controllers with WaterSense labeled weather-based irrigation controllers could offer significant water savings for homeowners and organizations using irrigation systems. Weather-based controllers create or modify irrigation schedules based on the landscape needs and real-time weather data.
Comments on the revised draft specification are due March 21, 2011. Learn more and submit comments at http://epa.gov/watersense/partners/controltech.html
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing almost $10 million in grants to 37 states, territories and tribes to help protect swimmers and beachgoers at America's beaches. The grants will help local authorities monitor beach water quality and notify the public of conditions that may be unsafe for swimming. The grants have enabled states and territories to more than double the number of beaches they monitor since 2003. This continues EPA's efforts to help beach managers provide consistent public health protection and up-to-date information about local beach conditions.
Each swimming season, state and local health and environmental protection agencies monitor the quality of water at the nation's beaches. When bacteria levels in the water are too high, these agencies notify the public by posting beach warnings or closing the beach. In 2007, an estimated 96 million people made at least one visit to a U.S. ocean beach, spending a total of 1.4 billion days at ocean beaches.
This is the 11th year that EPA is providing beach grant funds, bringing the total amount EPA has made available to nearly $102 million since Congress passed the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act of 2000. Through this funding, the number of monitored beaches has almost quadrupled from about 1,000 in 1997 to more than 3,800 in 2009.
More information: http://water.epa.gov/grants_funding/beachgrants/index.cfm
Interim Report Evaluates Combined Heat And Power Technologies For Wastewater Treatment Facilities
EPA is announcing the release of an interim report, Evaluation of Combined Heat and Power Technologies for Wastewater Facilities, which serves as a planning-level tool for wastewater professionals and provides an examination of commonly used and emerging combined heat and power (CHP) technologies for converting anaerobic digester gas to electrical power and process heat.
The report was developed by Columbus Water Works, under an assistance agreement awarded by EPA in support of their Columbus Biosolids Flow-Through Thermophilic Treatment (CBFT3) National Demonstration Project. It provides detailed technical information about existing technologies for producing heat and power from biogas including: internal combustion engines, gas turbines, microturbines, and fuel cells as well as other beneficial uses for digester gas. The report includes detailed process descriptions and performance and cost data. It also addresses factors such as infrastructure requirements, digester gas treatment, and operational issues. The interim report includes four in-depth facility case studies from across the country that demonstrate successful biogas-to-energy projects.
To view a copy of the report, "Evaluation of Combined Heat and Power Technologies for Wastewater Facilities," please visit: http://water.epa.gov/scitech/wastetech/publications.cfm
The early decades of the 20th century marked the birth of legislative protection of U.S. drinking water, including new federal laws to protect forest lands as public water resources (1911) and the funding of public health research on "human diseases related to sewage and the pollution of streams and lakes" (1912). In the years since then, under Presidents ranging from William Howard Taft to Barack Obama, innovative federal research and engineering technologies have provided Americans with the highest drinking water standards in human history.
Under the 1912 Congressional directive, officers of the Public Health Service (PHS) set up headquarters in the new Stream Pollution Investigation Station, located on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati, Ohio, the nation's tenth largest city. There, a team of physicians, sanitary engineers, chemists, biologists and bacteriologists, working with the primitive laboratory equipment of the day, began the first comprehensive study of river pollution and natural stream restoration. Since very little was known about the chemistry, biology and physics of polluted streams, they developed methods and techniques as they went along.
By 1920, the investigative team had developed applications of two fundamental measures of water pollution still in use today: the Coliform Bacteria Index (How much bacteria in drinking water is too much?) and the Biochemical Oxygen Demand Test (How much oxygen is needed to restore depleted source waters?). This early research laid the groundwork for improved design and operation of U.S. drinking water and sewage treatment plants.
Over the next 20 years, scientists at the PHS station established criteria for determining the safety of streams and lakes as public drinking water sources, established pollution control requirements for the entire Ohio River system, and identified protections for fish and aquatic life habitats.
