EPA Air

EPA and DOJ Settlement Will Address Problems at Toa Alta Landfill

Tue, 02/13/2024 - 19:00

NEW YORK - The Municipality of Toa Alta has agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to address environmental and public health risks at its landfill in Puerto Rico. The settlement, announced today, requires the Municipality of Toa Alta to deal with the contaminated liquid, known as leachate, in the southeast portion of the landfill and to pay a $50,000 civil penalty for its past violations. Prior actions are addressing other risks posed by the landfill.

"This settlement will protect people by requiring that the contaminated liquid under the landfill be properly managed. This is a major milestone in our efforts with the residents to address the long-standing problems at the Toa Alta landfill," said Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. "The community has helped shape EPA and DNER’s work to address the unacceptable risks that have been posed by this landfill and we look forward to getting input on this proposed settlement."

This agreement between the Municipality of Toa Alta and the United States is subject to a 30-day public comment period, the public’s right to request a public meeting, and ultimately, acceptance by the federal court judge presiding over the case. You can view the agreement on DOJ’s website.

The EPA and the DOJ filed a lawsuit against the municipality, alleging that the landfill posed serious threats to human health and the environment due to its poor operation of the landfill, lack of controls, steep slopes, uncovered waste, and inadequate management of leachate.

In August 2022, a Federal Court ordered Toa Alta to take immediate action to address several of these issues. The order did not address the leachate problem in the landfill's southeast cell area or the civil penalty.

The second stipulation and final order addresses the southeast cell leachate problem, and the civil penalty as follows:

  • The Municipality will cooperate with a former operator of the landfill to complete the testing and repair, if feasible, of the system to collect leachate from under the southeast cell, as required by a 2017 administrative order issued by EPA.
  • The municipality will operate the leachate collection system if it can be repaired, and dispose of the leachate properly under the oversight of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources of Puerto Rico (DNER), the approved regulator of municipal solid waste landfills in Puerto Rico.
  • Even if the system can’t be repaired, the municipality will work with DNER to implement near-term and long-term measures to address the leachate from the southeast cell area as part of the permanent final closure plan for the landfill.
  • The Municipality of Toa Alta will pay a $50,000 civil penalty to the United States within 30 days of the effective date of this order.

The August 2022 agreement included reporting requirements Toa Alta must follow so that EPA can maintain oversight and keep the community informed of developments at or concerning the landfill.

Visit the Toa Alta Municipal Landfill web page for additional background. 

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Biden-Harris Administration expands EPA program to bring wastewater sanitation services to 150 more underserved communities across Rural America, including the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona

Tue, 02/13/2024 - 19:00

SAN FRANCISCO 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 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.

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.”

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 website in the early spring.

“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.

The San Carlos Apache Tribe is another one of the 11 communities from the initial pilot. Nearly two-thirds of the homes on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation do not have access to centralized wastewater systems and rely on inadequate onsite systems, like septic tanks. Through $2.5 million from the Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap pilot, the Tribe has secured funding to pump septic tanks in need of servicing and is working with technical assistance providers to develop educational campaigns on wastewater management and septic system maintenance.

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.

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

El acuerdo de la EPA y el Departamento de Justicia abordará los problemas en el Vertedero de Toa Alta

Tue, 02/13/2024 - 19:00

NUEVA YORK - El Municipio de Toa Alta llegó a un acuerdo con la Agencia Federal de Protección Ambiental (EPA, por sus siglas en inglés) y el Departamento de Justicia de Estados Unidos (DOJ, por sus siglas en inglés) para atender los riesgos ambientales y de salud pública que presenta su sistema de relleno sanitario. El acuerdo, anunciado hoy, requiere que el Municipio de Toa Alta se ocupe en atender el líquido contaminado, conocido como lixiviado, ubicado en la parte sureste del sistema de relleno sanitario generado como parte de la operación de esta facilidad y pague una multa civil de $50,000 por sus pasadas violaciones. Acciones anteriores tomadas por el Gobierno Federal de los Estados Unidos respecto a este sistema de relleno sanitario atienden otros riesgos que presenta esta facilidad.

“Este acuerdo protegerá a las personas al exigir que el líquido contaminado debajo del sistema de relleno sanitario se maneje adecuadamente. Este es un hito importante en nuestros esfuerzos con los residentes para abordar los problemas que han persistido por tanto tiempo en el sistema de relleno sanitario de Toa Alta”, comentó la administradora regional Lisa F. García. “El insumo de la comunidad ha ayudado en la formulación de los trabajos de la EPA y el Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales de Puerto Rico (DRNA) para atender los riesgos inaceptables que representa este relleno sanitario y esperamos recibir comentarios de la comunidad sobre el acuerdo propuesto”.

El acuerdo entre el Municipio de Toa Alta y el Gobierno Federal de los Estados Unidos está sujeto a un periodo de 30 días de comentario público, al derecho del público a solicitar una reunión pública y, en última instancia, a la aceptación por parte del Juez del Tribunal Federal que preside el caso. Puede ver el acuerdo en el sitio web del DOJ.

La EPA y el DOJ presentaron una demanda contra el Municipio de Toa Alta, alegando que el sistema de relleno sanitario presentaba serias amenazas para la salud humana y el medioambiente debido a su mal funcionamiento, la falta de controles, las pendientes pronunciadas, los desechos descubiertos y el manejo inadecuado de lixiviados.

En agosto de 2022, un Tribunal Federal ordenó al Municipio de Toa Alta a tomar medidas inmediatas para atender varios de estos aspectos. La orden no abordó el problema de los lixiviados en el área sureste de la celda del relleno sanitario ni la sanción civil.

Este acuerdo y orden final atienden el problema de los lixiviados de la celda del área sureste del relleno sanitario y la multa civil de la siguiente manera:

  • El Municipio de Toa Alta trabajará junto con un antiguo operador del relleno sanitario para llevar a cabo las pruebas y reparaciones del sistema, de ser viable, para recolectar lixiviados de debajo de la celda sureste, según lo exige una orden administrativa de 2017 emitida por la EPA.
  • El Municipio de Toa Alta operará el sistema de recolección de lixiviados, de este poder ser reparado, y desechará los lixiviados adecuadamente bajo la supervisión del DRNA, el ente regulador de los rellenos sanitarios de desperdicios sólidos municipales en Puerto Rico.
  • Incluso si el sistema no se puede reparar, el Municipio de Toa Alta trabajará con el DRNA para implementar medidas a corto y largo plazo destinadas a atender el lixiviado sito en el área sureste de la celda como parte del plan de cierre final permanente del relleno sanitario.
  • El Municipio de Toa Alta pagará una multa civil de $50,000 al Gobierno Federal de los Estados Unidos dentro de los 30 días posteriores a la fecha de vigencia de esta orden.

El acuerdo de agosto de 2022 incluyó requisitos de presentación de informes que el Municipio de Toa Alta debe cumplir para que la EPA pueda mantener una adecuada supervisión e informar continuamente a la comunidad sobre los acontecimientos en el sistema de relleno sanitario o relacionados con él.

Visite la página web del Vertedero Municipal de Toa Alta para ver más antecedentes. 

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

Tue, 02/13/2024 - 19:00

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 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, 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 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.”

“As local communities seek to continuously improve the quality, safety, and reliability of their water utilities, they often struggle to also address challenges of declining rate bases, lower-income households, and other competing local needs,” said Rep. Grace Napolitano (CA-31), Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. “All of these factors compel us to find ways to make water quality improvements more affordable. I applaud the Biden-Harris Administration for the expansion of this important EPA program that provides tools to our communities to develop more cost-effective, long-term plans to meet local water quality challenges.”

“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 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. 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.

The San Carlos Apache Tribe is another one of the 11 communities from the initial pilot. Nearly two-thirds of the homes on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation do not have access to centralized wastewater systems and rely on inadequate onsite systems, like septic tanks. Through the Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap pilot, the Tribe has secured funding to pump septic tanks in need of servicing and is working with technical assistance providers to develop educational campaigns on wastewater management and septic system maintenance.

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.

The City of Austin to Receive $1 Million from EPA’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grants

Mon, 02/12/2024 - 19:00

AUSTIN, TEXAS (February 12, 2024) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the City of Austin $1 million from the agency’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grants program to develop climate action plans with new and innovative strategies that benefit local communities. The City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability will be the fiscal/fund manager and will be collaborating with partners across the region to ensure the process and delivery of these plans are aligned with previous projects. This award is made possible through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda which has made pivotal investments in public health for impacted communities across the nation.

“As part of the historic Inflation Reduction Act, EPA’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grants program is a critical part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s emphasis on climate resilience and environmental justice,” said Regional Administrator Dr. Earthea Nance. “Austin and Central Texas counties will be part of this $5 billion nationwide effort to help to states and local governments develop ambitious air monitoring plans to reduce harmful emissions in communities, especially in underserved areas.”

“I’m thrilled that communities across Central Texas will receive EPA’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grant,” said Congressman Greg Casar (TX-35). “In Texas, we’ve been devastated by the climate crisis already: from Winter Storm Uri, to historic floods, to wildfires. This funding from the Biden Administration will help our communities in the heart of Texas reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle the climate crisis head-on.”

“Austin has a bold vision for climate action. Federal funding provides some support for extending that vision across Central Texas to help reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollution. A cleaner, greener region for our families ensures healthier, happier lives. I will continue working in Congress with the EPA, the City of Austin, and all involved local partners to address the growing threat of the climate crisis and build lasting progress,” said Representative Lloyd Doggett (TX-37).

“We know that reducing the emissions that cause climate change is a challenge that extends beyond Austin’s city limits,” said Austin Mayor Kirk Watson. “Through this grant, we are excited to build on the great work that’s been done here in Austin in partnership with our neighboring counties.”

“The Environmental Protection Agency is a great partner in our fight against climate change. This is an issue that has impacted many families and businesses across Central Texas,” said Austin City Council Member Paige Ellis. “Central Texans are feeling the pain of extreme weather events wrought by climate change, from ice hurricanes to torrential floods to dangerous droughts to unprecedented snowstorms. Regional collaboration is imperative to tackle these issues that affect us all, and the EPA is pivotal in helping us be successful.”

With the help of the grant, the City of Austin will focus on completing three projects: the Priority Climate Action Plan (PCAP), the Comprehensive Climate Action Plan (CCAP), and the status report. The City of Austin has started by hiring temporary staff to form the Project Management (PM) team dedicated to overseeing the planning process and tracking the progress of each development. The PM team will draft quarterly reports, undertake technical analysis, provide background information, and will work with consultants on topics when necessary. The PCAP and CCAP are intended to build upon existing government plans such as the Austin Climate Equity Plan and the Travis County Climate Action Plan. The intended outcomes of these plans are to reduce emissions that cause climate change and achieve other benefits, such as improved compliance with the EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

The City of Austin and Travis County’s greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories and latest emissions forecasts will serve as a starting point for the regional PCAP GHG analysis. The CCAP will build on the PCAP methods and findings and include an in-depth GHG analysis to develop additional quantified GHG reduction measures by evaluating the sector-level emissions and projecting near-term (2030) and long-term (2040) GHG emissions. To help prioritize GHG-reducing measures, the CCAP will also incorporate results from analyses of benefits, funding availability, authority to implement, and workforce planning.

