EPA Air

Biden-Harris Administration announces nearly $83 million in funding to expand air quality monitoring across the nation as part of Investing in America agenda

Fri, 02/16/2024 - 19:00

BOSTON (Feb. 16, 2024) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the availability of $81 million in funding for eligible air agencies to expand and upgrade the nation's air quality monitoring networks as part of President Biden's Investing in America agenda. The investment, made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act, will enhance and extend air monitoring in and near communities. The funding will support the work of eligible state, local, Tribal and territorial air agencies in addressing air pollution, including monitoring near fenceline communities, developing and refining air toxics monitoring methods, and ensuring cleaner air for all.

In addition, EPA is also making approximately $2 million in funding available to support state, local, territorial, and Tribal agencies in the deployment and operation of air quality sensors in low-income and disadvantaged communities across the United States. This historic amount of funding for air quality sensors and air monitoring delivers on President Biden's Justice40 Initiative by helping to detect air pollution in communities that often bear the unequal health burden of legacy pollution, and better monitor and track pollution. Together, these investments will provide critical resources to ensure the sustainability of national air quality monitoring networks, helping protect human health and the environment and ensuring Americans are breathing cleaner air.

"Reliable ambient air quality monitoring is a critical component of protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects of air pollution," said Joseph Goffman, Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "With these investments in America, EPA is making good on the Biden-Harris Administration's commitment to making sure state, local, Tribal and territorial air agencies have the tools they need to implement effective pollution reduction strategies."

"Every person, every child, has a right to clean air, no matter where they live; and expanding and upgrading air monitoring systems is another step toward making that a reality," said EPA Regional Administrator David W. Cash. "These investments equip our state and tribal partners with much needed resources to know when levels of pollutants, like ozone or particle pollution, become unsafe for local communities. In addition to helping to maintain these networks, this funding can help establish new monitoring sites, especially in areas that are low-income or historically disadvantaged. The data provided by these networks is key to helping us make informed decisions about how to protect human health and the environment."

State, local, Tribal and territorial agencies have primary responsibility for operating and maintaining ambient air monitoring sites, including monitors that measure ground-level ozone, particle pollution, and air toxics. They are also responsible for mitigating, regulating, and enforcing regulations on sources of air emissions. Additionally, air agencies are typically the primary points of contact for people and organizations with questions and concerns regarding air quality monitoring.

EPA encourages eligible entities to apply for funding as soon as possible and no later than April 8, 2024. Details about the application process are available on EPA's Air Quality and Air Quality Sensors Grants website.

Background

The funding EPA announced today is one piece of the overall Inflation Reduction Act approach to improving air monitoring across the country. This strategy to deliver cleaner air also includes the American Rescue Plan's Enhanced Air Monitoring for Communities grant competition, supplemented with Inflation Reduction Act funding, that EPA administered to help expand, improve, and modernize monitoring in more than 37 states. Combined with the diligent state, local, Tribal and territorial efforts and those of national air monitoring networks and community operated monitors, these funding streams will strengthen current air monitoring, deliver better data, and improve health outcomes across the nation.

Together, these programs are delivering on President Biden's Justice40 Initiative, which set a goal to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.

Find out more by visiting EPA's Air Grants and Funding webpage.

EPA Region 7 Announces $180K Funding Opportunity for Regional Source Reduction Assistance

Fri, 02/16/2024 - 19:00

LENEXA, KAN. (FEB. 16, 2024) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 is opening the FY 2024-2025 Regional Source Reduction Assistance Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). This regional competitive grant provides funding for projects that promote practical source reduction methods, tools, and training or pollution prevention (P2) approaches to measurably improve human and environmental health.

P2, as defined in the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, is any practice that reduces environmental releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants prior to entering a waste stream for recycling, treatment, or disposal. P2 conserves natural resources, including water and energy, by focusing industry, government, and public attention on reducing pollution through the implementation of cost-effective changes in production, operation, and the use of raw materials.

Eligible applicants include state, local, interstate, and intrastate government agencies and instrumentalities; federally recognized tribes; inter-tribal consortia; and nonprofit organizations formed under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All projects must take place within the geographic boundaries of EPA Region 7 (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and nine tribal nations).

EPA Region 7 anticipates awarding one to four awards, ranging from $40,000 to $180,000 with a total of up to $180,000 in federal funds. The number of awards is subject to the availability of funds, quality of applications received, and other applicable considerations. Additional information is available on www.grants.gov under the Funding Opportunity Announcement EPA-REGIONS-LCRD-2024-01. The application deadline is April 15, 2024.

Background

The United States produces billions of pounds of pollution each year and spends billions of dollars per year controlling this pollution. Preventing pollution at the source, also known as P2 or source reduction, rather than managing waste after it is produced is an important part of advancing a sustainable economic and environmental infrastructure. P2 can lessen exposure to toxic chemicals, conserve natural resources, and reduce financial costs for businesses, particularly costs associated with waste management, disposal, and cleanup. These practices are essential for protecting health; improving environmental conditions in and around disadvantaged communities; and preserving natural resources like wetlands, groundwater sources, and other critical ecosystems.

EPA’s P2 program is voluntary and encourages stakeholders to seek innovative ways to prevent pollution from entering waste streams through a competitive grant process and the provision of technical assistance to businesses. 

Learn more about P2.

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Biden-Harris Administration announces nearly $83 million in funding to expand air quality monitoring across the nation as part of Investing in America agenda

Fri, 02/16/2024 - 19:00

WASHINGTON – On Feb. 16, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the availability of $81 million in funding for eligible air agencies to expand and upgrade the nation’s air quality monitoring networks as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The investment, made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act, will enhance and extend air monitoring in and near communities. The funding will support the work of eligible state, local, Tribal and territorial air agencies in addressing air pollution, including monitoring near fenceline communities, developing and refining air toxics monitoring methods, and ensuring cleaner air for all.

In addition, EPA is also making approximately $2 million in funding available to support state, local, territorial, and Tribal agencies in the deployment and operation of air quality sensors in low-income and disadvantaged communities across the United States. This historic amount of funding for air quality sensors and air monitoring delivers on President Biden's Justice40 Initiative by helping to detect air pollution in communities that often bear the unequal health burden of legacy pollution, and better monitor and track pollution. Together, these investments will provide critical resources to ensure the sustainability of national air quality monitoring networks, helping protect human health and the environment and ensuring Americans are breathing cleaner air.