The War Years and Beyond
During World War II, the station's research staff made important contributions to the war effort, including the treatment and disposal of munitions and the testing of the effects of munitions waste in streams. They also studied the effects of military use of DDT for malarial control and developed water disinfection techniques for military field operations.
With the passage of the 1948 Water Pollution Act, the PHS station was renamed the Cincinnati Environmental Health Center and was moved into new state-of-the-art laboratories at the nearby Taft Sanitary Engineering Center. There, over the next 20 years, water specialists earned national and international recognition for their work in water pollution control and drinking water research.
During the 1950s, Taft microbiologists invented the Millipore filter and began pioneering studies in viral pollution. The emerging U.S. chemical and plastics industries that were expanding to serve a booming post-war economy posed new challenges for drinking water safety. Taft researchers sought to establish safe levels for chemicals in drinking water, along with methods for removing chemicals, bacteria and viruses from drinking water supplies. Traditional primary wastewater treatment was found to be inadequate, and new waste treatment technologies were developed to deal with the more complex waste streams threatening U.S. water resources. In 1962, new Drinking Water Standards, based on PHS research, were established to regulate 28 pathogens and chemical substances in all 50 states, a first for federal oversight.
The Public Takes Notice
By 1970, as the American public involvement in quality-of-life issues grew, the government had merged the environmental activities of more than a dozen federal agencies into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The new agency chose the Cincinnati area as the site of its primary water research programs, in part because of the area's historic accomplishments in that field. A new $28 million research laboratory, the EPA Environmental Research Center, was completed in 1975, following the passage of the landmark 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act. When EPA launched a multi-million dollar program of construction grants for new water treatment facilities to replace inadequate treatment plants, the Environmental Research Center researchers and engineers refined treatment methods to help communities meet new water safety standards.
Restoration and Protection
The growing sophistication of research tools in the 1980s, including innovative molecular tracking technologies, identified new levels of health risks from microbes and chemicals in drinking water supplies. Supported by ongoing research programs, EPA regulations sought to balance the risks from all sources.
EPA's Office of Research and Development is currently working with internal and external partners to enhance water research programs for the nation's future needs. The final directions will evolve from current themes now under review:
The ETV Program has verified the performance of 443 innovative environmental technologies that can be used to monitor, prevent, control, and clean up pollution. For a full list of ETV verifications, visit http://www.epa.gov/etv/verifiedtechnologies.html.
ETV centers issue periodic solicitations for vendors and collaborators interested in verification. For a list of active ETV vendor solicitations, please visit www.epa.gov/etv/vendorswanted.html, or contact the appropriate ETV center (see www.epa.gov/etv/contacts.html)..
As prepared for delivery.
Chairman Boxer, Ranking Member Inhofe, and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to discuss the safety of our nation's drinking water. Every day, across the country, Americans — in rural areas and in urban areas; in rich neighborhoods and in poor neighborhoods; in red states and in blue states, turn on their taps and expect safe water to drink.
The EPA — and the states that implement the nation's drinking water laws — are responsible for ensuring that our water is safe, which means addressing new and emerging threats from toxic chemicals that can get into drinking water and affect the health of the public, particularly our children.
Today, I'm pleased to announce that EPA will start plans for controlling toxic contamination of the chemical known as perchlorate in our drinking water. Perchlorate, as many on this committee know, is a toxic component of rocket fuel that can cause thyroid problems and may disrupt the normal growth and development of children in the womb. This decision, which has been years in the making, is about two things.
First and foremost, it is about protecting the health of between 5 and 17 million Americans that are exposed to perchlorate in the water that they drink. Second, this decision is about following the science. Perchlorate has been studied and reviewed for years. The science that has led to this decision has been peer reviewed by independent scientists, public health experts and many others.
The next step is to update our laws in a way that is sensible and practical for protecting the health of the American people. We must evaluate the feasibility and affordability of treatment technologies, and the costs and benefits of potential standards. And, of course, we must always make sure our approach is based on up-to-date, sound science.
We will also continue to make sure that we act as quickly as possible to protect our health from emerging threats in our drinking water, including from contaminants such as hexavalent chromium — or chromium-6, a toxic contaminant that is a well known human carcinogen when inhaled. Recent animal testing data have demonstrated carcinogenicity associated with ingesting chromium-6 in drinking water.
