Tag Archive for: EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its annual enforcement and compliance results revealing both the cleanup improvements as well as compliance fines industries have made in 2014. In this report, the agency focused on large, high impact enforcement cases. Environmental Cleanup Improvements:

  • Reductions of an estimated 141 million pounds of air pollutants, including 6.7 million pounds of air toxics.
  • Reductions of approximately 337 million pounds of water pollutants.
  • Clean up of an estimated 856 million cubic yards of contaminated water/aquifers.

Investment and Fines
Enforcement guidelines this year required companies to invest more than $9.7 billion in actions and equipment to control pollution as well as clean up contaminated sites. EPA’s non-compliant cases resulted in $163 million in combined federal administrative, civil judicial penalties, and criminal fines. EPA holds criminal violators accountable that threaten the health and safety of American residents.

“Despite challenges posed by budget cuts and a government shutdown, we secured major settlements in key industry sectors and brought criminal violators to justice. This work resulted in critical investments in advanced technologies and innovative approaches to reduce pollution and improve compliance,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
Companies can reduce their non-compliance risks and lower their monitoring and reporting costs by implementing enterprise EHS and Sustainability software to automate information management, compliance, and monitoring for exceedances for a fraction of what potential fines could cost them. Once a non-compliance fine is imposed the cost of brand damage could be even worse and incalculable.

In recent years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has become much more vigilant about oil spill regulation—regardless of the spills origin. After a series of inspections over the past two years, the EPA announced seven New England companies who have all created or updated their spill prevention plans to be in compliance with federal oil pollution prevention laws.

The companies, who all store or distribute oil, agreed to pay fines under an expedited settlement program, their penalties ranging from $3,000 to $9,500. This expedited program allows companies to pay reduced penalties if they quickly correct violations against the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations. These companies also were required to have a certain minimum storage capacity with no accompanying spill in order to qualify for these reduced fines.

The EPA’s Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rules designate certain requirements for oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response to prevent oil discharges into navigable waters and adjoining shorelines. These rules call for facilities to adhere to guidelines pertaining to their ability to prepare, amend and implement SPCC Plans.

For many companies, complying with these regulations created by the EPA requires an additional focus on detailed actions in SPCC procedures.  Often times tracking and reporting spills if and when they occur—along with the root causes and inspection findings—can be a significant challenge without the appropriate management tools. However, when properly prepared, abiding by these necessary SPCC rules will ensure that organizations stay within compliance, thus avoiding fines and penalties and any harsh effects on our environment.

The Obama Administration has announced what is arguably the most significant environmental regulation of the president’s term: a proposal to curb power plant emissions that will mandate a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions at fossil fuel-burning power plants by 2030.

The proposal was unveiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and is expected to set targets for state-by-state reduction of power plant-produced carbon emissions; the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. According to the proposal, states could have until 2017 to submit a plan to cut power plant pollution, or 2018 if they join together with other states to address the issue.

In 2010 the EPA announced it intended to regulate coal-fired power plants and oil refineries, but this effort was not followed through. However, due to factors such as improvement in the economy and the natural gas boom, the White House and advocates feel that the time is right.

According to a poll conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication in April, two-thirds of Americans support increased regulation on power plant emissions, even if the cost of electricity rises.

The success of the carbon emission-cutting rule will depend on pending details, such as exactly how strict the targets are and how the federal government holds states to them. Although U.S. emissions have been declining recently due to increased use of natural gas to generate electricity, the country is still second to China in terms of annual emissions.

Along with this proposal comes the importance of accurately and efficiently collecting, aggregating and reporting emission sources data. An essential piece to the puzzle of addressing climate change and abiding by new rules and regulations is properly measuring and managing information.

Ms. Gina McCarthy, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator and chief architect and emissary to President Obama’s plan to fight climate change, has recently taken to the road to pitch new climate change regulations.

While these EPA regulations set limits on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants and are meant to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., the rules could also be so strict that they result in a large number of plants being shut down and mining jobs lost.

