News

New EPA Standards A Big Win for Truckers

Posted: December 8, 2014
Source: JustMeans.com
By: RP Siegel in Energy

In 2010, heavy-duty trucks and buses accounted for 23% of all transportation-related greenhouse gases, even though they comprise less than 5% of all vehicles. In response to this, the Obama administration, in August of 2011, issued a directive, setting a new fuel efficiency targets for heavy duty trucks, starting in 2014 and extending through 2018.

With 2014 being the first year the new standards are in place, the results have been no less than remarkable. Since trucks are primarily used for commercial purposes, businesses are very interested in high efficiency since that contributes directly to their bottom line.

Sales of heavy trucks are soaring. October sales surpassed 22,000 units, the highest since 2006. Overall sales year to date have been running 20% higher than a year ago. Some of that is because buyers waited for the new models to come out. Fuel economy is a big reason why. While a typical tractor-trailer on the road today gets 5.8 mpg, those equipped with the latest engines get as much as 9 mpg. A new demonstration model SuperTruck, has been running up and down the highways, getting over 10 mpg under real world conditions. That’s an increase of 70% in fuel economy. Imagine what that can due to a trucker’s operating cost. Read more


Obama Administration Selects Los Angeles, Calif., Ajo, Ariz. and Fallon, Nev. to Develop Local Food Projects, Encourage Economic Expansion

Posted: December 5, 2014

26 communities selected nationwide for Local Foods, Local Places Initiative

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, on behalf of the White House Rural Council, six federal agencies joined to announce 26 communities selected to participate in Local Foods, Local Places, a federal initiative providing technical support to integrate local food systems into community economic action plans. Over the next two years, the project will aim to increase access to locally grown, healthy fruits and vegetables for residents while boosting economic opportunity for farmers/producers in various areas.

The Youth Policy Institute in Los Angeles, Calif. will receive technical assistance to create a community-supported agriculture program that can improve the health of low-income residents by increasing access to local foods, boost economic opportunities for farmers and producers in the region, and help revitalize distressed neighborhoods.
Read more


U.S. EPA honors 2014 Green Power Leaders

Posted: December 3, 2014

Apple, Google, Intel, 3Degrees Group, Las Vegas among winners nationwide

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presented its annual Green Power Leadership Awards to 23 businesses and organizations for their efforts to significantly advance the green power market by using electricity from renewable energy including solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, and low-impact hydroelectric sources.

“By using green power, these businesses and organizations are reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts associated with climate change, and protecting public health,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our partners demonstrate that green power is both accessible and affordable while also growing the renewable energy market.”

EPA presented the awards at the Renewable Energy Markets Conference in Sacramento, Calif. The following businesses and organizations in the Pacific Southwest were among the winners nationwide:

On-Site Generation Partner of the Year Read more


EPA Proposes Smog Standards to Safeguard Americans from Air Pollution

Posted: November 26, 2014
Source: EPA

WASHINGTON– Based on extensive recent scientific evidence about the harmful effects of ground-level ozone, or smog, EPA is proposing to strengthen air quality standards to within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion (ppb) to better protect Americans’ health and the environment, while taking comment on a level as low as 60 ppb. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review the standards every five years by following a set of open, transparent steps and considering the advice of a panel of independent experts. EPA last updated these standards in 2008, setting them at 75 ppb.

“Bringing ozone pollution standards in line with the latest science will clean up our air, improve access to crucial air quality information, and protect those most at-risk. It empowers the American people with updated air quality information to protect our loved ones – because whether we work or play outdoors – we deserve to know the air we breathe is safe,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Fulfilling the promise of the Clean Air Act has always been EPA’s responsibility. Our health protections have endured because they’re engineered to evolve, so that’s why we’re using the latest science to update air quality standards – to fulfill the law’s promise, and defend each and every person’s right to clean air.” Read more


U.S. EPA, San Jose, recycler celebrate food waste to energy conversion

Innovative local composting and biogas facility leads the nation

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and City of San Jose will celebrate the city’s successful food-waste-to-energy program at a tour of the nation’s first large-scale commercial anaerobic digestion facility, privately owned and operated by Zero Waste Energy Development Company.

“Thanksgiving is a great time to focus on reducing food waste, the largest single material still going to landfills,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “By turning food scraps into compost and renewable energy, San Jose and Zero Waste Energy Development are helping fight waste and climate change.”

The San Jose compost and biogas program and Zero Waste Energy Development (ZWED) facility supports the city’s goal of achieving zero waste by 2022. The city currently diverts about 74 percent of waste material from landfills through reuse, recycling, composting, and anaerobic digestion.