That discovery, along with a recent report by the Environmental Working Group that found elevated levels of chromium-6 in more than 30 public water systems has heightened public concern about the presence of chromium-6 in drinking water. While this report was a "snapshot in time," it is consistent with other studies that have also detected chromium-6 in public water systems.
As with perchlorate, science will guide all of our actions on chromium-6. We are working to finalize the human health assessment for this chemical. After an independent and external scientific peer review this spring, we expect to finalize the assessment by the end of the year. Based on the current draft assessment, it is likely that we will tighten our drinking water standards for this contaminant. However, let me be clear, we will wait for our human health assessment on chromium-6 to be finalized and have gone through peer review before we consider updating our regulation of this contaminant.
In the meantime, we have taken a series of steps to better understand this threat and protect the health of the American people.
First, EPA is working with state and local officials to better determine how widespread and prevalent this contaminant is in our nation's drinking water.
Second, we have provided guidance to all water systems nationwide on how to test for and sample drinking water for chromium-6. This guidance was released two weeks ago and provides recommendations on where the systems should collect samples and how often they should be collected, along with analytical methods for laboratory testing.
Finally, EPA is offering technical expertise and assistance to communities with the highest levels of chromium-6 in drinking water.
Finally, Madam Chairman, I'd like to give a brief update to the committee on where the agency is with our "Drinking Water Strategy," which I announced about a year ago. This strategy was designed to transform the agency so that we could use existing laws to achieve greater health protection more quickly, cost-effectively, and transparently. I am pleased to say that in the last year we have made a great deal of progress on this approach.
One key component of the new drinking water strategy is to address contaminants as groups rather than individually, as the agency has traditionally done. This new approach speeds up action on new and emerging threats to our drinking water. I am pleased to announce that EPA has selected the first group and will be working towards developing an update to the Safe Drinking Water Act to address up to 16 Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are chemicals such as industrial solvents, that may cause cancer.
Another component of the drinking water strategy is to work with businesses and universities and to promote economic growth and technology innovation. Two weeks ago, with the Small Business Administration, we announced the formation of a regional water technology innovation cluster — with local businesses, governments and universities — in the Greater Cincinnati area. The cluster will not only assist in developing technology safe guards for drinking water and the protection of public health, but it will also encourage sustainable economic development, and create jobs.
In closing, Madam Chairman, clean and safe water is the foundation of healthy communities, healthy families, and healthy economies. And clean and safe water is not a luxury or a privilege — it is a right of all Americans. I look forward to working with this committee to make sure that right is always protected. I welcome any questions you may have.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that it will accept public input on whether to include vapor intrusion threats as a component for including hazardous waste sites on the National Priorities List of Superfund sites. Superfund sites are the most polluted, complex, uncontrolled or abandoned sites in the United States and are eligible for federal cleanup funding to protect the people's health.
Vapor intrusion describes the migration of volatile chemicals from contaminated groundwater or soil into the atmosphere, and is a particular concern if vapors enter an overlying building.
EPA is accepting public feedback on seven specific topics related to the potential revisions to the Hazard Ranking System (HRS), which is used to evaluate sites for the Superfund list, for 75 days. The agency will consider information gathered during the comment period, as well as input from three public listening sessions before making a decision on whether to issue a proposed rulemaking to add a vapor intrusion component to the HRS.
EPA will host its first public listening session at its Arlington, Va. office on February 11, 2011. Two additional listening sessions will be held in San Francisco, Calif. and Albuquerque, N.M. EPA will post dates, times and addresses for the listening sessions on its Superfund webpage.
More information on EPA listening sessions and the potential change to the HRS: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/hrsaddition.htm
More information on vapor intrusion: http://www.epa.gov/oswer/vaporintrusion/
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting grant applications for $1.2 million in funding to support projects designed to research, educate, empower and enable communities to understand and address local health and environmental issues. Eligible applicants from non-profit, faith-based and tribal organizations working in the community of the proposed project are encouraged to apply.