The EPA is set to roll out the two new rules by the end of Mr. Obama’s presidency. This past September the EPA announced the draft of the first rule, which would limit carbon pollution from future power plants, and this upcoming June 2014 the EPA will release the draft of the second rule, which is said to require emission cuts at existing coal-fired power plants. Final versions of both rules are expected by June 2015, and states will have until mid-2016 to submit compliance plans.

While the EPA will establish a federal standard for reducing carbon emissions, individual states will be in charge of carrying out these new rules. This is meant to give each state the flexibility to configure its own plan. However, this creates the possibility that states who oppose these new rules may attempt to refuse or delay them from taking effect.

These trips to various U.S. states are a new ploy for the EPA and Ms. McCarthy, who is well aware of how cutting-edge these set of rules are and the intense scrutiny that they face. The rules will impose additional cost to the coal industry in order to stay in compliance and will require better information management and reporting tools.

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) recently introduced a new assessment on the cost-impact of an impending perchlorate regulation. The decision to move forward with the development of this regulation “to protect Americans from any potential health impacts, while also continuing to take steps to ensure the quality of the water they drink” was officially announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in early 2011.

Perchlorate is both a man-made and naturally occurring chemical that can be found in some bleaches and fertilizers, and is used to manufacture flares, explosives, fireworks, and rocket fuel. Scientific research finds that perchlorate may negatively impact the thyroids ability to produce hormones that are essential to the development of fetuses and infants- propelling the EPA forward to develop a rule.

In an effort to further evaluate the feasibility of the new regulation, the AWWA’s new assessment updates a review of cost done four years ago. The new evaluation includes additional treatment strategies, accounts for regulatory limits already in place in California and Massachusetts, and considers costs associated with blending, source abandonment, and development of new sources.

The new assessment concludes that the estimated national compliance costs for a perchlorate maximum contaminant level ranging from 2 to 24 parts per billion (ppb) is smaller than estimated compliance costs for other drinking water regulations.

However, according to AWWA Government Affairs, the relatively small compliance cost is most likely attributed to the limited number of public water systems that are expected to be affected by a perchlorate regulation. Because of this, the economic impact to individual water systems is expected to be substantial. For example, smaller water systems could see treatment costs increase by three dollars per 1,000 gallons.

To view the AWWA’s full assessment:


For further information on perchlorate:


According to the Energy Information Administration, production of natural gas from shale formations has increased approximately 30 percent from 2006 to 2012. This increase, due to advancements in drilling technologies, has caught the EPA off guard and left it with limited knowledge about the amount of pollutants entering the groundwater, surface water or air.

This poses an issue because states rely on the EPA’s information when issuing permits or determining if someone breaks a rule, and these decisions are being compromised if they are reliant on non-existent or questionable water quality or air emissions data. This realization is also a bit concerning considering hydraulic fracturing releases chemicals such as methane, the main component of natural gas and also a potent greenhouse gas.

The EPA has agreed it needs to improve its data, and is working with the appropriate parties to ensure the continued expansion of oil and natural gas drilling is done safely and responsibly. This situation shows that being prepared to handle big data like this is vitally important. Locus’ EIM and ePortal software are Cloud-based platforms for effectively managing air emissions, as well as hydrofracking data of any kind, water, groundwater, SPCC, and compliance information. By managing this information in one, easily accessible, web-based platform it is easier to stay on top of essential data collection, and to make sure your data quality is at its best.

In President Obama’s recent State of the Union, he chose to address the issue of climate change more than has ever been done before in presidential history. He spoke about how floods, droughts, storms, and wildfires have all been more frequent and extreme than ever, and stated that the 12 hottest years on record have all been within the past 15.

In addition to the dangers that the effects of climate change pose, there is also the threat of a financial problem, with the cost of rebuilding New York and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy being approximately $60 billion.

Obama certainly met the expectation of environmentalists during his speech by acknowledging these threats, and stated he would take action to control carbon dioxide pollution. He even stated that if Congress would not act soon, he would direct his Cabinet to form actions that can be taken to reduce pollution, transition to sustainable forms of energy, and be better prepared for the results of climate change.

