Tag Archive for: EPA

Organizations around the world face increasing regulations focusing on environment, health and safety (EHS) issues. Managing these rules and regulations are a very resource-intensive activity with greater risk of brand damage, penalties, and fines for non-compliance.

Organizations have to spend significant resources in tracking these regulations carefully, and organizations have to be even more vigilant with changing international regulations, which can affect business agility and continuity.

This month Environmental Protection Agency announced new air quality standards intended to reduce the amount of soot that can be released into the air.

Environmental groups and public health advocates welcomed the move by the EPA, saying it would protect millions of Americans at risk for soot-related asthma attacks, lung cancer, heart disease and premature death.

EPA said that the new rule is based on a rigorous scientific review. All but six counties in the United States would meet the proposed standard by 2020 with no additional actions needed beyond compliance with existing and pending rules set by the EPA.

The rules include controversial regulations governing mercury emissions and cross-state air pollution emitted by power plants. The new rule would set the maximum allowable standard for soot in a range of 12 to 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The current annual standard is 15 micrograms per cubic meter. The EPA said it would start designating counties that fail to meet the new soot standards as soon as 2014.

Soot, made up of microscopic particles released from smokestacks, diesel trucks and buses, wood-burning stoves and other sources, contributes to haze and can burrow into lungs. Breathing in soot can cause lung and heart problems.

Companies using hydraulic fracturing technique will have until 2015 to comply with new rules designed to reduce air pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency released today long-awaited rules on hydraulic fracturing, in one of its first efforts to regulate the widely used technique of extracting oil and natural gas. There was no mention about groundwater protection.

The rules, first proposed in July 2011, would require drillers to capture the emissions resulting from drilling the wells. The oil and gas industry representatives last week told the EPA that controls on wells that have low amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from drilling-related emissions won’t be cost-effective. American Petroleum Institute (API) opposed the rule and suggested that it should only apply only to wells whose gas stream is at least 10-percent volatile organic compounds.

“By ensuring the capture of gases that were previously released to pollute our air and threaten our climate, these updated standards will not only protect our health, but also lead to more product for fuel suppliers to bring to market,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement.

The Environmental Protection Agency is set to make final new air-pollution standards for coal-fired power plants by mid-December, sparking disagreement among power companies about how quickly aging coal plants need to be pushed offline.

The EPA wants to give coal-fired plants three years to comply with the new standards—either by shutting down or going through expensive retrofits—with the possibility of a one-year extension.

The maintenance of baseload power is likely to be appropriate in many locations, meaning some coal fired and natural gas fired plants will not be de-commissioned. However, the likelihood of investors preferring the lower costs of green energy will mean that they will replace most sources.

The new rules will make some coal powered plants to shut down as it will not be economical to retrofit them. They will most likely be replaced by the new plants powered by natural gas. Renewables will pick some slack, but that is negligible in the big scheme of things. Unfortunately, US nuclear industry is still not ready to come back. We will probably wait another 10 years, and at that time probably buy nukes from Chinese who will perfect new technology and get experience building AP1000 reactors (AP1000® pressurized water reactor or PWR. It is the only Generation III+ reactor to receive Design Certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)) long before we put one on the drawing board permitting process.

But in summary, EPA is moving to regulate climate change via The Clean Air Act, and because of the coal power plants shut down we may very well meet the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill–aka the American Clean Energy and Security Act, ACES, H.R. 2454. The bill would put a cap on emissions of greenhouse gases, and would require high-emitting industries to reduce their output to specific targets between now and the middle of the century. The bill covers 85 percent of the overall economy, including electricity producers, oil refineries, natural gas suppliers, and energy-intensive industries like iron, steel, cement, and paper manufacturers. Emission cuts would start in 2012 and EPA is right on track.