Environmental Justice Small Grants funding is available for two categories of projects:
Environmental contamination can lead to costly health risks and can discourage investments and development in low-income, minority, and indigenous communities disproportionately impacted by pollution. Understanding the impacts of multiple environmental risks can help communities develop more effective solutions to their environmental and health concerns.
More information on eligibility and how to apply: http://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/resources/publications/grants/ej-smgrants-rfp-2011.pdf
More information on the Environmental Justice Small Grant program: http://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/grants/ej-smgrants.html
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Karen Mills recently traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio to announce a new collaborative effort called the Water Technology Innovation Cluster (WTIC). The WTIC will develop and commercialize innovative technologies to solve environmental and public health challenges, encourage sustainable economic development, and create jobs. As a starting point, WTIC will focus on technologies in the states of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana that will help protect the health of millions of Americans by developing state of the art safeguards for clean water.
This region is home to many small firms ready to seize the opportunities presented by the WTIC. Small businesses are the engine of growth for the economy and they develop the cutting-edge products and services we need to stay competitive on a global scale. By bringing them together with public utilities, research partners, and others, their ideas will have greater opportunities to move from the drawing board to the marketplace.
"Protecting America's waters is one of EPA's top priorities, and we have called for innovative strategies and technology to meet our nation's 21st century water needs. By bringing together public utilities, research partners and innovative businesses, the Water Technology Innovation Cluster will be instrumental in strengthening health protections for millions of Americans and promoting investments in cutting-edge technology," EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. "This cluster will benefit from the region's abundance of cutting-edge companies. Investments made here will encourage continued growth, while positioning our nation to lead the way in a new market of environmental technologies."
"All across America, innovative small businesses are creating jobs and rebuilding the economy. The Water Technology Innovation Cluster will lead to new opportunities for entrepreneurs throughout the greater Cincinnati area," said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. "This public-private partnership will not only improve public health, but also help keep us competitive around the world by allowing small businesses to invest in new ideas."
A regional technology cluster is a geographic concentration of interconnected firms — businesses, suppliers, service providers — and supporting institutions such as local government, business chambers, universities, investors, and others that work together in an organized manner to promote economic growth and technological innovation.
EPA has invested $5 million to conduct key studies of the environmental technology market place for drinking water, acquire the services of a cluster consultant, and conduct technology and knowledge mapping of the region to gauge its strengths. WTIC will develop, test, and market innovative processes and technologies including those that:
Based on the history of EPA's laboratory in Cincinnati on water research, Administrator Jackson selected this region to launch federal support of WTIC. Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana have a strong history of water research and water technology innovation. A large portion of the jobs created will be based in the region to assist with research and development as needed. By bringing the small businesses together with public utilities, research partners, and others, the technologies will have a greater opportunity to move from the drawing board to the marketplace. WTIC and the region intend to use these assets as a platform for building a technology-driven economy that enhances environmental policy development, and helps protect human health and the environment at the regional, national, and international level.
At present, WTIC steering committee is the only formal cluster entity leading the planning and development. The steering committee is currently developing a framework and operating structure that will guide WTIC's make up and operating processes. The intention is for WTIC to flourish under its own power, with EPA as one of many participants collaborating to develop technologies to solve environmental challenges.
More information on WTIC: http://www.epa.gov/wtic/faqs.html
More information on rain gardens: http://www.epa.gov/ednnrmrl/publications/factsheets/RainGardens_Brief.pdf
Recently a federal District Court judge in Washington D.C. issued an order extending by 30 days EPA's deadline to issue emission standards for large and small boilers and solid waste and sewage sludge incinerators. EPA is disappointed that the extension was not longer. However, the agency will work diligently to issue these standards by this new deadline.
The standards will be significantly different than what EPA proposed in April 2010. The agency believes these changes still deserve further public review and comment and expects to solicit further comment through a reconsideration of the rules. Through the reconsideration process, EPA intends to ensure that the rules will be practical to implement and will protect all Americans from dangerous pollutants such as mercury and soot, which can damage children's developing brains, aggravate asthma and cause heart attacks. The agency is considering all other options for addressing these issues before the rules would become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
EPA received more than 4,800 comments and additional data during the public comment period for these rules. This information shed new light on a number of key areas, including the scope and coverage of the rules and the way to categorize the various boiler types. Given the extensive comments, EPA filed a motion with the court asking for more time to fully evaluate all the comments and data and finalize the rules.
