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EPA Seeks Input on Methane Emissions and Waste Reduction Incentive Program for Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems

EPA Air - Thu, 05/18/2023 - 19:00

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting small entities to participate as Small Entity Representatives (SERs) for a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panel. “Small entities” are the small businesses, small governments, or small not-for-profit organizations that may be directly regulated by a rulemaking. This Panel will focus on the agency’s development of a rule that proposes to impose and collect a charge for methane emissions from applicable facilities that report to the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program petroleum and natural gas systems source category (40 CFR Part 98, subpart W) and that exceed emission thresholds specified in Title I of the Clean Air Act section 136(f).

The Panel will include federal representatives from the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and EPA. The Panel members ask a selected group of SERs to provide advice and recommendations on behalf of their company, government, or organization to inform the Panel members about the potential impacts of the proposed rule on small entities.

self-nominations directly from the small entities that may be subject to the rule requirements. Other representatives, such as trade associations that exclusively or at least primarily represent potentially regulated small entities, may also serve as SERs.

Self-nominations may be submitted through the link below and must be received by June 1, 2023.

Nominate yourself as a SER.

Learn more about the Methane Emissions and Waste Reduction Incentive Program.

EPA selects recipients for $25.7 million in technical assistance funding to help rural communities access clean water

EPA Air - Thu, 05/18/2023 - 19:00

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced recipients of $25.7 million in grant funding for water technical assistance providers. This funding supports efforts to help small and rural communities supply safe drinking water and protective wastewater treatment.

This is EPA’s latest investment of water technical assistance funding that builds on the agency’s growing pool of technical assistance providers, including the Environmental Finance Centers. Together, these investments underscore EPA’s commitment to helping communities across America have sustainable water infrastructure.

“Across the country, too many communities struggle with water infrastructure upgrades that are essential for providing clean, safe water. EPA is committed to partnering with rural communities to help them access funding and deliver critical water services,” said EPA Assistant Administrator Radhika Fox. “Today’s latest announcement of technical assistance resources will support rural communities with identifying needs, building capacity and modernizing water infrastructure to provide clean water.”

Water systems that service relatively small populations in rural communities make up most water systems in the country. Approximately 97 percent of the nation’s 145,000 public water systems serve fewer than 10,000 people. More than 80 percent of these systems serve fewer than 500 people. Many small systems face unique challenges — including aging infrastructure and an under resourced workforce — in providing reliable drinking water and wastewater services that meet federal and state regulations. In partnership with the following selected grantees, EPA is taking steps to provide technical assistance on water infrastructure and to provide training for water systems to communities that need it most.

Rural Community Assistance Partnership is anticipated to receive:

  • $14 million to provide training and technical assistance for small public water systems to achieve and maintain compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, including improving financial and managerial capacity. 
  • $1 million to work with small publicly owned wastewater and on-site/decentralized wastewater systems to improve water quality.
  • $2.7 million to work with private well owners to help improve water quality.

National Rural Water Association is anticipated to receive:

  • $8 million to provide training and technical assistance for small public water systems to achieve and maintain compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, including improving financial and managerial capacity. 

Recipients will offer technical assistance to small public water systems to achieve and maintain regulatory compliance to keep clean water flowing for rural communities. Technical assistance will include circuit-rider and multi-state regional technical assistance programs, training and site visits, and training or technical assistance to diagnose and trouble-shoot system operational and compliance-related problems and identify solutions.

EPA offers a range of assistance for communities to identify water challenges, identify solutions, build capacity, and develop application materials to access water infrastructure funding. EPA collaborates with states, tribes, territories, community partners, and other stakeholders to implement WaterTA efforts. The result: more communities with applications for federal funding, quality water infrastructure, and reliable water services. Communities can learn more about EPA WaterTA and indicate interest in receiving assistance by visiting EPA's Water Technical Assistance webpage.

More information on this training and technical assistance grant program.

EPA Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman Joins Clayton County Officials to Announce $400 Million in Grant Funding for Clean School Buses

EPA Air - Thu, 05/18/2023 - 19:00

ATLANTA (May 18, 2023) – At an event yesterday at the Michelle Obama STEM Elementary Academy in Hampton, Georgia, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman highlighted the availability of at least $400 million in grants for cleaner school buses across the country. Eligible applicants are encouraged to apply through August 22, 2023. This latest funding from the President’s Investing in America Agenda follows nearly $1 billion for thousands of electric and low-emission school buses across the nation, including $9,875,000 million that Clayton County Public Schools was selected to receive last year to replace 25 old diesel buses with new electric ones.

“Residents of Clayton County will experience cleaner air through lifetime emission reductions of 9,375 tons of CO2 for the 25 electric school buses provided to Clayton County school system by the Biden-Harris Administration, and its commitment to invest in America through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman. “I hope to see this success replicated in communities across the Southeast so that children – especially those in our must vulnerable communities – will breathe cleaner, healthier air as they travel to and from school each day.”

Under President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, funding from EPA’s Clean School Bus Program will improve air quality in and around schools and communities, save schools money, create good-paying clean energy jobs and reduce greenhouse gas pollution, protecting people and the planet.

The new grants are made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides an unprecedented $5 billion to transform the nation’s fleet of school buses. This is the first round of funding available as grants and follows the nearly $1 billion the Biden-Harris Administration awarded through the rebate competition last year to fund electric and low-emission school buses across school districts.

“These upgraded school buses will help kids across Georgia get to school more safely and reduce air pollution," Senator Jon Ossoff said. "I thank President Biden, Administrator Regan, and Southeast Regional Administrator Blackman for their support. These upgrades are possible thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure law we passed last Congress.”

“I championed the Clean Bus Program when we passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and I am thrilled to see these critical funds invested in Georgia to help further cement our state as a leader in the clean energy economy,” said Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock. “Our children deserve clean, healthy transportation on the road to a better education, and I’m going to keep fighting to direct more critical investments to my state to modernize transportation, protect our environment, and support good-paying jobs.”

Regional Administrator Blackman was joined by Clayton County officials and partner organizations who highlighted the benefits of the Clean School Bus program.

“The health and safety of the children of Clayton County are of paramount concern for the leadership of our school district,” said Dr. Anthony W. Smith, Interim Superintendent of Clayton County Public Schools. “We join the Environmental Protection Agency and these various partner agencies in supporting initiatives that will put more electric school buses on our roads as a way of reducing potentially harmful emissions. We must do all we can to create a better tomorrow, today for our students.”

“Electric school buses provide multiple benefits to our communities—cleaner air, reduced oil use and operational and fuel savings,” said Anne Blair, Senior Director of Policy, Electrification Coalition. “For too long, our children have been paying the price of dirty diesel school buses. Right now we have an opportunity to significantly shift Georgia’s school bus fleet to cleaner buses by taking advantage of historic levels of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.  We encourage Georgia’s leaders to stand up and take advantage (and supplement) this funding.  It’s time that all of Georgia’s children get a cleaner and healthier ride to school.”

