Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  EPA published a document to serve as the basis for “A Working Approach for Identifying Potential Candidate Chemicals for Prioritization.”  This presents EPA’s initial step in evaluating the safety of existing chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The document also includes a longer-term risk-based approach for considering the larger TSCA chemical list.  This new work stems from the 2016 Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which amended the original, 40-year old TSCA, passed in 1976. EPA will take comments on its proposed approach until November 15.  Watch for a public meeting in early 2019.
*  NHTSA – the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration –seeks comments on “matters related to the near-term and long-term challenges of Automated Driving Systems (ADS) testing, development and eventual deployment.”  NHTSA wants comments on appropriate factors and structure to consider in designing a program to facilitate, monitor and learn from ADS research.  NHTSA lists four focus areas: (1) appropriate test factors. (2)  Using existing statutes and regulations.  (3) Additional elements needed to facilitate on-road research and testing for vehicles that may lack controls for human drivers and thus may not comply with all existing safety standards. (4) Exemptions enabling company participation and ways to assess the merits of exemptions and the types of terms and conditions that might be necessary.  Comments are due November 26.
*  From the International Energy Association last week: “Our position is that expensive energy is back, with oil, gas and coal trading at multi-year highs, and it poses a threat to economic growth.”  You gotta think about IEA’s overall number: 100 million barrels per day! Oil demand and supply are now at 100 mb/d!  One hundred million barrels today and 
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
seeps into the bottomless gas tanks day to day,
To the last fill-‘er-up of recorded time;
And CO2 from all our yesterdays’ commuting times
The way to a dusty planet. Out, out, brief candle!
Walking is a shadow cast on poor players and mass transit,
It hurts the feet and is almost as slow as the stage(coach),
Then you just have to walk some more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
(Deepest apologies to the Bard and his friend, the future King, Macbeth *:)) laughing!)

Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  An anti-pipeline website contains the following quote: “Every pipeline project proposed has been permitted by FERC. None have been denied.”  I asked FERC: Is that true?  Reply: “No.”  Follow up: How about some examples, then, to rebut that claim, to show that FERC doesn’t just rubber-stamp projects with powerful backers?  FERC: “…uh…well…one project recently…” But beyond this person’s individual “recollection,” (not research-based) FERC could/would not provide any list of projects disproving that website claim: “none have been denied,” most likely false (fake-news) but in the public forum it stands as true because FERC can’t, or won’t, demonstrate otherwise.  No wonder it’s hard to build a pipeline.
*  EPA made two significant announcements last week about refrigerants and related policies.  The first continued a move started last spring regarding controls on ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and EPA’s 2016 extension of those controls to HFCs which are NOT ozone depleting but can be significant global warming compounds, hence EPA’s effort to control.  A court had ruled that extension wasn’t legal since Congress has never included global warming compounds within Clean Air Act legislation.  EPA’s second notice was a “determination of acceptability” for 34 new substitutes in the refrigeration and air conditioning, foam blowing, fire suppression, cleaning solvents, and aerosols sectors – effective immediately.  A quick review shows the new compounds with an ODS of zero; global warming potentials range between 9 and about 1400 (with CO2 as the comparative unit of 1).
*  DOE’s Bioengineering Technology Office (BETO) last week that “sustainable aviation fuel made from recycled waste carbon gases” powered an international Virgin Atlantic flight from Orlando to London.  This culminated critical work between LanzaTech, based in Chicago, and DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Lab.  You gotta take your time and think about this.  LanzaTech takes waste gases containing carbon and uses bacteria to convert the carbon into fuels and chemicals.  The company’s core philosophy: “That waste carbon is an opportunity, not a liability and that carbon can be reused to provide sustainable benefits for all. Together we can create the carbon future we need.”  This is bigger than a couple of spoonfuls of fuel dripping out of some lab glassware.  LanzaTech produced 4000 gallons of alternate jet fuel at its Georgia facility.  The fuel has passed standard-setting review.  Stay tuned.

Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update


*  “Evidence from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans, collected by scientists and engineers from around the world, tells an unambiguous story: the planet is warming, and over the last half century, this warming has been driven primarily by human activity—predominantly the burning of fossil fuels.”  You’ll recall that assessment from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, established by Presidential Initiative in 1989, a program that coordinates climate work among 13 federal agencies.  Last week the GCRP said that Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), “Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States” remains on track for release in December as required by Congress.  Procedurally, this is a somewhat confusing program of reports, sometimes seeming like reports about reports.  A draft of Volume II was released last year. A complete Assessment is due every four years; the last report was released in 2014.  Should be an interesting release.
*  The Department of Commerce International Trade Administration has reestablished the Environmental Technologies Trade Advisory Committee (ETTAC), first chartered in 1994. ETTAC advises on the development and administration of policies and programs to expand U.S. exports of environmental technologies, goods, and services.  DOC is also looking for people to serve on the Committee, from companies or trade associations.  There are eight focus areas: Air pollution control and monitoring; Analytic devices and services; Environmental engineering and consulting; Financial services; Process and pollution prevention technologies; Solid and hazardous waste management technologies; and Water and wastewater treatment technologies.  Nominations are due by Oct. 19.
*  Okay, end of 3rd quarter and time to update the admittedly very rough measure – the number of pages in the Federal Register – of how big Big Gubmint’s getting to be.  End of this quarter: 49,263 pages.  Last year – 45,677 pages.  Hmmmm… better clean off those cheaters and get in some good light – that’s another 3,586 pages or about an additional 15 pages per bidness day for your reading pleasure.  Simetomes aftr a wile thet #9 font kan mkae youur eyez seeee a lidtle phunny…*:D big grin

Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced the start-up of a new special experiment project – acronym SEP-16 – that will evaluate delegating certain program-wide responsibilities to States.  FHWA is looking for letters of interest from interested states.  Generally, the Secretary can authorize States to assume project responsibilities for design, plans, specifications, estimates, contract awards, and inspections.  Excluded, though, are decisions relating to eligibility, obligation, reimbursement, authorization, and compliance.  States are instructed to develop and submit a “Concept Paper” detailing the State’s ability to carry out program responsibilities.  FHWA will review, and then decide about the merits of proceeding.
 
*  NOAA’s Marine Debris Program announced its FY 2019 Marine Debris Removal federal funding opportunity. Awarded projects will prioritize the removal of derelict fishing gear and other medium- and large-scale debris to improve habitat and foster public awareness of marine debris impacts. Proposals are due October 29.  Projects are to create long-term, quantifiable ecological habitat improvements for NOAA trust resources through on-the-ground marine debris removal activities, with priority for those targeting derelict fishing gear and other medium- and large-scale debris. Projects should also foster awareness of the effects of marine debris to further the conservation of living marine resource habitats, and contribute to the understanding of marine debris composition, distribution, and impacts. Up to $2,000,000 is expected to be available in Fiscal Year 2019. Typical awards will range from $50,000 to $150,000.

*  With transit, IndyGo, in Indianapolis, is the coolest system in the country right now.  It’s building out its Bus Rapid Transit system (yes, actually giving buses access priorities within the surface street grid so that service is fast and predictable) and last week it announced its second week of a pilot project selling fresh and affordable produce at the Julia M. Carson Transit Center.  “Food in Transit” aims to expand access to food for Indianapolis residents by bringing affordable produce to the Transit Center during peak ridership hours. Food in Transit features fresh food for sale Fridays from 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM during September and October; it’s anticipated to reopen in spring 2019.  Hmmm… buying groceries but not using a car… Is that even allowed..?
Tom Ewing
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  DOE’s Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee (BERAC) announced its next meeting dates: October 18 & 19; the 2nd day is a half-day session, in Rockville, MD.  The BERAC meets two to three times each year.  It met last in April.  The purpose of this Advisory Committee is to “provide advice on a continuing basis to the Director, Office of Science of the Department of Energy, on the many complex scientific and technical issues that arise in the development and implementation of the Biological and Environmental Research Program.”  A regular part of the Agenda is a report from the “Biological Systems Science and Climate and Environmental Sciences Division.”  BERAC’s work includes a focus on DOE’s “Grand Challenges” Report, last published in November 2017.  These grand challenges guide the fundamental research, from climate to biochemical systems, funded by DOE throughout its labs and within university programs.

*  The US Forest Service is seeking comments on preliminary work to revise the Mining Law of 1872.  The focus is on the need to clarify or otherwise enhance regulations covering environmental impacts, within the National Forest System, resulting from prospecting, exploration, development, mining, and processing operations linked to what is called “locatable” minerals, e.g., gold, silver, platinum, copper, lead, zinc, magnesium, nickel, tungsten, bentonite, barite, fluorspar, uranium, and uncommon varieties of sand, gravel, and dimension stone.  This set of regs hasn’t been updated since 1974.  Comments are due on a range of substantive issues by October 15.

*  EPA announced the final version of the updated National Priorities List (NPL), adding five sites – commonly called “Superfund sites.”  The NPL is intended to guide EPA in determining which sites warrant further investigation to assess the nature and extent of public health and environmental risks.  Eventually, of course, the hope is that these Superfund sites get cleaned up, that uncontrolled releases of toxic and hazardous materials are stopped and that these properties are returned to safe and productive use.  The five sites are Broadway Street Corridor Groundwater Contamination, Anderson, IN; Rockwell International Wheel & Trim, Grenada, MS; Donnelsville Contaminated Aquifer, Donnelsville, OH; Southside Chattanooga Lead, Chattanooga, TN; and Delfasco Forge, Grand Prairie, TX. Remember Valley of the Drums?  Hard to believe that was 40 years ago, in Kentucky, Bullitt County, near Louisville… 23 acres, 100,000 waste drums corroding, deteriorating… The rest is, well, modern environmental history – from RCRA to CERCLA to LUST to NPL to Superfund…

Tom Ewing
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