News

EPA to Help Carson City Develop Green Infrastructure, Improve Climate Resiliency

Release Date: 09/26/2014

Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan, (415) 947-4149, perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will give technical assistance to help Carson City develop infrastructure that will contribute to greener, more vibrant neighborhoods and increase resiliency from the impacts of our changing climate.

Through its Greening America’s Capitals program, EPA will fund a team that will provide design assistance to Carson City for improvements along William Street, a former state highway that connects to downtown. The project will help the city explore how to incorporate green infrastructure through the use of native plants, and to enhance the neighborhood’s economic vitality.

“EPA is pleased to have this opportunity to work with Carson City as it pursues the vision of a more sustainable future,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This project will help
make Williams Street an economically thriving route into the heart of the city.”

“Carson City is proud to be a recipient of the EPA’s Greening America’s Capitals programs. As the state capital, Carson City is the face of Nevada both now and for years to come,” said Carson City Mayor Robert L. Crowell. “As such, it is important that we incorporate smart growth techniques into our development standards that promote an attractive business environment as well as desirable quality of life for millennials and retirees alike. This program will help us achieve that
goal.”

The portion of William Street slated for redevelopment is near the center of the City which connects several neighborhoods to commercial services and community facilities. It is one of the only east-west connections across the new freeway that bisects the city from north to south. As a former state highway, William Street is designed to accommodate cars, and current conditions along the corridor create an unsafe environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

Support from the EPA will help the City in tackling the design challenge of creating a multi-modal corridor, including bikes and pedestrians that enhances economic vitality. As part of the design process, the City and EPA will actively engage with the local community in the planning process to create a more connected and attractive environment to residents and visitors alike.

Since 2010, EPA has helped 18 capital cities and the District of Columbia create community designs that help clean the air and water, stimulate economic development, and make existing neighborhoods more vibrant places. The final designs provide models for other communities interested in adopting similar approaches that can improve the environment, strengthen local economies, and protect public health.

Four other capital cities were also selected this week:

  • Austin, Texas, will receive assistance to create design options to improve pedestrian and bike connections in the South Central Waterfront area, and to incorporate green infrastructure that reduces stormwater runoff and localized flooding, improves water quality, and increases shade.
  • Columbus, Ohio, will receive assistance to develop design options for the Milo-Grogan neighborhood that use green infrastructure to improve stormwater quality, reduce flooding risks, and encourage walking and cycling.
  • Pierre, S.D., will receive assistance to redesign its historic main street, South Pierre, in a way that uses green infrastructure to reduce stormwater runoff and improve resiliency to extreme climate conditions.
  • Richmond, Va., will receive assistance to design options for more parks and open spaces, and to incorporate green infrastructure to better manage stormwater runoff on Jefferson Avenue, a street which serves as the gateway to some of Richmond’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods.

The Greening America’s Capitals program aims to help communities consider ways to incorporate sustainable design strategies that yield multiple environmental, economic, and social benefits into their
planning and development. EPA implements this program in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a program that helps communities
create more housing and transportation choices that result in better environmental outcomes for communities.

More information on Greening America’s Capitals:

http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/greencapitals.htm

View design options for past recipients: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usepagov/sets/72157647526563747

More information on green infrastructure: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/index.cfm


News Release: U.S. EPA proposes to eliminate mercury pollution from dentist offices nationwide

U.S. EPA NEWS

RELEASE DATE:   September 25, 2014

MEDIA CONTACT:  Suzanne Skadowski, 415-972-3165, skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov

U.S. EPA proposes to eliminate mercury pollution from dentist offices nationwide

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a proposal to eliminate mercury pollution from dental offices nationwide. These new Clean Water Act standards would cut discharges of dental amalgam – a mixture of mercury and other metals that dentists use to fill cavities. Under this proposal, dentists must use devices to remove mercury and other toxic metals before they go down the drain.

“This proposed rule would cut mercury and toxic metal discharges to public wastewater systems by at least 8.8 tons a year nationwide,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Bay Area communities already require dentists to use amalgam capture devices and have seen their mercury pollution levels drop nearly 75 percent. Now the rest of California and the nation will see these same benefits.”

About half the mercury that enters public water treatment systems comes from dental offices that do not use amalgam separators. When mercury from amalgam is discharged into water bodies, it can be transformed into methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury that builds up in fish, shellfish and fish-eating animals. People can be harmed by methylmercury when they eat contaminated fish and shellfish. Methylmercury is a neurotoxin which impairs brain and nervous system development and function.

Many states and local wastewater districts have started mercury pollution control programs that require amalgam separators in dentist offices. Amalgam separators remove 90 to 95 percent of mercury and other metal waste. Under the San Francisco Bay Regional Watershed Mercury control program, virtually all Bay Area cities and public water systems have successful mandatory dental amalgam separator programs, but this is not the case in most other communities and states.

EPA estimates that up to 120,000 dental offices in the U.S. use or dispose of amalgam fillings that contain mercury.  Almost all of these offices discharge to sanitary sewers that flow to wastewater treatment plants.  While most offices use some practices to reduce amalgam discharges to the sewers, they are not nearly as effective as amalgam separators. Because 40 to 50 percent of dentists across the country already use amalgam separators thanks to state and local programs, the new rule may result in installation of separators in up to 60,000 dental offices nationwide.

EPA estimates put the total annual cost of the proposed rule at $44 to $49 million and a new streamlining proposal will cut state and local oversight costs by a similar amount. This action is one way the U.S. is meeting the goals of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an international environmental agreement that addresses human activities contributing to widespread mercury pollution.

EPA will accept public comments on the proposal for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register and expects to finalize the rule in September 2015.

More information: http://water.epa.gov/scitech/wastetech/guide/dental/


EPA Proposes Standards to Reduce Mercury Discharges from Dental Offices

Posted: September 29, 2014

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed standards under the Clean Water Act to help cut discharges of dental amalgam to the environment. Amalgam is a mixture of mercury and other metals that dentists use to fill cavities. Mercury is discharged when dentists remove old fillings or remove excess amalgam when placing a new filling.

Studies show about half the mercury that enters Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) comes from dental offices. Mercury from amalgam can then make its way into the environment in a number of ways, including through discharge to water bodies. Contact with some microorganisms can help create methylmercury, a highly toxic form of mercury that builds up in fish, shellfish and fish-eating animals. Fish and shellfish are the main sources of human exposure to methylmercury.

In response, many states and localities have implemented amalgam discharge-cutting programs requiring amalgam separators and other Best Management Practices in dentist offices. The American Dental Association (ADA) also recommends separators and other Best Management Practices for amalgam.

EPA expects compliance with this proposed rule would cut metal discharge to POTWs, half of it from mercury, by at least 8.8 tons a year.
Read more


MVP2 Award Presentation 2014

2014 MVP2 WinnersThe 2014 Most Valuable Pollution Prevention (MVP2) awards presented by the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) celebrate the successes of innovators in the areas of pollution prevention and sustainability. The MVP2 awards are presented annually during National Pollution Prevention (P2) Week.

The 2014 MVP2 recipients represent a broad range of backgrounds including academia, industries, non- profits and individuals that have demonstrated significant accomplishments in pollution prevention. Together, these programs and projects reduced hazardous materials by 2.2 million pounds, non-hazardous materials by 919,000 pounds, water use by 86.5 million gallons, air emissions by 2 million pounds, and energy use by 5.8 million kWh, saving these companies a total of over $3 million according to NPPR. These prestigious awards were presented at a ceremony in Washington, DC on September 17, 2014.

Awards are presented in five categories.

Phyllis Strong with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency took home the award for P2 Champion.

Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Audree Miller, with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

This year’s winners for the Projects/Programs Award: Crown Equipment, Dassault Falcoln Jet, Eco Chemical, GM – Toledo, IBM Vermont, Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute, Madison Precision Products, Prince William County Fire & Rescue, PVI Industries, SABIC, Saint-Gobain Corporation, and Washing Systems.

Honorable Mentions went to Cintas Corporation, GOJO Industries, IBM Fishkill, Maryland Department of Environmental Protection, Phoenix Contact, Pratt & Whitney, and SABIC.

One of the award winners, General Motors’ Toledo transmission manufacturing facility, has committed to making pollution prevention and recycling a facility-wide priority. The plant’s effective energy conservation program was implemented as part of its “drive to zero” program. The program was recognized by the U.S. EPA for lowering greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30 percent and subsequently avoiding nearly 40,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

GM Toledo hosts the largest rooftop solar array in the state of Ohio and uses landfill gas, which combined provide 19% of the facility’s energy use from renewable energy sources.  GM Toledo is also a landfill free facility, sending no waste from daily operations to landfill – all waste is reused, recycled or converted to energy.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.41.38 AM

“Our reductions in carbon emissions from improved energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives at the Toledo facility are made possible through the ongoing collaborative work with local utilities, state and local environmental service organizations and other private businesses,” said Laura Bartling, GM’s Midwest environmental group manager. “They’ve demonstrated what can be achieved through a holistic and community-engaging approach at reducing our environmental footprint.”