“Our strong public-private partnership with ZWED exemplifies our bold Green Vision,” said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. “We’re diverting waste from our landfill and converting it to energy by collaborating with ZWED at the world’s largest anaerobic digestion facility. This is project is a win-win for our businesses, our community, and the environment.”

During its first ten months of operation in 2014, the ZWED facility has recycled more than 30,000 tons of food scraps from restaurants and grocery stores that would otherwise go to the landfill. This food waste generates 500 kilowatts per hour of electricity that is used to power onsite operations, and it has produced approximately 6,000 tons of compost. The facility is capable of digesting and composting 90,000 tons of organic waste per year and is expected to produce 1.6 megawatts and sell excess power to the grid in early 2015.

“We’re pleased to have the EPA and City of San Jose join in celebrating our first anniversary of the opening of our facility,” said Richard Cristina, president of ZWED. “We’re excited to showcase the tremendous success of our partnership to keep San Jose’s commercial wet waste out of landfills while creating a high quality compost and renewable energy.”

San Jose garbage, recycling and composting systems start with state-of-the-art facilities where all commercial waste is first sorted before anything is sent to the landfill.  Organic and food waste is moved to the ZWED facility, where 16 anaerobic digesters use bacteria to break down the material in an oxygen-depleted environment to create a biogas rich in methane. The gas in turn fuels a combined heat and power plant that generates electricity for adjacent recycling operations.

California recently announced the recipients of $14.5 million in grants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food and other organic waste going to landfill. Five projects in California will each receive $2.5 to $3 million to expand or develop anaerobic digester or composting facilities similar to San Jose’s.

EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge and new Reducing Wasted Food & Packaging Toolkit encourage businesses and organizations to reduce food waste and help feed people in need.  Participants donated more than 98,000 tons of food and diverted more than 375,000 tons of wasted food from landfills last year, cutting greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 85,000 cars off the road.

Information on today’s tour, photos and more food waste resources:  http://www.epa.gov/region9/mediacenter/ad-sanjose/

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About U.S. EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Southwest Region 9 administers and enforces federal environmental laws in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands and 148 tribal nations — home to more than 48 million people. It is a diverse, beautiful and productive part of the nation, from the rainforests of Hawaii and the farms of the Central Valley to the thriving economies of the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Nearly 50 million people make their homes and livelihoods across EPA Region 9’s 386,000 square mile-jurisdiction, producing more than $2 trillion in goods and services each year. Over the past four decades, EPA Region 9 has spent billions of dollars and millions of staff hours to maintain and safeguard the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we treasure. While great progress has been made to reduce smog, improve water quality, clean up hazardous waste and create sustainable, healthy communities, much work remains to achieve EPA’s goals of protecting our environment and ensuring public health. Follow Us: Facebook: EPAregion9, Twitter: @EPAregion9, Newsletter:www.epa.gov/region9/newsletter

About San Jose Environmental Services Department and San Jose Green Vision

San Jose, Capital of Silicon Valley, is the largest city in Northern California and the 10th largest city in the nation. The San Jose Environmental Services Department is responsible for the management of solid waste collection and recycling; watershed protection and pollution prevention; municipal drinking water and recycled water; community sustainability initiatives, and the operation and infrastructure improvements of the San Jose-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility. ESD’s mission is to deliver world class utility services and programs to improve our health, environment, and economy. In collaboration with other City departments and community and business partners, ESD creates innovative projects and initiatives that align with San Jose Green Vision, a long-term comprehensive plan to lead our community into a sustainable future. The Green Vision includes bold goals for clean-tech jobs, reduced energy use, renewable energy, green buildings, waste reduction, water reuse, sustainable development, a clean fleet, more trees, zero emission streetlights, and interconnected trails. www.sjenvironment/greenvision Follow Us: Facebook: SJEnvironment Twitter: @SJEnvironment Instagram: @SJEnvironment Notifications: Receive our news, events, and announcements at Notify Me www.sanjoseca.gov/list.aspx; select keyword Environment and choose from the topics list.

About Zero Waste Energy Development Company LLC

Zero Waste Energy Development Company LLC is a joint venture between GreenWaste Recovery and Zanker Road Resource Management and was formed to develop and operate the first dry fermentation anaerobic digestion facility in the United States. Zero Waste is designing and permitting a 270,000 tons per year Dry Fermentation Anaerobic Digestion Facility in San Jose that will be developed in three phases; each phase will be capable of processing 90,000 tons per year of organic materials. The facility will process and recover energy from source separated food waste and the organic fraction remaining after materials including Municipal Solid Waste are processed at GreenWaste’s Material Recovery Facility and create two products: biogas containing methane and compost. To learn more about ZWEDC visit www.zwedc.com


EPA, DOE Release 2015 Fuel Economy Guide for Car Buyers

Posted: November 6, 2014

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) today released the 2015 Fuel Economy Guide, providing consumers with a valuable resource to help them choose the most fuel-efficient and low greenhouse gas emitting vehicles that meet their needs.

