Archive for July, 2012

Update on California’s Green Chemistry Rules

It’s been almost two years since we first reported on California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (“DTSC”) then-fledgling Green Chemistry Initiative. At that point, DTSC had just released their first set of proposed regulations that would have added Chapter 53, “Safer Consumer Product Alternatives,” to Division 4.5, Title 22, of the California Code of Regulations. However, in August of 2011, DTSC withdrew the draft regulations (following “intense criticism of the regulations by both environmental and industry stakeholders,” according to Morrison Foerster).

Fast forward to last week, and, well, DTSC is giving it another go. This time, however, they’ve at least made it to the final draft stage. The newly proposed regulations would add Chapter 55, “Safer Consumer Products,” to the same Division and Title of the California Code of Regulations, and, as before, would require manufacturers to seek alternative (and less toxic) ingredients for “chemicals of concern” in widely used products. This latest version of the proposed regulations (as compared with an October 2011 Informal Draft) aims to address – yet again – more concerns from environmental and industry groups.

A summary of the changes from prior drafts can be found here, and in an even easier-to-digest format in this blog post from law firm Jenner & Block.

Last Week in Environmental Impact Statements: Surplus Plutonium Disposition & Dry Cargo Residue Discharges

Photo by epSos.de. Some rights reserved.

While Federal agencies are required to prepare Environmental Impact Statements in accordance with 40 CFR Part 1502, and to file the EISs with the EPA as specified in 40 CFR 1506.9, the EPA doesn’t yet provide a central repository for filing and viewing EISs electronically. Instead, each week they prepare a digest of the preceding week’s filed EISs, which is published every Friday in the Federal Register under the title, “Notice of Availability” (NOA).

We’ve done the dirty work for you. Below, we’ve located and linked to the EISs referenced in last week’s NOA. Please note that some of these documents can be very large, and may take a while to load.

You can read any available EPA comments on these EISs here.

The EPA is still looking for agencies willing to participate in a new pilot program for electronic submission of EIS filings. To participate in the pilot, agencies should register at: http://cdx.epa.gov

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EIS No. 20120240, Final EIS, BLM, 00, Programmatic—Solar Energy Development in Six Southern States, To Identify and Prioritize Specific Locations Best Suited for Utility Scale Solar Energy Development on Public Lands, AZ, CA, CO, NV, NM, and UT, Review Period Ends: 08/27/2012, Contact: Shannon Stewart, BLM 202 912–7219; Jane Summerson, DOE 202–287–6188. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Department of Energy are Joint Lead Agencies for this project. Website.

EIS No. 20120241, Final EIS, USFS, WA, South George Vegetation and Fuels Management Project, To Improve Forest Health and Resilience to Fire, Insects and Disease in Upland Forests, Pomerory Ranger District, Umatilla National Forest, Asotin and Garfield Counties, WA, Review Period Ends: 08/27/2012, Contact: Dan Castillo 509–843–1891. Website.

EIS No. 20120242, Final EIS, BLM, WY, Lost Creek In Situ Recovery Project, To Analyze the Site-Specific Impacts Associated with the Plan of Operations, Sweetwater County, WY, Review Period Ends: 08/27/2012, Contact: John Russell 307–328–4252. Website.

EIS No. 20120243, Final EIS (Volume 1, Volume 2), DHS, 00, Programmatic—Northern Border Activities Program, Propose to Enhance its Program of Security along the United States’ Northern Border with Canada, from Maine to Washington, Review Period Ends: 08/27/2012, Contact: Jennifer Hass 202–344–1929. Website.

EIS No. 20120244, Draft Supplement (Volume 1, Volume 2), NNSA, 00, Surplus Plutonium Disposition (DOE/EIS–0283–S2), To Consider Options for Pit Disassembly and Conversion of Plutonium Metal to Oxide, SC, NM, AL, and TN, Comment Period Ends: 09/25/2012, Contact: Sachiko McAlhany 803–952–6110. Website.

EIS No. 20120245, Final EIS, USA, AK, Point Thomson Project, Authorization for the Placement of Fill Material into U.S. Waters, Permit Application, AK, Review Period Ends: 08/27/2012, Contact: Harry A. Baij 907–753–2784. Website.

EIS No. 20120246, Final EIS, USN, CA, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Project, Land Acquisition and Airspace Establishment to Support Large-Scale MAGTF Live-Fire and Maneuver Training Facility, Twentynine Palms, San Bernardino County, CA, Review Period Ends: 08/27/2012, Contact: Chris Proudfoot 760–830–3764. Website.

EIS No. 20120247, Final EIS, USACE, 00, Mississippi River Gulf Outlet Ecosystem Restoration, To Develop a Comprehensive Ecosystem Restoration Plan to Restore the Lake Borgne Ecosystems, LA and MS, Review Period Ends: 08/27/2012, Contact: Tammy Gilmore 504–862–1002. Website.

EIS No. 20120248, Final EIS, USACE, TX, City of Denison Land Conveyance, Lake Texoma, To Convey a Parcel of Federally-owned Land at Lake Texoma, OK and TX to the City of Denison, TX, Grayson and Cooke Counties, TX and Portion of Bryan, Marshall, Johnston, and Love Counties, OK, Review Period Ends: 08/28/2012, Contact: Stephan L. Nolan 918–669–7660. Website.

EIS No. 20120249, Second Draft EIS (Tiering), USCG, 00, Tier 1 DEIS—Rulemaking for Dry Cargo Residue (DCR) Discharges in the Great Lakes, To Regulate Nonhazardous and Nontoxic DCR Sweeping from Vessels in the Great Lakes that fall under the Jurisdiction of the United States and Address Gaps Identified in Phase I Final EIS, Comment Period Ends: 10/25/2012, Contact: Timothy O’Brien 202–372–1539. Website.

Amended Notices

EIS No. 20120164, Draft EIS, BLM, CA, McCoy Solar Energy Project, Development of up to 750-megawatt(mw) Solar Energy Plant, Right-of-Way Grant, Riverside County, CA, Comment Period Ends: 08/23/2012, Contact: Jeff Childers 760–833–7100 Revision to FR Notice Published 05/25/2012; Extending Comment Period from 08/22/2012 to 08/23/2012. Website.

EIS No. 20120209, Draft EIS, USN, FL, Naval Air Station Key West Airfield Operations, To Support and Conduct Aircraft Training Operations, Florida Keys, Monroe County, FL, Comment Period Ends: 08/13/2012, Contact: John Conway 904–542–6870. Revision to FR Notice Published 06/29/2012; Extending Comment Period from 08/13/2012 to 08/28/2012. Website.

EIS No. 20120233, Draft EIS, BLM, NM, Prehistoric Trackways National Monument Resource Management Plan, Implementation, Dona Ana County, NM, Comment Period Ends: 10/22/2012, Contact: Lori Allen 575–525–4454. Revision to FR Notice Published 07/20/2012; Change Filing Agency from AFS to BLM. Website.

EIS No. 20120237, Final Supplement, FHWA, CO, US 550 South Connection to US 160, Updated Information, To US 160 from Durango to Bayfield, US Army COE Section 404 Permit, La Plata County, CO, Review Period Ends: 08/27/2012, Contact: Stephanie Gibson 720–963–3013. Revision to FR Notice Published 07/20/2012; Filed Corrected Version and Extending Review Period from 8/20/2012 to 8/27/2012. Website.

“Decentralized” Energy: The UK Leads the Way

Photo by CMG0220. Some rights reserved.

Often a development in the energy industry is chosen to be spotlighted in the Green Mien for the scope of its impact, but that is not always required. Some stories deserve to be told for their potential to describe one or two small threads that may prove to hold together a complex quilt – this is the case with today’s post. Environmental Finance has a piece about small energy projects in the UK installed at major energy-consuming locations like hospitals, manufacturers, and retailers, into which investment is pouring.

Sites like food retailer Waitrose’s store on the Isle of Wight host energy centers powered by available fuel (biomass from local timber at the Waitrose plant), which they call decentralized energy centers. Usually with thermal energy capacity between 1MW and 10MW, the centers generate power for their central energy need and sell surplus energy to nearby consumers. Hosts of these plants, the big hospitals and factories, see the benefits of mitigating against rising prices, securing energy supply, and potentially reducing environmental impact.

Because the projects in the UK are financed by multiple lenders before being converted to a long-term supply contract, the host energy-guzzlers are spared investing any capital. Investors in London are supposedly “queuing up” to finance these projects, whose feasibility has grown rapidly over the past few years. The security of the supply contracts attracts some investors, but the projects’ potential to address future energy costs and supply security are also encouraging businesses to consider an on-site energy facility.

Resources across the country are pouring into finding and developing new ways to power our lives, and the UK’s work in developing decentralized energy projects might just be blazing the path to the power plant of my dreams: just big enough to light a Walmart Supercenter.

Sun for All, and All for Sun

The Sun

Photo by Alan Murray Welsh. Some rights reserved.

On Tuesday, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy released the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for a massive solar energy development initiative covering areas in six states. While the final approved land area constitutes only 40% of the land that was originally considered, it still represents a significant potential area for fast-tracked developments. This map shows the Solar Energy Zone locations and the availability of surrounding land under the program. Environmental concerns and the potential for expansion of zones or additional projects helped to shape the final zone map. The draft version of the Solar PEIS and the Mineral Potential Reports are also available.

Another Stumbling Block for CAFO Regulation

Photo by Ano Lobb. Some rights reserved.

The road to EPA regulation of CAFOs has always been rocky. So maybe it’s no surprise that late last week the EPA published a notice in the Federal Register withdrawing an earlier proposed rule.

The 2011 proposed rule was in part a response to a 2010 settlement between the EPA and the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and Waterkeeper Alliance, and would have required all concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to report information about their facilities to the EPA.

Specifically, the settlement required that:

“No later than twelve months after the Effective Date of this Agreement, EPA will propose a rule under section 308 of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1318, to require all owners or operators of CAFOs, as point sources under the Act, regardless of whether they discharge or propose to discharge, to submit information to EPA.”

…and mandated that the EPA to take “final action” by July 13, 2012.

Well, define “final action.” In the recent withdrawal, the EPA points out:

“The settlement agreement does not commit the EPA to any particular final action. The settlement agreement expressly states that nothing in the agreement shall be construed to limit or modify the discretion accorded the EPA by the CWA or by general principles of administrative law. Today’s final action fulfills the Agency’s commitments per the settlement agreement with the petitioners.”

The Federal Register notice goes on to cite the EPA’s “rationale” for withdrawal, citing “duplicate efforts” and the ability to “obtain much of the desired CAFO information from federal agencies, states, and other existing data sources.”

The pork industry, for one, is elated, calling the proposed rule “the result of a sweetheart settlement between EPA and environmentalists that would have provided no public health protections.”

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The EPA’s CAFO Rule History page gives a detailed timeline of the events relating to CAFO rulemaking. You can also see all the public comments on the 2011 proposed rule here.

Last Week in Environmental Impact Statements: Animal Disease Center

Photo by e³°°°. Some rights reserved.

While Federal agencies are required to prepare Environmental Impact Statements in accordance with 40 CFR Part 1502, and to file the EISs with the EPA as specified in 40 CFR 1506.9, the EPA doesn’t yet provide a central repository for filing and viewing EISs electronically. Instead, each week they prepare a digest of the preceding week’s filed EISs, which is published every Friday in the Federal Register under the title, “Notice of Availability” (NOA).

We’ve done the dirty work for you. Below, we’ve located and linked to the EISs referenced in last week’s NOA. Please note that some of these documents can be very large, and may take a while to load.

You can read any available EPA comments on these EISs here.

The EPA is still looking for agencies willing to participate in a new pilot program for electronic submission of EIS filings. To participate in the pilot, agencies should register at: http://cdx.epa.gov

* * *

EIS No. 20120230, Draft EIS (click the “Sierra Vista Specific Plan” expander partway down the page), USACE, CA, Sierra Vista Specific Plan Development, Implementation, City of Roseville, Placer County, CA, Comment Period Ends: 09/04/2012, Contact: James T. Robb 916–557–7610. Website.

EIS No. 20120231, Draft EIS, USFS, NE, Fall River West and Oglala Geographic Areas Allotment Management Planning, Pine Ridge and Fall Ranger Districts, Nebraska National Forest, Dawes and Sioux Counties, NE and Fall River County, SD, Comment Period Ends: 09/04/2012, Contact: Carla Loop 308–432–0336. Website.

EIS No. 20120232, Final EIS, RUS, MN, Hampton—Rochester—La Crosse Transmission System Improvement Project, Construction and Operation of a 345-kilovolt Transmission Line and Associated Facilities between Hampton, MN and La Crosse, WI, Review Period Ends: 08/20/2012, Contact: Stephanie A. Strength 202–720–0820. Website.

EIS No. 20120233, Draft EIS, USFS, NM, Prehistoric Trackways National Monument Resource Management Plan, Implementation, Dona Ana County, NM, Comment Period Ends: 10/22/2012, Contact: Lori Allen 575–525–4454. Website.

EIS No. 20120234, Final EIS, NPS, KY, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area Obed Wild and Scenic River Non-Federal Oil and Gas Management Plan, Implementation, KY and TN, Review Period Ends: 08/20/2012, Contact: Dan Niosi 303–969–2068. Website.

EIS No. 20120235, Draft Supplement, FRA, CA, California High-Speed Train (HST): Fresno to Bakersfield Section High-Speed Train, Reintroducing Alignment Alternatives and an Additional Alternative through the Bakersfield Area, USACE Section 10 and 404 Permits, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and Kern Counties, CA, Comment Period Ends: 09/20/2012, Contact: David Valenstein 202–493–6381. Website.

EIS No. 20120236, Draft Supplement, USFS, MT, Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan, To Comply District of Montana Court Order, To Apply the Minimization Criteria to Three Routes Specifically Designated in the Forest Plan as Exceptions to Winter, Nonmotorized Areas, Beaverhead and Jefferson Counties, MT, Comment Period Ends: 09/04/2012, Contact: Patty Bates 406–683–3900. Website.

