Proposed EPA Rules Could Limit State And Tribal Power To Block Infrastructure Projects -OPB

Over the last few years, since Trump came to power, I have been hearing about companies, some here in the NW engaged in shellfish farming, that have been quietly spending tens of thousands of dollars lobbying the Federal government to strip away the capability of local jurisdictions, such as county, state and tribal governments, to create local rules that could stymie the businesses operations or licensing by the federal government, under the Clean Water Act. A goal of theirs has been to take away the ability of local environmentally concerned organizations to sue, other than at the federal level.  Now, it appears the Trump administration is acting on their lobbying efforts. Think about fish farming, pulp mills, or any other activity covered under the Clean Water Act.

The rules specifically would restrict these non-federal governments’ authority to review the water quality impacts of projects that require a federal permit or license. These projects range from pipelines to hydropower facilities to dredging — any development that result in “discharge” into U.S. waters.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before October 21, 2019. ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA–HQ– OW–2019–0405, at https://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lauren Kasparek, Oceans, Wetlands, and Communities Division, Office of Water (4504–T), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: (202) 564–3351; email address: cwa401@epa.gov.

Read the whole legal document (very long, very difficult to follow if not a environmental lawyer) at

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2019-08/documents/cwa401certification_2060-af86_nprm_20190807_prepublication_version.pdf

https://www.opb.org/news/article/federal-water-quality-rules-energy-infrastructure/

Scott Pruitt’s Dirty Politics – New Yorker

William Ruckelshaus, who ran the E.P.A. under Nixon and Reagan, said that Pruitt and his top staff “don’t fundamentally agree with the mission of the agency.” Margaret Talbot reports. (New Yorker) See also: The E.P.A. Says It Wants Research Transparency. Scientists See an Attack on Science. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/26/climate/epa-scientific-transparency-honest-act.html Lisa Friedman reports. (NY Times)

 https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/04/02/scott-pruitts-dirty-politics

2017: The Year In Climate – New York Times

The Big Picture

Wash. Budget Has Pros And Cons For Environmental Policies – KNKX

A brief overview of the good news on the State budget front.

Washingtonians are parsing the state budget passed last weekby a divided legislature. It adds $1.8 billion for basic education over the next two years.  A big chunk of that comes from the closure of a so-called “extractive fuel” loophole, which is one of several new policies that many environmentally progressive groups like.

Eric de Place, an energy and climate policy analyst at the Seattle-based Sightline Institute, says from his perspective, the new state budget is mostly good news.

“I think on net, the budget was a win for the environment and a win for the climate,” de Place said.

http://knkx.org/post/wash-budget-has-pros-and-cons-environmental-policies

Port Townsend mill fined $30,000 for air pollution – WA Department of Ecology

Washington Department of Ecology – NEWS

April 20, 2017

Contact:

Andrew Wineke, communications, 360-407-6149, @ecologyWA

Corrosion led to leak in duct; stuck damper allowed second release

PORT TOWNSEND – The Port Townsend Paper Corporation has been fined $30,000 by the Washington Department of Ecology for two incidents in 2016 that led to emissions from the plant bypassing its control systems.

The first release happened in August after corrosion created a 1-inch hole in a duct at the plant, allowing small-particle pollution and other emissions to escape. The leak represented less than 1 percent of the plant’s emissions, and an assessment by an Ecology toxicologist indicated it did not pose a threat to human health. Because of the difficulty in reaching and repairing the leak, it was not fixed until the plant shut down for scheduled maintenance in September.

The second release occurred in November, when a damper in one of the plant’s main exhaust stacks became stuck, allowing some of the emissions to escape. Routine testing revealed the issue, and the plant corrected the problem after receiving the results.

“Proper maintenance and oversight of emissions equipment is an essential part of operating a pulp and paper mill,” said James DeMay, manager of Ecology’s Industrial Section, which regulates the plant. “Port Townsend Paper has made improvements to its procedures that should help to prevent similar problems in the future.”

The company may appeal Ecology’s penalty within 30 days to state’s Pollution Control Hearings Board.

“These issues were corrected in a timely manner and we have made the necessary improvements to prevent a reoccurrence,” said Mike Craft, mill manager at Port Townsend Paper. “We appreciate Ecology’s cooperation and acknowledgment that the release did not pose a threat to human health.”

 

Calls for Shipping and Aviation to Do More to Cut Emissions – NY Times

This is of great importance to us on the north Peninsula. During summer, when the winds die, we experience a lot of diesel fumes in the air hovering over the Strait. I’ve photographed it from the air, and it’s quite bad. Would like to see it measured sometime. These diesel emissions are very harmful particulate and stay in your lungs a long time. They can cause cancer.

Even though commercial aviation and ocean shipping are significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions, they were excluded from the Paris climate treaty, to be signed by more than 100 countries this week at the United Nations in New York.Now governments and advocacy groups are pressuring these industries to take stronger steps to curb pollution.

Draft Environmental Review Released For Oil Terminals On Washington Coast – KUOW

Hoquim and Aberdeen ports are being slated for crude oil shipments by possible building of oil shipment facilities for trains coming from the Bakken fields in North Dakota. The plan is for 1178 more oil trains and 638 more oil tankers to be added to the Gray’s Harbor area a year. These trains would be carrying huge quantities of highly flammable crude, much the same as the oil that destroyed the Canadian town of Lac-Mégantic. (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lac-Mégantic_rail_disaster for more on that). The plan is for up to 1188 oil trains per year coming into the area. Additionally, the Draft EIS talks about significant impact to the Quinault Tribal fisheries in the area, as the tribe will not be able to fish while boats are present, which essentially is all the time. As stated in the Draft EIS: “Tribal members would not be able to fish when ships or barges are moving through the area.” I guess it’s up to the Tribe to determine whether this particular fishery is worth fighting for, or whether there are other areas they can fish that are less impacted. It will be interesting to see what the Tribe has to say on this.

Also of interest is the trade off that the cities see in adding this highly polluting industry to their area. We all know that Hoquim and Aberdeen have been one of the poorest locations in the State, ever since the collapse of the logging industry due to the disastrous federal policies of allowing raw logs to be shipped to Japan in the 1980s. This  turned what had been an industry that was highly functioning with extraction and higher value processing jobs into a third world country where only cutting and transport of logs was done, wiping out mills across the area in short order. The Federal government green light to massive cutting with no concerns of market conditions or any need for local mills,  led to a short lived boom until the resources were gone. Meanwhile the industry blamed environmental organizations for suing to stop the destruction of all remaining forests to save what little habitat was being left due to a lack of oversight and planning by the Federal Government.

And so the proposal is to continue to eat away at locations where salmon can be fished and create a very large possible oil spill concern, one that not only would impact the Gray’s Harbor area but also the entire Washington and Oregon coast, if one of these vessels sank during a large storm due to mechanical failure. The trade off is to give much needed jobs to at least some of the people in the Gray’s Harbor area. How badly is this oil needed with the downturn in the Chinese economy, and other issues? Is the trade off of possible destruction of our recreational use of the Pacific Coast worth it to support the oil industry and it’s desire to sell their product to China and Japan? You can read and comment on the draft EIS if you wish at the link below.

http://www.ecy.wa.gov/geographic/graysharbor/terminals.html

KUOW summary story:

The Washington State Department of Ecology has just released its draft environmental review of two proposed oil terminals on the Washington coast. A third proposed terminal has not yet begun the environmental review process. The terminals could be built in Grays Harbor, near Aberdeen, doubling current vessel and train traffic levels there. (KUOW)

http://kuow.org/post/draft-environmental-review-released-oil-terminals-washington-coast

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