E.P.A. Plans to Curtail the Ability of Communities to Oppose Pollution Permits – NY Times

More work being done by the Trump Administration to limit citizens ability to appeal.

The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to weaken rules that for the past quarter-century have given communities a voice in deciding how much pollution may legally be released by nearby power plants and factories. The changes would eliminate the ability of individuals or community advocates to appeal against E.P.A.-issued pollution permits before a panel of agency judges. However, the industrial permit-holders could still appeal to the panel, known as the Environmental Appeals Board, to allow them to increase their pollution. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)

Sewage Treatment Appeal Filed in State Court to Protect Puget Sound

This has been a known problem and long running battle at the State level by environmental organizations since the early 90s. Standard excuses, too expensive to do, etc.  As stated to me by a knowledgeable friend, “Muni sewage plants and industrial facilities directly discharging to the Sound are supposed to have permits re-written every five years to “rachet down” on discharge pollutants as new technologies became available. EPA didn’t make the state do much more than some minor cosmetic remedies because municipalities said they’d have to raise rates and industries said the costs wouldn’t be worth the amount of pollution reduction of secondary.”  Who was running Department of Ecology in 1991 when that happened? The environmental champion, Christine Gregoire. And so it goes. The death from a thousand cuts.

“Olympia (WA) – An environmental group sued the Washington Department of Ecology in state court today in its bid to modernize pollution removal at Puget Sound sewage treatment plants. In January, Ecology refused to update its rules that allow dischargers to use 100-year-old pollution control technology while Puget Sound faces emergency levels of toxic and nutrient pollution.
“It’s well past time for the Department of Ecology to stop relying on 100-year old technology to protect Puget Sound,” said Nina Bell, Executive Director of Northwest Environmental Advocates (NWEA). “We’re not driving around in Ford Model T’s so why are we still using sewage treatment technology from that era? Modern sewage treatment would help clean up Puget Sound and protect struggling populations of Chinook salmon and orca whales,” she added.
NWEA sought a change in the 31-year old rules that Ecology uses to define modern technology by filing a petition with the agency on November 14, 2018. Ecology denied the petition on January 11, 2019. NWEA appealed the denial to Governor Inslee on January 30, 2019; he has 45 days in which to respond.
The petition explains that although Ecology has identified sewage discharges as the primary cause of some of Puget Sound’s biggest pollution problems, it has taken no action. Inadequate treatment of sewage is causing widespread algal blooms, low levels of dissolved oxygen, wholesale food web changes, ocean acidification, and toxic threats to orca whales, salmon, and crab according to Ecology’s own studies.
The petition is based on state law that requires pollution sources to use the best available treatment technology. The 74-year old Washington law, referred to as “AKART,” requires the use of “All Known, Available, and Reasonable Treatment” for pollution prior to its discharge.
NWEA’s petition details the widespread use of modern sewage treatment in the United States. For example, sewage treatment plants discharging to Chesapeake Bay and Long Island Sound have cut their nutrient pollution by almost 60 percent. In contrast, very few cities in the Puget Sound area have modern technology, and Ecology has only required one to do so—the LOTT treatment plant in Olympia.
Today’s lawsuit was filed in Thurston County Superior Court on behalf of NWEA by Andrew Hawl y, of the Western Environmental Law Center, and Bryan Telegin, of Bricklin & Newman, LLP.”

Petition seeks upgrades to Puget Sound Treatment Plants – Kitsap Sun

This upgrade would cost cities tens of millions of dollars. While it’s a noble goal, and one that should eventually be implemented for the health of the Salish Sea, poorer counties like Jefferson and Clallam would be put in a very difficult position financially. There is no money coming out of Washington D.C. to fund these efforts anymore, thanks to the folks who elected our current President and Senate. You can’t have both an anti-environmental President and expect to get help to do such things as improve the sewage outflows of our rural cities.  As to the State of Washington providing for these upgrades, given the current demands of culvert replacement and the McCleary Decision, I wouldn’t expect any funding for this anytime soon, if ever. By the way, I’ve heard that Port Townsend is reaching the end of life of it’s sewage treatment plant, and is making plans to eventually look at tertiary treatment. But it’s really expensive.

An environmental group, Northwest Environmental Advocates, is calling on the Washington Department of Ecology and Gov. Jay Inslee to invoke a 1945 law in hopes of forcing cities and counties to improve their sewage-treatment plants.

https://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/

Debate Over Water Quality Standards Takes A New Turn – Puget Sound Institute

Christopher Dunagan writes on the issue of the Federal EPA vs. State of Washington EPA, vs. the people of Washington, as the real battle of Trumps reigning in of environmental regulations changes the rules of engagement. The issue is very relevant to all of us in the Salish Sea basin, as it pits a national standard of water quality, established by the EPA under Obama’s era, against an update by the Trump administration. How much cancer causing chemicals can we eat before we get cancer?

The State of Washington EPA fought the original stricter standards, because it would mean more effort by industrial corporations (i.e. Boeing et al) to meet the newer standards, which were put in place partly due to the fact that many of us are eating far more fish than what was originally believed. Now those same corporations are petitioning Trump’s EPA to ease the standards.