“Hundreds of thousands of children in Georgia ride diesel-powered buses to get to and from school each day. This means that they are exposed to toxic diesel pollution every day of the school year. But, thanks to EPA’s Clean School Bus funding, this is poised to change,” said Lux Ho, Moms Clean Air Force Georgia State Coordinator. “The state has already been awarded 127 electric school buses through last year’s rebate program, including 25 right here in Clayton County. As a lifelong Georgian, and former Clayton County Public Schools student, I couldn’t be happier to see this progress toward a healthier future, and I’m looking forward to seeing how many more zero-pollution buses come to the state with the support of this next round of funding from EPA. Let’s leave diesel pollution in the rearview!”

"Our children's health and well-being should be at the forefront of our priorities. Diesel fumes from Georgia’s aging school buses contain harmful pollutants that have been linked to respiratory issues, asthma, and developmental problems in children, resulting in missed school and lower test scores. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the EPA’ grants are providing an unparalleled opportunity for school districts to transition tired school bus fleets to clean energy,” said Tanya Coventry-Strader, Executive Director, Mothers and Others for Clean Air. “By converting their old diesel buses to clean electric buses, Clayton County School District is leading the way and creating a safer and healthier environment for students, bus drivers and faculty.  Mothers and Others for Clean Air are working with other Georgia school districts to encourage them to plan for a transition to clean school buses while this funding support is available. We hope many will follow Clayton County’s lead in ensuring their children have the best chance to thrive and succeed in school."

About the Clean School Bus Grant Competition

The $400 million grant opportunity through EPA’s Clean School Bus Program will fund electric, propane, and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses that will produce either zero or low tailpipe emissions compared to their older diesel predecessors.

These emission reductions will result in cleaner air for students riding the buses, bus drivers, school staff working near the bus loading areas, and the communities the buses drive through each day. Beyond the community, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from these bus replacement projects will help to address the outsized role of the transportation sector on climate change.

EPA is prioritizing applications that will replace buses serving high-need local education agencies, Tribal school districts funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs or those receiving basic support payments for students living on Tribal land, and rural areas. In addition, EPA is committed to ensuring the Clean School Bus Program delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative to ensure that at least 40% of the benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities. Large school districts with communities of concentrated poverty also will be prioritized if their proposal focuses on clean school buses serving those communities.

Eligible applicants for this funding opportunity are (1) state and local governmental entities that provide bus service; (2) public charter school districts, (3) Indian Tribes, Tribal Organizations, or Tribally-controlled Schools, (4) Nonprofit School Transportation Associations, and (5) Eligible Contractors (including OEMs, Dealers, School Bus Service Providers, and Private Bus Fleets).

Applicants have two options to apply:

  1. Applicants seeking to serve a single school district can apply through the School District Sub-Program to request a minimum of 15 school buses and up to a maximum of 50 school buses.
  2. Applicants seeking to serve at least four school districts can apply through the third-party Sub-program to request between 50 school buses and up to a maximum of 100 school buses.

EPA will provide a combined funding amount to cover both bus and infrastructure costs for all awardees requesting electric school buses. Prioritized applicants may apply for up to $395,000 when applying for larger school buses and associated infrastructure, and other applicants may apply for up to $250,000 for larger school buses and associated infrastructure. To encourage federal funding to support the replacement of as many buses as possible, EPA will also offer points in the competition to those who can offer voluntary funding through public-private partnerships, grants from other entities, or school bonds.

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to investing federal dollars in a responsible way that drives high-quality job creation and inclusive economic growth. EPA worked closely with the Department of Labor to ensure this program also supports the workforce needed to support a clean energy economy. Applicants will be asked to describe their plans to conduct workforce planning to ensure current drivers, mechanics, and other essential personnel receive training to safely operate and maintain the new buses, as well as clarify protections to ensure existing workers are not replaced or displaced.

Electric vehicle charging infrastructure must be installed by electricians certified by the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) or a comparable program approved by the Department of Labor. Funding from the Clean School Bus program can also be used to support workforce training and certifications such as EVITP. EPA is also working with clean school bus manufacturers to improve transparency around the high-quality jobs being created across the country.

This 2023 Grant Program is separate from the earlier 2022 Rebate Program, and interested applicants must apply to the Grant Program if interested in this funding opportunity. Grant applicants may submit proposals after the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) which is publicly posted at EPA's Clean School Bus Program webpage. This is a competitive program where applicants will be scored based on how well their proposal meets the criteria set forth within the NOFO. Questions about applying may be directed to CleanSchoolBus@epa.gov.

President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is growing the American economy from the bottom up and middle-out – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to creating a manufacturing and innovation boom powered by good-paying jobs that don’t require a four-year degree, to building a clean-energy economy that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient.

To learn more about the grant program, applicant eligibility, selection process, and informational webinar dates, visit EPA's Clean School Bus Program webpage.

EPA Launches Interactive Map of Sea Level Rise Around Hazardous Waste Sites Along the U.S. Coastline to Help Facilities and Communities Become More Resilient to Climate Change

EPA Air - Thu, 05/18/2023 - 19:00

WASHINGTON –  Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a new data visualization to show the projected sea level rise around hazardous waste facilities within estimated flood zones along the U.S. coastline, as part of a whole-of-government approach to confronting the climate crisis and protecting communities.

According to the “2022 Interagency Sea Level Rise Technical Report,” global mean sea level could rise between about one and seven feet by 2100. Sea level rise can threaten hazardous waste facilities, like landfills, along the U.S. coastline. Coastal flooding not only damages roads and homes, but also impacts human health, including by increasing the risk that drinking water, hazardous waste, and wastewater infrastructure will fail, putting people at risk of exposure to pathogens and harmful chemicals. More than 40% of Americans live near the coast, making it increasingly important for communities and facility personnel to plan for this eventuality.

“This data visualization shines a light on how the climate crisis intersects with and exacerbates significant environmental challenges that disproportionately affect overburdened, under-resourced communities,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Knowledge is power, and this tool will help concentrate our efforts to reduce exposure to toxins, strengthen community resilience, and increase environmental justice.”

EPA developed this tool to help coastal communities, states, regions, and hazardous waste facility managers to better prepare for the impacts of climate change; independently assess their sea level rise vulnerabilities; and help inform actions they can take to become more resilient to climate change. The data visualization also references information from the “2022 Interagency Sea Level Rise Technical Report” about various scenarios that will affect sea level rise over time. These scenarios depend on several factors, including future greenhouse gas emissions that can impact global warming and the rate of sea level rise.

According to EPA’s recent “Biennial Report” hazardous waste data, in 2019, 1.6 million tons of hazardous waste were managed at facilities that would be affected by five or more feet of sea level rise. That includes waste from over 55 facilities. This height range falls in between the intermediate-low to intermediate-high scenarios of sea level rise predictions in the Interagency Report.

Identifying the hazardous waste facilities that could be affected by rising water levels will help both communities and facility managers mitigate potential pollution risks resulting from contaminant release. This action is particularly important for communities that are already experiencing disproportionately high pollution levels, as well as the resulting adverse health and environmental impacts. Communities with residents that are predominantly of color, indigenous, or lower income are also more likely to live near hazardous waste facilities, leaving them disproportionately vulnerable to toxic leaks and contamination caused by inundation.

To help address these local resilience and environmental justice concerns, EPA continues to provide necessary tools and resources that local decision makers can use to identify their vulnerabilities and consider climate change risks in their planning processes and projects.  