In comparison to previous years, the 2015 models include a greater number of fuel efficient and low-emission vehicles in a broader variety of classes and sizes.

“Automakers’ innovation is thriving, and Americans are benefiting from new consumer choices that limit carbon emissions and slow the effects of climate change,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “This year’s guide is not just about how the latest models compare with one another; it’s about providing people with an excellent tool so that they can make informed decisions affecting their pocketbooks and the planet.” Read more


Farmers in Stanislaus County encouraged to drop off unwanted pesticides at free event on Oct. 30 in Modesto

SAN FRANCISCO – Farmers in Stanislaus County, Calif. can bring their obsolete and unwanted pesticides to the Stanislaus County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office at a free pesticides collection event onThursday October 30, 2014. The event, which is by appointment only, will be held 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, 3800 Cornucopia Way, Modesto, Calif.

Funded by a $100,000 federal grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the agricultural commissioner is hosting the 1-day event to help farmers safely dispose of unwanted pesticides. The commissioner invited more than 2,500 permitted growers to participate in the event and expects more than 100 registered growers will safely dispose of over 2,000 gallons and 7,000 pounds of unwanted pesticides.

EPA’s pesticides program funds pesticides collection events throughout the Pacific Southwest that have been extremely successful in collecting and disposing of obsolete or unwanted pesticides from growers. A past collection event on the Arizona-Mexico border collected 138,000 pounds and 500 gallons of waste pesticides. Pesticides, when not properly stored, can break down and materials can leak and be released to the environment. Local collection events provide an opportunity for growers to reduce their risk of potential spills or leaks from degrading pesticides.

For more information on the event, contact: Kamaljit Bagri, Stanislaus County Deputy Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer 209-525-4730

Learn more about safe pesticides collection and disposal at: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/ regulating/storage.htm

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Subscribe to our newsletter: http://www.epa.gov/region9/ newsletter/index.html


U.S. EPA acts to protect children from lead-based paint hazards in eight Northern Calif. communities

Untrained and uncertified companies renovating homes and schools can put children at risk

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced settlements with construction companies in Calif. that were not EPA-certified to handle lead-based paint safely before or during renovations in older housing and schools. The lead-based paint Renovation, Repair and Painting rule requires companies to be properly trained and certified before working in pre-1978 homes and schools. The rule is designed to prevent children from coming into contact with hazardous lead dust.

“More than half a million children in America have blood lead levels high enough to cause learning disabilities and behavior problems,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Lead-based paint remains in tens of millions of homes and is the main source of lead exposure for children, so contractors have to be trained and certified to ensure renovations are done safely.”

EPA recently settled with the following nine companies for failing to be certified before advertising, bidding on, or performing renovation and repair projects in older housing and schools. Each company was ordered to pay a $1,000 civil penalty and, in most cases, required to complete training and obtain certification:

— A & D Construction Inc., Hayward

— AB Builders, Pleasant Hill

— CF Contracting, Fairfax

— Cogent Construction & Consulting Inc., San Francisco

— EF Brett & Company Inc., San Francisco

— Nema Construction, Albany

— Regency Construction Company Inc., Carmel Valley

— Southland Construction Management Inc., Pleasanton

— Welliver Construction, Eureka

EPA enforces the federal Toxic Substances Control Act and its Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule to protect children from exposure to lead-based paint hazards from renovation and repair activities that can create hazardous lead dust when surfaces with lead-based paint are disturbed. Contractors who disturb painted surfaces in pre-1978 homes and child-occupied facilities must be trained and certified, provide educational materials to residents, and follow safe work practices.  The U.S. banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978 but EPA estimates that more than 37 million older homes in the U. S. still have lead-based paint.

Nationwide, more than 100,000 contractors have completed the process to become certified. A single day of training is required to learn about the lead-safe work practices, but many companies continue to operate without training or certification and without regard for the potential harm to children. EPA continues to pursue enforcement against companies that are not certified and uses information from the public to help identify violators.

Lead exposure is more dangerous to children than adults because children’s growing bodies absorb more lead, and their brain and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead, which include: behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, and damage to the brain and nervous system. Children under six years old are at most risk. Currently, no level of lead in blood has been identified as safe for children.

During National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, October 19-25, EPA hopes to show parents, schools, contractors and others how to reduce a child’s exposure to lead and prevent its serious health effects.