To ensure there is meaningful engagement during these processes, the City of Austin will develop outreach efforts, including conducting monthly meetings with a Community Advisory and Stakeholder Advisory Group for input to reach disadvantaged communities, holding meetings with regional agencies to review measures developed for the PCAP and CCAP, and providing opportunities for broad engagement throughout the CCAP development to gain feedback from community members and partners across the region.

The overall timeline for each plan is in accordance with EPA’s timeline, with the PCAP complete by March 1, 2024, the CCAP by fall of 2025, and the final Status Report by fall of 2027.

Connect with the Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 on Facebook, Twitter, or visit our homepage.

EPA Fines Owens Corning for Alleged Hazardous Waste Violations at Kansas City, Kansas, Facility

Mon, 02/12/2024 - 19:00

LENEXA, KAN. (FEB. 12, 2024) – Owens Corning Insulating Systems LLC will pay $115,302 in civil penalties to resolve alleged violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Kansas hazardous waste management regulations.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the company generates hazardous wastes at its fiberglass insulation facility in Kansas City, Kansas. During an EPA inspection in October 2022, the Agency determined that the company failed to comply with regulations intended to prevent releases of hazardous waste, including:

  • Failure to conduct and document determinations of hazardous waste at the facility.
  • Failure to notify the state when it generates new hazardous wastes.
  • Operating as a hazardous waste treatment, storage, and/or disposal facility without obtaining a required permit.
  • Failure to properly manage certain wastes at the facility.

“This settlement demonstrates EPA’s commitment to protect communities from releases of hazardous waste, especially those already burdened by historical pollution,” said David Cozad, director of EPA Region 7’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. “The Agency is also committed to leveling the playing field for companies that comply with federal law.”

EPA says that Owens Corning was previously fined by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in 2017 for the same or similar violations. The Agency also reports that since the 2022 inspection, Owens Corning has taken the necessary steps to correct the violations and return to compliance.

EPA identified the community surrounding the Owens Corning facility as a potentially sensitive area because of exposures to diesel particulate matter, air toxics cancer risk, and hazardous waste proximity. EPA is strengthening enforcement in overburdened communities to address disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of industrial operations on vulnerable populations.

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

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EPA Settles with Shipping Company over Claims of Clean Water Act Violations

Mon, 02/12/2024 - 19:00

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has settled with Crowley Global Ship Management over claims of violations of EPA’s Vessel General Permit, issued under the Clean Water Act. Under the terms of the settlements, Crowley will pay $248,500 in penalties for claims of violations by two of the company’s ships, the Ocean Grand and the Ocean Glory, involving untreated ballast water discharge, vessel inspections, and discharge monitoring.

“It’s a fundamental responsibility of ship owners and operators to properly manage what they discharge into our oceans,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “The Vessel General Permit is a key element of our nation’s Clean Water Act, and the failure of shipping companies to comply with permit requirements can significantly harm our nation’s already-challenged waters."

Crowley Global Ship Management is a privately-owned company headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida that owns and operates over 200 vessels, including the Ocean Grand and the Ocean Glory. Both vessels are general cargo ships that have been in operation since 2015. As non-recreational and non-military vessels over 79 feet that operate in waters of the United States, these vessels are subject to the Vessel General Permit.

Between January 2019 and August 2020, the Ocean Grand discharged untreated ballast water eight times in water subject to the VGP. The ship also failed to conduct comprehensive annual vessel inspections at least once every 12 months in 2020 and 2021. Under the settlement being announced today, Crowley has agreed to pay $111,250 in civil penalties. 

From May 2018 to September 2020, the Ocean Glory discharged untreated ballast water seven times. The ship also failed to report biological indicator compliance monitoring after a treated ballast water discharge in December 2021. In addition, the Ocean Glory failed to conduct comprehensive annual vessel inspections at least once every 12 months in 2018, 2019, and 2021. For these violations, Crowley has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $137,250.

Because the Clean Water Act relies on self-reporting of permittees, violations such as these related to failures or delays in inspection, monitoring, and reporting are serious and undermine the permit program. Vessel self-inspections are required as a means of identifying, for example, potential sources of spills, broken pollution prevention equipment, or other issues that might lead to permit violations. Self-inspections empower the owner or operator to diagnose and fix problems in a timely manner to remain compliant with the permit and with U.S. law.

In addition, it is important that ballast water discharges by ships be monitored to ensure that aquatic ecosystems are protected from discharges that contain pollutants. Invasive species are a persistent problem in U.S. coastal and inland waters. Improper management of ballast water can introduce invasive species or damage local species by disrupting habitats and increasing competitive pressure. Discharges of other waste streams regulated by the Vessel General Permit (e.g., graywater, exhaust gas scrubber water, lubricants, etc.) can cause toxic impacts to local species or contain pathogenic organisms.

EPA's settlements with Crowley Global Ship Management resolve claims of Clean Water Act violations and are subject to a 30-day public comment period prior to final approval. For more information and to submit comments, click here for the Ocean Grand and here for the Ocean Glory.

Learn more about EPA’s Vessel General Permit, Enforcement Alert, and Vessels, Marinas and Ports.

For more information on reporting possible violations of environmental laws and regulations, visit EPA’s enforcement reporting website.

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

EPA and DOE announce intent to fund projects to reduce methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sectors as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda

Fri, 02/09/2024 - 19:00

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a Notice of Intent (NOI) today to make funds available to help measure and reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sectors as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. Methane is a climate “super pollutant” that is more potent than carbon dioxide and responsible for approximately one third of the warming from greenhouse gases occurring today.

This funding from the Inflation Reduction Act will help oil and natural gas sector operators cut methane emissions and transition to innovative methane emissions reduction technologies, while also supporting partnerships to improve emissions measurement and provide accurate, transparent data to impacted communities. Through a combination of technical and financial assistance, the Methane Emissions Reduction Program will help reduce inefficiencies in U.S. oil and gas operations, create new jobs in energy and disadvantaged communities, improve public health, and realize near-term emission reductions—helping reach the nation’s ambitious climate and clean air goals.

“We know the adoption of cleaner and smarter ways to monitor and reduce wasteful methane emissions is critical to addressing climate change,” said Jennifer Macedonia, EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Office of Air and Radiation. “Through these historic investments from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, EPA and DOE will invest in American innovation and contribute to the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious goal of reducing climate pollution while improving public health and protecting communities.” 

“As part of a whole of government approach, DOE and EPA are coordinating our efforts to address methane emissions throughout the oil and natural gas supply chain,” said Ryan Peay, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Resource Sustainability in DOE's Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. “Together we are supporting innovative solutions that will address these harmful emissions at a large scale across the nation, while also developing region-specific assistance that will result in environmental, health, and safety benefits for local communities.”

If released, the corresponding funding opportunity would focus on three areas:

  1. Mitigating methane emissions and reducing other air pollution associated with existing wells and infrastructure. Funds would be provided to mitigate and monitor methane emissions from low-producing wells and other oil and natural gas assets, that are owned and/or operated by small producers/operators, through a small number of awards, which would each fund a selected lead entity such as an organization that represents oil and natural gas producers, a non-governmental research institution, university, or Tribal organization. The intent would be for these organizations to manage and optimize the effective distribution of these funds to owners/operators with relevant oil and natural gas assets, including one award focused on mitigating methane emissions from oil and natural gas assets on Tribal lands. This area is anticipated to complement efforts currently being undertaken by states through recently announced formula grants
  2. Accelerating the deployment of innovative methane reduction solutions for reducing emissions from petroleum and natural gas systems. This may include efforts to support the field demonstration of near-commercial solutions that can effectively address emissions from difficult-to-mitigate sources on a large scale, to accelerate the implementation of innovative methane emissions reduction technology solutions.
  3. Characterizing and quantifying methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations across multiple, large geographical regions through the creation of regional methane emissions measurement and monitoring consortia. Activities may include, but are not limited to, methane emissions data collection and acquisition; development of annual emissions estimates at equipment-, facility-, and basin-levels; and training on data and technology usage for workers in the oil and gas industry and communities with environmental justice concerns. The intent would be to develop region-specific collaborative partnerships among oil and natural gas owners and operators, universities, environmental justice organizations, community leaders, workers, technology developers, Tribes, state regulatory agencies, non-governmental research organizations, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, and DOE’s National Laboratories.

In keeping with the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal to ensure the clean energy transition benefits all, this program also advances the Justice40 Initiative – which set the goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal climate and clean energy investments flow to disadvantaged communities, facilitates broader energy prosperity, and supports the equitable creation and retention of good-paying jobs. Guidance on specific application and reporting requirements will be included in the program funding opportunity announcement (FOA).

This NOI is issued to give applicants ample time to prepare their proposals and form partnerships (if necessary) in anticipation of the upcoming issuance of the FOA. More information, including anticipated eligibility criteria for this NOI, can be found at the FedConnect MERP NOI website.

Visit EPA and DOE websites for more information about the Methane Emissions Reduction Program.

EPA and Partners to Host Open House on Milwaukee Floodplains Cleanup

Thu, 02/08/2024 - 19:00

CHICAGO (Feb. 8, 2024) — Next week, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Great Lakes Legacy Act project partners will host an open house in Milwaukee to update the community on the Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern cleanup, with a focus on the Milwaukee River floodplains. Soil samples from the Milwaukee River floodplains indicate the presence of contaminants on the east and west sides of the river between the former Estabrook Dam and the former North Avenue Dam. EPA and its state and local partners will discuss next steps for the ongoing river cleanup efforts and be available to answer questions.

 

WHO:        EPA                                                     
                    Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
                    Milwaukee County Parks

 

WHAT:      Open house to learn about next steps for Milwaukee River floodplains
                    cleanup

 

WHEN:     Thursday, February 15
                    5–7 p.m.

                    30-minute presentation at 6 p.m.

 

WHERE:    Shorewood Public Library
                     3920 N. Murray Ave.
                     Shorewood, Wisconsin
 

The floodplains project is part of a larger initiative to clean up the Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern. Learn more about this initiative and register for the community meeting at www.mkewaterwaypartners.org.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: Stronger standard for harmful soot pollution will save lives and significantly increase health protections for all communities

Thu, 02/08/2024 - 19:00

WASHINGTON — On Thursday, Feb. 8, EPA finalized a stronger air quality standard that will better protect America’s families, workers, and communities from the dangerous and costly health effects of fine particle pollution, also known as soot. The stronger annual health-based air quality standard for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) will help avoid up to 4,500 premature deaths and 290,000 lost workdays, and yield up to $46 billion in net health benefits in 2032. For every $1 spent from this action, there could be as much as $77 in human health benefits in 2032.