For example, EPA offers guidance to help facility managers and communities develop debris management plans before natural disasters occur, including hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, and winter storms. According to the “2022 Interagency Sea Level Rise Technical Report,” predicted sea level rise will create storm surge heights that increase and reach farther inland. In fact, by 2050, “moderate” (typically damaging) flooding is expected to occur, on average, more than 10 times as often as it does today and can be intensified by local factors.

Specific actions that can be taken by hazardous waste facilities to help prevent releases of hazardous waste from natural disaster damages include: 

  • Constructing physical barriers (e.g., sand caps, retaining walls), to contain contaminants that are suitable for an identified climate threat (e.g., flooding, intense storms, fires). 
  • Placing engineering controls (e.g., pumps, electrical equipment) in locations that have a low likelihood of being affected by the identified climate threat. 
  • Designing containment, monitoring and treatment systems, and subgrade infrastructure to withstand changing conditions from the identified climate threat; and 
  • Designing landfill or remediation caps (covers over contaminated material) that are resilient to the identified threat, e.g., use drought-resistant plants for vegetated soil caps for long-term erosion control. 

Explore the new data visualization which shares projections up to the year 2100 as well as resources for what communities can do.

For information on climate change science, impacts, and indicators, what EPA is doing about climate change, and what individuals and businesses can do, visit EPA’s Climate Change webpage.  

Check out the Interagency Report’s Application Guide, which helps individuals and organizations discover the best approaches for their communities.  

EPA offers a multitude of additional resources to support local governments, including an interactive resource to help local governments effectively deliver services to their communities as the climate changes, an environmental justice screening and mapping tool, guidance on planning for natural disaster debris, an interactive all hazards waste management planning tool and guidance to help coastal communities become more climate ready.  

EPA announces funding for New York and New Jersey metropolitan areas to tackle climate pollution

EPA Air - Thu, 05/18/2023 - 19:00

NEW YORK - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will award $1 million each from the agency’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG) program to Albany, Buffalo, New York City and Rochester metropolitan areas to plan innovative strategies to cut climate pollution and build clean energy economies for the benefit of New York and northern New Jersey communities. The funding announced today is in addition to the $3 million that each of the States of New York and New Jersey will receive through the CPRG program. Working in tandem with other programs also funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, CPRG provides flexible planning resources to local governments, states, tribes and territories for climate solutions that protect communities from pollution and advance environmental justice.

“EPA is providing a total of $10 million through the Inflation Reduction Act to find ways to address and reduce harmful climate pollution in New York and New Jersey, including in some of the largest metropolitan areas in the country,” said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “The States of New York and New Jersey both stepped up to the plate earlier this year, and now all of the largest metro areas in the region are following suit and showing up as real local climate leaders.”

The census-designated metropolitan statistical areas of Albany-Schenectady-Troy (New York); Buffalo-Cheektowaga (New York); New York-Newark-Jersey City (New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania); and Rochester (New York) are among more than 70 metropolitan areas across the nation eligible to receive $1 million each in grant funds. Other New Jersey communities that are part of Pennsylvania’s metropolitan statistical areas will also benefit from these funds. The selected lead agency for each metropolitan statistical area will use the funds to update existing climate, energy, or sustainability plans, or to develop new plans in collaboration with municipalities and communities across the metropolitan areas and conduct meaningful public engagement on the plan, focusing on low-income and disadvantaged communities. EPA expects to award and administer the funding agreements later this summer once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied.

The Capital District Regional Planning Commission (CDRPC) will lead the climate pollution reduction planning efforts for the Albany-Schenectady-Troy, New York metropolitan area.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, "Combatting climate change and creating new clean energy industries is not only good for our environment and our economy, but they help improve the lives of everyone - especially those who live in our environmental justice communities. This $1 million grant provided by the EPA will help us build on the successes in Albany and across our region and make lasting positive impacts for generations to come. Thank you to President Biden, EPA Administrator Regan, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and Congressman Tonko for making this funding available from the Inflation Reduction Act."

David J. Hogenkamp, Chairman of CDRPC said, “The Capital District Regional Planning Commission is pleased to serve as the lead organization for the Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY metro area to carry out the EPA Climate Pollution Reduction Grants program. The CPRG program will amplify existing state and regional sustainability initiatives supported by CDRPC, such as the NY State Clean Energy Communities and Climate Smart Communities programs, by providing additional resources and outreach to help our communities address the impacts of climate change. We applaud President Biden and our New York Congressional delegation for making this critical investment in the future of our region.”

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), part of the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council (GBNRTC), will lead climate pollution reduction planning efforts for the Buffalo-Cheektowaga, New York metropolitan area, in partnership with the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls and Erie and Niagara counties. GBNRTC is the Metropolitan Planning Organization for Erie and Niagara counties in New York. The member agencies of GBNRTC are the New York State Department of Transportation, the New York State Thruway Authority, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, Erie County, Niagara County, the City of Buffalo and the City of Niagara Falls.

Mayor Byron W. Brown stated, “All of our residents deserve to live in healthy environments with the promise of equitable economic outcomes, and today we’re grateful to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its investment in Buffalo. This $1 million award from the agency’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grants program will help us continue to address environmental justice in our underserved communities and develop and expand innovative strategies to further cut carbon pollution and support green jobs creation so that all Buffalo residents might live in climate resilient communities."

GBNRTC Executive Director Michael J. Finn, P.E. said, “The Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council, on behalf of its member agencies, is proud to accept the opportunity to prepare a Climate Action Plan for the Buffalo Niagara Region. The plan will build off of efforts already underway at the State and local level to develop a framework for addressing the impacts of climate change in our region.”

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), through the administration of the New York City Department of Small Business Services (NYCDSBS), will lead climate pollution reduction planning efforts for the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area, in partnership with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC) on behalf of the membership within their planning areas.

NYCEDC President and CEO Andrew Kimball said, “The EPA Climate Pollution Reduction Grant will help New York City work with our regional partners towards a cleaner, greener future. These funds will strengthen the city’s existing sustainability initiatives, help us reduce emissions throughout the five boroughs and continue making New York City a great place to live, work, and play for now and for future generations.”

The Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council will lead climate pollution reduction planning efforts for the Rochester, New York metropolitan area.

Rochester Mayor Malik D. Evans said, “I am grateful to Administrator Michael Regan and the Environmental Protection Agency for including the Rochester region as part of the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants Program. Working with our partners, this program will greatly accelerate the goal of the Communitywide Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030. I also want to thank and commend our Congressional delegation, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Joseph Morelle, for securing these funds through the Inflation Reduction Act and helping us create a safe, equitable and prosperous Rochester by inspiring hope and delivering opportunity for everyone.”

Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council Executive Director Richard Sutherland said, “The EPA's Climate Pollution Reduction Grants Program will be a valuable opportunity for communities within the Rochester, New York metro area to continue their progress towards developing and implementing plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful air pollution. This grant, along with involvement in programs like NYSERDA's Clean Energy Communities and NYSDEC's Climate Smart Communities programs, will enable local communities to invest in a cleaner economy that can spur innovation and economic growth while building more equitable, resilient communities.”