“Reliable ambient air quality monitoring is a critical component of protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects of air pollution,” said Joseph Goffman, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “With these investments in America, EPA is making good on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to making sure state, local, Tribal and territorial air agencies have the tools they need to implement effective pollution reduction strategies.”

State, local, Tribal and territorial agencies have primary responsibility for operating and maintaining ambient air monitoring sites, including monitors that measure ground-level ozone, particle pollution, and air toxics. They are also responsible for mitigating, regulating, and enforcing regulations on sources of air emissions. Additionally, air agencies are typically the primary points of contact for people and organizations with questions and concerns regarding air quality monitoring.

EPA encourages eligible entities to apply for funding as soon as possible and no later than April 8, 2024. Details about the application process are available on EPA’s Air Quality and Air Quality Sensors Grants website.

Background

The funding EPA announced today is one piece of the overall Inflation Reduction Act approach to improving air monitoring across the country. This strategy to deliver cleaner air also includes the American Rescue Plan’s Enhanced Air Monitoring for Communities grant competition, supplemented with Inflation Reduction Act funding, that EPA administered to help expand, improve, and modernize monitoring in more than 37 states. Combined with the diligent state, local, Tribal and territorial efforts and those of national air monitoring networks and community operated monitors, these funding streams will strengthen current air monitoring, deliver better data, and improve health outcomes across the nation.

Together, these programs are delivering on President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which set a goal to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.

Find out more by visiting EPA’s Air Grants and Funding webpage.  

EPA Proposes to Remove Part of Allied Paper Site from Superfund List

Fri, 02/16/2024 - 19:00

CHICAGO (February 16, 2024) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to delete a 6-acre portion of the Allied Paper, Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River site in Kalamazoo, Michigan, from the Superfund National Priorities List, the list of the most contaminated sites in the nation.  

The agency has determined that cleanup is complete in two areas within the former landfill known as Operable Unit 2: 

  • Area east of Davis Creek, and  
  • Non-easement portion of the area east of Davis Creek extension area, which excludes the sewer and the unfenced phone line easement portions of the area east of Davis Creek extension area. 

No further response action is necessary in these areas other than periodic inspection and maintenance of the restored banks and vegetation, continued monitoring and maintenance of the land and groundwater use restrictions, and five-year reviews. 

Historically, the Kalamazoo River was used as a power source and waste disposal site for the paper mills and the communities adjacent to the river. The portion of the site proposed for delisting includes a landfill that received waste such as carbonless copy paper contaminated with chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). In the early 1970s, PCBs were identified as a problem in the Kalamazoo River.  

In 1990, in response to the nature and extent of PCB contamination, the site was added to the NPL. Since then, EPA, working along with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, has cleaned up three of the six operable units, removed nearly 470,000 cubic yards of contaminated material from the site, cleaned up and restored about twelve miles of the Kalamazoo River and banks, and capped 82 acres worth of contaminated material.  

EPA’s comment period begins February 16, 2024, and closes March 18, 2024. The public can submit comments by: 

 
If you have questions about the Allied Paper, Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Site please contact EPA Community Involvement Coordinators, Diane Russell at 989-395-3494 or russell.diane@epa.gov, or Phil Gurley at 312-886-4448 or gurley.philip@epa.gov. You may also call EPA toll-free at 800-621-84631, 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., weekdays. 

Visit EPA’s website for more information. 

EPA Proposes to Remove Three of the Last Four Properties at the South Minneapolis Residential Soil Contamination Superfund Site from Superfund List

Fri, 02/16/2024 - 19:00

CHICAGO - (February 16, 2024) - Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposal to delete three of the remaining four properties that are part of the South Minneapolis Residential Soil Contamination Superfund site from the National Priorities List, a list of the most contaminated sites in the nation. Arsenic cleanup is complete at these three properties.    

The 1,480-acre site is near a former pesticide manufacturing plant. During plant operations, powder-like arsenic trioxide may have periodically blown into the Phillips, Longfellow and Powderhorn neighborhoods in south Minneapolis, which resulted in contaminated soils. EPA has previously completed investigation and/or soil cleanup of more than 3,600 residential properties in the area and deleted them from the NPL. The one remaining property was partially cleaned up but will remain on the list until the institutional controls are implemented.  

EPA’s comment period begins February 16,2024 through March 18, 2024. The public can submit comments by:  

For more information, please visit the South Minn. site website

Biden-Harris Administration expands EPA program to bring wastewater sanitation services to 150 more underserved communities across Rural America

Thu, 02/15/2024 - 19:00

RALEIGH N.C. (Feb. 15, 2024) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced  the expansion of its successful Closing America's Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative to 150  additional communities as part of President Biden’s Investing America agenda. Originally launched in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the pilot initiative has been assisting 11 communities since 2022. This program, along with historic funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will help thousands of Americans access the wastewater infrastructure they need to thrive to include North Carolina communities in Duplin and Halifax Counties.

“Many rural and low-income communities in the U.S. lack basic running water and indoor plumbing, and our Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Program has been instrumental in helping communities from White Hall, Alabama to McDowell County, West Virginia to the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona access Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to address this critical need,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “In expanding the program to 150 additional communities, we are working to restore dignity and opportunity to underserved communities nationwide.”

Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative

An estimated 2 million people in the U.S. live without adequate wastewater infrastructure and safe and reliable drinking water in their homes. Many more live with wastewater infrastructure that is ineffective and puts people’s health at risk. To date, the initiative has helped provide communities with no cost technical assistance that helps identify affordable options accessing wastewater infrastructure. For example, technical assistance providers help the community conduct assessments of the community’s specific needs and submit applications for wastewater funding. So far progress for the 11 pilot communities includes seven funding awards and 10 additional funding applications submissions.  All 11 communities have drafted community solution plans, which are in the process of being finalized, and will be posted to EPA’s Closing America's Wastewater Access Gap webpage in the early spring. 