Leaders from across public health and environmental advocacy communities, along with federal and state government leaders, are praising the final standards. See what they are saying:

Public Health, Environmental Justice, and Faith Organizations 

Dr. Doris Browne, President, National Medical Association: “Administrator Regan and President Biden deserve thanks for taking this vital step to curb soot pollution - a dangerous and even deadly pollutant that has taken an oversized toll on underrepresented and overburdened communities less equipped to deal with its severe health impacts, This new standard of 9 micrograms per cubic meter will save lives based on scientific evidence. That is the bottom line. And as a physician, an advocate for clean air, and the past president of the National Medical Association representing physicians, our ultimate goal is health equity.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Paul Billings, Senior Vice President for Public Policy, American Lung Association: “The new, stronger particle pollution standards will save lives. Despite what polluting industries are saying about the new air pollution standards, the sky will not fall and the world will not come to end. Don’t believe the cherry-picked data, misleading maps and false claims of economic calamity: they’re just not true.

“EPA estimates that in 2032, the nation will see 4,500 fewer premature deaths, 290,000 fewer lost workdays, 800,000 fewer cases of asthma symptoms and 2,000 fewer emergency department visits from the new standards. That’s not a calamity, the new standards are a lifesaver.

“The American Lung Association looks forward to working with states and EPA to implement these new standards to maximize air pollution reductions and public health protections while still allowing for economic growth – as always happens with implementing the Clean Air Act.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

The Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health: “The Consortium welcomes these strengthened standards and thanks President Biden and Administrator Regan for their efforts to reduce air pollution and safeguard our health. Soot is a dangerous and deadly pollutant produced by industrial manufacturing, car exhaust, and power plant emissions mostly from the burning of fossil fuels. It threatens our health and environment — affecting approximately 63 million Americans and posing particular risks to infants, children, pregnant individuals, seniors, communities of color, and people with chronic illness. As doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals, we see the effects of harmful air pollution in our clinics and hospitals. From children who live close to polluting industries and develop asthma to elderly individuals who are at greater risk for stroke and heart disease from air pollution–we advocate for cleaner air to best protect the health of our patients.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

American Public Health Association: “APHA is pleased that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a critical final rule today that will update the annual national ambient air quality standard for particulate matter pollution from the current level of 12 micrograms per cubic meter to nine µg/m3. The updated annual standard would have significant public health benefits estimated at $46 billion by 2032. Once fully implemented, the updated standard would avoid an estimated 290,000 lost workdays, 800,000 asthma attacks, 2,000 emergency room visits and 4,500 premature deaths.

Particulate matter (PM) pollution has been known to cause breathing trouble, asthma attacks, COPD exacerbations, heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and premature death. It can harm even the healthiest, but millions of individuals across the U.S. are at greater risk if they have respiratory disease or are one of the nearly 25 million Americans with asthma. Additionally, PM exposure disproportionately impacts the health of low-income and minority communities, who often live near polluting sources.

This critical move to strengthen this public health standard will better protect the health of the nation and help reduce the disproportionate impact PM pollution is having on the health of our most vulnerable communities.

The proposed lower annual standard for particulate matter will protect the health of millions of individuals in communities across the country. While EPA is to be commended for strengthening the annual standard, we believe it is a missed opportunity that the agency chose not to update the 24-hour standard to 25 µg/m3 as recommended by APHA and other health organizations, and we urge the agency to revisit this decision during its next review.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, MPH, Executive Director, Children’s Environmental Health Network: “Air pollutants contribute to the negative health and well-being of pregnant women and children. Children are known to be more vulnerable to the adverse health effects of air pollution due to their higher minute ventilation, immature immune system, involvement in vigorous activities, the longer periods of time they spend outdoors and the continuing development of their lungs during early childhood. These urgent times require decisive action, such as stronger soot pollution standards.”

Alison Lee, MD, chair of the ATS Environmental Health Policy Committee, American Thoracic Society: “A more protective annual standard will save lives, reduce asthma and COPD exacerbations and improve the quality of air for everyone. While I am disappointed that EPA did not go further to address the daily PM standard, today's action by EPA is important progress and will bring cleaner air to communities across the U.S." [Statement, Feb. 7]

Manish Bapna, President and CEO, Natural Resources Defense Council:1

“This will help save lives today and improve the health of generations to come. Soot puts tens of millions of Americans at risk, disproportionately harming low-income communities and people of color. It’s especially dangerous to children, the elderly and people coping with compromised health.

“The EPA is putting public health first by requiring polluters to cut soot from the air we all breathe.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Ben Jealous, Executive Director, Sierra Club: “We’re glad to see the Biden Administration answered the call to reduce harmful soot pollution. The decision to strengthen the annual particulate matter standards is more than just policy; it's about securing clean and safe air for our families and communities. It's about keeping kids in school, and protecting ourselves and our neighbors from the very real risks of asthma, heart attacks, and premature death.

“It’s shameful that, in the face of such clear and compelling evidence of the public health and economic benefits of stronger soot standards, big polluters and their allies in Washington do everything in their power to undermine these commonsense air pollution standards. Their resistance is a stark reminder that the fight for clean air and a healthier future is far from over, and we will continue working to ensure the benefits of these stronger air pollution standards reach the communities that need them most.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Patrice Simms, Vice President of Health Communities, Earth Justice: “Particulate matter pollution is deadly, especially for children and older Americans. The Biden Administration’s new air quality standards will save thousands of lives and help address unjust disparities in air quality for communities of color and low-income communities. We applaud EPA for issuing a rule that will help reduce heart disease, asthma, and other serious illnesses. We look forward to EPA’s implementation efforts, which must include robust enforcement and rigorous monitoring.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Amanda Leland, Executive Director, Environmental Defense Fund: “Particle pollution – or soot – harms lung development in children, is linked to diseases from bronchitis to cancer, and is responsible for more than 100,000 premature deaths every year. EPA’s action today to strengthen our national health-based standard for soot is a big step toward cleaner air and healthier lives for all Americans.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Margie Alt, Director, Climate Action Campaign: “I want to thank President Biden and EPA Administrator Regan for making good on their promise to finalize strong soot pollution standards that will save lives and slash air pollution for people across the country, especially those disproportionately impacted by deadly particle pollution.

“This standard will make meaningful progress toward meeting public health goals and addressing the administration’s environmental justice commitments. The EPA and President Biden set pollution limits that will literally save thousands of lives, especially in communities of color –  4,500 lives saved, 5,700 cases of new asthma avoided, and 290,000 fewer lost workdays. That’s $46 billion in net benefits for all of us.

“Of course there is more that must be done to fully protect public health and address pollution from the power sector and we look forward to seeing additional standards being finalized in the coming months. But for today we celebrate progress and thank President Biden and Administrator Regan and their teams for a good job well done.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Maite Arce, President and CEO, Hispanic Access Foundation: “We applaud the administration for taking action and strengthening its standards to reduce soot pollution and improve air quality. Soot is a dangerous and deadly pollutant produced by power plants, vehicle tailpipes, and other industrial sources, and it threatens our health and environment, posing particular risks for children, seniors, communities of color, and people with chronic illnesses, causing devastating health impacts including premature death, heart disease, aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, and difficulty breathing.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Dominique Browning, Director and Co-Founder, Moms Clean Air Force: “Particle pollution is a killer. In the United States alone, it cuts short the lives of well over 100,000 people per year—a staggering toll. Children’s bodies are uniquely vulnerable to the harms of soot pollution. We commend EPA for taking a significant step forward in strengthening the annual standard for particle pollution, also known as soot, to 9 micrograms per cubic meter from its current level at 12. EPA’s strengthened national health standard for particle pollution is the first improvement in over a decade; the previous administration chose to keep an inadequate level of protection. Soot is associated with increased infant mortality, hospital admissions for heart and lung diseases, cancer, and increased asthma severity. EPA’s finalized protection is an important step towards cleaner, healthier air for all children.

“EPA’s new protections also go a long way in strengthening the network of air monitors on which it relies. Its emphasis on greater guidance in the placement of those monitors in already highly burdened communities is a welcome move. Right now, people of color are consistently exposed to higher levels of particle pollution from sources like power plants, industrial facilities, and heavily-trafficked roads, and they are more than six times more likely to visit the emergency room for asthma-related issues. Black children are more than seven times more likely to die from asthma than white children.

“We urge EPA to prioritize protections against elevated daily exposures to particle pollution by ensuring that the implementation of these stronger national standards reduces daily pollution spikes. EPA must swiftly evaluate further strengthening the health standard for daily exposures. This is vital. We also call on EPA to ensure that the monitoring improvements are designed to reveal the sources responsible for high soot levels, and to accelerate the adoption of enforceable pollution limits.

“Taken together, all of the EPA protections under Administrator Regan’s tenure are offering much-needed and significant progress. EPA’s recent methane rule will protect people from the harmful volatile organic compounds and toxics released along with methane–and dramatically slash climate-heating methane emissions. Stronger pollution protections for vehicles and power plants are anticipated in the coming months. So much is at stake for our children, our communities, and our collective future. Members of Moms Clean Air Force will continue to demand that every one of these critical EPA protections gets across the finish line. We have absolutely no time to lose.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Lori Lodes, Executive Director, Climate Power: “President Biden is holding corporate polluters accountable for harming our health and fueling the climate crisis. His action will be especially impactful in communities of color and low-income areas that have paid the health and economic price of corporate greed for far too long. When Donald Trump was president, he filled the EPA with oil and coal lobbyists and weakened clean air standards. President Biden has spent three years cleaning up Trump’s mess, and America can’t afford another Trump term.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Matthew Davis, Vice President of Federal Policy, League of Conservation Voters: “We applaud the Biden-Harris administration’s new, tougher annual standard to cut deadly soot pollution and build a more clean and equitable energy future. For the second time in just two weeks, President Biden and his administration is delivering big for environmental justice, public health, climate, and science. Communities of color and low wealth communities too often experience disproportionate health impacts and environmental injustices due to exposure to soot pollution from Big Polluters and heavy traffic. While we still need to strengthen the daily standard for soot, cutting the annual standard by a quarter is a significant step forward. The administration must swiftly work with states and local air districts to implement these much improved standards.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Anastasia Gordon, Federal Policy Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice: “While we commend the new soot pollution standard, we won’t stop fighting until we stamp out all forms of air pollution that make our communities sick and cut our lives short. Clean air is our right, and clean air is our fight.” [Statement, Feb. 7] 

LaTricea D. Adams, Founder and CEO, Black Millennials for Flint:

“It’s a sigh of relief that EPA and the Biden-Harris Administration listened to our call to action to create the strongest standards on soot pollution in history. These new rules will work to better protect the wombs of Black, Latinx and Indigenous women, our first environments, leading to healthier births with automatic freedom and access to breathe clean air.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

John Graham, Senior Scientist, Clean Air Taskforce:

“Strengthening the PM2.5 annual standard from 12 µg/m3 to 9 µg/m3 will improve public health protection across the country and will make some progress in addressing disparities in health impacts among various populations. This standard is similar to the Canadian standard of 8.8 µg/m 3. However, we continue to believe that the available scientific knowledge — as indicated by the recommendation of a majority of EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee — supports a primary PM2.5 annual standard of 8 µg/m3 and a daily standard of 25 µg/m3 to protect public health from both typical and peak concentrations of PM2.5 and provide an adequate margin of safety.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Lisa Frank, Executive Director, Environment America:

“Air pollution used to be the price we had to pay to heat our homes, commute or produce goods by burning coal, oil and gas. Thankfully, in the rapidly accelerating renewable energy era, that’s no longer the case. These soot standards will save lives, clear our skies and alleviate the burden of asthma and other illnesses. That’s something all Americans should celebrate.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Yadira Sánchez, Executive Director of Poder Latinx:

“Soot has been detrimental to the respiratory health of Latinx families, and it is a silent assailant that is not talked about enough. No one should get sick from the place they call home, but unfortunately, this has become a reality for many members of our community. We celebrate the EPA’s drive for tighter rules towards improving air quality standards so all minority and underrepresented families can rest easily, knowing their health is not at risk when they leave their homes. We need, however, to strengthen policies around better air and environmental protections so no one in America has to pay the hefty price of risking their health at the expense of high polluters who disregard human life and our natural resources.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Rev. Dr. Jessica Moerman, President & CEO, Evangelical Environmental Network:

“Every child deserves to reach their full God-given potential. However, before they even draw their own first breath, soot pollution can rob children of a bright future, saddling them with asthma, reduced IQ, and complications from pre-term birth. Therefore, it is no understatement to call today’s announcement truly life-changing. The strengthened soot standard will ensure more Americans can experience a more “abundant life” (John 10:10), saving thousands of lives, improving the quality of life for hundreds of thousands more, and saving billions in avoided health costs.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Trevor Higgins, Senior Vice President, Center for American Progress:

“The EPA has just taken a huge step forward in keeping more soot out of the air. This will improve public health and save lives, especially in front-line communities most harmed by pollution from fossil fuels. The Biden administration’s clean energy and transportation investments have made it possible for states and counties to deliver on these new standards, which are now stronger than ever.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Rev. Susan Hendershot, President, Interfaith Power & Light:

“EPA’s updated soot protections are a step forward in helping protect our communities from deadly air pollution. With this rule, we have a moral opportunity to advance environmental justice, ensure that our neighbors have clean air to breathe, and care for those most vulnerable to these pollutants. No one should be forced to live in a community where it is hazardous to simply breathe the air.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Adrienne Hollis, Vice President of Environmental Justice, Public Health, And Community Revitalization, The National Wildlife Federation:

“Particulate pollution is one of the most serious and preventable threats to people and wildlife alike. This rule is a much-needed step by the Biden Administration in order to address the public health and environmental threats posing some of the most serious challenges for frontline and fenceline communities. The president and the Environmental Protection Agency need to build upon this important progress by further strengthening these and other safeguards in order to protect our air, public health, and environment.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Irene Burga, Director of the Climate Justice and Clean Air Program, GreenLatinos:

“Today, we celebrate a significant victory in our ongoing efforts to improve air quality and protect public health, especially within the Latine community. The implementation of these final EPA standards on soot promises tangible improvements in the well-being of our communities, particularly among those most vulnerable. However, we acknowledge that there is still more work ahead. Nationwide, Latine children disproportionately bear the burden of asthma, a condition exacerbated by exposure to PM2.5. Despite our collective strides, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to environmental justice. While we did not achieve the more ambitious standard of 8 μg/m3 that environmental justice organizations advocated for, this standard represents a crucial step forward. We look forward to continued collaboration with the EPA and the Biden Administration to ensure robust enforcement of the annual standard, as we remain dedicated to advancing proposals for the 24-hour standard.” [Statement, Feb. 7]

Charles Harper, Senior Power Sector Policy Lead, Evergreen Action: “The Biden administration’s announcement today takes a critical step toward cutting air pollution that puts hundreds of thousands of Americans at risk and protecting frontline communities who are exposed to disproportionate levels of deadly soot pollution. By strengthening the national soot standard, EPA is tightening its grip on dangerous air pollution and will prevent 4,500 deaths per year—and hundreds of thousands of other medically related events.” [Statement, Feb. 7] 

Zachary Barber, Advocate, PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center: “Clean air is a right, not a privilege—and today’s announcement by Biden’s EPA makes a critical step toward delivering cleaner air for millions of Americans. Taking soot pollution out of our air will save lives and help kids with asthma breathe more easily, especially in places like Pennsylvania that regularly suffer from elevated soot levels.” [Statement, Feb. 7] 

Andre Delattre, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Programs, U.S. PIRG Education Fund: “For too many Americans, the very air we breathe can make us sick. This is a problem we can choose to solve. This announcement is a welcome step toward a healthier future. We thank President Biden and the EPA for heeding the science and public calls for cleaner air and finalizing strong limits on soot.” [Statement, Feb. 7] 

Jennifer Hadayia, Executive Director, President and CEO, Air Alliance Houston: “We here at Air Alliance Houston applaud and celebrate this change. Houstonians have been forced to breathe harmful soot pollution for too long from too many sources, such as the sprawling oil and petrochemical complexes, rock crushers like the one proposed across from LBJ  standard will finally force a hard look at local measures to Hospital and from freeway expansions like the proposed new Hardy Highway. This new protect our health. I have no doubt that this change will improve health and save lives.” [Statement, Feb. 7]  

Senate

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) @SenatorCarper 

Here's the simple truth — air pollution is bad for our health, bad for our economy, and bad for our planet. I applaud @EPA for following sound science to protect Americans from harmful soot pollution.

EPW Majority @EPWCmte

This is a BIG deal. EPA’s strengthened rule will protect more Americans from soot pollution — one of the most harmful air pollutants to human health.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) @SenWhitehouse

The health harms of soot pollution are real, and fall most heavily on children, the elderly, people of color, poor communities, and folks with pre-existing conditions. Glad to see @EPA strengthen this standard today.

 Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) @gillibrandny

Thank you @POTUS and @EPA for taking steps to clean up our air and protect public health. I pushed @EPA for this strengthened soot standard and am glad to see it finalized — it could prevent 4,500 premature deaths, especially in communities of color.

 Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) @SenMarkey

For far too long, communities of color in the U.S. have experienced disproportionate levels of soot pollution—harming their health. Today's new, strong standard on soot from @EPA is a step toward addressing this environmental injustice and keeping people safe.

 Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) @ChrisVanHollen

This move by @POTUS will help clean up our air and protect the most vulnerable in our communities. The Biden Administration has worked relentlessly to tackle dangerous pollution in our air, water, and more, and generations of Americans will feel the benefits.

House

Rep. Frank Pallone @FrankPallone

Even short-term exposure to fine particulate matter pollution can cause asthma attacks, acute bronchitis, and more. This pollution is dangerous, and Americans have a right to clean, safe air. I applaud @EPA for protecting that right with a stronger, health-based standard.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal @RepJayapal

Thank you, @POTUS and @EPAMichaelRegan — this is a major step that will reduce air pollution and save thousands of lives!

Energy & Commerce Democrats @EnergyCommerce

NEW: Ranking Member @FrankPallone applauds @EPA's action to strengthen air quality standards. Americans have a right to clean, safe air and this fine particulate pollution poses serious health risks to communities every day.

Progressive Caucus @USProgressives 

More exciting progress from the @EPA! They've strengthened the Clean Air Act to protect us against soot, one of the most dangerous forms of air pollution. This rule will be life-saving for the elderly, poor communities, people of color, and those with pre-existing conditions.

Rep. Nanette D. Barragán @RepBarragan

Great News!! @EPA is strengthening air quality standards for fine #ParticlePoluution, one of the most widespread and health-threatening air pollutants affecting the health of communities across the country.

 Rep. Jerry Nadler @RepJerryNadler

I’m grateful that President Biden’s @EPA is following science by strengthening air quality standards for fine #ParticlePollution, one of the most widespread and health-threatening air pollutants affecting the health of communities worldwide.

 Rep. Sean Casten @RepCasten

The benefits of stronger soot pollution standards can’t be denied. For every $1 in costs there could be $77 in health benefits, and in 2032 we’ll see up to:

  • 4,500 premature deaths prevented
  • 2,000 avoided E.R. visits
  • 800,000 avoided asthma symptoms

Rep. Kathy Castor @USRepKCastor

Breathe in the good news, we have more #SolutionsForPollution! With the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law & the @EPA's updated air quality standards, we are improving public health for our neighbors and eliminating dirty, planet-warming pollution.

Rep. Shri Thanedar @RepShriThanedar

For far too long, communities of color in the U.S. have experienced disproportionate levels of soot pollution. Today’s new standard on soot from @POTUS and the @EPA is a step in the right direction to address this environmental injustice. #ActOnSoot

 Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi @CongressmanRaja

This new rule from the @EPA could prevent 4,500 premature deaths over the next decade.

 Rep. Diana DeGette @RepDianaDeGette

The @EPA & @POTUS' work to tighten limits on fine industrial particles is a major step forward in combating deadly air pollution & a huge win for public health. This effort will not only save lives & lower health costs but pave the way for a healthier future for all Americans.

Rep. David Trone @RepDavidTrone

Soot pollution is one of the most dangerous forms of air pollution and is linked to serious and even deadly illnesses. I applaud @EPA for updating the air quality standard for these pollutants. In Congress, I will always fight for a climate our kids can grow up and grow old in.

Rep. Glenn Ivey @RepGlennlvey

The Biden admin's new soot standard is a big step forward for environmental justice, healthy communities, & science. I applaud the @EPAfor enacting a stronger standard to clean up our air and prevent hazardous soot exposure for communities already overburdened by Big Polluters.

 Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester @RepLBR

NEWS: @EPA is strengthening air quality standards for fine #ParticlePollution, one of the most widespread & health-threatening air pollutants.

 I'm proud to have led the fight w/ @RepBarragan & @SenMarkey in calling for this action so our communities have cleaner air to breathe.

Rep. John Sarbanes @RepSarbanes

#Soot pollution is one of the most harmful forms of air pollution and is linked to severe illnesses. Pleased to see @EPA finalize a stronger #AirQuality standard that will result in cleaner air for everyone, especially those in communities historically overburdened by pollution.