This funding for climate planning will be followed later this year by a national grant competition for $4.6 billion in implementation grant funding that will support the expeditious implementation of investment-ready policies created by the CPRG planning grants, programs, and projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the near term.

About the Climate Pollution Reduction Grant Program

On March 1, EPA announced the availability of these funds, which are the first series of climate pollution funding opportunities for states, local governments, territories and Tribes. The CPRG planning grants will support states, territories, Tribes, municipalities and air agencies, in the creation of comprehensive, innovative strategies for reducing pollution and ensuring that investments maximize benefits, especially for low-income and disadvantaged communities. Through the CPRG program, EPA will support the development and deployment of technologies and solutions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and harmful air pollution, as well as transition America to a clean energy economy that benefits all Americans.

Climate plans will include:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions inventories.
  • Emissions projections and reduction targets.
  • Economic, health, and social benefits, including to low-income and disadvantaged communities.
  • Plans to leverage other sources of federal funding, including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.
  • Workforce needs to support decarbonization and a clean energy economy.
  • Future government staffing and budget needs.

More information on the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants

CPRG Planning Grant Program Guidances

Sign up for notifications about the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants

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

Cleanup Operations at Oil Discharge Scene Near Washington, Kansas, Shift to Restoration

EPA Air - Wed, 05/17/2023 - 19:00
Rewatered segment of Mill Creek near Washington, Kansas. (Photo credit: U.S. EPA)

LENEXA, KAN. (MAY 17, 2023) – Overseen by EPA Region 7 on-scene coordinators (OSCs) and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), response personnel have completed the recovery of discharged oil in Mill Creek from the pipeline rupture near Washington, Kansas.

While additional response-related tasks are ongoing, such as the disposal of oil-impacted soil and sediment and response-generated waste, and the restoration of lands impacted by the response, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has authorized TC Energy to begin restoration work in Mill Creek under Nationwide Permit 27: Aquatic Habitat Restoration, Enhancement, and Establishment Activities.

Through this permit, the restoration of Mill Creek will allow for it to be restored to its original condition, form and functions, as well as include enhancement activities that will result in a net gain in aquatic resource functions and services.

“Starting restoration work in Mill Creek is a tremendous milestone and to meet that in five months highlights the commitment and dedication of response personnel,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Meg McCollister. “I am very proud of our team and their commitment and dedication to overseeing the cleanup operations at the site, which included time on-site during extreme winter weather and several holidays.”

EPA and KDHE will continue to monitor the cleanup and restoration of the site and the impacted segments of Mill Creek. KDHE will also oversee the decommissioning of the water treatment facilities; monitor the water quality; work with USACE on restoration efforts; and work with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to evaluate the impacts on wildlife in the area. Monitoring of the surface and groundwater will also be conducted by KDHE.

“We are so pleased to see the progress on the restoration and recovery of Mill Creek and recognize that these are the combined efforts of hundreds of hard-working personnel,” said KDHE Secretary Janet Stanek. “I commend the KDHE team for its diligent and committed response to overseeing the remediation of the creek and surrounding area, and ensuring the future use of the water source.”

View EPA’s Story Map for the Mill Creek Response.

Learn more about EPA’s response operations at Mill Creek.

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Learn more about EPA Region 7

View all Region 7 news releases

Connect with EPA Region 7 on Facebook

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EPA Air - Wed, 05/17/2023 - 19:00

 PHILADELPHIA (May 17, 2023) To protect Baltimore’s supply of safe, clean drinking water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a unilateral administrative order (UAO) to the City of Baltimore. EPA ordered the City to comply with Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) safeguards designed to protect public health from illnesses linked to Cryptosporidium, Giardia and other bacteria from animal waste which can contaminate drinking water. EPA has been working closely with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), and MDE supports this action.

EPA has cited the City of Baltimore for noncompliance with the Long-Term Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule, a Safe Drinking Water Act regulation designed to protect public drinking water supplies from threats posed by Cryptosporidium and other bacteria. According to EPA, the City has also not fully complied with a July 2010 consent order with EPA requiring Baltimore to cover and/or provide treatment for its uncovered finished water reservoirs by December 31, 2018.  Two of the City’s finished water reservoirs – Druid Lake and Ashburton – remain uncovered and untreated. 

EPA is in communication with the City of Baltimore on this matter and remains hopeful to reach an agreement to address concerns with compliance.  However, EPA has determined that a unilateral order is appropriate at this time because of repeated delays by the City.

Among other actions, EPA’s order requires the City to:

  • respond to EPA and MDE in writing within 7 days of the effective date of the order (May 15, 2023) outlining actions it has taken and will take to comply with the order,
  • conduct monthly monitoring and sampling of the Druid Lake and Ashburton reservoirs, and
  • submit monthly reports on the progress the City is making to install tanks to replace the two uncovered finished reservoirs. 

The Safe Drinking Water Act is the principal federal law ensuring the quality of Americans' drinking water supply. Under this statute, EPA sets standards for drinking water quality for public water systems and oversees the states, localities, and water suppliers who implement those standards. The law protects drinking water and its sources -- rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and ground water wells.

For more information about SDWA regulations https://www.epa.gov/dwstandardsregulations.   For a copy of the order  City of Baltimore SDWA UAO | US EPA.

EPA penalizes Anchorage renovation company $25,609 for lead-based paint violations

EPA Air - Wed, 05/17/2023 - 19:00

SEATTLE (May 17, 2023) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 announced today that it has penalized GreenBuild Design and Construction, LLC of Anchorage, Alaska, $25,609 for violating the Lead Renovation and Repair Rule, the federal law governing the handling and disposal of lead-based paint.  

“Exposure to lead-based paint can cause serious, and sometimes permanent health effects, and children are especially vulnerable,” said Stacy Murphy, Acting Director of EPA Region 10’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. “Contractors and renovation firms play an important role in protecting people from exposure to lead and we are committed to ensuring that businesses follow the law.” 

The penalty is the result of an investigation that began in 2018 and which showed GreenBuild Design and Construction, LLC violated the federal Toxic Substances Control Act’s Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. The rule aims to protect the public from lead-based paint hazards associated with pre-1978 homes by, among other things, requiring workers to be certified in lead-safe work practices.  

EPA found that the company committed the following violations:  

  • Performing the renovation without certification;  

  • Failing to ensure that the renovation work was directed by either a certified renovator or by individuals who had been trained by a certified renovator;  

  • Failing to post warning signs around the work site and; 

  • Failing to cover the ground with impermeable material to contain lead-contaminated dust and debris created by the renovation work. 

EPA initiated its investigation after communicating with GreenBuild multiple times about the requirements of the law. The company applied for multiple renovation permits without the required training and certification, potentially putting homeowners and their families at risk of lead exposure. Certification and training are readily available throughout the country. 

EPA filed a complaint alleging these violations and the Administrative Law Judge hearing the case found that “on a number of occasions, from 2015 through 2018, [GreenBuild] failed to respond to correspondence from the Agency and failed to participate in scheduled inspections with EPA, even after promising to attend.” The judge found GreenBuild liable for the violations and assessed the $25,609 penalty

Although Congress banned residential use of lead-based paint in 1978, it is still present in millions of older homes, sometimes under layers of new paint. Lead exposure can cause behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems and diminished IQ.  