The goals for U.S. emission reductions, below 2005 levels are 3 percent cut by 2012; 17 percent cut by 2020; 42 percent cut by 2030; more than 80 percent cut by 2050. We may achieve 2020 goals with retrofitting and shutdowns of coal powered plants and slowing economy. We will not meet other goals without injecting nuclear power.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing a schedule to develop standards for wastewater discharges produced by natural gas extraction from underground coalbed and shale formations. No comprehensive set of national standards exists at this time for the disposal of wastewater discharged from natural gas extraction activities, and over the coming months EPA will begin the process of developing a proposed standard with the input of stakeholders – including industry and public health groups. Today’s announcement is in line with the priorities identified in the president’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, and is consistent with the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board recommendations on steps to support the safe development of natural gas resources.

Currently, wastewater associated with shale gas extraction is prohibited from being directly discharged to waterways and other waters of the U.S. While some of the wastewater from shale gas extraction is reused or re-injected, a significant amount still requires disposal. As a result, some shale gas wastewater is transported to treatment plants, many of which are not properly equipped to treat this type of wastewater. EPA will consider standards based on demonstrated, economically achievable technologies, for shale gas wastewater that must be met before going to a treatment facility.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under industry pressure, is expected to ease an air quality rule that would require power plants in 27 states to slash emissions, said the Wall Street Journal. It appears that changes are needed because the original rule from July 2011 required steep reductions too quickly. This summer the administration, pressed by industry, forced the EPA to abandon an air-quality rule to curb ozone-forming smog. The agency also has delayed a rule on greenhouse-gas emissions.

The power-plant rule affects about 1,000 plants, requiring them to cut sulfur dioxide by 73% and nitrogen oxide by 54% from 2005 levels. Reductions must begin in January 2012, with compliance by 2014. Companies are expected to install new pollution controls or switch from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas.

The EPA plans to allow certain states and companies to emit more pollutants than it previously permitted. EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said, “While we don’t have anything to announce at this time, EPA often makes technical adjustments … because data, including data in some cases provided by industry, turns out to be incorrect, outdated or incomplete.” It is interesting that EPA is using the real world and real time data and information to fine tune the rule. This is welcome news for both industry and environmental groups as it shows that future rule making will rely more on actual data and less on politics.

The move comes amid a backlash over the rule enacted last July, which the EPA has said will protect public health and prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths. Critics contend it will cost jobs, increase power costs and threaten electric reliability.

The EPA changes are expected to allow for emissions increases ranging from 1% to 4% above the July requirement, depending on the pollutant, said the WSJ. The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is intended to reduce smog-forming chemicals emitted from power plants that often drift into other states. The pollutants can cause heart attacks and respiratory illnesses.

When the rule is in place some utilities are planning to shut down a portion of their operation in order to comply. Some states have attacked the rule and sued the EPA, saying the regulations are unnecessary and dangerous.

The Environmental Protection Agency is delaying issuing final regulations aimed at cutting pollution from factory boilers until April 2012.

The delay is one in a serious of slowdowns in regulatory agenda to curb carbon dioxide emissions using the Clean Air Act and several rules aimed at reducing emissions from coal-burning power plants.

Although the federal court has ordered the EPA to implement the boiler standards, the agency has said it needed more time for public input. This latest delay would push the deadline for compliance to 2015 from 2014.

The EPA’s delay has frustrated environmental and public-health groups, which cite evidence that the rules would save lives and avert thousands of heart and asthma attacks.

Industry, on the other hand, has said that the rules would be extremely costly and difficult to implement.

Boilers are on-site generators that can provide energy for apartment buildings and shopping malls, as well as refineries and factories.

The EPA rules also would affect incinerators at industrial facilities. Small boilers located at universities, hotels, hospitals and other commercial buildings also might have to comply, though the EPA has sought to limit the impact on smaller emitters.

EPA will impose stricter pollution controls on wetlands and streams.

The new guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency, which will be codified in a federal regulation later this year, could prevent the dumping of mining waste and the discharge of industrial pollutants to waters that feed creeks, lakes, and drinking water supplies. The specific restriction will depend on the waterway.