Rep. Betty McCollum @BettyMcCollum04

Huge environmental news today: @EPA’s announcement on strengthened soot standards will translate into a life-saving reduction in pollution, preventing 4,500 premature deaths and 800,000 asthma symptom cases annually.

 Rep. Jennifer McClellan @RepMcClellan

The @EPA’s new soot pollution standard is estimated to prevent 4,200 lives and 270,000 lost workdays a year, and deliver $46 billion in health benefits in 2032! Watch my floor remarks commending the EPA for its actions here.

 Rep. Chuy García @RepChuyGarcia

Little Village in my district ranks in the 98th percentile in the US for air pollution that causes cancer and respiratory disease. Trucks that emit massive amounts of exhaust crisscross my district. Stronger @EPA soot standards will save lives in the communities I represent.

Rep. Lucy McBath @RepLucyMcBath

In Georgia, we know all too well the damage and health problems that soot pollution can cause. I'm pleased to see the @EPA and @POTUS announce increased standards we called for to protect families in our state and around the country. 

 Rep. Hank Johnson @RepHankJohnson

I applaud the @EPAMichaelRegan & @POTUS for enacting a tough soot standard that will provide cleaner, safer air for all. #SolutionsForPollution like this one protect the health of our communities, reduce ER visits due to soot, and help everyone breathe easier.

Rep. Darren Soto @RepDarrenSoto

The @EPA has finalized new limits on soot pollution, which threatens American lives every year. The Biden Administration continues on implementing life-saving measures to protect families and ensure cleaner air quality.

Rep. Delia Ramirez @repdeliaramirez

For far too long, low-income families and communities of color have been short-changed as it relates to climate protection efforts. That must change!  Today's new clean air standard addressing soot from the @EPA is a step in the right direction to right current and historical environmental injustices.

Rep. Brad Schneider @RepSchneider

Last year, I called on the EPA to combat soot pollution. Today, I commend @EPA for strengthening key #AirQuality standards for fine particle pollution. This means cleaner air for families in communities like Waukegan that have historically shouldered the burden of air pollution. 

Rep. Dina Titus @repdinatitus

Last year I urged @EPA to follow sound science to strengthen the standards for annual and short-term particle pollution. Strong air quality improves long-term health for all Nevadans and fosters stronger economies, better landscapes, and greater learning.

Rep. Mike Quigley @RepMikeQuigley

All Americans deserve to breathe CLEAN air 

As Co-Chair of @SEEC, I'm proud to see the EPA finalizing new standards that will protect our most vulnerable communities from harmful pollution.

Natural Resources Democrats @NRDems

@EPA's latest soot standards will:

  • prevent up to 4,500 premature deaths every year,
  • avert 800,000 cases of asthma symptoms annually &
  • slash over 290,000 lost workdays.

@POTUS is working to provide cleaner, safer air for all.

State/Local

Governor Jay Inslee @GovInslee 

Great leadership by the @EPA to better protect our health from harmful air pollution. The newly adopted federal standard for fine particle pollution will work in tandem with Washington's actions under the Climate Commitment Act to better protect our most vulnerable communities. 

California Attorney General Rob Bonta

“Today’s announcement is a major victory for environmental justice,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Across California and beyond, too many people suffer from the high levels of particulate matter pollution in their neighborhoods. The Biden Administration, simply by recognizing that fact, has taken a key step that will support states in their efforts to clean up their air and protect the public, especially overburdened communities.”

Bay Area Air Quality District @AirDistrict 

The Air District supports the more stringent health standard for particulate matter pollution adopted today by the @EPA. The annual air quality standard for particulate matter has been tightened from 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air to a more health protective level of 9.

Basil Seggos, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation @BasilSeggos

I applaud @EPA@EPAMichaelRegan for finalizing strong, national standards to reduce soot. This will build upon the progress made in improving air quality throughout New York State & the U.S., especially for our most at-risk populations. @NYSDEC

 Kate Johnson, Head of US Federal Affairs, C40 Cities: “Today’s EPA rule will cut pollution and protect the health of millions of Americans, including city residents that have been disproportionately impacted by pollution. For years, cities have led the way in reducing air pollution by electrifying cars and buses, promoting walking and transit, and tackling industrial sources of emissions in urban areas. But cities alone cannot address all the sources of dangerous soot pollution. The EPA’s new soot pollution standards will improve life for urban residents, from preventing sickness and death to increasing economic productivity. C40 Cities thanks President Biden and EPA Administrator Regan for ensuring all Americans can breathe cleaner air.”

1An earlier version of this release incorrectly referred to Natural Resources Defense Council as "National Resources Defense Council."

EPA to Review Effectiveness of Cleanups at 14 Privately-Owned California Superfund Sites in 2024

Thu, 02/08/2024 - 19:00

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will perform comprehensive five-year reviews this year of 14 National Priorities List Superfund privately-owned sites in California where cleanup remedies have been implemented. The sites will undergo a legally required review to ensure that previous remediation efforts continue to protect public health and the environment. Once the five-year reviews are complete, the findings will be posted to each Superfund site’s web page.

“Reviewing the cleanup work that has occurred at these Superfund sites across California is critical to ensuring that public health and the environment are protected,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Superfund and Emergency Management Division Director Mike Montgomery. “These reviews also serve as important ways to deliver information to the public about Superfund sites where pollution remains and additional work could be needed.”

The California privately-owned Superfund sites where EPA will conduct five-year reviews in 2024 are:

Background

Throughout the process of designing and constructing a cleanup at a hazardous waste site, EPA's primary goal is to make sure the remedy will be protective of public health and the environment. At many sites, where the remedy has been constructed, EPA continues to ensure it remains protective by requiring reviews of cleanups every five years. It is important for EPA to regularly check on these sites to ensure the remedy is working properly. These reviews identify issues (if any) that may affect the protectiveness of the constructed remedy and, if necessary, recommend action(s) necessary to address them.

There are many phases of the Superfund cleanup process including considering future use and redevelopment at sites and conducting post cleanup monitoring of sites. EPA must ensure the remedy is protective of public health and the environment and any redevelopment will uphold the protectiveness of the remedy into the future.

The Superfund program, a federal program established by Congress in 1980, investigates and cleans up the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country and endeavors to facilitate activities to return them to productive use. In total, there are 135 Superfund sites across the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region.

Learn more about Superfund and other cleanup sites in the Pacific Southwest.

Learn more about EPA's Superfund program.

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

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EPA Requires Leprino Foods Company in Tracy, Calif., to Improve Chemical Safety

Thu, 02/08/2024 - 19:00

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with Leprino Foods Company for claims of violations of the Clean Air Act, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act at the company’s facility in Tracy, Calif. The violation claims pertain to the facility’s anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system that is used for cheese production and storage. Anhydrous ammonia can cause serious, often irreversible health effects when released. In addition to potential impacts from inhalation of or skin contact with this substance, it is highly flammable.

Under the settlement, Leprino Foods Company will pay $229,707 in civil penalties and has made significant safety improvements to the facility to come into compliance with federal environmental laws. Leprino Foods Company will also provide emergency response training equipment valued at $179,340 to local first responders.

“To protect workers, first responders and the public, it is paramount that any facility handling dangerous chemicals such as anhydrous ammonia take steps to reduce the risk of releases,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “We’re encouraged that Leprino Foods Company has invested in making its Tracy facility safer and, as a result of this settlement, will provide first responders with important equipment.”

In March 2022, EPA conducted an inspection of the Leprino Foods Company facility located at 2401 North MacArthur Drive in Tracy. EPA identified significant violations of Clean Air Act chemical safety requirements, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.

Based on the inspection, EPA determined that the facility’s ammonia refrigeration system was not designed to meet safety standards. The inspection found several deficiencies, including:

  • Failure to immediately notify the National Response Center and the California Office of Emergency Services following a release of 109 pounds of anhydrous ammonia on March 31, 2021;
  • Inadequate documentation that the facility’s refrigeration system was designed to prevent releases of anhydrous ammonia;
  • An insufficient operation and maintenance program for the refrigeration system, resulting in safety issues, such as significant ice accumulation and corrosion; and
  • Failure to promptly address critical safety recommendations and implement safe work practices for contractors.

In addition to paying a penalty of $229,707, Leprino Foods Company made significant safety improvements to its facility. Safety upgrades included repairs to damaged refrigeration equipment, installation of tight-fitting engine room doors with panic hardware, the connection of all ammonia sensors to a central alarm system, and the addition of safety signage and labeling. Leprino Foods Company also updated design codes and standards for the main engine room, ensured no pressure relief valves exceed allowable backpressure requirements, made improvements to a machinery room emergency ventilation system and relief system design, and sealed a gap in an engine room wall so it is tight-fitting.

Leprino Foods Company will also provide $179,340 worth of emergency response training equipment to its local emergency responder, the South San Joaquin County Fire Authority. Equipment includes a drone with hazardous material sensing capabilities, equipment and software that simulates hazardous material incidents, and training props.

This donation of equipment by Leprino Foods Company is a supplemental environmental project, which is an environmentally beneficial project or activity that is not required by law, but that a party agrees to undertake as part of the settlement of an enforcement action. Such projects or activities go beyond what could legally be required of the respondent, and secure environmental and/or public health benefits in addition to those achieved by compliance with the law.

Emergency Release Notification Requirements:

The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act contain emergency release notification requirements to assure that first responders receive timely notice of reportable releases. Facilities holding reportable quantities of various substances must report releases when they exceed specified quantities. For more information, visit EPA’s Emergency Release Notifications webpage.

Clean Air Act Risk Management Program:

EPA’s Clean Air Act Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations work to prevent accidental chemical releases in our communities and the environment. Facilities holding more than a threshold quantity of a regulated substance are required to comply with EPA’s RMP regulations. The regulations require owners or operators of covered facilities to develop and implement an RMP and to submit a risk management plan to EPA. Learn more about the Risk Management Program rule.

Clean Air Act National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative:

Thousands of facilities nationwide make, use, and store regulated substances, including anhydrous ammonia. Catastrophic accidents at ammonia refrigeration facilities—historically about 150 each year—result in fatalities and serious injuries, evacuations, and other harm to human health and the environment. EPA inspects these facilities as part of the Agency’s National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative, which seeks to reduce risk to human health and the environment by decreasing the likelihood of accidental releases and mitigating the consequences of chemical accidents. Learn about the National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative on reducing risks of accidental releases at industrial and chemical facilities.

Additional Information:

For more information on reporting possible violations of environmental laws and regulations visit EPA’s enforcement reporting website.

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

Biden-Harris Administration Celebrates $46 Million Investment in Jobs, Safe Drinking Water in Canton

Thu, 02/08/2024 - 19:00

CHICAGO (February 8, 2024) – Today in Canton, Ohio, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water Bruno Pigott celebrated a $46 million investment in the Canton Water Department. Through this investment, the Canton Water Department will ensure high-quality drinking water while creating dozens of good-paying, public-sector jobs operating and maintaining the system for decades to come.

