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November 4, 2015

EPA Calls for the 21st Presidential Green Chemistry Award Nominations

Program promotes environmental and economic benefits of using novel green technologies in chemical design, manufacture, and use

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its request for nominations for its 2016 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards for companies or institutions that have developed a process or product that better protects public health and the environment.

“For more than two decades, we have seen creative innovations making our manufacturing processes and products better and safer,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Our efforts to speed the adoption of revolutionary and diverse disciplines have led to significant environmental benefits, innovation and a strengthened economy.”

Since the start of the program, EPA has received more than 1,500 nominations and presented awards for 104 new technologies that have reduced more than 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals and solvents, savings 21 billion gallons of water, and eliminating 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide releases.

EPA is sponsoring the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards in partnership with the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute® and members of the chemical community including industry, trade associations, and academic institutions.

Nominations are due to EPA by December 31, 2015.

Next June, EPA expects to give five awards for outstanding green chemistry technologies in traditional categories and a sixth award for a green chemistry technology that addresses climate change. The award areas include:

  • Greener Synthetic Pathways
  • Greener Reaction Conditions
  • Greener Chemical Products
  • The Design of Greener Chemicals
  • Small Business (for a technology in any of the three focus areas developed by a small business)
  • Academic (for a technology in any of the three focus areas developed by an academic researcher)
  • Specific Environmental Benefit: Climate Change (for a technology in any of the three focus areas that reduces greenhouse gas emissions)

More information on past award winners and how to submit entries can be found at:[]

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached a settlement with Lynx Enterprises, a metal finishing firm in Tracy, Calif., for its failure to comply with federal hazardous waste management regulations. The company agreed to pay a total of $28,750 in civil penalty and spend an additional $108,000 to develop hazardous waste training materials.

In October 2010, an EPA inspection discovered that the facility was in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. In addition to paying the penalty, Lynx has agreed to develop a hazardous waste management training program designed to assist at least 20 metal finishing companies to understand hazardous waste management compliance requirements.

“We are pleased that Lynx Enterprises has adopted an innovative approach to resolve this case,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “The training program will help the metal finishing industry to properly manage hazardous waste to prevent harm to human health and safeguard the environment.”

Lynx, via a qualified independent contractor, will also develop a training video that will summarize federal, state, and local hazardous waste regulatory requirements. The video will be available to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and to 83 local agencies, known as Certified Unified Program Agencies (CUPA), for their use and distribution and an internet link to a version of the video will be accessible to the general public within a year. Read more

green chemChemistry is having “an innovation crisis”, according to John Warner, co-author of the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry. “We need to ask if the way we’re training future scientists is fitting the need of society.”

The push for green chemistry began over two decades ago, and Warner has been part of the movement the whole time. On Wednesday, he presented one of two keynote speeches at a Guardian conference on green chemistry.

One of the recurring themes of the conference was the need for all stakeholders to radically shift their perspective on green chemistry.

As the long overdue revision of the Toxic Substances Control Act highlights, the US approach to making chemistry greener has mainly beenconducted through regulations and restrictions. Read more

Voluntary ComplianceSelf-Auditing Remains Important Enforcement Risk Mitigation Tool for Industry

Environmental regulatory compliance auditing is a critical and central component of an effective environmental management system (EMS). To encourage companies to establish and maintain formal environmental management systems (including auditing), the EPA has long maintained a formal policy directing enforcement staff to waive the punitive portion of any penalties that would otherwise be assessed for violations if they are (1) discovered independently by a company through its EMS or a compliance audit, (2) voluntarily disclosed to EPA and (3) promptly corrected. While there are additional qualifying criteria, the so-called Audit Policy (“Incentives for Self-Policing: Discovery, Disclosure, Correction and Prevention of Violations,” 65 FR 19618 (Apr. 11, 2000)) has been used successfully by companies for many years in connection with compliance self-auditing programs. In a move welcomed by industry, the EPA last amended the Audit Policy in 2008 to provide special penalty mitigation incentives for new owners designed to encourage robust and comprehensive environmental compliance auditing in connection with merger and acquisition activities, allowing newly acquired companies to start with a “clean slate.”

Future of Audit Policy Was in Doubt

Notwithstanding the popularity of the Audit Policy among companies with strong environmental compliance programs, the EPA has been considering changing or dropping the program. In practice, the administrative process involved in processing company disclosures and issuing formal notices of audit policy compliance require significant EPA enforcement staff time, focused on enforcement issues important to disclosing companies but not necessarily an enforcement priority for the EPA. In 2012, EPA signaled that, particularly in a time of more limited budget resources and declining staff levels, it was looking for ways to reduce Agency investment in the Audit Policy program. Industry saw many submissions seemingly languish, and many feared the program was being or would be abandoned. Read more

City Hall becomes the oldest building in the U.S. to receive LEED Platinum Certification for existing buildings

San Francisco – Today, U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy joined City of San Francisco officials to announce the U.S. Green Building Council’s award of LEED Platinum Certification – the highest possible rating – to San Francisco’s historic City Hall. Completed in 1915, City Hall is the oldest building in the United States to receive LEED Platinum Certification for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance in (LEED – EBOM). This LEED classification highlights the potential for significant water and energy savings in existing buildings.

Platinum Certification of San Francisco’s 100-year-old City Hall is the culmination of a multi-year water and energy retrofit partnership between the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), the U.S. EPA, and the City Administrator’s Office. An EPA grant of $700,000 supported the replacement of over 90 toilets and urinals in City Hall with high-efficiency models. This federal funding continues to support water efficiency retrofits at other Civic Center buildings, including 101 Grove Street. Operational and energy efficiency upgrades were funded by the local ratepayers.

“San Francisco has long been a leader and innovator at the forefront of solutions to combat climate change and reduce energy and water consumption,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “As the entire nation watches California endure its 4th year of drought, we all must do our part to use renewable energy, be energy efficient, and conserve our precious water resources.” Read more

Posted: March 5, 2015

Las Vegas Resorts Lead Zero Waste Efforts in Nevada

LAS VEGAS – MGM Resorts International was recognized today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its outstanding efforts in food recovery.

The entertainment and hospitality company received two national Food Recovery Challenge awards for reducing food waste and, in the process, conserving natural resources.

“MGM’s zero waste leadership has turned mountains of food scraps into compost to help fight waste and climate change,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest.

MGM Resorts and MGM Grand Las Vegas are two of the 32 recipients who received the 2014 Food Recovery Challenge Award, and the only recipients in Nevada. The award was given for achieving the highest percentage of potentially wasted food diversion and prevention.

Senator Harry Reid’s office also issued a certificate of recognition to the company for leading food recovery efforts in Nevada. Officials from the EPA and Sen. Reid’s office presented these honors to MGM Resorts representatives in a ceremony at ARIA Resort & Casino. A behind-the-scenes tour of the resort’s food recovery program was also given. Read more

Posted: February 10, 2015

Awards $3 Million to Reduce Emissions from 76 School Bus Fleets Nationwide

SAN FRANCISCO –Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is awarding five California School Districts $325,000 and one Nevada School District $110,000 to replace eighteen older diesel school buses with new, clean buses that are more than 90 percent cleaner.  Nationwide, 76 recipients will receive rebates through EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funding to replace 210 school buses.

Nevada’s recipient, the Washoe County School District, will replace five school buses.  California recipients will replace four buses in the Town Ride, Inc. of Arcadia Unified School District;  two buses for the Culver City Unified School District, one bus for the Enterprise Elementary School District in Redding, Calif., five buses for the Clovis Unified School District, and one bus for the Southern Humboldt Unified School District in Miranda, Calif. Read more

Jan. 21, 2015

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the automotive industry and the states signed an agreement to reduce the use of copper and other materials in motor vehicle brake pads. The Copper-Free Brake Initiative calls for cutting copper in brake pads to less than 5 percent by 2021 and 0.5 percent by 2025. This voluntary initiative also calls for cutting the amount of mercury, lead, cadmium, asbestiform fibers and chromium-6 salts in motor vehicle brake pads. These steps will decrease runoff of these materials from roads into the nation’s streams, rivers and lakes, where these materials can harm fish, amphibians and plants.

By the Numbers

California and Washington have already passed requirements to reduce these materials in brake pads. Prior to their enactment, dust from vehicular braking released an estimated 1.3 million pounds of copper into California’s environment in 2010 and about 250,000 pounds into Washington’s environment in 2011. Estimates for California show copper in urban runoff down as much as 61 percent thanks to changes in brake pad composition.

What They Said

“EPA is proud to partner with the automotive industry and the states to reduce the use of copper in motor vehicle brake pads, which means less of this material running off our roads and into our nation’s waterways,” said Stan Meiburg, acting deputy administrator for EPA. “The environment and public health in our country will benefit from this type of collaboration between the public and private sector.” Read more

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Air Force officials unveiled the Department of Defense’s first non-tactical vehicle fleet composed entirely of plug-in electric vehicles, Nov. 14, at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California.

The rollout of the 42-vehicle fleet marks a milestone in the DOD’s demonstration of emerging technology and the vehicles will serve as a resource to the electrical grid when they’re not being driven.

“Everything we do to fly, fight and win requires energy, whether it’s aviation fuel for our aircraft or power to run the bases that support them,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “This vehicle-to-grid pilot is a great example of how Airmen are driving the Air Force forward and finding new and innovative ways to make every dollar count.”

The PEV fleet includes both electric and hybrid vehicles ranging from sedans to trucks and a 12-passenger van. The vehicles have the capability to direct power both to and from the electrical grid when they’re not being driven, known as vehicle-to-grid technology. Unique charging stations have been installed on Los Angeles AFB to support the vehicles’ V2G capability. Read more

Posted: January 28, 2015

Food Recovery Challenge Participants Alone Diverted 370,000 Tons of Wasted Food from Landfills

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes the accomplishments of organizations and businesses participating in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge and WasteWise program for reducing their climate footprint, improving efficiency, helping communities and achieving cost savings through waste reduction. These programs save money, protect the environment and feed the hungry.

“In 2013, EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge participants diverted more than 370,000 tons of wasted food from entering landfills or incinerators. Of this total, more than 36,000 tons of food was donated to feed people in need, which equates to nearly 56 million meals,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “I commend the efforts of our award winners and encourage others to follow their lead by joining the Food Recovery Challenge. These leaders demonstrate that protecting the environment, saving money and feeding the hungry can go hand in hand.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that wasted food costs America more than $165 billion annually and that the average family of four throws away $1,600 of food each year. The Food Recovery Challenge participants and endorsers, through innovation and hard work, have greatly reduced wasted food. Food pantries, food rescue programs, local food banks, soup kitchens and shelters are benefiting from donations of wholesome and nutritious food — helping feed people, not landfills.

EPA presented 23 awards to Food Recovery Challenge participants and endorsers in two categories: data-driven and narrative. The data-driven award recipients achieved the highest percentage of wasted food diversion and prevention. The narrative award winners excelled in areas of source reduction, leadership, innovation, education and outreach, and endorsement. Read more