A variety of options can be pursued to accomplish these goals, one of which being the EPA cracking down on carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants, and regulating this as a pollutant. But, one thing is for certain: the recognition of climate change and the need for protection is currently in the public eye more than it has ever been before. It is becoming even more crucial for organizations to properly manage and keep track of their environmental, emissions, and compliance data. This is why Locus will continue to work hard to offer companies the most comprehensive SaaS platforms available today to manage and organize their critical environmental information.

Thanks to advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies, the U.S. now has access to immense reserves of natural gas. While the proper development of this resource offers numerous benefits for our country, it has also become clear that as the use of hydrofracking has gone up, so has the concern about its possible health and environmental impacts, particularly on drinking water.

I recently came across the report that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released in December 2012 in response to this concern, Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources. Its purpose is to determine and examine the possible impacts of hydrofracking on our drinking water, and to identify what exactly causes these impacts.

The EPA’s research set out to answer questions that focus on the five stages of the hydrofracking water cycle: water acquisition, chemical mixing, well injection, flowback and produced water, and wastewater treatment and waste disposal. The report describes the progress made as of September 2012 on 18 research projects, and covers research activities such as laboratory studies, toxicity assessments, and case studies.

With drinking water being at the top of the list of precious resources, this is yet another reminder that hydrofracking must be engaged in responsibly, and that it is important for energy companies to be transparent in the management of their data. For that reason, Locus has developed a special functionality within its award-winning SaaS application EIM to help upstream divisions of oil and gas companies better manage and account for their data associated with hydrofracking.

Starting off the year of air with a bang, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized revisions to standards to reduce air pollution. Specifically, pollution from stationary engines that generate electricity, and power equipment at industrial, agricultural, oil and gas production, power generation and other facilities.

These revisions were made to the 2010 “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines (RICE)” rules. The updated rule will reduce the capital and annual costs of the original rules by hundreds of millions of dollars, and also reduce air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds by thousands of tons.

This is extremely important because the pollution emitted from these engines can cause serious health defects. The updates were meant to make the standards both reachable and cost-effective while reducing emissions, and the EPA estimates the updated standards will be worth $830 million to $2.1 billion in annual health benefits.

While the amount of damage that Hurricane Sandy caused is still being tallied up, particular attention needs to be paid to one environmental issue: Sandy’s impact on Superfund toxic-waste sites. The Wall Street Journal recently identified that out of the 198 sites in both New York and New Jersey, 45 are within a half-mile from coastal areas, thus making them extremely vulnerable to the effects of storms.

Even though a specific number was not given as to how many of these Superfund sites were flooded, it’s clear that several felt the impact of Sandy. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has tested water samples from Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal and nearby flooded buildings and has only found low levels of potentially cancer-causing pollutants. However, there are many more sites that need examined, such as the Raritan Bay Slag Superfund site in Sayreville, New Jersey, that poses the possible threat of lead contamination. The amount of hazardous toxic-waste that Sandy may have unearthed at Superfund sites like these makes it essential that there is a thorough evaluation of possible waste disturbance.

In addition to the Superfund sites, other concerns such as fuel spills and issues at water treatment facilities have members of the Coast Guard, officials from the EPA and the states of New York and New Jersey working to quell the threats. One thing is for certain: a considerable amount of work still needs to be done in order to assess the flooding damage.

To accurately determine the extent of the contamination caused by Sandy, numerous water samples must be collected and analyzed. The management of this data becomes extremely important due to the possible outcomes that may be discovered. By organizing this critical data in a centralized, Cloud-based environmental management platform, its accuracy is improved, and information can be analyzed at portfolio level a thousand times faster, providing actionable insight in real time- which is crucial in a situation like this.  Having a system like this in place will help the EPA and affected parties to not only assess the nature and extent of possible contamination spread more accurately and faster, but it will also help to prepare better for future events of a similar nature.  Information on which remedies worked, and which did not work as well, will assist the EPA and owners of contaminated sites with knowing what improvements are necessary.

Tag Archive for: EPA

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