Sector: EPA

Posted: October 8, 2014

Fuel economy gains for new vehicles continue under President Obama’s Clean Car Program

WASHINGTON – New vehicles achieved an all-time-high fuel economy in 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency announced today. Model year 2013 vehicles achieved an average of 24.1 miles per gallon (mpg) ‑– a 0.5 mpg increase over the previous year and an increase of nearly 5 mpg since 2004. Fuel economy has now increased in eight of the last nine years. The average carbon dioxide emissions are also at a record low of 369 grams per mile in model year 2013.

EPA’s annual “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends: 1975 through 2014” report tracks average fuel economy of new cars and SUVs sold in the United States. The report also ranks automakers’ achievements in model year 2013.
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Posted: October 2, 2014

Agency highlights water conservation project in the city of Fresno, reducing water use by 25%

FRESNO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld announced more than $183 million in funding to invest in California for statewide improvements in local water infrastructure and the reduction of water pollution. Blumenfeld was joined by Fresno Public Utilities Director Thomas Esqueda, and other state and local officials for the announcement at an event highlighting $51 million in federal funding that was used to install water meters within the city of Fresno. The event was held at the home of Bruce and Amy Roberts, who participated in the water meter program.

“Water is the lifeblood of our communities and EPA is committed to working with our state and city partners to protect this precious resource,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Today’s funding will help create construction jobs, develop infrastructure and conserve resources as we deal with the challenge of climate change.”

The City of Fresno, through a zero percent interest loan from the state, used the $51 million in drinking water funding to purchase and install 73,152 water meters in residential homes in several neighborhoods. The meters help homeowners and the city easily identify how much water homes are using. The meters have an electronic device that helps the city obtain quicker and more accurate meter readings. Since the installation of the meters was completed this year, water usage in the city has decreased by 25 percent.
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Posted: September 30, 2014
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its fourth year of Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program data, detailing greenhouse gas pollution trends and emissions broken down by industrial sector, geographic region and individual facilities. In 2013, reported emissions from large industrial facilities were 20 million metric tons higher than the prior year, or 0.6 percent, driven largely by an increase in coal use for power generation.

“Climate change, fueled by greenhouse gas pollution, is threatening our health, our economy, and our way of life—increasing our risks from intense extreme weather, air pollution, drought and disease,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “EPA is supporting the President’s Climate Action Plan by providing high-quality greenhouse gas data to inform effective climate action.”

The Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program is the only program that collects facility-level greenhouse gas data from major industrial sources across the United States, including power plants, oil and gas production and refining, iron and steel mills and landfills. The program also collects data on the increasing production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) predominantly used in refrigeration and air conditioning.
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Thursday,  August  7, 2014 1-3  p.m. PST,  10-noon,  Hawaii  time

TO:                  Interested Small Business Stakeholders

FROM:           Kia Dennis, Assistant Chief Counsel
                         Yvonne Lee,  Regional Advocate

SUBJECT:     Waters of the United States Regional  Roundtable Meeting

The  U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy will  hold a  regional Environmental Roundtable  to discuss the following topic, from 1-3 p.m. PST. The  meeting will be  held  in Los Angeles, California at the  Metropolitan Water District of Southern California  Building,  700 North Alameda  Blvd,  Los Angeles, CA  90012.  All  interested persons  planning to attend in  person or participate via conference call  must  RSVP  to Yvonne  Lee  at  Yvonne.lee@sba.gov  or  415-744-8493 before August 5,  2014.

 Draft Agenda

 1:00 p.m.-1:05 p.m.      Welcome and Introductions

                                           Yvonne Lee, Regional Advocate, SBA Office  of Advocacy
                                            Kia Dennis, Assistant  Chief Counsel,  SBA Office of Advocacy

1:05 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.    Presentation of the  Water of the United States Rule by EPA
                                            John Kemmerer,  Associate Director,  Water Division,  EPA Region IX
                                           Jason Brush,  Manager ,   Office of  Wetlands Services,  EPA Region IX

1:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m.       Discussion and Questions

Roundtable meetings are open to all interested persons, with the exception of the press, in order to facilitate open and frank discussion about the impacts of Federal regulatory activities on small entities.   Agendas and presentations are available to all, including the press. Anyone who wants to receive roundtable agendas or presentations, or to be included in the distribution list, should forward such requests to kia.dennis@sba.gov.  The purpose of these Roundtable meetings is to exchange opinions, facts and information and to obtain the attendees’ individual views and opinions regarding small business concerns.  The meetings are not intended to achieve or communicate any consensus positions of the attendees.