In Duplin County, two communities, Calico Bay Road (approximately 80 homes) and East Log Cabin Road (approximately 15 homes) have a history of failing septic systems. Duplin County submitted two USDA SEARCH grant applications to fund Preliminary Engineering Reports for these two communities, with an award expected by the end of February. The pilot project team identified three potential wastewater treatment options for each community and presented options to the Towns of Teachey and Wallace at their board meetings. Both towns agreed to provide sewer services as a potential wastewater solution.

Halifax County received a $149,520 USDA SEARCH grant award to fund an updated Preliminary Engineering Report and provide Environmental Information Documents to help the Meadows Sewer District, which is a three-mile radius area in Halifax County that includes a large population of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe. Many homes in the district have failing septic systems. After completion of the Preliminary Engineering Report, the Tribe and County will reconvene with the community to discuss options, costs, and a pathway to moving forward. The pilot project team proposed a community cluster system with a phased approach for the densely populated areas and septic system upgrades for sparsely populated areas. A sewer extension to nearby towns is also being considered. The pilot project team facilitated an in-person meeting between the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe, Halifax County, and state funding representatives for the first time to discuss roles for moving the project forward.

Interested communities can request assistance by completing the WaterTA request form.  

Communities will be selected on a rolling basis; there is no deadline to apply. For questions, email  SepticHelp@epa.gov.

Learn more about EPA’s WaterTA services and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s historic $50 billion investment in America.

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Biden-Harris Administration expands EPA program to bring wastewater sanitation services to 150 more underserved communities across Rural America

Thu, 02/15/2024 - 19:00

JACKSON, Miss. (Feb. 15, 2024) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the expansion of its successful Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative to 150 additional communities as part of President Biden’s Investing America agenda. Originally launched in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the pilot initiative has been assisting 11 communities since 2022. This program, along with historic funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will help thousands of Americans access the wastewater infrastructure they need to thrive to include Bolivar County, Miss.

“Many rural and low-income communities in the U.S. lack basic running water and indoor plumbing, and our Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Program has been instrumental in helping communities from White Hall, Alabama to McDowell County, West Virginia to the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona access Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to address this critical need,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “In expanding the program to 150 additional communities, we are working to restore dignity and opportunity to underserved communities nationwide.”

Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative

An estimated 2 million people in the U.S. live without adequate wastewater infrastructure and safe and reliable drinking water in their homes. Many more live with wastewater infrastructure that is ineffective and puts people’s health at risk. To date, the initiative has helped provide communities with no cost technical assistance that helps identify affordable options accessing wastewater infrastructure. For example, technical assistance providers help the community conduct assessments of the community’s specific needs and submit applications for wastewater funding. So far progress for the 11 pilot communities includes seven funding awards and 10 additional funding applications submissions.  All 11 communities have drafted community solution plans, which are in the process of being finalized, and will be posted to EPA’s Closing America's Wastewater Access Gap webpage in the early spring.

Bolivar County, Miss, Project

  • Mound Bayou’s town engineer is finalizing a facility plan for the MS CWSRF funding application by the state’s February 2024 deadline. The facility plan is the next step in the MS CWSRF process for funding a project and will include the proposed sewer extension project from Mound Bayou to the residents of Dunlap.
  • Dunlap is a community with 34 homes in Mound Bayou, the majority of which have failed or unpermitted onsite systems. Mound Bayou currently serves water to Dunlap and has agreed to extend sewer services to this area.
  • Extensive public outreach and meetings resulted in Mound Bayou agreeing to be the funding applicant for the sewer expansion project.
  • The sewer project has been listed in Mississippi’s 2023 Water Pollution Control Revolving Loan Fund Program Intended Use Plan. The estimated project cost is $2 to $3 million.

Interested communities can request assistance by completing the WaterTA request form.  

Communities will be selected on a rolling basis; there is no deadline to apply. For questions, email  SepticHelp@epa.gov.

Learn more about EPA’s WaterTA services and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s historic $50 billion investment in America.

Biden-Harris Administration expands EPA program to bring wastewater sanitation services to 150 more underserved communities across Rural America

Thu, 02/15/2024 - 19:00

Contact: EPA Region 4 Press Office - (404) 562-8400, region4press@epa.gov

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Feb. 15, 2024) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the expansion of its successful Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative to 150 additional communities as part of President Biden’s Investing America agenda. Originally launched in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the pilot initiative has been assisting 11 communities since 2022. This program, along with historic funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will help thousands of Americans access the wastewater infrastructure they need to thrive to include two Alabama communities - Greene County and Lowndes County.

“Many rural and low-income communities in the U.S. lack basic running water and indoor plumbing, and our Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Program has been instrumental in helping communities from White Hall, Alabama to McDowell County, West Virginia to the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona access Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to address this critical need,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “In expanding the program to 150 additional communities, we are working to restore dignity and opportunity to underserved communities nationwide.”

“Access to adequate wastewater infrastructure is a basic human right. Unfortunately, too many Alabamians in the Black Belt have suffered from generations of disinvestment in basic water infrastructure,” said Rep. Terri A. Sewell (AL-07). “Today’s announced expansion of the Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative is an important step toward correcting this injustice. I want to thank the Biden Administration and Administrator Michael S. Regan for expanding this program so that more rural and underserved communities can receive the wastewater infrastructure that every American deserves.”

Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative

An estimated 2 million people in the U.S. live without adequate wastewater infrastructure and safe and reliable drinking water in their homes. Many more live with wastewater infrastructure that is ineffective and puts people’s health at risk. To date, the initiative has helped provide communities with no cost technical assistance that helps identify affordable options accessing wastewater infrastructure. For example, technical assistance providers help the community conduct assessments of the community’s specific needs and submit applications for wastewater funding. So far progress for the 11 pilot communities includes seven funding awards and 10 additional funding applications submissions.  All 11 communities have drafted community solution plans, which are in the process of being finalized, and will be posted to EPA’s Closing America's Wastewater Access Gap webpage in the early spring. 

In Lowndes County, Alabama, children and families are exposed to raw sewage at the place that should be safest – their own homes. Yards regularly flood with sewage from straight pipes or from broken pipes that clog when it rains. However, with the help of EPA’s technical assistance, known as “WaterTA,” the community of White Hall successfully applied for federal funding and received $450,000 to help accelerate their wastewater infrastructure goals.

