Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

Good Morning:

* Death by a thousand cuts. That’s the only way to describe the interminable, glacier-paced “progress” for Red Rock-Joule Biofuels, stuck in the kind of regulatory slow mo that likely requires RR’s health plan to have Ativan in the lunch room (don’t even mention shareholders). Last week, though, after about a year, RR’s new hometown of Lakeview, OR, approved a roughly 60-acre urban growth boundary revision, possibly making room for RR’s new biofuels refinery. That’s 60 acres in a county with 8,358 square miles (New Jersey: 7,419 sq. miles). The good-mood therapists likely have opened their own happy room at DOE HQs too because RR is one of the companies that’s supposed to be way out front in the manufacture of alternate jet fuels. You’ll recall DOE’s financing help for Red Rock, Emerald and Fulcrum announced back in 2014. So far – not one drop of fuel.

* Smoke too much? California is developing a comprehensive inspection and maintenance program for heavy-duty vehicles, gross weight over 14,000 pounds. Implementation starts “in the post-2020 timeframe.” Draft materials are out for review. The state offers a quick vehicle-assessment test: you look at a printed, grey-scale strip-chart indicating various exhaust opacity, from 20% to 70%. Then, a driver performs a “snap-acceleration engine test” and you check compliance by comparing the exhaust smoke to the chart on the page. Before starting the engine, though, you might want to read this manual, it’s a snap, really – just 43 pages.

* Time flies! October 1st is the due date for state governors to present to USEPA the status of county compliance with the new ozone standard. Ozone has been a non-issue in some areas this past summer. Elsewhere, it’ll be a nail-biter regarding the new standard of 70 ppb. This starts a new round of area designations: attainment or non-attainment, and, subsequently, new or different or more stringent controls on NOx and VOCs. But nobody will get to relax too much because the Govs will use summertime data from 2013, -14 and 15. The Administrator, however, making her/his judgement a year later, in Oct. 2017, will use different data – from 2014, -15 and 16. Got that?


Tom Ewing