 Small Business Environmental Roundtable

Issue for Discussion

August 7, 2014

On April 21, 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have proposed a rule defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Decisions regarding whether or not a waterbody is subject to the CWA will affect small entities who need to determine whether or not their activities require authorization and/or permits under CWA.

Under the proposed rule, for purposes of all sections of the Clean Water Act and the regulations thereunder the term “waters of the United States” would mean:

(1) All waters which are currently used, were used in the past, or may be susceptible to use in interstate or foreign commerce, including all waters which are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide;
(2) All interstate waters, including interstate wetlands;
(3) The territorial seas;
(4) All impoundments of waters identified in paragraphs (1) through (3) and (5) of this section;
(5) All tributaries of waters identified in paragraphs (1) through (4) of this section;
(6) All waters, including wetlands, adjacent to a water identified in paragraphs (1) through (5) of this section; and
(7) On a case-specific basis, other waters, including wetlands, provided that those waters alone, or in combination with other similarly situated waters, including wetlands, located in the same region, have a significant nexus to a water identified in paragraphs (1) through (3) of this section.

Waters that do not meet this definition are not subject to the CWA. There are several programs under the CWA that would be affected by this proposed rule including but not limited to Section 311- oil spill prevention programs; Section 402 – requires permits for pollutant discharges; and Section 404 – permits for the placement of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.

The comment period closes on October 20, 2014.

Visit http://www2.epa.gov/uswaters to learn more about the proposed rule.

Posted: July 1, 2014
On June 30, 2014, the Water Permits Divison in EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management posted a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to the NPDES web site: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/pathogenfaq.cfm

This set of FAQs provides an overview of NPDES permitting applicable to continuous dischargers (such as Publicly Owned Treatment Works) based on water quality standards for pathogens and pathogen indicators associated with fecal contamination.

These FAQs answer questions to help EPA, state, tribal and territorial NPDES permit writers understand implications of changes to state water quality standards based on the 2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria (RWQC), published November 29, 2012.

The 2012 RWQC recommendations are for two bacterial indicators of fecal contamination – enterococci and E. coli. Section 304(a)(9) of the Clean Water Act directed EPA to publish new or revised water quality criteria recommendations for pathogens and pathogen indicators for the purpose of protecting human health. A pathogen indicator, as defined in section 502(23) of the CWA, is “a substance that indicates the potential for human infectious disease.” Most strains of enterococci and E. coli do not cause human illness (that is, they are not human pathogens); rather, they indicate the presence of fecal contamination.

If you have any questions regarding the FAQs, please contact David Hair [hair.david@epa.gov] at 202-564-2287.

Posted: June 27, 2014
UCLA students published Cal EcoMaps a website integrating TRI data with toxicology, demographic, ecological, and revenue data. Through this interactive map, you can find information on profiled facilities from four major industries in Los Angeles County. Each facility is assigned an Environmental Impact Score based on its percentile rank within its respective industry for five environmental impact indicators developed by the students.

To view the maps, environmental impact scores, and facility- and industry-level analyses, visit www.environment.ucla.edu/ccep/calecomaps


To learn more about our 2013-2014 partners and to read the selected proposals for the 2014-2015 school year, visit the TRI University Challenge website.

Posted: June 27, 2014

Proposal supports president’s Climate Action Plan by curbing emissions of potent greenhouse gases

WASHINGTON – In support of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to increase the options for refrigerants in the United States that offer better climate protection without harming the ozone layer. This is the agency’s first action that addresses refrigerants under the Climate Action Plan, which calls on EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program to identify and approve additional climate-friendly chemicals.