It’s not just an academic debate. Cancer causing chemicals effect us and our resident Orcas and more. Read the whole short story on it here. Www.pugetsoundinstitute.org

https://www.pugetsoundinstitute.org/2018/11/debate-over-water-quality-standards-takes-a-new-turn/

Many people thought the issue of regulating toxic chemical discharges into Puget Sound was settled when the federal government forced Washington state to use stricter criteria, but the debate may be underway once again.

Residents opposed to Mason County ‘septic lagoon’ despite state paving the way for approval – Kitsap Sun

Whatever could go wrong?  Well this story is about mitigating what went wrong. This is one of the locations that process our wastes for Jefferson County.  There is a backstory to this, as the request by Bio Recycling, who  has been in Mason County for a long time, and this proposal is to mitigate a problem for winter discharges and brown-water issues. It has been an ongoing issue of nitrates getting into the environment from the current plant. Bio Recycling’s technology may be sound, but so much “green-washing” is happening these days, where companies with unsound technologies rebrand themselves as ‘environmentally friendly” that it’s worth it to review their proposal.

The bio-solids they process are taken to central Washington where they are reused as fertilizer, though it’s unclear on what crops, etc.

They have been processing on-site septic systems and waste water treatment plants since 1993. There is no requirement to test for organic chemicals such as drugs, chemotherapy chemicals, poisons, etc. though they mention in the video of the meeting that they have done some preliminary studies and not found more than traces of some chemicals.  They use a lime neutralization process to treat the septic product. They process home septic tanks, some grease trap material and some material from waste treatment plants like Port Townsend and Port Ludlow, if my information is correct.

Citizen concerns are over a variety of issues, one of them being the ability to withstand a seismic event and what would happen in the event of an earthquake causing the pond to be breached.

The entire video of the Mason County Commissioners meeting that goes over the request is found here: http://masonwebtv.com/archives/30031

Also the overview of Bio Recycling and it’s processes, it’s overview of the project, etc.  I can’t find any mention of the people who run the company on their web site, or if they are owned by another company. They are a privately owned company apparently run by Brian Hinkey (sp?) the son of the founder.

http://www.biorecycle.com/north_ranch.shtm

Bio Recycling is still awaiting permit approval from Mason County and the Department of Ecology to move forward with plans to build a double-lined lagoon to store treated biosolids, amid outcry from community members. The Department of Ecology and Mason County determined in March that the facility’s proposal to build an 18-million-gallon, double-lined lagoon to store treated wastewater and septage in Union will not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment. The determination of nonsignificance, part of a state-mandated process, kicked off an intense period of public comment and meetings, wherein Ecology and Mason County received more than 100 comments from individuals, tribes and state agencies weighing in on the project. Arla Shephard Bull reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Residents opposed to Mason ‘septic lagoon’ despite state paving way for approval

Troubling report on the use of chemicals in National Refuges

Given the current discussion about allowing large scale aquaculture in the Dungeness Bay National Refuge, it’s worth looking at what’s happening at other refuges across the country. While most of these are land based, it’s not likely that most people assume that pesticides are allowed to be sprayed in wildlife refuges. It points out why the Army Corp. of Engineers needs to do more diligence with the permit applicant before coming to a conclusion about what to do.


For Immediate Release, May, 10, 2018

Contact: Hannah Connor, (202) 681-1676, hconnor@biologicaldiversity.org

Analysis: 490,000 Pounds of Toxic Pesticides Sprayed on National Wildlife Refuges

Pesticide Use on Crops Grown in Refuges Spikes in California, Oregon, Arkansas, Tennessee, Maryland

WASHINGTON— America’s national wildlife refuges are being doused with hundreds of thousands of pounds of dangerous agricultural pesticides every year, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity.

The Center report, No Refuge, reveals that an estimated 490,000 pounds of pesticides were dumped on commodity crops like corn, soybeans and sorghum grown in national wildlife refuges in 2016, the most recent year for which data are available. The analysis was conducted with records obtained by the Center under the Freedom of Information Act.

“These refuges are supposed to be a safe haven for wildlife, but they’re becoming a dumping ground for poisonous pesticides,” said Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center who authored the analysis. “Americans assume these public lands are protected and I think most people would be appalled that so many pesticides are being used to serve private, intensive agricultural operations.”

The pesticides include the highly toxic herbicides dicamba and 2,4-D, which threaten the endangered species and migrating birds that wildlife refuges were created to protect. Refuge pesticide use in 2016 was consistent with pesticide applications on refuges over the previous two years, the Center analysis showed.

America’s 562 national wildlife refuges include forests, wetlands and waterways vital to thousands of species, including more than 280 protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Yet intensive commercial farming has become increasingly common on refuge lands, triggering escalating use of highly toxic pesticides that threaten the long-term health of these sensitive habitats and the wildlife that depend on them.