Greene County, located in west central Alabama, is bordered by three major rivers and has two major transportation highways that cross the county. Like much of the Black Belt of Alabama, the fertile clay soils are not conducive to traditional septic drainfields causing challenges with sanitation. The lack of adequate wastewater treatment infrastructure in Greene County has created challenging health and economic conditions including concern for contamination of the groundwater aquifer. Wastewater treatment options under consideration include onsite septic, community treatment systems and central sewer and treatment. Greene County has been awarded $706,933 in funding from ADEM and $70,000 in funding from USDA through a PPG grant/match.

Interested communities can request assistance by completing the WaterTA request form.  

Communities will be selected on a rolling basis; there is no deadline to apply. For questions, email  SepticHelp@epa.gov.

Learn more about EPA’s WaterTA services and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s historic $50 billion investment in America.

EPA releases 2023 power plant emissions data

Thu, 02/15/2024 - 19:00

WASHINGTON – This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its annual data on 2023 emissions from power plants in the lower 48 states. Nationwide, emissions for 2023 show the most significant emissions reductions since 2020. Emission drops resulted primarily from changes in the mix of fossil fuel-fired generation and improved efficiency.

“This snapshot of progress over the past year shows we are moving in the right direction, but more progress is needed,” said Joseph Goffman, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “President Biden is committed to building a clean energy future, and EPA will continue to work with state, Tribal and local leaders, in addition to major players in the power sector, to build on our progress and protect public health.”

Data from 2023 show an 18% decrease in coal generation and an 8% increase in natural gas generation from 2022. From 2022-2023, emission rates at coal facilities for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides improved by 7% and 3%, respectively. Roughly half of this improvement resulted from units more effectively operating their existing controls and half resulted from increased utilization of more highly controlled units.

Compared to 2022, the 2023 data show a 15% decrease in NOX emissions, a 24% decrease in SO2 emissions, a 7% decrease in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and a 17% decrease in mercury emissions. Additionally, ozone season (May 1 to September 30) NOX emissions decreased by 9% nationwide and 18% for the 10 states implementing the Good Neighbor Plan.

Between 1990 and 2023, annual emissions of SO2 from power plants fell by 96% and annual emissions of NOX from power plants fell by 90%. In 2023, sources in both the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule annual program and the Acid Rain Program together emitted 0.65 million tons of SO2, a reduction of 11.2 million tons from 1995 levels. Additionally in 2023, sources in these programs together emitted 0.64 million tons of NOx, a 5.2-million-ton reduction from 1995 levels. While complying with programs to reduce SO2, NOx, and mercury, power plants reduced their CO2 emissions by 28% between 1995 and 2023.

These long-term declines in power sector emissions reduce air pollution and protect public health. NOX and SO2 emissions contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone and particulate matter, which can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Exposure to mercury, a potent neurotoxin, can adversely affect growing brains and nervous systems in infants and children, as well as affect the central nervous system and cardiovascular function of adults.

EPA collects detailed SO2, NOX, CO2, and mercury emission data and other information from power plants across the country as part of the Acid Rain Program, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule Programs, and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Emissions data collected through these programs are posted online and accessible to the public in summary form on the Emissions Comparisons page. More information about power plants is available on EPA’s Power Sector Programs website.

Biden-Harris Administration expands EPA program to bring wastewater sanitation services to 150 more underserved communities across Rural America

Thu, 02/15/2024 - 19:00

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 15, 2024) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the expansion of its successful Closing America's Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative to 150 additional communities  as part of President Biden’s Investing America agenda. Originally launched in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the pilot initiative has been assisting 11 communities since 2022. This program, along with historic funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will help thousands of Americans access the wastewater infrastructure they need to thrive to include Harlan County, Ky.

“Many rural and low-income communities in the U.S. lack basic running water and indoor plumbing, and our Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Program has been instrumental in helping communities from White Hall, Alabama to McDowell County, West Virginia to the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona access Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to address this critical need,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “In expanding the program to 150 additional communities, we are working to restore dignity and opportunity to underserved communities nationwide.”

Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative

An estimated 2 million people in the U.S. live without adequate wastewater infrastructure and safe and reliable drinking water in their homes. Many more live with wastewater infrastructure that is ineffective and puts people’s health at risk. To date, the initiative has helped provide communities with no cost technical assistance that helps identify affordable options accessing wastewater infrastructure. For example, technical assistance providers help the community conduct assessments of the community’s specific needs and submit applications for wastewater funding. So far progress for the 11 pilot communities includes seven funding awards and 10 additional funding applications submissions.  All 11 communities have drafted community solution plans, which are in the process of being finalized, and will be posted to EPA’s Closing America's Wastewater Access Gap webpage in the early spring.

Harlan County, Kentucky, Projects

  • The cities of Cumberland, Benham, and Lynch are discussing options to address compliance issues and are coordinating with Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet on next steps. Technical assistance providers continue to support the three cities with conducting rate studies and assessing wastewater system challenges, such as infiltration and inflow.
  • The three cities of Cumberland, Benham, and Lynch share common city boundaries and are in need of long-term solutions to address numerous issues and violations with sewage collection systems and wastewater treatment plants. The pilot initiative explored many options to address these issues, including shared services and development of a new wastewater entity.
  • The pilot initiative helped facilitate community engagement between all three cities. The events experienced good public participation and engagement.
  • Each city is assessing options and has started to address infiltration and inflow issues with assistance from technical assistance providers.

Interested communities can request assistance by completing the WaterTA request form.  

Communities will be selected on a rolling basis; there is no deadline to apply. For questions, email  SepticHelp@epa.gov.

Learn more about EPA’s WaterTA services and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s historic $50 billion investment in America.

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EPA Air Permit Advances New York Offshore Wind Farm Project

Thu, 02/15/2024 - 19:00

NEW YORK – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Clean Air Act permit for Empire Offshore Wind LLC. The offshore wind farm will be in federal waters on the Outer Continental Shelf about 12 nautical miles (13.8 miles) south of Long Island, NY and 17 nautical miles (19.6 miles) east of Long Branch, NJ. To ensure transparency, EPA sought and received public comment before the permit was finalized. 

"EPA is happy to partner with New York state in leading the way to a clean energy future. When built, this project is expected to generate more than 2,000 megawatts of electrical power for New York State – enough to power as many as a million homes,” said Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “This project is part of a larger effort by the Biden Administration to invest in America and generate 30 gigawatts of clean, abundant energy from offshore wind by 2030." 

The Empire Wind project for which EPA has issued a permit, will include up to 147 offshore wind turbines, two offshore substations, and the associated cables needed to transport the electricity. There will also be onshore components associated with the Empire Wind project that are not addressed in the air permit being issued today. Onshore components are being addressed in separate federal, state, and local permitting or government processes. Offshore construction is anticipated to begin in 2024 and be completed within four years.

Before issuing a permit, EPA conducted an air quality analysis that showed the main air quality impacts of the project will occur during construction and will be offshore over the water area around the project. The air quality analysis also showed that the impacts on air quality from the construction and operation of the project will not cause or contribute to a violation of federal air quality standards. EPA's approval is in concert with other federal approvals and actions for the project, including the issuance of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's Record of Decision.

An electronic copy of the permit, fact sheet, and supporting materials will be available on EPA's website at Clean Air Act Permits Issues By EPA Region 2

Follow EPA Region 2 on X and visit our Facebook page. For more information about EPA, visit EPA Region 2.

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EPA hosts “roadshow” in San Bernadino to help communities access historic Investing in America funding

Thu, 02/15/2024 - 19:00

SAN FRANCISCO, CA –  As part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Community, Equity & Resiliency initiative, EPA Pacific Southwest Region will host an in-person Regional Roadshow tomorrow, February 16, in San Bernardino, California. This initiative will help communities nationwide navigate EPA’s new Inflation Reduction Act investments and other funding opportunities made possible by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. These regional events – the first held recently in New York -- provide community leaders with unique opportunities to engage with their peers, develop or leverage community-based partnerships, and learn how to effectively access funding and technical assistance to implement local climate and environmental justice solutions.  

“The Inland Empire has some of the highest levels of air pollution in the country, and residents of San Bernardino deserve equal access to resources delivered by the Biden Administration in the historic Inflation Reduction Act,” said U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler. “The EPA’s regional events are critical to helping historically underserved communities navigate the federal grants and opportunities available to them.”

“Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, we are making historic investments to combat climate change and pollution that will benefit underserved communities who face disproportionate climate impacts,” said U.S. Senator Padilla. “California has led the way in implementing community-based climate initiatives, and the Regional Roadshow is an innovative solution to help these communities access crucial new funding opportunities.”

“I am proud of our work to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest investment in our nation’s history to combat climate change,” said U.S. Representative Pete Aguilar (D-33). “But we know that tackling this crisis requires collaboration between all levels of government and community stakeholders, which is why I am thankful for the EPA for providing a space to discuss our region’s climate priorities and promote community-driven partnerships.”

“I applaud the EPA for their efforts to ensure that no community is forgotten as it pushes out its Inflation Reduction Act investment program,” shared Assemblymember James C. Ramos (AD-45). “It is heartening to see that this EPA initiative seeks to help communities develop partnerships and empower local regions to ask for what they need instead of being told what they need as this opportunity for new resources and jobs is presented.” 

"EPA is committed to ensuring that the unprecedented investments from President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act reach those most impacted by climate and environmental harms," said Region 9 EPA Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. "We are proud to be hosting here in California the EPA’s second Community, Equity & Resiliency roadshow, which represents the next stage of our work to make sure that communities historically excluded from federal funding opportunities will now have the resources, information, and support they need."

Through this initiative, EPA is providing spaces for communities to develop new or deeper partnerships. Regional Roadshow attendees will learn about historic funding and technical assistance through programming especially designed to benefit overburdened communities. These events will help them better seek and obtain the resources needed to confront the climate crisis and advance environmental justice locally. 

Discover more about the Regional Roadshow event in San Bernardino, California.

Upcoming Regional Roadshow Events and Community, Equity & Resiliency Resources 

To learn more about the Community, Equity & Resiliency initiative, watch the Virtual Open House panel discussions and fireside chats, access resources to help communities, and register for upcoming events, visit EPA’s Community, Equity & Resiliency webpage.

Learn more about EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. Connect with us on Facebook and X.

Excavation efforts mark new milestone in Hidden Lane Landfill Superfund remediation

Thu, 02/15/2024 - 19:00

PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 15, 2024) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will begin excavation and off-site disposal of the trichloroethylene (TCE) source area next week as part of a remediation phase at the Hidden Lane Landfill Superfund site in Sterling, Virginia.

The excavation, scheduled to start Feb. 20, is the first phase in removing the TCE source area and marks a significant milestone in EPA’s efforts to restore the contaminated site and deliver on the agency’s commitment to protect human health and the environment.

"We're thrilled to begin this next step in the remediation process and bring this site one step closer to being a clean and safe asset for the community," said EPA Mid-Atlantic Region Superfund and Emergency Management Division Director Paul Leonard. "This advancement reflects the hard work and determination of our EPA teammates and our valuable partners' commitment to environmental stewardship. This milestone demonstrates the strength of collaboration and a whole-of-government approach to protect our communities and leave a lasting impact for future generations."  

EPA has partnered with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) throughout the investigation and remedy selection process. EPA will continue to oversee the activities and coordinate with local and state agencies to minimize short-term impacts on the community and ensure that environmental and work safety standards are met for a successful and safe cleanup effort.

The excavation phase is expected to be completed later this year.

The Hidden Lane Superfund site is one of many nationwide to receive funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which invested $3.5 billion in environmental remediation at Superfund sites on the National Priorities List.

BIL funding will also connect a public waterline to more than 100 properties for safe drinking water in the nearby Broad Runs Farm community. Construction on the waterline is projected to begin later this year. 

Once the excavation phase is complete, EPA will advance to the next phase, which includes using a below-ground treatment technology known as in-situ bioremediation and chemical reduction of the source material in groundwater. 

EPA will continue to host public meetings to provide updates on the cleanup process and address any questions or concerns from the public. 

Community members are encouraged to email r3-hidden.lane@epa.gov with any questions or concerns that they may have regarding the Superfund site cleanup process. 

Visit the Hidden Lane Landfill Superfund site page for more information.

EPA seeks input on new program to label cleaner construction materials as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda

Thu, 02/15/2024 - 19:00

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an opportunity for public input on the draft approach for implementing a $100 million Label Program for Low Embodied Carbon Construction Materials as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.

EPA’s new program, which was made possible by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act – the largest-ever climate investment – aims to cut climate pollution linked to the manufacturing of construction products and materials, which accounts for 11% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions while supporting good-paying jobs and America’s industrial competitiveness. The improved air quality that results from climate pollution reduction aligns with President Biden’s environmental justice agenda.

As part of the Federal Buy Clean Initiative, the label program will help to define what constitutes “clean” construction materials in support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s landmark Federal Buy Clean Initiative, which leverages the Federal Government’s power as the world’s largest purchaser to spur demand for low-emissions manufacturing. The draft approach for the label program proposes to standardize and improve the data that manufacturers use in developing Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), which disclose products’ key environmental impacts. It also proposes a process by which EPA would use data from EPDs and other sources to set thresholds for the amount of embodied carbon a product can have, relative to similar products, to qualify for the low embodied carbon label. The final phase of the draft approach is for the program to certify materials and products and to create a central registry of certified products.

“President Biden is not only leading the transition to a clean energy future, but ensuring American workers and manufacturers are at the front of the pack,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff. “The Biden-Harris administration’s new label program will expand market access for lower embodied carbon construction materials and help federal purchasers prioritize these materials.”

“As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Federal Buy Clean Initiative, the federal government has begun procurement of over $4 billion in American-made low embodied carbon steel, concrete, asphalt, and glass for use in federal projects,” said Federal Chief Sustainability Officer Andrew Mayock, with the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “The Biden-Harris Administration is catalyzing markets for innovative and cleaner construction materials.”

“Reducing emissions from construction materials is critical for our transportation climate strategy. EPA’s work on creating a Carbon Label Program will support the Department of Transportation and our stakeholder efforts to promote the use of low carbon construction materials by increasing transparency and consistency for tracking environmental considerations,” said Ann Shikany, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Department of Transportation.

“GSA is pleased to be supporting this effort to increase transparency in low embodied carbon markets, including for the construction industry that we work with every day,” said Elliot Doomes, Commissioner of GSA's Public Buildings Service. “This is another key role for the federal government in helping develop a job-creating, American-made industrial base that drives sustainability and lowers costs for taxpayers.”

EPA developed the draft approach for the label program with input from stakeholders, including the Federal Highway Administration in the Department of Transportation, the General Services Administration, other federal agencies, and members of the public who responded to a Request for Information that EPA published last year.

Upon publication of the Federal Register notice, written comments should be submitted to docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2024-0038 on the government Regulations page by March 15, 2024. 

On Feb. 27, 2024, from noon – 1 p.m. ET, EPA will hold a webinar to solicit feedback on the draft approach. Register for the webinar.

Background:

President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act invests billions of dollars to reduce industrial emissions while supporting good union jobs, greater equity, and a strong manufacturing base, including $350 million to support EPA’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from construction materials. Today’s announcement follows EPA’s announcement of a $100 million funding opportunity for its Reducing Embodied Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Construction Materials program, which offers grants to help businesses develop EPDs to report climate pollution linked to the manufacturing of construction materials and products.

These actions support President Biden’s Buy Clean Initiative, which leverages the Federal Government’s power as the largest purchaser in the world to advance low embodied carbon construction materials in procurement and infrastructure projects. The Inflation Reduction Act also appropriated more than $2 billion to the General Services Administration to use low embodied carbon materials in the construction and renovation of federal buildings and $2 billion to the Federal Highway Administration to incentivize or reimburse the use of low embodied carbon construction materials in certain transportation projects. 

Learn more about these new programs funded by the Inflation Reduction Act.

EPA Begins Sewer Line Inspections and Drinking Water Sampling in Lahaina

Wed, 02/14/2024 - 19:00

Lahaina, Hawai'i – Starting the week of February 5th, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started work on Mission Assignment from FEMA to clear and inspect nearly 100,000 linear feet of sewer lines within Lahaina.

These inspections will allow the County of Maui to prioritize the emergency repairs needed to protect the wastewater treatment plant from excess infiltration of salt water through damaged sewer pipes. EPA is providing a 48-hour notice to residents where work is being completed via door hangers and flyers in Ilocano, Spanish, Tagalog, and English. Work is expected to be completed within five days of the initial notice. All inspections and work in Lahaina will take approximately 30 days to be completed.

EPA also received a Mission Assignment from FEMA to assist the County of Maui with restoration of the drinking water system. The wildfires caused widespread pressure loss and heat damage to pipes in the burn zone, which can release contaminants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the pipes. EPA continues to partner with the Maui Department of Water Supply and the Hawai’i Department of Health to sample the water throughout these pipes and, if contamination is found, ensure that it is isolated from the rest of the system.

EPA is honored to support the County of Maui Departments of Water Supply and Environmental Management along with Hawai’i Department of Health to address water infrastructure damaged by the fires. Our shared goal is to see the people of Lahaina return to their homes with reliable wastewater service and safe drinking water.

Learn more about EPA's Pacific Southwest Region. Connect with us on Instagram, Facebook and X.

EPA to hold webinars on final rule to reduce methane from oil and natural gas operations

Wed, 02/14/2024 - 19:00

WASHINGTON The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will hold several public webinars in February and March on the agency’s final rule that will sharply reduce methane and other harmful air pollutants from the oil and natural gas industry, including from hundreds of thousands of existing sources nationwide, promote the use of cutting-edge methane detection technologies, and deliver significant economic and public health benefits.

Oil and natural gas operations are the nation’s largest industrial source of methane, a climate “super pollutant” that is many times more potent than carbon dioxide and is responsible for approximately one third of the warming from greenhouse gases occurring today. Sharp cuts in methane emissions are among the most critical actions the United States can take in the short term to slow the rate of climate change.

Information about the webinars is below. All webinars are free and open to the public; however, presentations are geared toward specific audiences.

Overview Training Webinars

These webinars will provide overviews of the final rule, with a focus on the audiences listed below. Note: All times are listed in Eastern time. Please adjust for your time zone as needed:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 27: 2:30-5 p.m. for small businesses and industry.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 28: 2:30-5 p.m. for Tribal Nations and Tribal environmental professionals.
  • Thursday, Feb. 29: 6-8:30 p.m. for communities.

Alternative Test Method - Advanced Methane Detection Technology Webinar

This webinar will focus on the options in the final rule for using advanced methane detection technologies, like satellite monitoring, aerial surveys, and continuous monitors, to find leaks or super-emitter events. It will include details on the process for applying to use alternative test methods and what needs to be included in the application. The webinar will be from 1-4 p.m. Tuesday, March 19.

Learn more and register to attend the webinars.

EPA Fines Clean Harbors for Alleged Hazardous Waste Violations at Kimball, Nebraska, Facility

Wed, 02/14/2024 - 19:00

LENEXA, KAN. (FEB. 14, 2024) – Clean Harbors Environmental Services Inc. will pay $270,412 in civil penalties to resolve alleged violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Nebraska regulations governing hazardous waste management, and the terms of its Hazardous Waste Management Facility Permits.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the company operates as a hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facility in Kimball, Nebraska. EPA inspections between 2021 and 2023 revealed the following alleged violations:

  • Failure to adequately manage hazardous waste containers.
  • Failure to minimize releases of hazardous waste to the environment.
  • Failure to maintain air emission controls.
  • Failure to maintain and operate a building as tested.
  • Failure to transmit waste from its facility within required time frames.
  • Failure to obtain a hazardous waste permit for areas not covered by the facility’s permits.

“Mismanagement of hazardous waste leads to human exposure and environmental contamination,” said David Cozad, director of EPA Region 7’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. “This penalty action involving one of the largest hazardous waste disposal facilities in the country demonstrates EPA’s commitment to protecting communities and leveling the playing field for companies that comply with the law.”

EPA says that Clean Harbors has a lengthy history of environmental law violations and has been subject to numerous enforcement actions with EPA and the state of Nebraska. Some of the violations at issue are repeat findings from prior inspections and enforcement actions. EPA further reports that since the recent EPA inspections, the company has corrected the violations.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act creates the framework for the proper management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste.

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Learn more about the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

Learn more about EPA Region 7

View all Region 7 news releases

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Follow us on X: @EPARegion7

EPA releases 2023 update to Equity Action Plan, outlines new commitments to advance equity

Wed, 02/14/2024 - 19:00

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday released the 2023 update to its Equity Action Plan, as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government equity agenda. This Equity Action Plan is part of EPA’s efforts to implement the President’s Executive Order on “Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through The Federal Government,” which reaffirmed the Administration’s commitment to ensure equity and build an America in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.

“Equity is at the heart of all that we do at EPA. Striving for equity makes it possible for us to deliver on our mission to protect public health and provide a clean environment for all,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe. “The progress that we have made and this update to our Equity Action Plan show our continued commitment to uplifting everyone, and we are proud to be a part of this work.”

Following robust engagement with community stakeholders, EPA identified eight priority strategies, which include four previously identified priorities carried forward from the 2022 Equity Action Plan and four newly identified strategies to support communities that have been historically underserved, as well as all communities across our Nation, these eight priority strategies are:

  • Improve access for Communities to Federal Assistance.
  • Reduce Cumulative Impacts and Health Disparities.
  • Strengthen our Civil Rights Compliance Program.
  • Protect Children from Exposures to Environmental Harms.
  • Address Inequitable Access to Resources for Rural Communities.
  • Ensure Public Access to EPA Programs and Address Environmental Harms for People with Disabilities.
  • Strengthening Community-Based Participatory Science to Achieve Environmental Equity.
  • Improve Data and Analytic Capacity to Better Identify and Remove Barriers.

Since the release of its first-ever Equity Action Plan in 2022, EPA has:

  • Selected 11 Environmental Justice Thriving Community Technical Assistance Centers to receive a total of $600 million dollars through the Inflation Reduction Act to reduce barriers when accessing federal grant funding and will make approximately 2,000 subawards directly impacting and addressing issues at the community level.
  • Created a robust technical assistance program to help eligible organizations access the $2 billion dollars available through the Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grants Program.
  • Awarded over $11 billion to date in clean water investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law under the State Revolving Funds, with at least 49% of this funding to go to disadvantaged communities.

As the backbone of work at EPA under the Biden-Harris Administration, the focus remains on ensuring no one is left behind because of the color of their skin or the zip code where they reside.

As this work continues, updates will be posted on EPA’s Equity Action Plan webpage. Learn more about the Administration’s equity work and check out all Federal Equity Action Plans.

To follow stories and posts across agencies, follow the hashtags #GovEquity and #GovDelivers on social media.

Biden-Harris Administration expands EPA program to bring wastewater sanitation services to 150 more underserved communities across Rural America as part of Investing in America Agenda

Tue, 02/13/2024 - 19:00

BOSTON (Feb. 13, 2024) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the expansion of its successful Closing America's Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative to 150 additional communities as part of President Biden's Investing in America agenda. Originally launched in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the initiative partners with underserved communities to provide technical assistance on accessing federal wastewater funding. The pilot initiative has been assisting 11 communities since 2022. This program, along with historic funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will advance President Biden's historic environmental justice agenda and help thousands of Americans access the wastewater infrastructure they need to thrive.

"Many rural and low-income communities in the U.S. lack basic running water and indoor plumbing, and our Closing America's Wastewater Access Gap Program has been instrumental in helping communities from White Hall, Alabama to McDowell County, West Virginia to San Carlos Apache Tribe, Arizona access Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to address this critical need" said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. "In expanding the program to 150 additional communities, we are working to restore dignity and opportunity to underserved communities nationwide."

"For communities throughout the six New England states and the ten federally recognized Native Tribes, I am excited to see the potential impact that expanding this program could have in New England. This wastewater initiative is another step toward closing the gap and ensuring that rural and underserved areas receive support to access historic funding available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law," said EPA Regional Administrator David W. Cash. "By providing no-cost technical assistance that can help communities assess their wastewater needs and identify funding opportunities, we are reducing barriers and empowering communities to access federal funding, contributing to both the health of the environment and the overall well-being of communities."

Closing America's Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative

An estimated 2 million people in the U.S. live without adequate wastewater infrastructure and safe and reliable drinking water in their homes. Many more live with wastewater infrastructure that is ineffective and puts people's health at risk. To date, the Closing America's Wastewater Access Gap initiative has helped provide communities with no-cost technical assistance that helps identify affordable options for accessing wastewater infrastructure. For example, technical assistance providers help the community conduct assessments of the community's specific needs and submit applications for wastewater funding. So far, progress for the 11 pilot communities includes seven funding awards and 10 additional funding applications submissions. All 11 communities have drafted community solution plans, which are in the process of being finalized, and will be posted to EPA's Closing America's Wastewater Access Gap webpage in the early spring.

In Lowndes County, Alabama, children and families are exposed to raw sewage at the place that should be safest – their own homes. Yards regularly flood with sewage from straight pipes or from broken pipes that clog when it rains. However, with the help of EPA's technical assistance, known as "WaterTA," the community of White Hall successfully applied for federal funding and received $450,000 to help accelerate their wastewater infrastructure goals.

"The expansion of this program makes clear that coordination between the communities actually impacted by these issues and state and federal government drives real change. This announcement is further acknowledgement of the Biden Administration's commitment to resolving America's Dirty Secret in rural and poor communities throughout the United States. The Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice continues to be supportive to this cause as we seek resilient and innovative sanitation solutions," said Catherine Flowers Founding Director of Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice.

Interested communities can request assistance by completing the WaterTA request form.  

Communities will be selected on a rolling basis; there is no deadline to apply. For questions, email SepticHelp@epa.gov.

Learn more about EPA's WaterTA services and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law's historic $50 billion investment in America.

Apache Corporation to pay $4 million and reduce unlawful air pollution from oil and gas wells in New Mexico and Texas, eliminating more than 10,000 tons of harmful air pollutants annually

Tue, 02/13/2024 - 19:00

WASHINGTON – Apache Corporation (Apache) has agreed to pay $4 million in civil penalties and undertake projects expected to cost at least $5.5 million to ensure 422 of its oil and gas well pads in New Mexico and Texas comply with federal and state clean air regulations and offset past illegal emissions.

Apache’s agreement settles a civil suit, filed jointly by the United States, on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), alleging that Apache failed to comply with federal and state requirements to capture and control air emissions from 23 of its oil and gas production operations in New Mexico and Texas. EPA and NMED identified the alleged violations through field investigations and repeated flyover surveillance conducted in 2019, 2020 and 2022.

Compliance with this robust settlement will result in annual reductions of more than 9,650 tons of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and 900 tons of methane, which equates to more than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). VOCs are a key component in the formation of ground-level ozone or smog, which irritates lungs, exacerbates diseases including asthma and can increase susceptibility to respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia and bronchitis.

“Robust enforcement of Clean Air Act violations at oil and gas facilities protects communities from harmful smog and reduces methane emissions that are major contributors to global climate change,” said David M. Uhlmann, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s agreement demonstrates EPA’s commitment to working with our state partners to tackle climate change and improve air quality for everyone living in the United States.” 

“Today’s settlement will ensure compliance at hundreds of oil and gas facilities across New Mexico and Texas,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Under the settlement, over 400 Apache facilities will be required to take extensive steps to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds – which contribute to smog – as well as methane gas, which is a significant contributor to climate change.”

“Noxious pollutants directly threaten the health of neighboring communities while propelling our world toward climate disaster,” said U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez for the District of New Mexico. “I applaud the tireless efforts of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, the U.S. EPA and the NMED to protect our lungs and our earth. Environmental justice is a top priority for the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico.”

“This settlement shows that oil and gas operators deserve greater scrutiny because too many are failing to comply with federal and state rules,” said New Mexico Environment Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. “As a result, bad actors will cause greater federal and state regulation of the entire oil and gas industry as ozone levels rise and public health suffers.”

The $4 million fine outlined in the settlement will be shared equally by the United States and the State of New Mexico, with New Mexico’s portion going to the state’s general fund. The settlement document (consent decree) was filed together with the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico and requires the company to take numerous steps to ensure that 422 well pads covered by the consent decree and located in New Mexico and Texas are operated lawfully.

In addition to the $4 million fine, Apache will also spend at least $4.5 million to implement extensive design, operation, maintenance and monitoring improvements, including installing new tank pressure monitoring systems that will provide advance notification of potential emissions and allow for immediate response action by the company. Apache will also spend over $1 million to offset the harm caused by the alleged violations by replacing, on an accelerated schedule, more than 400 pollutant-emitting pneumatic devices with non-emitting devices.

Pound for pound, methane is approximately 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in terms of its impact on global warming. Accordingly, a reduction of 900 tons of annual methane reductions equates to more than 25,000 tons of CO2, akin to eliminating the use of more than 2.5 million gallons of gasoline annually. Greenhouse gases from human activities are a primary cause of climate change and global warming. This enforcement settlement furthers EPA’s commitment to deliver public health protections against climate-impacting pollution and other pollutants for communities across America and helps deliver on EPA’s top commitment in its strategic plan, which is to tackle the climate crisis.

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for criteria pollutants that are considered harmful to public health and the environment. Ozone is a criteria pollutant that is created when oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and VOCs react in the atmosphere. VOCs and NOx are emitted by oil and gas production facilities, such as those operated by Apache. During the timeframes of Apache’s alleged violations, air quality monitors in the relevant counties in New Mexico registered rising ozone concentrations exceeding 95% of the NAAQS for ozone. In counties where ozone levels reach 95% of the NAAQS, NMED is required by New Mexico state statute to take action to reduce ozone pollution.

Apache Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of APA Corporation which is engaged in the exploration and development of oil and natural gas resources in the United States. Apache is a large producer in the Permian Basin, which is a shale oil and gas producing area located in southeast New Mexico and West Texas.

This settlement is part of EPA’s National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative, Mitigating Climate Change.

For more information about today’s settlement please visit the Apache Corporation Settlement webpage.

The Justice Department’s Environmental Enforcement Division lodged today’s proposed consent decree in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. The consent decree will be available for viewing on the Justice Department’s website. The Federal Register notice will also include instructions for submitting public comment.