EPA Expands Public Comment Opportunities for Draft Determination to Protect Cape Cod's Sole Source of Drinking Water

EPA Air - Wed, 05/17/2023 - 19:00

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is increasing the ways members of the public and other interested parties may submit comments regarding the draft determination under the Safe Drinking Water Act that a Multi-Purpose Machine Gun Range proposed to be constructed by the Massachusetts Army National Guard may contaminate the Cape Cod Aquifer. There are no reasonably available alternative drinking water sources for Cape Cod residents should the aquifer become contaminated.

EPA is accepting public comment on this proposal for 60 days, through June 26, and is holding a formal Public Hearing on May 24, 2023. Because EPA anticipates high interest in the May 24 Public Hearing, EPA is expanding the options for people to submit comments for the formal public record of this action.

Public Engagement Process

During the remainder of the 60-day public comment period, the public and interested stakeholders may submit comments for EPA's consideration:

  • Written comments may be submitted to: R1SSAComments@epa.gov
  • Verbal comments may be submitted on a voicemail box at (617) 918-1800
  • In person comments can be submitted during the public hearing on May 24th.

The May 24, 2023 public hearing will be held at:
Center for Active Living
70 Quaker Meetinghouse Road
Sandwich, Mass.

The formal public hearing will begin at 7:00 p.m. and will be preceded by an informational public meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. Individuals with accessibility or translation requests may contact Melanson.Kate@epa.gov for assistance.

The meeting and public hearing will be live streamed via Zoom at https://usepa.zoomgov.com/j/1605125622?pwd=TXkyY29CNG9vR2tvUEkraWNONm82dz09. People may watch and listen to the public meeting and public hearing using this virtual option, however public comments will not be accepted over zoom. Those who wish to comment during the public hearing can attend in person, or use the noted email box or voicemail box to submit comments.

All comments timely received will be reviewed and considered by the Region, along with other available information. If, after evaluating this material, EPA's Regional Administrator continues to believe that the proposed project may create a significant public health hazard, he will then forward the information to the EPA Administrator with a recommended conclusion that the project may contaminate the aquifer through the recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health. The EPA Administrator will then make a final determination. Should this determination become final, no commitment of federal financial assistance (through a grant, contract, loan guarantee, or otherwise) may be allowed.

More Information:

EPA information on Cape Cod Sole Source Aquifer and EPA documents about the draft determination: https://www3.epa.gov/region1/eco/drinkwater/capecod.html

To join the May 24 public meeting or formal public hearing by Zoom:

Join ZoomGov Meeting: https://usepa.zoomgov.com/j/1605125622?pwd=TXkyY29CNG9vR2tvUEkraWNONm82dz09

Meeting ID: 160 512 5622
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U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR Program Develops Energy-Saving Guidance for Co-Location Data Centers in Collaboration with Equinix and Iron Mountain

EPA Air - Wed, 05/17/2023 - 19:00

WASHINGTON - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of a new best practices guide to help customers of shared data centers, also known as co-locations, save energy and reduce their carbon footprint. Developed with input from global data centers, Equinix and Iron Mountain, EPA created this guidance to address common issues like energy waste and unnecessary operational costs.

“Data centers are central to meeting our ever-growing need for data processing and storage,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Prioritizing energy efficiency in these data centers will allow our economy to expand to meet these needs while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with them.”

Critical to society and the digital economy, co-location data centers are large data centers that rent out space within their facilities to third parties to store their servers and network equipment. This service is popular among businesses that may not have the capacity or resources to manage their own private data center but still require secure facilities for storing, processing, and protecting their data. Moreover, co-location data centers provide services that are more efficient than businesses operating their own data center.

In 2018, data centers were estimated to consume about 1% of all global energy – and despite the success of data center efficiency over the past decade, the pace of digitalization and energy consumption has been increasing, and more businesses are needing to rent space to store their data. Many quick and easy efficiency improvements – such as replacing old, inefficient hardware – have been achieved, and data center managers are now looking to improve setup and infrastructure, which accounts for roughly 38% of data center energy consumption, to optimize efficiency. This new guidance on best practices was developed to make those improvements by addressing such issues as:

  • Airflow management, which can reduce energy use by 15% when setup is optimized for adequate air flow.
  • Optimal operating temperature, which can reduce cooling costs by 4% for every degree that the air inlet temperature is raised.
  • Proper cabling, which can improve airflow, reduce stress on IT equipment and ensure that debris and inhibited airflow does not reduce the lifespan of hardware.
  • Separation of hot and cold aisles, which can reduce energy consumption by 10-35% depending on setup.
  • Server efficiency, which has continued to improve with the recent release of a new ENERGY STAR server specification. The latest requirements expanded the program scope to include storage-heavy servers and include criteria levels three times more stringent than what was included previously. The new ENERGY STAR specification was developed in close collaboration with industry allies to further push the bar on efficiency for server products – with the result that servers are expected to perform 38% more efficiently than standard models in order to earn the label.

You can find this guidance on best practices for co-location data centers on the ENERGY STAR website, and find more guidance on data center efficiency at ENERGY STAR’s Data Centers page.

ENERGY STAR® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions. Thousands of industrial, commercial, utility, state, and local organizations rely on their partnership with EPA to deliver cost-saving energy efficiency solutions. Since 1992, ENERGY STAR and its partners helped American families and businesses avoid more than $500 billion in energy costs and achieve more than 4 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas reductions. More background information about ENERGY STAR’s impacts.

EPA Announces Latest Action to Protect Communities from Coal Ash Contamination

EPA Air - Wed, 05/17/2023 - 19:00

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the latest action to protect communities and hold polluters accountable for controlling and cleaning up the contamination created by the disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCR or coal ash), which can cause serious public health risks and leak into groundwater. The Agency issued a proposed rule that would require the safe management of coal ash dumped in areas that are currently unregulated at the federal level. This includes inactive power plants with surface impoundments that are no longer being used and historical coal ash disposal areas at power plants with regulated coal ash units. Because this proposal applies to legacy contamination or inactive units that no longer support current power plant operations, it is not expected to affect current power plant operations.

Coal ash is a byproduct of burning coal in power plants that, without proper management, can pollute waterways, groundwater, drinking water, and the air. Coal ash contains contaminants like mercury, cadmium, chromium, and arsenic associated with cancer and various other serious health effects. Today’s action delivers protections for underserved communities already overburdened by pollution, reflecting the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government commitment to advancing environmental justice.

“Ensuring the health and safety of all people is EPA’s top priority, and this proposed rule represents a crucial step toward safeguarding the air, groundwater, streams, and drinking water communities depend on,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Many of these communities have been disproportionately impacted by pollution for far too long. This proposal will better protect their health and our environment, and it will reflect our broader commitment to reduce pollution from the power sector in a way that ensures a reliable, affordable supply of electricity.”

Inactive coal ash surface impoundments at inactive facilities, referred to as “legacy CCR surface impoundments,” are more likely to be unlined and unmonitored, making them more prone to leaks and structural problems than units at facilities that are currently in service. These units are currently not regulated at the federal level — a gap that a federal court directed EPA to address in 2018. To address these concerns, EPA is proposing safeguards for legacy coal ash surface impoundments that largely mirror those for inactive impoundments at active facilities, including requiring the proper closure of the impoundments and remediating coal ash contamination in groundwater.

In addition, through implementation of the 2015 CCR rule, EPA found that power plants with regulated impoundments had also disposed of coal ash in areas outside of regulated units.  These areas could include coal ash in surface impoundments and landfills that closed prior to the effective date of the 2015 CCR Rule, inactive CCR landfills, and other areas where coal ash is placed directly on the land. The Agency is proposing to apply certain protections in EPA’s coal ash regulations to these areas.

As EPA works to finalize the proposal, it will engage with the power sector and other groups to ensure this proposal reflects the Administration’s commitment to reduce pollution from the power sector while providing long-term regulatory certainty and operational flexibility.

EPA is collecting public comments on these proposals for 60 days through dockets in regulations.gov. EPA will also hold both in-person and virtual public hearings. For more information, visit this webpage.


Coal ash is a byproduct of burning coal in coal-fired power plants that can contain contaminants like mercury, cadmium, chromium, and arsenic associated with cancer and other serious health effects. Many facilities have stored coal ash in surface impoundments, which have the potential to leak or to fail, sending coal ash and its contaminants into water sources, including surface water and groundwater. On April 17, 2015, EPA issued national minimum standards for existing and new CCR landfills, as well as existing and new CCR surface impoundments at active facilities. That final rule did not establish requirements for inactive facilities.

On August 21, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the exemption for inactive surface impoundments at inactive facilities and remanded the case to EPA for further action in accordance with the decision in Utility Solid Waste Activities Group, et al. v. EPA. In response, in October 2020, EPA requested comments and data on legacy CCR surface impoundments to assist in the development of future regulations for these CCR units. This proposed rule incorporates the information collected in that effort.

Learn about coal ash and EPA’s recent decisions, proposals, and settlements.

EPA and Justice Department Announce Settlement to Reduce Hazardous Air Emissions at BP Products’ Whiting Refinery in Indiana

EPA Air - Wed, 05/17/2023 - 19:00

WASHINGTON (May 17, 2023) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice announced a Clean Air Act Settlement with BP Products North America Inc., (BPP), a subsidiary of BP p.l.c., requiring control technology expected to reduce benzene by an estimated seven tons per year, other hazardous air pollutants (HAP) by 28 tons per year, and other volatile organic compound emissions (VOC) by 372 tons per year at its Whiting Refinery in Indiana. The United States’ complaint, filed simultaneously with the settlement, alleges that BPP violated federal regulations limiting benzene in refinery wastewater streams, and HAP and VOC emissions at its Whiting Refinery, as well as the general requirement to use good air pollution control practices. As part of the settlement, BPP will install one or more permanent benzene strippers to reduce benzene in wastewater streams leading to its lakefront wastewater treatment plant.

“This settlement will result in the reduction of hundreds of tons of harmful air pollution a year, which means cleaner, healthier air for local communities, including communities with environmental justice concerns,” said Acting Assistant Administrator Larry Starfield of the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This is one of several recent settlements that show that EPA and the Department of Justice are committed to improving air quality in local communities by holding industrial sources accountable for violations of emission standards under the Clean Air Act.”

“This settlement sends an important message to the refining industry that the United States will take decisive action against illegal benzene and VOC emissions,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Under the settlement, the refinery will implement controls that will greatly improve air quality and reduce health impacts on the overburdened communities that surround the facility.”

“This settlement advances my office’s environmental justice initiative by providing cleaner air and reducing the negative health impacts on the low income and minority residents who live near BPP’s refinery,” said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana Clifford D. Johnson. “My office is committed to continuing to enforce the Nation’s environmental laws so that all residents of Northern Indiana can live, work, and play in a cleaner, healthier environment.”

In addition to securing injunctive relief, including capital investments, estimated to exceed $197 million, the settlement obligates BPP to pay a total financial penalty of $40 million, comprised of civil penalties and stipulated penalties for violations of an earlier settlement. This is the largest civil penalty ever secured for a Clean Air Act stationary source settlement. BPP separately agreed to undertake a $5 million supplemental environmental project to reduce diesel emissions in the communities surrounding the Whiting Refinery. BPP will also install 10 air pollutant monitoring stations to monitor air quality outside of the refinery fenceline. The settlement terms are included in a proposed consent decree filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.

Benzene is known to cause cancer in humans. Short-term inhalation exposure to benzene also may cause drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, as well as eye, skin, and respiratory tract irritation, and, at high levels, unconsciousness. Long-term inhalation exposure can cause various disorders in the blood, including reduced numbers of red blood cells and anemia in occupational settings. Reproductive effects have been reported for women exposed by inhalation to high levels, and adverse effects on the developing fetus have been observed in animal tests.

VOCs along with NOX, play a major role in the atmospheric reactions that produce ozone, which is the primary constituent of smog. People with lung disease, children, older adults, and people who are active can be affected when ozone levels are unhealthy. Ground-level ozone exposure is linked to a variety of short-term health problems, including lung irritation and difficulty breathing, as well as long-term problems, such as permanent lung damage from repeated exposure, aggravated asthma, reduced lung capacity, and increased susceptibility to respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis.

The Whiting Refinery is surrounded by communities with environmental justice concerns. This settlement is part of EPA’s and the Justice Department’s ongoing focus on assisting communities that have been historically marginalized and disproportionately exposed to pollution.  

This settlement also supports EPA’s National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative (NECI): Creating Cleaner Air for Communities by Reducing Excess Emissions of Harmful Pollutants. Learn more about this NECI.

The State of Indiana assisted in the negotiations and is also a party to the settlement.

The settlement is subject to a public comment period and final court approval. The consent decree will be available for viewing on the Department of Justice website.

For more information about the settlement, please visit: 2023 BP Products Clean Air Act Benzene and Volatile Organic Compounds Settlement Information Sheet | US EPA

EPA Fines California Company $602,000 for Sale of Unregistered Antimicrobial Wipes that Illegally Made “Sterilizer” Claims

EPA Air - Tue, 05/16/2023 - 19:00

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a settlement with Daiso California LLC that resolves violations of the law for the company’s sale of wet wipes that were not registered with EPA. Daiso will pay a $602,386 penalty to settle these violations. The company sold the wipes—Daiso Plus Wet Wipes—at a store in El Cerrito, Calif., and online on its website. Daiso primarily markets its products to Asian-American communities.

“Unregistered disinfectant or sterilizer products like Daiso Plus Wet Wipes, with labels that make false and misleading claims, can threaten human health,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “This settlement is proof of EPA’s commitment to enforce laws that protect public health, especially in communities that face environmental justice challenges.”

Before March 2022, Daiso sold Daiso Plus Wet Wipes, the labels for which made the claim that the wipes were for sterilizing kitchenware and other items. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the term “sterilizing” is a claim attributed to pesticide products with the highest level of efficacy against microorganisms. Because of these claims, Daiso Plus Wet Wipes were considered a pesticide product and should have been registered with EPA, but the company failed to do so.

The sale and distribution of unregistered products making disinfectant or sterilizer claims may pose risks to human health and the environment. If EPA has not reviewed reliable data about how the pesticide product works and what kinds of exposures may impact the user, then the risk to the consumer and the environment is unknown and use of the product is potentially unsafe. Additionally, consumers may be misled to believe a pesticide product provides public health benefits that it does not.