In 2016 more than 270,000 acres of refuge land were sprayed with pesticides for agricultural purposes. The five national wildlife refuge complexes most reliant on pesticides for agricultural purposes in 2016 were:

  • Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex in California and Oregon, with 236,966 pounds of pesticides;
  • Central Arkansas Refuges Complex in Arkansas, with 48,725 pounds of pesticides;
  • West Tennessee Refuge Complex in Tennessee, with 22,044 pounds of pesticides;
  • Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Tennessee, with 16,615 pounds of pesticides;
  • Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia, with 16,442 pounds of pesticides.

Additional findings from the report:

  • Aerial pesticide spraying: In 2016, 107,342 acres of refuge lands were aerially sprayed with 127,020 pounds of pesticides for agricultural purposes, including approximately 1,328 pounds of the notoriously drift-prone dicamba, which is extremely toxic to fish, amphibians and crustaceans.
  • Glyphosate: In 2016 more than 55,000 agricultural acres in the refuge system were treated with 116,200 pounds of products containing glyphosate, the pesticide that has caused widespread decreases in milkweed plants, helping to trigger an 80 percent decline of the monarch butterfly over the past two decades.
  • 2,4-D: In 2016 more than 12,000 refuge acres were treated with 15,819 pounds of pesticide products containing 2,4-D, known to be toxic to mammals, birds, amphibians, crustaceans, reptiles and fish and is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of endangered and threatened salmonids.
  • Paraquat dichloride: In 2016 more than 3,000 acres of corn and soybean crops on refuge lands were treated, mainly through aerial spraying, with approximately 6,800 pounds of pesticides containing paraquat dichloride, known to be toxic to crustaceans, mammals, fish, amphibians and mollusks and so lethal it is banned in 32 counties, including the European Union.

“These pesticides are profoundly dangerous for plants and animals and have no place being used on such a staggering scale in our wildlife refuges,” Connor said. “The Interior Department needs to put an end to this outrage and return to its mission of protecting imperiled wildlife, not row crops.”

 

No Refuge

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

EVENT:The Battle Against Light Pollution – Thursday, May 17 at 6 PM

The Battle Against Light Pollution will be held on  Thursday, May 17 at 6 PM in the Port Angeles Library Carver Meeting Room, 2210 South Peabody Street.  It is being hosted by the Sierra Club North Olympic Group as part of its free series of public programs.

Come peer through the lens of the International Dark-Sky Association — its efforts to combat light pollution and recognize Dark Sky Preserves.

Explore light pollution causes, effects on wildlife and human health, and its carbon footprint.

Learn some astronomy and about our connection to the night sky.

Hear how to effectively fight and eliminate light pollution.

It’s a fight we can win, if we have the will, say David W. Ingram, Chapter Leader of Dark Skies Northwest (DSNW and John L. Goar, Astronomy Outreach Volunteer for Olympic National Park and member of the International Dark-Sky Association. (IDA)

The IDA is a non-profit organization based in Tucson, AZ.  It is dedicated to preserving the natural nighttime environment by educating policymakers and the public about night sky conservation and promoting environmentally friendly methods to provide minimally intrusive outdoor lighting.

Ingram’s leadership covers Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.  His work as an IDA chapter leader includes education and public outreach presentations and support and empowerment to private citizens, conservation and environmental organizations, schools, local, state and national organizations.

Ingram retired from the Boeing Company after a 34-year career in aviation and space technology.  His personal focus on science, the night sky and amateur astronomy began in Indiana during his high school years in the mid-1960s.  Over the past decades, he has joined numerous astronomy societies and related organizations and now serves as the Boeing Employees’ Astronomical Society President, the Seattle Astronomical Society Vice President of Education, and the IDA/Dark Skies Northwest (DKNW) representative to a number of astronomy societies in the Puget Sound area.  In addition to his IDA chapter leader duties with

DKNW, Ingram provides volunteer time to the summer astronomy program at Glacier National Park in Montana.  Learn more at  <www.darksky.org>

John L. Goar teaches high school science at North Kitsap High School in Poulsbo WA. In addition to being the Astronomy Outreach Volunteer for Olympic National Park, and winning the 2016 George and Helen Hartzog Volunteer National Park Service Award, Goar is an officer of the Olympic Astronomical Society and the Astronomical League (Binocular Messier Program Coordinator and Asteroid Observing Program Coordinator), as well as Secretary of the Olympic Astronomical Society, Bremerton, WA.

Goar is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley.  As a student project, he built a 12.5 inch Dobsonian telescope, and later built a 20 inch diameter mirror scope.  Goar has been an amateur astronomer since 2000, and is passionate about preserving dark night skies.  He has led free public telescope programs at Hurricane Ridge for eight summers, while also leading full moon hikes to Hurricane Hill.

Goar is a certified master observer with the Astronomical League, a confederation of astronomy clubs in the US. Hwas also awarded the Presidential Lifetime Service Award in 2017 by President Barack Obama.

Information and a schedule for summer astronomy programs in 2018 can be found at his website: <www.olympictelescope.com>

David W. Ingram                            John L. Goar

https://sierraclub.org/washington/north-olympic

MEDIA RELEASE

Contact:  Darlene Schanfald

Sierra Club North Olympic Group

360-681-7565

 

 

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