Under the authority of the Clean Air Act, EPA’s SNAP Program evaluates substitute chemicals and technologies that are safe for the ozone layer. This proposed action would expand the list of SNAP-approved substitutes to include more low-global warming potential (GWP) alternatives that can replace both the ozone-depleting substances and high-GWP hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

“Last June, President Obama introduced a broad set of initial steps designed to slow the effects of climate change, including reducing potent greenhouse gases,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “This proposal is a great example of how businesses and EPA can foster innovation by working together to identify refrigerants that better protect our environment.”
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Posted: June 25, 2014
Source: EPA Headquarters
Agency begins process to address potential human health risks

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a final risk assessment for trichloroethylene (TCE). The assessment identified health risks from TCE exposures to consumers using spray aerosol degreasers and spray fixatives. It also identifies health risks to workers when TCE is used as a degreaser in small commercial shops and as a stain removing agent in dry cleaning.

“EPA calls on Congress to enact legislation that strengthens our current federal toxics law,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention. “Until that time, we are using the best available science to assess and address chemical risks of TCE that now show that it may harm human health and the environment.”

The final TCE risk assessment was developed as part of the agency’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Work Plan, which identified chemicals for review and assessment of potential risks to people’s health and the environment. EPA developed the draft TCE risk assessment based on the best available information and finalized the assessment after careful consideration of comments from the public and experts during an independent, scientific peer review of the assessment. TCE is the first chemical to complete the work plan risk assessment process under TSCA.

EPA is conducting a workshop from July 29-30, on potential TCE degreaser alternatives and risk reduction approaches. EPA will conduct other activities to address TCE uses as a stain removing agent in dry cleaning and as a clear protective spray fixative.

In the meantime, EPA recommends that people take precautions that can reduce exposures, such as using the product outside or in an extremely well-ventilated area and wearing protective equipment to reduce exposure.

Additional information on the TCE risk assessment, the July 29-30 public workshop, and TSCA workplan chemicals can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/riskassess.html>/a>

Consumer Fact Sheet on Trichloroethylene (TCE)

Posted: June 12, 2014

Identified chemicals are persistent, accumulate in the environment and have reproductive, developmental, and neurological toxicity

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing safer alternatives to the flame retardants now used in consumer and commercial products, including building insulation and products with flexible polyurethane foam.

“EPA’s findings for safer alternatives is great news for consumers and industry,” said Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “We will now have safer alternatives for use in our products from furniture to car seats to building insulation.”

Flame retardant chemicals such as hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) and pentabromodiphenyl ether (pentaBDE) raise concerns for human health and the environment including potential reproductive, developmental, and neurological effects and can be persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic to aquatic organisms.

EPA is releasing the final report on alternatives to the flame retardant HBCD and releasing an updated draft report on alternatives to the flame retardant pentaBDE. These alternatives were identified through EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) Alternatives Assessment Program.
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Posted: June 12, 2014

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that Ford Motor Company (Ford) is revising the fuel economy (mpg) estimates for six vehicle models to correct errors found in an internal Ford audit. Ford is required to correct fuel economy labels on affected vehicles within 15 days.

EPA oversaw Ford’s re-testing program and conducted independent tests to confirm the corrected results as soon as it was notified by Ford of the potential errors. Ford has agreed to implement enhanced validation tests for future vehicles under EPA oversight.

“This issue highlights the need for continued strong oversight of the fuel economy labeling program,” said Chris Grundler, director of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality. “Consumers need to trust that fuel economy window stickers are giving consumers reliable and fair estimates of real world fuel economy.”

Cars currently in dealer lots will be re-labeled with new window stickers reflecting the corrected mileage estimates. Ford will re-label four versions of the Ford Fiesta, the Hybrid and Energi versions of the Ford Fusion, the C-Max Hybrid and Energi, and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.  Most labels will change between 1-5 miles per gallon (mpg). The largest change is for the Lincoln MKZ hybrid whose combined city and highway fuel economy value has been reduced by 7 mpg. EPA and DOE have updated their joint fuel economy site, www.fueleconomy.gov, to reflect the corrected numbers.
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