“Public sector workers are the backbone of our nation’s water infrastructure, they ensure that communities have safe, reliable drinking water,” said EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water Bruno Pigott. “Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden-Harris Administration’s investments in water infrastructure are creating and sustaining a new generation of family supporting jobs in construction, operation, and maintenance.”

“Ensuring communities have access to clean and safe water is no small feat,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, communities like Canton, Ohio, are getting much needed funds to invest in their water infrastructure and the people who keep it all running smoothly.”

The city of Canton will use the $46 million to upgrade and modernize the Sugar Creek Water Treatment plant, which supplies more than half the community’s drinking water. Canton will make an additional $26 million investment when it constructs a critical new reservoir for collecting and storing safe drinking water and retrofits its service shop which houses essential equipment for ongoing operations.  

“I was glad to welcome Deputy Administrator Pigott and President Saunders to Ohio’s 13th Congressional District to celebrate this $46 million investment which will repair and restore Canton’s water infrastructure. Outdated, aging water systems have been costly for our communities, resulting in higher costs for ratepayers and at worst, dangerous drinking water conditions. This investment will keep water rates affordable, protect our drinking water, and create good-paying, union jobs. Once again, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is delivering real results and lowering costs for Northeast Ohioans,” said Rep. Emilia Sykes.

“I am proud that the skilled, dedicated workers at the Canton Water Department are members of the AFSCME family. They wake up every day focused on keeping Canton healthy and strong, ensuring that local residents have peace of mind every time they turn on the faucet. For them and for all 1.4 million AFSCME members, public service is a calling. For everything these everyday heroes do, they deserve respect. And respect means robust investment in their jobs and their workplaces. So, I am grateful to President Biden and a bipartisan majority in Congress for delivering on this promise, for understanding that infrastructure and infrastructure jobs are the lifeblood of communities across the country,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders.

“The Ohio EPA is grateful to the City of Canton for its proactive approach in maintaining critical drinking water infrastructure and to its dedicated operators who provide clean, safe water to residents,” said Ohio EPA Director Anne Vogel. “Under Governor DeWine’s leadership, we partner with Ohio communities like Canton to finance millions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades through Ohio’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program, which has received additional support from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Projects such as these make Ohio the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”

“The City of Canton is grateful for our relationship with our federal and state partners.  The availability of outside funding helps to ensure our residents have access to clean and safe drinking water at an affordable cost,” said Canton Mayor William V. Sherer II.

 

Background 

The Biden-Harris Administration and bipartisan Congressional action have delivered the single-largest investment in U.S. water infrastructure ever. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests more than $50 billion through EPA’s highly successful water infrastructure programs. With this funding, EPA, states, Tribes, and localities have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to strengthen and rebuild America’s water infrastructure. EPA is committed to ensuring that all communities, particularly disadvantaged and underserved communities, get their fair share of this federal water infrastructure investment. More information about the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is available at www.epa.gov/infrastructure.
 

EPA and New England Aquarium spotlight the sunken treasure of Blue Carbon in climate resilience

Thu, 02/08/2024 - 19:00

BOSTON (Feb. 8, 2024) - Yesterday, leaders from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New England Aquarium gathered together to shine a spotlight on the critical carbon-capturing environments of seagrass meadows and salt marshes, known as Blue Carbon, in sequestering and storing carbon.

The largest quantities of sequestered carbon in New England can be found in salt marshes, which is a habitat type at great risk due to sea level rise and coastal development. The EPA report on "Blue Carbon Reservoirs from Maine to Long Island, NY" documents and maps the existence and status of blue carbon sequestering environments along the northeastern coastal areas of the United States. It is the result of collaboration between 29 different scientists from a host of different agencies, universities, and non-profits that made up the New England Blue Carbon Inventory Workgroup.

"These habitats accumulate large quantities of carbon, and can store it for centuries if left intact," said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. "If we lose those habitats, and their capacity to remove carbon, we also lose our first line of defense against coastal flooding, which often affects disadvantaged communities first and worst. We are very excited that this new installation will help thousands of visitors to the New England Aquarium to learn about an important climate-protecting ecosystem right off our coastline."

"As a Boston resident who lives close to the harbor and as avid scuba diver, I am keenly aware of the impacts that climate change has on our oceans," said Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space for the City of Boston. "Our oceans are absorbing so much of the carbon that we put in the atmosphere, and it is causing great damage to our sea animals and plants. I am excited that both the EPA's report and the Aquarium's exhibit are working to engage us all in the effort to protect the oceans from additional damage."

EPA's Blue Carbon report spurred a new, temporary installation at the New England Aquarium, which showcases the collaborative research led by EPA to map coastal blue carbon habitats from Maine to New York. The installation provides an accessible and concise overview of important scientific research that documents critical habitat for New England coastal communities that also provides significant climate benefits by capturing and storing carbon.

"Blue carbon habitats have the power to help combat climate change, while serving as critical hubs for marine biodiversity. Preserving and restoring blue carbon habitats supports marine species like sea turtles, fish, and shellfish that rely on them for food sources or nurseries, while also naturally capturing carbon, reducing flooding, and providing other important benefits. The Aquarium is pleased to partner with the EPA to educate guests about blue carbon habitats and the need to protect them for future generations," said Dr. Letise LaFeir, Chief of Conservation and Stewardship at New England Aquarium.

Blue Carbon Facts:

Blue carbon is the term used to describe carbon stored in coastal and marine salt marshes, seagrass meadows, and mangrove forests. These aquatic habitats are much more efficient at accumulating and sequestering carbon than terrestrial habitats. An acre of forest on land will have less sequestered carbon in its soil than the equivalent acre of seagrass, salt marsh, or mangrove.

The Blue Carbon report indicates that the geographic area from Maine to Long Island has an estimated 218,222 acres of eelgrass meadows and salt marsh, which are estimated to provide a reservoir of 7,523,568 megagrams of blue carbon. Using the EPA greenhouse gas equivalency calculator, this quantity of stored carbon is equivalent to:

  • The emissions from 5,994,024 passenger vehicles driven in one year.
  • The burning of 30,521,000,000+ pounds of coal.
  • The emissions associated with the energy use of 3,474,000 homes for a year.
  • The emissions offset by the operation of 7,498 wind turbines for a year.
  • The quantity of carbon accumulated in one year in 32,646,000 acres of upland forest.

Background:

During the 2017 Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premier (pdf) (1.1 MB), the management of "blue carbon resources to preserve and enhance their existing carbon reservoirs" was identified as a possible regional climate change action to mitigate and reduce greenhouse gases.

In June 2020, EPA New England initiated an effort to establish a baseline of New England's blue carbon inventory. Working with New England state and federal (USGS and USDA) agencies, academic experts, and non-governmental organizations and utilizing a contract with the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC), datasets of New England's current and historic eelgrass meadows and salt marsh habitats and marine soil cores were identified and entered into an interactive map on the Northeast Ocean Data Portal. Soil organic carbon stocks within these marine habitats were also used to calculate blue carbon stocks. The joint effort has been detailed in the "Blue Carbon Reservoirs from Maine to Long Island NY" Report (pdf) (2.5 MB).

Learn more:

Learn more about Blue Carbon in New England, including EPA's 2023 report on a multi-year study to document and map the existence and status of blue carbon sequestering environments along northeastern coastal areas of the United States: https://www.epa.gov/raine/blue-carbon-new-england

Follow along, and learn more about how we are protecting human health and the environment, funding opportunities in your community, regulatory actions, opportunities to #BeEPA and more on EPA New England’s newly launched Instagram account: @epa_newengland.

New England Aquarium President & CEO Vikki N. Spruill, EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash, and City of Boston Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space Reverend Mariama White-Hammond gathering at the New England Aquarium to highlight the significant role Blue Carbon plays in climate resilience. February 7, 2024.

EPA finalizes changes to strengthen implementation of Toxic Substances Control Act, improve chemical reviews

Thu, 02/08/2024 - 19:00

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized amendments to the 2018 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Fees Rule that will strengthen the agency’s ability to successfully implement the law in a sustainable way, will improve the efficiency of EPA’s chemical reviews, and ensure these reviews result in necessary health and safety protections. The amendments update how EPA will recover authorized costs of the law’s implementation and ensure that collected fees provide the Agency with 25% of authorized costs consistent with direction from Congress.

The 2016 amendments to TSCA greatly increased EPA’s authority and responsibility to protect people and the environment from toxic chemicals. While Congress provided EPA with new authority to collect fees to offset up to 25% of authorized TSCA implementation costs, the 2018 TSCA Fees Rule resulted in collection of less than half of the costs EPA had the authority to collect, adding to implementation challenges caused by insufficient resources.

“Under the Biden-Harris Administration, we’ve made incredible progress implementing our nation’s chemical safety law, and today is another major step forward as we work to build a more sustainable, efficient program that protects public health,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff. “This final rule will provide more resources, allowing EPA to review more chemicals more efficiently which means better and faster protections for communities from dangerous chemicals and robust support for American innovation of new chemistries.”

Reports from EPA’s Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Government Accountability Office note EPA’s lack of resources for the TSCA program and the impact it has had on implementing the 2016 law, as well as the need for better cost estimates. Additionally, EPA’s October 2022 report to Congress on the agency’s capacity to implement the 2016 law acknowledges compounding failures on the EPA’s part in the first few years following enactment to adequately assess its resource needs early and to establish fees that capture the updated cost of EPA’s TSCA work.

EPA based its November 2022 proposed rule on its comprehensive 2021 analysis that more adequately accounted for the anticipated costs of implementing the amended law based on data from the first several years of implementation.

In today’s final rule, EPA has reduced the total program cost estimate by over 19% to approximately $146.8 million (compared to approximately $181.9 million in the 2022 proposed rule) as a result of its comprehensive budget analysis. EPA has identified numerous efficiencies through its experience implementing TSCA that have brought down the estimated costs. Some of these efficiencies include more targeted data reviews and analyses refinement. In addition, EPA will likely need to spend less money gathering data on the next set of chemicals being prioritized for risk evaluation.

Specifically, the fees associated with EPA-initiated risk evaluations have been reduced from $5.1 million to $4.3 million, and the fees for review of a new chemical submissions have been reduced from $45,000 to $37,000.

The final rule will be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Read the final rule.

Learn more about TSCA fees.

EPA Outlines Implementation Approaches for Endangered Species Act Pesticide Policies

Wed, 02/07/2024 - 19:00

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the latest steps to incorporate stakeholder feedback and collaboration with federal partners, ensuring the Agency’s work to protect endangered species from pesticides is practical, flexible, and supports the agricultural community. Assistant Administrator Michal Freedhoff described these steps in a speech to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. 

“Protecting endangered species and ensuring we have a safe and abundant food supply can go hand in hand,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff. “The steps we’re announcing today are designed to meet this dual obligation of providing the agricultural community with the tools and flexibility they need while ensuring pesticides aren’t harming endangered species.” 

When registering pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA must also comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to ensure pesticides do not harm endangered species or their critical habitats. For most of EPA’s history, the Agency has almost never met these duties for its FIFRA decisions. This has resulted in considerable litigation against the Agency, creating uncertainty for farmers and other pesticide users, unnecessary expenses and inefficiencies for EPA, and delays in the protection of endangered species.

In April 2022, EPA released its ESA Workplan, which establishes strategies and actions to adopt those protections while ensuring farmers, public health authorities, and others have access to pesticides. In addition to other actions, EPA proposed a vulnerable species pilot and draft herbicide strategy in 2023. Stakeholders have expressed concerns related to the implementability of these strategies and urged EPA to make needed adjustments before finalizing the approaches.  

Today, EPA announced its plans to address key concerns, expand its partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and seek additional stakeholder engagement in the coming months as it continues to address this decades-old challenge of protecting endangered species from pesticide exposure.

Improved Species Maps

In June 2023, EPA announced draft mitigations for 27 species that are part of the Agency’s Vulnerable Species Pilot project, an effort to protect species that are particularly vulnerable to pesticides. EPA received feedback that some of the maps included areas that endangered species do not live in, and that the areas in which pesticide mitigations would be required under the Pilot were thus overly broad.

Today, EPA announced that it will not implement the Vulnerable Species Pilot protections for a species until a more refined map of its habitat is developed. EPA is also announcing that it is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), USDA, the University of Georgia, and other stakeholders to develop maps that better reflect where these species actually live and where protections from pesticides are needed. In April, EPA plans to hold a workshop to facilitate and prioritize the development of these maps, and EPA will also develop guidelines that the public can use to develop and submit refined maps for hundreds of other endangered species.

Credit for using Voluntary USDA Conservation Practices

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps farmers carry out voluntary practices that improve environmental health and quality, many of which also reduce pesticide drift and runoff, which could benefit endangered species. Yesterday, EPA signed an MOU with USDA describing how EPA can include NRCS conservation practices on pesticide labels as one way growers who voluntarily perform those practices can use them to help fulfill pesticide label requirements. EPA and USDA are planning meetings and workshops in the coming months to further discuss the MOU and gain input from producers about mitigation options that may count toward fulfilling pesticide label requirements.

Regarding the MOU, Robert Bonnie, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, said, “Farmers who use strong conservation practices developed by NRCS should be given credit for all of the benefits these practices provide, including reducing the off-site movement of pesticides. NRCS’s programs remain entirely voluntary and producers will not need NRCS approval. Collaboration between USDA and EPA through efforts such as this MOU and additional stakeholder conversations will help to keep safe, effective pest management tools in farmers’ hands.”  

This effort responds to suggestions received on EPA’s July 2023 draft herbicide strategy and would also apply to other ESA initiatives. This would provide more flexibility for growers on the type of practices they can use to protect endangered species and ensure EPA’s proposed mitigations can practically be implemented. For example, EPA is already considering which mitigations, if any, are needed on land that is dry or flat or both.

Online Mitigation Menu

Currently, if EPA needs to add new mitigations to pesticide labels, the Agency must update hundreds or thousands of paper labels every time the menu of mitigation options is expanded – a process that can take years. EPA will launch its first online mitigation menu that will allow the Agency to quickly add new mitigation measures options, thus ensuring that growers can use those new options promptly. This year, the Agency plans to release a draft online menu for public comment, and then update that menu based on feedback later this year.

Offsets for Endangered Species Protections

EPA is working with stakeholders to determine how to use “offsets” when avoiding or minimizing pesticide exposure to an endangered species is impossible or impractical. In those situations, it may be possible to offset the impact to the species through activities like funding habitat restoration for the species, contributing to a captive rearing project at a zoo for the species, or other steps to conserve the species. EPA, other federal agencies, and stakeholders are participating in a workshop later this month to discuss how to bring offsets into EPA’s ESA-FIFRA work. This initiative should give pesticide registrants and users more flexibility to meet label requirements to protect endangered species, while directly contributing to recovering those species.

Learn more about EPA’s ESA work.

EPA finalizes stronger standards for harmful soot pollution, significantly increasing health and clean air protections for families, workers, and communities

Wed, 02/07/2024 - 19:00

WASHINGTON — The Biden-Harris Administration on Wednesday finalized a significantly stronger air quality standard that will better protect America’s families, workers, and communities from the dangerous and costly health effects of fine particle pollution, also known as soot. By strengthening the annual health-based national ambient air quality standard for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from a level of 12 micrograms per cubic meter to 9 micrograms per cubic meter, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s updated standard will save lives — preventing up to 4,500 premature deaths and 290,000 lost workdays, yielding up to $46 billion in net health benefits in 2032. For every $1 spent from this action, there could be as much as $77 in human health benefits in 2032.

Today’s action is based on the best available science, as required by the Clean Air Act, and sets an air quality level that EPA will help states and Tribal Nations achieve over the coming years — including through complementary EPA standards to reduce pollution from power plants, vehicles, and industrial facilities, paired with historic investments under President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These actions bolster the U.S. economy by deploying billions of dollars and creating good-paying jobs across the transition to cleaner technologies. This strategy will make Americans healthier and more productive, while underpinning a manufacturing resurgence in America. Since 2000, PM2.5 concentrations in the outdoor air have decreased by 42% while the U.S. Gross Domestic Product increased by 52% during that time.

“This final air quality standard will save lives and make all people healthier, especially within America’s most vulnerable and overburdened communities,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Cleaner air means that our children have brighter futures, and people can live more productive and active lives, improving our ability to grow and develop as a nation. EPA looks forward to continuing our decades of success in working with states, counties, Tribes, and industry to ensure this critical health standard is implemented effectively to improve the long-term health and productivity of our nation.” 

Along with strengthening the primary annual PM2.5 standard, EPA is modifying the PM2.5 monitoring network design criteria to include a factor that accounts for proximity of populations at increased risk of PM2.5-related health effects to sources of air pollution. This will advance environmental justice by ensuring localized data collection in overburdened areas to inform future NAAQS reviews.

Particle pollution is of great concern to those with heart or lung disease and other vulnerable communities, including children, older adults, and people with health conditions like asthma, as well as already overburdened communities, including many communities of color and low-income communities throughout the United States. Strengthening the Clean Air Act standard for fine particle pollution improves air quality nationally for everyone, ensuring that communities that are overburdened by pollution are not left behind.

“The Biden administration is taking life-saving action to protect people and rein in deadly pollution,” said Abigail Dillen, President of Earthjustice. “The science is crystal clear. Soot, otherwise known as fine particle pollution, is a killer. It is driving heart disease, our asthma epidemic, and other serious illnesses. The people who suffer most are children and older Americans who live in communities of color and low-income communities. This federal standard will ensure that states respond to the ongoing public health and environmental justice crisis, saving thousands of lives and avoiding 800,000 asthma symptom cases every year.”

“Administrator Regan and President Biden deserve thanks for taking this vital step to curb soot pollution - a dangerous and even deadly pollutant that has taken an oversized toll on underrepresented and overburdened communities less equipped to deal with its severe health impacts,” said Dr. Doris Browne, 118th President of the National Medical Association. “This new standard of 9 micrograms per cubic meter will save lives based on scientific evidence. That is the bottom line. And as a physician, an advocate for clean air, and the past president of the National Medical Association representing physicians, our ultimate goal is health equity.”

“President Biden and EPA Administrator Regan’s new soot pollution limits will save thousands of lives and slash air pollution for people across the country, especially those disproportionately impacted by deadly particle pollution,” said Margie Alt, Director of the Climate Action Campaign. “This standard makes meaningful progress toward protecting our health and addressing the administration’s environmental justice commitments.”

“Particle pollution is a killer. In the United States alone, it cuts thousands of lives short, taking a staggering toll. Children’s bodies are uniquely vulnerable to the harms of soot pollution,” said Dominique Browning, Director and Co-Founder of Moms Clean Air Force.1 “Moms Clean Air Force commends EPA for taking a significant step forward in strengthening the annual standard for particle pollution, also known as soot, to 9 micrograms per cubic meter from its current level at 12. EPA’s new national health standard for particle pollution is the first improvement in over a decade. Soot is associated with increased infant mortality, hospital admissions for heart and lung diseases, cancer, and increased asthma severity. EPA’s finalized protection is an important step towards cleaner, healthier air for all children.”

“I applaud U.S. EPA Administrator Michael Regan for today's action to reduce fine particle pollution and protect communities. These standards will build upon the significant progress already made in improving air quality throughout New York and help prevent the many serious health effects plaguing our most at-risk populations,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Last year, historic smoke plumes from wildfires across Canada increased New Yorkers’ awareness of how fine particulate pollution from natural and man-made sources affects the air we breathe, particularly for the most vulnerable among us.”2

In June 2021, EPA announced it would reconsider the December 2020 decision to retain the 2012 standards because the available scientific evidence and technical information indicated that the standards may not be adequate to protect public health and welfare. EPA considered the available science and technical information, as well as the recommendations of the independent advisors comprising the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee and CASAC PM expert panel when making the decision on whether to strengthen the PM standards.

Based on the scientific evidence, technical information, recommendations from CASAC, and public comments on the 2023 proposed standards, EPA has set two primary standards for PM2.5, which work together to protect public health: the annual standard, which EPA has revised, and a 24-hour standard, which the agency retained. EPA also retained the current primary 24-hour standard for PM10, which provides protection against coarse particles. EPA is also not changing the secondary (welfare-based) standards for fine particles and coarse particles at this time.

A broad and growing body of science links particle pollution to a range of serious and sometimes deadly illnesses. Many studies show that these microscopic fine particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and that long- and short-term exposure can lead to asthma attacks, missed days of school or work, heart attacks, expensive emergency room visits and premature death.

Due to the efforts that states, Tribes, industry, communities, and EPA have already taken to reduce dangerous pollution in communities across the country, 99% of U.S. counties are projected to meet the more protective standard in 2032, likely the earliest year that states would need to meet the revised standard. That’s even before accounting for additional actions on the horizon to implement the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act investments and to update source-specific emission standards.

Most Counties with Monitors Already Meet the Strengthened Particle Pollution Standard
(Based on 2020-2022 Air Monitoring Data)

Figure 1: Based on 2020-2022 air monitoring data, the dark green areas on the map indicate counties that do not meet the annual PM2.5 standard of 9 ug/m3. View the data (pdf). (courtesy U.S. EPA)

Note: The map above reflects monitored counties with complete monitoring data. Future final designations of attainment/nonattainment will not be based on these data, but likely on monitoring data collected between 2022 and 2024. Of the 119 counties with 2020-2022 design values above 9 ug/m3, 59 counties are totally or partially contained in nonattainment areas for current PM2.5 standards. In years 2021 and 2022, EPA is aware that some states have already identified possible exceptional events that may have impacted air quality in the U.S. and may be relevant to designations decisions. (This information is provided for illustrative purposes only and is not intended to predict the outcome of any forthcoming designations process.)

See projected progress in 2032.

EPA is also revising the Air Quality Index to improve public communications about the health risks from PM2.5 exposures.

Some PM is emitted directly from combustion sources, construction sites, industrial processes, and older diesel engines, while other particles are formed in the atmosphere in complex chemical reactions with other pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that are emitted from power plants, gasoline and diesel engines, and certain industrial processes. Particle pollution from industrial processes and other sources is controllable, with readily available and cost-effective technologies to manage emissions, and EPA will build on decades of experience in providing flexible options to states and Tribes across the implementation process.

EPA carefully considered extensive public input as it determined the final standards. The agency held a virtual public hearing and received about 700,000 written comments before finalizing today’s updated air quality standards.

See more information on today’s final standards at Final Reconsideration of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter

1An earlier version of this release misspelled Moms Clean Air Force. It is "Moms Clean Air Force" not "Mom's Clean Air Force."

2This release was updated to include a quote from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos.

EPA Reaches Settlement with Greenidge Generation LLC on Actions to Address Compliance with Coal Ash Regulations

Tue, 02/06/2024 - 19:00

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement under the Agency’s Coal Ash (Coal Combustion Residuals) program with the Greenidge Generation LLC, an electrical generating plant in Dresden, New York. This settlement, the first under EPA’s National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives, commits Greenidge to address groundwater monitoring issues and to ensure the proper closure of a coal ash surface impoundment under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The company will also pay a fine of $105,000.

Produced primarily from the burning of coal in coal-fired power plants, coal ash, also referred to as Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR), is a large industrial waste stream by volume and can contain harmful levels of contaminants such as mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and cobalt. Prior to 2015, the management and disposal of coal ash was not regulated at the national level; instead, it was regulated to varying degrees, if at all, by some states under various programs.  Historic disposal occurred through placement in unlined surface impoundments and landfills.  Without proper containment and management, contaminants from coal ash can pollute waterways, groundwater, drinking water, and the air.

“Coal ash contamination wreaks havoc on the environment and drinking water systems, particularly in overburdened communities,” said David M. Uhlmann, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “EPA is committed to ensuring that coal ash surface impoundments and landfills operate and close in a manner that protects public health and the environment. This settlement is an important step forward in the federal government’s nationwide effort to ensure coal burning plants clean up the harmful effects of the toxic waste they produce.”

“EPA is working to ensure that companies comply with environmental regulations designed to protect public health, our lands and water resources,” said EPA Region 2 Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “This settlement requires Greenidge to cease using, and close, its surface impoundment and to monitor groundwater at the facility to protect surrounding communities and determine whether further steps are required.”

Greenidge burns natural gas to generate electricity for its bitcoin mining operation, and also provides energy to the state’s electricity grid.

EPA alleges that Greenidge did not meet certain requirements under the coal ash program, including:

  • Failure to comply with certain groundwater monitoring system requirements.
  • Failure to adequately prepare annual groundwater monitoring and corrective action reports.
  • Failure to timely prepare initial closure and post closure plans for its coal ash impoundment.

The settlement requires Greenidge to assess groundwater contamination from the coal ash impoundment at its facility. Greenidge will conduct groundwater sampling and analysis, evaluate groundwater flow to determine if additional wells are needed, and update and implement a closure plan for the coal ash impoundment. Ultimately, if groundwater monitoring reveals contamination above the federal groundwater protection standards, Greenidge will be required by self-implementing regulation to design and implement a corrective action program to address the contamination.

To address the risks from disposal and discharge of coal ash, including leaking of contaminants into groundwater, blowing of contaminants into the air as dust, and the catastrophic failure of coal ash surface impoundments, in April 2015, EPA established national rules for coal ash management and disposal.  These rules establish a comprehensive set of requirements for the safe handling and disposal of coal ash from coal-fired power plants, which established technical requirements for coal ash landfills and surface impoundments.

EPA is increasing its efforts and working with its state partners to investigate compliance concerns at coal ash facilities around the nation to ensure compliance and protect the health of communities overburdened by pollution such as coal ash residuals.

For more information on coal ash and the Agency’s coal ash program activities, please visit EPA’s Coal Ash (CCR) website.

EPA Announces Settlement with Mosaic Fertilizer for Alleged Chemical Accident Prevention Violations at St. James, La., Facility

Tue, 02/06/2024 - 19:00

DALLAS, TEXAS (Feb. 6, 2024) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized a settlement with Mosaic Fertilizer and Tampa Port Services over alleged violations of the chemical accident prevention provisions of the Clean Air Act at Mosaic’s facility in St. James, Louisiana. Under the settlement, the companies will pay more than $217,000 in civil penalties, install two ammonia gas monitors and donate equipment to the St. James Parish Emergency Response Department.

“Preventing chemical accidents is one of the most important goals of the Clean Air Act, which can only be fulfilled with the full participation and commitment of owners and operators of industrial facilities,” said Regional Administrator Dr. Earthea Nance. “Companies must prioritize safety for their workers and surrounding communities, and be held accountable when they violate these requirements.”

An on-site inspection found violations associated with Mosaic’s processing of granular monoammonium phosphate and diammonium phosphate and Tampa Port Services’ adjacent anhydrous ammonia process. Violations included failure to document required safety precautions and operating procedures, failure to promptly address recommendations of the process hazard analysis team and compliance audit, failure to train employees according to requirements, failure to implement written procedures for maintaining safety equipment, and failure to test and inspect certain process equipment.

Under the settlement, Mosaic and Tampa Port Services must correct violations and pay a civil penalty of $217, 085. They have also agreed to complete two supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) to benefit the St. James community—installing two area ammonia gas monitors for two years, and donating two 20-kilowatt generators to the St. James Parish Emergency Response Department.

Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act Amendments requires EPA to publish regulations and guidance for chemical accident prevention at facilities that use certain hazardous substances. These regulations and guidance are contained in the Risk Management Program rule, which requires facilities that use extremely hazardous substances to develop a Risk Management Plan which:

  • identifies the potential effects of a chemical accident,
  • identifies steps the facility is taking to prevent an accident, and
  • spells out emergency response procedures should an accident occur.

To learn more about the Clean Air Act’s accident prevention provisions, see https://www.epa.gov/rmp.


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United States and Commonwealth of Massachusetts Announce Settlement with City of Lowell to Address Pollution in Merrimack River

Mon, 02/05/2024 - 19:00

WASHINGTON – Today, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Justice Department and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced a settlement agreement with the City of Lowell, Massachusetts, requiring the city to reduce sewage discharges into the Merrimack River. Under the consent decree, Lowell will pay a $200,000 penalty for past violations.

A portion of Lowell’s wastewater collection system consists of sewers that convey sanitary sewage and stormwater runoff in a single pipe.  During wet weather, untreated combined sewage is discharged through combined sewer overflow (CSO) outfalls to the Merrimack River and its tributaries, including Beaver Brook and the Concord River. The Merrimack River is a drinking water source for several downstream communities. Today’s settlement requires work to separate wastewater and stormwater, which will minimize the number of times untreated sewage is released into nearby waters. 

Lowell will also implement a program to detect and eliminate illicit connections that discharge wastewater to the city’s stormwater system thereby reducing pollution in stormwater that flows into local streams and rivers. Lowell must also establish and implement city ordinances to help prevent stormwater runoff from construction and post construction sites.

The total cost to update the sewer system has been estimated at approximately $195 million.

This consent decree was the result of a joint enforcement action brought by the Justice Department on behalf of the EPA, and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

“For far too long the city of Lowell, Massachusetts has failed to protect the communities that rely on the Merrimack River and other water sources for their drinking water,” said Assistant Administrator David M. Uhlmann of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s settlement demonstrates EPA’s commitment to ensure cities and towns meet their obligations under the Clean Water Act to prevent the overflow of sewage, pollutants, and debris into our nation’s waterways.”

“Today’s settlement will result in cleaner and healthier water for the residents of Lowell and downstream communities, including some with environmental justice concerns, that rely on the Merrimack River for drinking water,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Justice Department is committed to upholding our nation’s water protection laws for the benefit all.” 

“With this consent decree, the City of Lowell is taking necessary steps to further protect Lowell’s historic river ecosystem and improve the quality of the Merrimack River for its residents,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell.  “These measures are critical as we continue our work to ensure that all of our residents live in a healthy and safe environment.”

“This settlement is good news for Lowell and for communities downstream who will be better able to enjoy healthful activities on and near the Merrimack River. The Merrimack flows through several historically disadvantaged communities, so this settlement is especially important for ensuring that all citizens can enjoy a clean and healthy environment,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. “EPA is committed to continuing our work to ensure that Massachusetts and New Hampshire citizens along the Merrimack River have clean and safe water. The timing of this is fortunate, as funding assistance available in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law may help defray costs borne by local ratepayers.”

“We are proud to have worked alongside our colleagues at the Attorney General’s Office and with our federal partners to make significant progress toward reducing contamination in the Merrimack River,” said Commissioner Bonnie Heiple of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. “The Healey-Driscoll Administration is committed to addressing complex issues like combined sewer overflows head-on, using all available tools – including technical support, funding, and enforcement – to promote better environmental and public health outcomes.”

This settlement is part of EPA’s continuing efforts to keep raw sewage and contaminated stormwater out of our nation’s waters. Raw sewage overflows and inadequately controlled stormwater discharges from municipal sewer systems introduce a variety of harmful pollutants, including disease causing organisms, metals and nutrients that threaten our communities’ water quality and can contribute to disease outbreaks, beach and shellfish bed closings, flooding, stream scouring, fishing advisories and basement backups of sewage.

Lowell owns and, through the Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility, operates the Duck Island Clean Water Facility, a 32 million gallon per day secondary wastewater treatment facility that discharges to the Merrimack River. The treatment facility treats wastewater not only from Lowell but also from the Towns of Chelmsford, Dracut, Tewksbury and Tyngsboro, Massachusetts.

Lowell had previously signed a consent decree with the federal government and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1988 to address its illegal CSO discharges. While several interim actions have taken place, Lowell has not yet fully complied with the federal and state environmental statutes. More information on EPA’s efforts to address water quality issues can be found on the agency’s Merrimack River website.

The Justice Department’s Environmental Enforcement Section filed today’s proposed consent decree in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. It is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval. A copy of the consent decree will be available on the Justice Department’s website.