Applicants for pesticide registration are required to submit efficacy data to the agency to substantiate any public health claims they intend to make for their product. Before EPA can register a pesticide, the agency must determine that no unreasonable adverse effects on human health and the environment will occur when the product is used according to its label directions.

Read more about FIFRA enforcement on EPA’s website.

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

Biden-Harris Administration Proposes Reforms to New Chemical Review Process to Protect Public Health, Promote Efficiency and Consistency

EPA Air - Tue, 05/16/2023 - 19:00

WASHINGTON  Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed amendments to the regulations that govern the Agency’s review of new chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to improve efficiency and align with the 2016 bipartisan TSCA amendments under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. Under TSCA, EPA plays an important gatekeeper role by reviewing the potential risks of new chemicals before they can enter U.S. commerce and, when necessary, putting safeguards in place to protect human health and the environment. Today’s proposal also eliminates eligibility for exemptions from the full safety review process for new per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and other persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals.

“Congress expanded EPA’s authority to protect communities from dangerous chemicals, and it’s well past time to modernize the regulations that govern new chemicals, increase efficiency to foster innovation, and strengthen our commitment to ensuring that new chemicals can be used safely before they are allowed into commerce,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff.  

These reforms advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to protect Americans from harmful PFAS exposure. As part of this government-wide effort, Administrator Michael Regan launched EPA’s PFAS Roadmap, a comprehensive strategy that outlines concrete actions over the next three years, including steps to control PFAS at its sources, hold polluters accountable, ensure science-based decision making, and address the impacts on disadvantaged and disproportionately impacted communities.

The proposed amendments released today includes the following provisions:

Align federal regulations with existing law

Under TSCA, manufacturers (including importers) and processors must submit premanufacture notices (PMNs) for new chemical substances, significant new use notices (SNUNs) for significant new uses, and microbial commercial activity notices (MCANs) for microorganisms with commercial applications. Prior to the 2016 amendments, EPA only made formal safety determinations on approximately 20% of new chemical submissions. Now, the new law requires EPA to make one of five possible safety determinations on 100% of new chemical submissions before they can enter the market.

Today’s proposal would amend the regulations by specifying that EPA must make one of the five specified statutory determinations on each PMN, SNUN, and MCAN received before the submitter may commence manufacturing or processing the new chemical substance. It would also update the regulations to list the actions required in association with each of those determinations. These amendments would align the regulations with TSCA section 5 requirements to reflect the full extent of new chemical reviews, providing consistency and transparency in new chemical review processes.

Eliminate certain exemptions for PFAS and PBTs

Existing regulations allow EPA to grant exemptions from a complete PMN safety review for the manufacturing of chemicals with low production quantities, environmental releases or human exposures. Under this process, persons who wish to manufacture new chemicals can submit a low volume exemption (LVE) or low release and exposure exemption (LoREX) prior to the commencement of manufacture, allowing the chemicals to undergo a less robust 30-day review instead of the typical 90-day reviews for PMNs.

In April 2021, EPA announced new PFAS would be unlikely to qualify for these exemptions given the complexity of PFAS chemistry, potential health effects and their longevity and persistence in the environment. As the Agency explained, it is challenging to complete a review of PFAS exemption submissions in the 30 days the regulations allow. Today’s proposed rule would make new PFAS categorically ineligible for LVE or LoREX exemptions, ensuring new PFAS would go through the full robust safety review process before they can enter commerce, consistent with the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to addressing the impacts of PFAS, as expressed in EPA’s 2021-2024 PFAS Strategic Roadmap.

The amendments would also ensure that all PBT chemicals are also ineligible for these exemptions, codifying EPA’s decades-long policy for these substances.

Improve the efficiency of EPA’s review of new chemical submissions to foster innovation

The proposed rule also would make several other changes to add efficiencies to the new chemicals review process, including clarifying the level of detail needed in new chemical notices and amending the procedures for EPA’s review of notices that have errors or are incomplete. Under the proposed rule, EPA would change its longstanding practice of accepting amended notices that contain information that was known or reasonably ascertainable at the time of the original submission. Instead, EPA would exercise its authority under TSCA to declare submissions incomplete and restart the review period, saving time and resources that could instead be spent reviewing complete submissions more quickly.

It would also assist industry’s efforts to provide complete submissions for review through a new set of information “pick-lists” incorporated into the application form located in EPA’s Central Data Exchange. When submitters provide all the necessary information, EPA can assess risk more quickly and accurately. The proposals supplement EPA’s TSCA New Chemical Engineering Initiative, an outreach effort launched in 2022 that helps stakeholders understand how to avoid providing incomplete data in their new chemicals submissions. The amendments also include a streamlined process for submitters to request suspension of the review process for 30 days via oral or written request if more time is needed by the submitter.

Upon publication of the Federal Register notice, EPA will accept public comments on the proposal for 60 days via docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2022-0902 at www.regulations.gov.

Read a prepublication version of the rule.

Learn more about EPA’s reviews of new chemicals under TSCA.

EPA Determines Detroit Metro Area Now Meets Federal Ozone Standard; Approves Michigan’s Plan to Maintain Air Quality

EPA Air - Tue, 05/16/2023 - 19:00

CHICAGO (May 16, 2023) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its decision to redesignate the seven-county Detroit, Michigan metro area to attainment of the 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) - ground-level ozone, or smog. This redesignation will be effective in the coming days when the notice is published in the Federal Register. Air monitoring data from 2019-2022 show the area now meets the federal public health standard.

EPA is also finalizing approval of Michigan’s maintenance plan to ensure that the Detroit metro area will continue to meet the current ozone standard of 70 parts per billion through 2035. These federal actions are in response to a request from Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.  

“EPA continues to work closely with EGLE to reduce air pollution from stationary and mobile sources as ozone reduction is especially beneficial to vulnerable populations,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore.

In addition, EPA is finalizing its determination that the Detroit metro area met the ozone standard through 2022, based on EGLE’s analysis showing that high ozone values measured on June 24 and 25, 2022 at an air monitor in Wayne County were caused by Canadian wildfires. EPA scientists reviewed and concurred with EGLE’s analysis which relied on meteorological data, modeling of air mass trajectories, comparisons to historical data and measurements of brown carbon and black carbon, or soot.

Because natural wildfires are not reasonably controllable or preventable, and since EPA scientists identified a clear causal relationship between the wildfires and the monitored smog values, the agency determined that EGLE has satisfied all requirements to exclude the data recorded on June 24 and 25. Under EPA rules, wildfire impacts may be excluded when calculating attainment of the ozone standard. 

Ground-level ozone is not emitted directly into the air but is formed when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOCs.

Reducing ozone benefits all people—particularly those whose health issues include chest pain, coughing, throat irritation and congestion. It also helps to prevent worsening conditions such as bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, and lung inflammation. Children will especially benefit from reduced exposure to ozone because their lungs are still developing.