More information: http://www.epa.gov/airquality/combustion
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing its plan to defer, for three years, greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting requirements for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from biomass-fired and other biogenic sources. The agency intends to use this time to seek further independent scientific analysis of this complex issue and then to develop a rulemaking on how these emissions should be treated in determining whether a Clean Air Act permit is required.
"We are working to find a way forward that is scientifically sound and manageable for both producers and consumers of biomass energy. In the coming years we will develop a commonsense approach that protects our environment and encourages the use of clean energy," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "Renewable, homegrown power sources are essential to our energy future, and an important step to cutting the pollution responsible for climate change."
By July 2011, EPA plans to complete a rulemaking that will defer permitting requirements for CO2 emissions from biomass-fired and other biogenic sources for three years. During the three-year period, the agency will seek input on critical scientific issues from its partners within the federal government and from outside scientists who have relevant expertise. EPA will also further consider the more than 7,000 comments it received from its July 2010 Call for Information, including comments noting that burning certain types of biomass may emit the same amount of CO2 emissions that would be emitted if they were not burned as fuel, while others may result in a net increase in CO2 emissions. Before the end of the three-year period, the agency intends to issue a second rulemaking that determines how these emissions should be treated or counted under GHG permitting requirements.
The agency will also issue guidance shortly that will provide a basis that state or local permitting authorities may use to conclude that the use of biomass as fuel is the best available control technology for GHG emissions until the agency can complete action on the three-year deferral in July.
In a separate but related letter, EPA is notifying the National Alliance of Forest Owners that it will grant its petition to reconsider the portion of the May 2010 tailoring rule that addresses the same issue.
CO2 emissions from biomass-fired and other biogenic sources are generated during the combustion or decomposition of biologically based material. Sources covered by this decision would include facilities that emit CO2 as a result of burning forest or agricultural products for energy, wastewater treatment and livestock management facilities, landfills and fermentation processes for ethanol production.
On January 2, 2011, air permitting requirements began for large GHG emitting industries that are planning to build new facilities or make major modifications to existing ones. These facilities must obtain air permits and implement energy efficiency measures or, where available, cost-effective technology to reduce their GHG emissions. This includes the nation's largest GHG emitters, such as power plants and refineries. Emissions from small sources, such as farms and restaurants, are not covered by these GHG permitting requirements.
More information: http://www.epa.gov/nsr
After extensive scientific study, a major public hearing in West Virginia and review of more than 50,000 public comments, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it will use its authority under the Clean Water Act to halt the proposed disposal of mining waste in streams at the Mingo-Logan Coal Company's Spruce No. 1 coal mine. EPA is acting under the law and using the best science to protect water quality, wildlife and Appalachian communities, who rely on clean waters for drinking, fishing and swimming. EPA has used this Clean Water Act authority in just 12 circumstances since 1972 and reserves this authority for only unacceptable cases. This permit was first proposed in the 1990s and has been held up in the courts ever since.
"The proposed Spruce No. 1 Mine would use destructive and unsustainable mining practices that jeopardize the health of Appalachian communities and clean water on which they depend," said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Peter S. Silva. "Coal and coal mining are part of our nation's energy future and EPA has worked with companies to design mining operations that adequately protect our nation's waters. We have a responsibility under the law to protect water quality and safeguard the people who rely on clean water."
EPA's final determination on the Spruce Mine comes after discussions with the company spanning more than a year failed to produce an agreement that would lead to a significant decrease in impacts to the environment and Appalachian communities. The action prevents the mine from disposing of the waste into streams unless the company identifies an alternative mining design that would avoid irreversible damage to water quality and meets the requirements of the law. Despite EPA's willingness to consider alternatives, Mingo Logan did not offer any new proposed mining configurations in response to EPA's Recommended Determination.