EIS No. 20120237, Final Supplement, FHWA, CO, U.S. 550 South Connection to U.S. 160, Updated Information, to U.S. 160 from Durango to Bayfield, U.S. Army COE Section 404 Permit, La Plata County, CO, Review Period Ends: 08/20/2012, Contact: Stephanie Gibson 720–963–3013. Website.

EIS No. 20120238, Draft EIS, GSA, DHS, NY, Public Sale of Plum Island Animal Disease Center, Long Island Sound, Suffolk County, NY, Comment Period Ends: 09/20/2012, Contact: John Dugan 617–565–5700. The U.S. General Services Administration and U.S. Department of Homeland Security are Joint Lead Agencies for this project. Website.

EIS No. 20120239, Draft Supplement, USACE, CA, Folsom Dam Modification Project Approach Channel, Providing New or Additional Information on the Design and Means to Construct the Auxiliary Spillway Approach Channel, Placer and El Dorado Counties, CA, Comment Period Ends: 09/10/2012, Contact: Todd Plain 916–557–7461. Website.

 

Amended Notices

EIS No. 20120161, Draft EIS, USFS, NM, North Fork Eagle Creek Wells, Special Use Authorization Project, Operation of Four Municipal Supply Water Wells, Lincoln National Forest, Lincoln County, NM, Comment Period Ends: 09/07/2012, Contact: Dave Warnack 575–257–4095 Revision to FR Notice Published 07/13/2012; Retracting the Extended Comment Period per the request of USDA, the original comment period ended 07/09/2012. Website.

EIS No. 20120175, Draft EIS, USFWS, DE, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Development of a Comprehensive Conservation Plan, Implementation, Sussex County, DE, Comment Period Ends: 08/27/2012, Contact: Thomas Bonetti 413–253–8307. Revision to FR Notice Published 06/08/2012; Extending Comment Period from 08/06/2012 to 08/27/2012. Website.

EIS No. 20120191, Draft EIS, USACE, CO, Chatfield Reservoir Storage Reallocation, To Reallocate 20,600 acre-feet of Storage from the Exclusive Flood Control Pool to the Conservation Pool, Funding, Jefferson/Douglas Counties, CO, Comment Period Ends: 09/06/2012, Contact: Gwyn Jarrett 402–995–2717. Revision to FR Notice Published 06/15/2012; Extending the Comment Period from 08/14/2012 to 09/06/2012. Website.

EIS No. 20120201, Draft Supplement, USACE, IN, Indianapolis North Flood Damage Reduction, Modifications to Project Features and Realignment of the South Warfleigh Section, Marion County, IN, Comment Period Ends: 08/31/2012, Contact: Michael Turner 502–315–6900. Revision to FR Notice Published 06/29/2012; Extending Comment Period from 08/13/2012 to 08/31/2012. Website and website.

EIS No. 20120229, Draft EIS, FHWA, CA, I–710 Corridor Project, Improvements from Ocean Boulevard in the City of Long Beach to State Route 60 in East Los Angeles, Funding, Los Angeles County, CA, Comment Period Ends: 08/29/2012, Contact: Cesar E. Perez 916–498–5065, Revision to FR Notice Published 07/13/2012; Extending Comment Period to 08/29/2012. Website.

DOE and Nuclear: Working Together

Photo by rowens27. Some rights reserved.

Today’s post tells what looks like a story of the Department of Energy putting its money where its mouth is. Back in January, we wrote about DOE’s promotion of small modular nuclear reactors through industry cost-shared agreements and new engineering and design certification. On Tuesday, DOE announced $13 million of investments into nuclear energy innovation research, through both targeted research projects and university programs.

The Department of Energy awarded $10.9 million to thirteen projects selected for their potential to help solve such common challenges in the nuclear industry as improving reactor safety, performance, and cost competitiveness.

Four of these projects are focused on manufacturing methods – the production and design of nuclear plant components, including concrete construction and joining processes that can be used in small modular reactor manufacturing. Nine more are focused on reactor materials for piping, wiring cladding in reactors and across the fuel cycle.

The remaining $1.6 million go to training the next generation of nuclear energy scientists and engineers. Projects and programs based at Pennsylvania State University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Michigan are receiving DOE funding, which will go toward assessing instruments engineers use to monitor reactor material, studying properties of steel irradiated at high temperatures, and examining cracks in steel that appear after years of operation in a reactor.

The Department of Energy describes its involvement in all aspects of the nuclear industry as part of its “all of the above” energy policies, aiming to restart the nation’s nuclear industry and promote education in science and technology. With the first new reactor approved since 1978 on the way in Georgia, we might be seeing real progress.

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