The improvement in air quality is due to state and EPA programs to reduce NOx and VOC emissions. These control measures include more protective vehicle emissions standards, nonroad engine emissions standards, and programs to reduce emissions from power plants. For the Detroit area, the past 20 years have seen a 28% decrease in ozone concentrations, with more emission reductions expected in the future. In recent months, EPA finalized new standards for emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and for coal-burning industrial sources which will further reduce ozone levels and provide health benefits in the Detroit area. 

All other air pollutants regulated under NAAQS – carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and ozone – have also significantly decreased thanks to the various air quality management and control strategies in place at the local, state, regional, and national level.

EPA’s final rule for the redesignation details how the Detroit area meets the Clean Air Act attainment requirements. It also includes a maintenance plan which could trigger local controls if the ozone standard is violated in the future.   

Once the Federal Register Notice is published, EPA will post additional information about the final rules, including responses to comments received during the public comment period, will be posted on the agency’s respective websites for the Clean Data Determination and the Redesignation to Attainment.


EPA Announces $128 million WIFIA loan to Improve Drinking Water Reliability in Drought-prone Santa Cruz, California

EPA Air - Tue, 05/16/2023 - 19:00

WASHINGTON — Today, in conjunction with Infrastructure Week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $128 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the City of Santa Cruz, California to upgrade their drinking water system to be more resilient to drought and climate change. With this WIFIA loan, EPA is helping the City of Santa Cruz protect its water supply and deliver safe, reliable drinking water to nearly 100,000 residents.

“Western cities like Santa Cruz know how finite a resource water can be and must manage accordingly to deliver safe, reliable drinking water to residents, and the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to investing in water infrastructure through existing programs like WIFIA and the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “With this WIFIA funding, the City of Santa Cruz is modernizing their drinking water treatment facility to be resilient to both drought and extreme rain impacts that the city has faced over the last few years.”

Located in a drought-prone region, the City of Santa Cruz is wholly dependent on local water supplies. With this WIFIA loan, the city will modernize critical facilities by converting existing groundwater wells into aquifer storage and recovery wells and updating its raw water conveyance pipeline. Ultimately, the city will be able maximize the use of all water sources in response to climate impacts. The project will also support treatment process upgrades to address current and emerging contaminants, as well as source water quality variability.

“The WIFIA loan from the EPA allows Santa Cruz to make critical investments in securing our community’s water future, while saving our ratepayers substantial costs,” said Rosemary Menard, Santa Cruz Water Director. “We’re grateful for the opportunity the WIFIA loan provides to respond to the increasing challenges to water supply reliability posed by climate change.”

By financing with the low interest rate of a WIFIA loan, the City of Santa Cruz will save approximately $18 million. The Construction and operations for the project are estimated to create over 1,000 jobs.


Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan program administered by EPA. The WIFIA program’s aim is to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects. The WIFIA program has an active pipeline of pending applications for projects that will result in billions of dollars in water infrastructure investment and thousands of jobs.

EPA is currently accepting letters of interest for WIFIA and SWIFIA loans. Learn more about submitting a letter of interest for a WIFIA or SWIFIA loan.

In addition to WIFIA loans, there are many federal funding resources available for communities and utilities to improve vital water and wastewater resources. This week marks Infrastructure Week and 18 months since President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides a historic $50 billion investment in upgrading critical water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure.

Learn more about the WIFIA program and other water infrastructure investments.

EPA to Host June Community Meeting for Hanover and Jessup Residents

EPA Air - Tue, 05/16/2023 - 19:00

PHILADELPHIA (May 16, 2023) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will host a community meeting for residents of Hanover and Jessup, Maryland to share information about health risks from the chemical, ethylene oxide or EtO. The community meeting will take place in the Jessup Community Hall on June 8 at 6 p.m. During the meeting, EPA staff will discuss revised risk information related to the Elite Spice Inc. commercial sterilizer facilities, located at 1415 Magellan Drive in Hanover and 7151 Montevideo Road in Jessup.

EPA has proposed an Air Toxics Rule for EtO Sterilizers which is out for public comment.  The agency is sharing EtO emissions data and information with the public to solicit feedback.  EPA aims to improve public understanding of the risk; help states, Tribes, communities, and the industry reduce risk from EtO in the near-term; and hear input as the agency continues to develop regulations to reduce air pollution from commercial sterilizers.

EPA will be joined by federal and state environmental and health officials to address questions, comments, and concerns from the public, including Maryland’s Department of the Environment staff who will discuss work they are doing in partnership with Elite Spice, Inc. to reduce emissions and risk.

Location:   Jessup Community Hall

                        2920 Jessup Road

                        Jessup, Maryland 20794

Time:              6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

To register for this in-person meeting, visit:

To comment on EPA’s proposed Air Toxics Rule for Sterilization, visit:  https://www.regulations.gov/commenton/EPA-HQ-OPP-2013-0244-0044

For more information about the EPA’s efforts to address ethylene oxide.

To contact us, go to:  eto@epa.gov.

EPA and Peace Corps Sign Memorandum of Understanding to Advance Environmental Protection Around the World

EPA Air - Tue, 05/16/2023 - 19:00

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan and Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn convened for a ceremonial signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two agencies to broaden and strengthen institutional ties and create opportunities for cooperation related to strategic planning, training, management assistance and project implementation.   

Through the formal partnership, Peace Corps will use evidence-based practice and traditional ecological knowledge, along with EPA’s expertise to inform its programming for Peace Corps Volunteers to help address global environmental challenges at the local level in communities around the world. Areas of collaboration include solid waste and wastewater management; improved cookstoves to protect forest and human health; building the capacity of environmental institutions; coastal, watershed and natural resource planning and management; and biodiversity preservation and restoration. In addition to programming, the MOU creates career opportunities for returned Peace Corps Volunteers and former Peace Corps staff to join the EPA team in support of their mission.

“EPA greatly values our long history of environmental cooperation with the Peace Corps,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “We’re proud to strengthen our commitment to working together – in partnership with our volunteers and communities around the world – to combat the climate crisis, advance the values of environmental justice and equity, and strengthen environmental governance.”

“Emulating the intricate coordination of nature’s living systems, the Peace Corps plays a critical role in the ecosystem of actors working toward environmental justice, a green economy, and everything in between,” said Director Spahn. “Together with EPA, we will take intentional actions to support localized climate adaptation and environmental protection efforts in 24 Sub-Saharan African countries. This partnership directly contributes to some of the communities most affected by climate change and environmental degradation around the world.” 

The MOU advances the agencies’ shared commitment announced in December 2022 at the African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum in Washington, D.C. At the summit, Peace Corps committed $4 million for Peace Corps Volunteers to work on projects combatting climate change on the African continent.  

Since 2010, EPA and Peace Corps have partnered on environmental protection efforts in international communities of shared concern, including Jamaica, Panama, Costa Rica, Uganda, Kenya, Burkina Faso, and Morocco. Prior collaborations included technical input on Peace Corps training materials and environmental programs, handbooks on clean cookstoves, environmental education, pesticides, solid waste, and climate change.  

Peace Corps currently has nearly 1,400 Volunteers serving in 53 countries across Africa; Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia; and the Inter-Americas and Pacific regions in support of government and community priorities. Both agencies will work side-by-side with local communities to protect a shared environmental future and in-country volunteering initiatives. More information about how to join the Peace Corps.

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