The question of which isolated streams and wetlands qualify for protection under the Clean Water Act has been in dispute for a decade. The EPA policy change is likely to affect tributaries flowing into water bodies such as the San Francisco Bay. Once finalized, the regulations will apply federal water quality standards to a range of waterways, including the headwaters of lakes and rivers as well as intermittent streams.

The new regulations will require companies to better manage their water quality data to avoid fines and to demonstrate that they are not polluting water bodies. Locus EIM software provides of-the- shelf cloud-based tool to accomplish this.

US EPA today announced that they are extending this year’s deadline for their greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting program to September 30, 2011. The program was launched in October 2009, and requires large emission sources and fuel suppliers to report their GHG emissions to EPA on an annual basis.

EPA previously indicated that the original reporting deadline of March 31st would be extended to this summer. Today’s release specifies the new reporting deadline of September 30, 2011. According to EPA, the extension will allow them to further test their electronic reporting platform, and provide industry with the opportunity to provide feedback and become familiar with the tool prior to reporting.

As soon as the new electronic platform is ready and tested by EPA, Locus GHG module of ePortal  will be compatible and able to directly upload data into it.

Entities required to submit data must register with the electronic GHG reporting tool (e-GGRT) no later than August 1, 2011.  Locus can assist with this registration.

EPA will provide more detail on the extension in the coming weeks. For more information, see EPA’s website.

On Wednesday, February 2, 2011, the Obama administration outlined a more aggressive approach to curbing levels of certain chemicals in drinking water, saying it will develop a legal nationwide maximum for one chemical and signaling a separate effort to set new limits for other substances.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced that they would be moving from an advisory guideline to a mandatory limit for perchlorate, a chemical often associated with rocket fuel. The EPA also will be advancing a separate effort to set new limits for 16 other chemicals in drinking water. The Agency is particularly concerned about the substance known as chromium 6, or hexavalent chromium.

More recently, laboratory tests commissioned by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group found chromium 6 in tap water from 31 of 35 U.S. cities, with the highest levels in Norman, Okla.; Honolulu; and Riverside, Calif.

The EPA move to set its first-ever perchlorate standard comes after years of bureaucratic struggle with the Defense Department. A 2010 Government Accountability Office report found that 53 Defense Department installations had perchlorate at levels above a current advised limit of 15 parts per billion.

The Defense Department has already taken action beyond initial sampling at 48 of the 53 facilities, including some steps to remediate any contamination.

A group that includes defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. and perchlorate maker American Pacific Corp. challenged the EPA in a press release later Wednesday, saying that so far, no research has shown an adverse effect in humans exposed to perchlorate. The group, calling itself the Perchlorate Information Bureau, also said that perchlorate hadn’t shown up in public drinking water at levels that represent a public-health risk.

The problem could be present at more Defense Department sites than currently are being monitored, if the EPA decides that an even tougher standard is warranted. The NRDC says that a level of one part per billion is appropriate, compared with the EPA’s current advisory level of 15 parts per billion. Regulators have been studying perchlorate for more than a decade. California first required public water systems to monitor for the chemical in 1999.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is planning to tighten standards for four water contaminants that can cause cancer as part of a new strategy to toughen drinking-water regulation.

EPA said it will start rulemakings to revise standards for two contaminants used in industrial or textile processing, tetracholorethylene and trichloroethylene, within the year. The EPA will follow that rulemaking by setting stricter standards for epichlorohydrin and acrylamide, which can contaminate drinking water through the water-treatment process.
Speaking at a conference of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said her agency is now developing a broad new set of strategies to strengthen public health protection from contaminants in drinking water.

“To confront emerging health threats, strained budgets and increased needs—today’s and tomorrow’s drinking water challenges—we must use the law more effectively and promote new technologies,” she said.

Ms. Jackson said the agency would now address contaminants as a group rather than individually, saying the current process is too time-consuming and fails to take advantage of cost-effective programs and technology. She said the EPA would also help to foster new technologies, use existing laws more stringently and partner with states to share data from public-water systems.

The agency is also assessing 14 other contaminants, including law and copper, chromium, fluoride, arsenic, atrazine and perchlorate.