EPA believes that companies can design their operations to make them more sustainable and compliant with the law. Last year, EPA worked closely with a mining company in West Virginia to eliminate nearly 50 percent of their water impacts and reduce contamination while at the same time increasing their coal production. These are the kinds of success stories that can be achieved through collaboration and willingness to reduce the impact on mining pollution on our waters. Those changes helped permanently protect local waters, maximize coal recovery and reduce costs for the operators.
EPA's decision to stop mining waste discharges to high quality streams at the Spruce No. 1 mine was based on several major environmental and water quality concerns. The proposed mine project would have:
Finally, EPA's decision prohibits five proposed valley fills in two streams, Pigeonroost Branch, and Oldhouse Branch, and their tributaries. Mining activities at the Spruce site are underway in Seng Camp Creek as a result of a prior agreement reached in the active litigation with the Mingo Logan Coal Company. EPA's Final Determination does not affect current mining in Seng Camp Creek.
Background on Clean Water Act Section 404(c)
Clean Water Act Section 404(c) authorizes EPA to restrict or prohibit placing dredged or fill material in streams, lakes, rivers, wetlands and other waters if the agency determines that the activities would result in "unacceptable adverse effects" to the environment, water quality, or water supplies. This authority applies to proposed projects as well as projects previously permitted under the Clean Water Act although EPA is not considering such action for other previously permitted projects.
With today's action, EPA has exercised its Section 404(c) authority only 13 times in its history of the CWA. EPA recognizes the importance of ensuring that its Section 404(c) actions are taken only where environmental impacts are truly unacceptable and will use this authority only where warranted by science and the law.
For a copy of the Final Determination:
Welcome to Water Online's review of the latest U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, resources, and activities related to the water, wastewater, and stormwater industries. EPA offices and programs covered in this installment are listed below. Click on an office or program name to go directly to that section of the article.
Office of Water (OW)
EPA To Develop Regulation For Perchlorate And Toxic Chemicals In Drinking Water
EPA Seeks Applications For Environmental Community Grants
EPA Releases WaterSense Revised Draft Specification For Weather-Based Irrigation Controllers
EPA Grants Continue To Protect Beachgoers
National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL)
Safe Drinking Water Technology — A Century of Innovation
This wide-ranging mission is the natural outgrowth of the water safety research that had its beginnings a century ago. The efforts of research pioneers and visionaries over the years have set the scientific standards for the passage of legislation that continues to improve water safety for humans and the environment everywhere.
Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Program
ETV Verified Technologies
Upcoming Conferences and Meetings
For more information on the ETV, visit www.epa.gov/etv.
Other EPA News
Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Testimony Before The U.S. Senate Committee On Environment And Public Works
EPA Solicits Public Input On Using Vapor Intrusion Threats As Criteria For Superfund Sites
More information on the HRS: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/programs/npl_hrs/hrsint.htm
EPA Seeks Applicants For $1.2 Million In Environmental Justice Grants To Address Local Health And Environmental Issues
Environmental justice means the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race or income, in the environmental decision-making process. Environmental justice issues often involve multiple sources of contamination, like pollution from several industrial facilities within one neighborhood, environmental hazards at the workplace or home, or contamination resulting from the consumption of fish or other subsistence food.
Administrator Jackson, SBA Administrator Mills Announce Launch Of Water Technology Innovation Cluster
In addition, WTIC will move forward with the development of green infrastructure, including rain gardens. The rain gardens will be designed to receive stormwater runoff from roads, roofs, and parking lots. The rain gardens' sandy soils allow stormwater to gain access to the native soils below and eventually contribute to groundwater recharge. Pollutants and nutrients in stormwater runoff are removed by rain garden vegetation and soils through biological and physical processes.
EPA Announces Next Steps On Emissions Standards For Boilers, Certain Incinerators
EPA To Defer GHG Permitting Requirements For Industries That Use Biomass
EPA Halts Disposal Of Mining Waste To Appalachian Waters At Proposed Spruce Mine
Additionally, during the permitting process there was a failure to consider cumulative watershed degradation resulting from past, present, and future mining in the area.