This year marks the first year of the Fred Granek P2 Ambassador Award, in memory of Fred Granek of the Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention. The Fred Granek P2 Ambassador Award was awarded to Bruce Taylor of Enviro-Stewards, Inc.

For more information on the MVP2 Awards and NPPR, visit www.p2.org


California and UC Berkeley win $335,000 in U.S. EPA grants to help students and businesses use green technology to design safer consumer products

Posted: September 22, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded more than $335,000 to the University of California Berkeley and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control for projects to help businesses and manufacturers reduce hazardous chemicals in consumer products and to train a new generation of engineers, chemists, and product designers to use green chemistry for safer products.

“UC Berkeley and DTSC are exploring innovative tools and technologies to make consumer products safer and more environmentally friendly,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “By promoting green chemistry during product design, companies can reduce costs, increase market opportunities and operate more sustainably.”

UC Berkeley’s Center for Green Chemistry received a $230,915 pollution prevention grant to create “Greener Solutions: an Interdisciplinary Safer Design Partnership,” providing student training in green chemistry and helping businesses reduce their use of hazardous chemicals. UC Berkeley will develop a for-credit course to teach 25 students per year in using green chemistry techniques to solve real-world business problems. Students will apply their green training to help five companies find ways to reduce hazardous chemicals and products in their supply chains. UC Berkeley will share innovations from these projects through training materials and pollution prevention case studies.
Read more


EPA Announces Grant Opportunities to Reduce Diesel Emissions at Ports

Posted: September 22, 2014

WASHINGTON – Today, EPA announced the availability of up to $5 million in grant funding to establish clean diesel projects aimed at reducing emissions from marine and inland water ports located in areas of poor air quality.

“Communities surrounding ports often face serious air quality and other environmental challenges, “ said Janet McCabe,  Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. “By working with fleet owners to replace or update older equipment with cleaner technologies, we can find collaborative solutions that foster both economic growth and improve public health.”

Older diesel engines emit large amounts of air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOX) and particulate matter (PM).  These pollutants are linked to a range of serious health problems including asthma, lung and heart disease, and other respiratory ailments.  Most of the country’s busiest ports are located near large metropolitan areas and, as a result, people in neighboring communities are exposed to high levels of diesel emissions.  Since most ships and equipment at ports run on diesel engines, clean diesel projects at ports will produce immediate emissions reductions and provide health benefits to those living and working in the area.

This is the second grant competition to focus on reducing emissions at ports under the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA). Under this competition, EPA anticipates awarding between two and five assistance agreements. Applicants may request up to $2 million in funding toward eligible projects. Port authorities, governmental or quasi-governmental public agencies that operate ports, and state and local governments with jurisdiction over transportation or air quality are eligible to apply. Community groups, terminal operators, shipping carriers, and other related entities are encouraged to participate through partnerships with eligible applicants.  Projects may include drayage trucks, marine engines, locomotives, and cargo handling equipment at marine or inland water ports.  Funding is limited to projects at ports located in areas of poor air quality, as determined by the Administrator.  The list of eligible areas for this RFP can be found at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/ports/documents/fy14-ports-county-area-list.pdf.

All proposals must be received by December 11, 2014. For more information and to access the Request for Proposals and other documents, please visit http://www.epa.gov/otaq/ports/ports-dera-rfp.htm.


D.E.A. to Allow Return of Unused Pills to Pharmacies

Posted: September 16, 2014
Source: The New York Times, Health
By CATHERINE SAINT LOUIS

Concerned by rising rates of prescription drug abuse, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced Monday that it would permit consumers to return unused prescription medications like opioid painkillers to pharmacies.

The move is intended to help reduce stockpiles of unneeded medicines in homes, which are often pilfered by teenagers. Under the new regulation, patients and their relatives will also be allowed to mail unused prescription drugs to an authorized collector using packages to be made available at pharmacies and other locations, like libraries and senior centers.

The new regulation, which will go into effect in a month, covers drugs designated as controlled substances. Those include opioid painkillers like OxyContin, stimulants like Adderall and depressants like Ativan.

Until now, these drugs could not legally be returned to pharmacies. The Controlled Substances Act allowed patients only to dispose of the drugs themselves or to surrender them to law enforcement.

“This is big news and long overdue,” said Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It’s baffling that it’s so easy to get a prescription for opioids and yet so difficult to dispose of these drugs safely.”

Read more


Symposium: Assessing and Managing Toxic Risk from Alternative VOC Compound

What:      Symposium: Assessing and Managing Toxic Risk from Alternative VOC Compound

Where:      SCAQMD Headquarters in Diamond Bar, California

When: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Link for more details.

In the ongoing effort to meet more stringent federal ozone standards, the South Coast Air Quality Management District in Diamond Head, California continues to seek VOC emissions reductions from stationary and area sources in the South Coast Air Basin.

One strategy to achieve this goal is to continue to lower limits on the VOC content of coatings, solvents, adhesives, sealants, lubricants, inks and other VOC containing products. Manufacturers have responded by reformulating their products to meet new VOC limits, in many cases using alternative compounds that have been exempted from the definition of VOC. These exemptions are based primarily on evidence that the compound does not significantly contribute to ozone formation, but may also consider other factors such as toxicity and climate impacts.

Recently, the SCAQMD has been faced with a variety of issues regarding the potential toxic risk posed by compounds proposed for exemption, or otherwise anticipated to have increased use, when proposed rules are analyzed under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). These issues include aspects of both risk assessment and risk management.

This symposium will include presentations from experts from the regulatory, industrial, academic, and environmental communities exploring these critical issues from different perspectives. The objective is to provide SCAQMD with expert advice and potential future direction regarding the analysis and mitigation of potential toxic risks associated with alternative VOC compounds. Please use the following link to sign up for the mailing list for this symposium (please note, the webpage does not display properly in Internet Explorer version 9 or earlier): 
http://www.aqmd.gov/home/regulations/compliance/vocs/optintoxsymp


Pollution Prevention – The Clear Choice of Environmental Sustainability

2014 P2 Week Poster-2

Pollution Prevention Week begins the third Monday in September each year. The week is an opportunity for individuals, businesses, and government to emphasize and highlight their pollution prevention and sustainability activities and achievements, expand current pollution prevention efforts, and commit to new actions.

Pollution Prevention Week is the time when businesses, environmental groups and citizens can join forces for a common cause. By sharing information about pollution prevention (P2), businesses can become more competitive, businesses and government can realize cost savings, and environmental quality can be enhanced.

NPPR prepared a toolkit to assist organizations in their planning and communication for Pollution Prevention Week. This toolkit contains ideas for social media messages, links to websites with information about safe chemicals, sample press releases, recipes for home cleaning and alternative yard care. Here are the themes for each day of the week:

  • Day 1 – P2 and Clean Air
  • Day 2 – P2 Results
  • Day 3 – EPA and green house gases
  • Day 4 – Energy Efficiency and Renewables
  • Day 5 – Climate Change

Download the P2 Week Toolkit.


NV Energy Leading the EV Charge

Posted: September 8, 2014
Source: Energy Manager Today.com author: Karen Henry

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) has released a report showing that NV Energy is a leader in the Southwest and the nation in promoting clean electric vehicle transportation.

Through its Shared Investment Program, NV Energy has facilitated the installation of nearly half the public electric vehicle charging stations in the state. Since 2009, the utility has offered a special electric vehicle billing rate that encourages people to charge their cars late at night, when demand is at its lowest and power plants typically are underutilized.

Customers in Northern Nevada, for example, who charge their cars between 10 pm and 6 am, pay 6.3 cents per kWh compared to the normal residential rate of 10.2 cents. In Southern Nevada, where electricity use spikes during the hot summer months, EV drivers who charge their cars between 10 pm and 6 am pay about 7 cents per kWh in summer and about 5 cents in winter compared to normal residential rates of 12 cents.

According to the report, “NV Energy: Leading the Way on Electric Vehicles,” electric vehicles are the cleanest transportation option in Nevada. About 66 percent of Nevada’s electricity was produced by natural gas in 2013. The remaining electricity generation comes from coal and renewable energy. Legislation passed in 2013 puts the utility on a path to retire 550 MW of coal-fired electricity generation in 2014 and another 250 MW by 2017, making Nevada a leader in the Southwest in moving away from coal and toward more renewable energy and clean-burning natural gas.

NV Energy developed its Shared Investment Program to improve range confidence and provided $500,000 to help fund new electric vehicle charging stations around the state. During 2013, the utility partnered with private and public sector entities to set up 133 individual charging ports at more than 47 locations statewide.

Employers who provide charging to their employees were also eligible to participate in the program. NV Energy offered partners up to $7,000 off the cost of a dual port charger, about half the cost.

The report comes as good news to NV Energy, which saw its energy-efficiency programs decline in 2013.