More information on National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week: http://www2.epa.gov/lead

Find a certified contractor in your area: http://cfpub.epa.gov/flpp/ searchrrp_firm.htm

Notify EPA about lead paint violations in Calif.: http://www.epa.gov/region9/ lead/tips-complaints.html

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

RELEASE DATE: October 22, 2014


EPA settles with Bakersfield, Calif., steel company to ensure safe handling of hazardous waste

LOS ANGELES—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fined Kern Steel Fabrication, Inc. $57,100 for improper management of hazardous waste generated at its 627 Williams Street facility in Bakersfield, Calif.

During a 2012 investigation, EPA found that the facility failed to properly label about 30 of its containers holding hazardous wastes such as waste paint, fluorescent light lamps, used oil and batteries. EPA also found that many of the containers were not properly closed. Proper containerization of hazardous waste is required to minimize the possibility of a fire or sudden release of hazardous materials.

The facility also failed to characterize some of the waste generated onsite as hazardous or not hazardous and did not have an adequate contingency plan designed to protect human health or the environment in the event of any fires, explosions or any unplanned release of hazards into the environment.

Finally, EPA found that the facility did not submit a timely Biennial Report for 2011 and 2013. These reports are required for facilities that generate a minimum of 2,200 lbs of hazardous waste per month.

The facility, located in a commercial-industrial area of Bakersfield, about three blocks from residential neighborhoods, is a structural steel fabricator that constructs aircraft ground support maintenance platforms, work stands, and docking stations, among other products.

Today’s settlement is part of the EPA Region 9’s efforts to work together with our federal, state, and local partners to reduce pollution from facilities that manage, store, or handle large volumes of hazardous waste. The Agency’s goal is to reduce the risk to human health and the environment for the four million residents living in the San Joaquin Valley by ensuring wastes from these types of facilities are properly managed.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) authorizes EPA to oversee the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. Under RCRA, hazardous waste must be stored, handled and disposed of using measures that safeguard public health and the environment.

For more information on the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, please visit: http://www2.epa.gov/ enforcement/waste-chemical- and-cleanup-enforcement#waste


EPA Awards $785,000 to Navajo Nation for Leaking Underground Storage Tank Cleanup, Compliance

For Immediate Release: October 29, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $465,000 to the Navajo Nation to oversee the cleanup of an estimated 58 leaking underground storage tanks that store petroleum or hazardous substances throughout the reservation. The agency is also providing $320,000 for compliance activities reservation-wide.

Over the next 5 years, the EPA anticipates awarding $3.8 million to the Navajo Nation for this important work. This is the first time the agency has committed to funding these programs upfront for a multi-year period.

“Since the program’s start in 2000, EPA has helped fund the cleanup of 86 abandoned sites contaminated by petroleum products, mostly gas stations,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our goals are to reduce the number of leaking tanks, and hold tank owners accountable for any pollution they do cause.”

The cleanup funds will allow the Navajo Nation EPA to oversee the assessment and cleanup at 58 leaking underground storage tank sites in Tuba City, Shiprock, Lupton, Chinle, and several old abandoned trading posts across the Navajo Nation.  Underground storage tank owners and operators are responsible for their tanks and need to maintain them in good condition, but in the event of leaks, must pay for their cleanup.

The compliance activities funds will be used to conduct tank inspections at approximately 100 Navajo facilities to ensure compliance with federal and tribal standards. These funds will also be used to provide training to operators to ensure there are no leaks from their tanks, and for staff to recognize and respond to release incidents.

Through the work of the underground storage tank program, the EPA and the Navajo Nation EPA have brought the compliance rate of underground tank operations to close to the national rate of 68 percent. EPA funding has also resulted in Navajo-specific regulations and petroleum cleanup standards which incorporate the Navajo philosophy of sacredness of the earth and all its resources. The Navajo Nation Underground Storage Tank Act was passed by the Navajo Nation Council on October 29, 1998. The Act requires the removal of all underground storage tanks that do not comply with the standards.

In 1986, Congress created the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund to address petroleum releases from federally regulated underground storage tanks. In 2005, the Energy Policy Act expanded eligible uses of the Trust Fund to include certain leak prevention activities. The Trust Fund provides money to: oversee cleanups; enforce cleanups by recalcitrant parties; pay for cleanups at sites where the owner or operator is unknown, or unable to respond, or which require emergency action; and conduct inspections and other release prevention activities. Left unattended, releases from underground tanks can contaminate soil, groundwater, surface water, and indoor air.

For more information, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region9/ waste/ust/

Media Contact:  Margot Perez-Sullivan, perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov