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Archive for the ‘regulation’ Category

Supremos get in on clean trucks action

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LA_cleantruckThe Supreme Court will hear a trucking industry challenge to rules Los Angeles adopted five years ago that are designed to curb truck emissions at the nation’s busiest port.

The case (American Trucking Associations vs. City of Los Angeles) will determine the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Clean Truck Program at the Port of Los Angeles. Similar rules are also in force at the nearby Port of Long Beach. The question centers on whether cities and states have authority to limit pollution from trucks moving long-haul cargo.

The answer to that question would seem a no-brainer, especially in environmental circles, but the ATA contends that the local clean truck regulations run afoul of a federal law that deregulated motor carriers. So complications ensue. There is a provision in the law that preempts any state or local measure that is “related to the price, route or service of any motor carrier.” The purpose of that provision is to speed the free flow of trucks, buses and other shippers and to prevent local or state rules that would add to costs to those movements. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

February 5, 2013 at 11:23 am

Stopping fracking one town at a time

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Image by billb1961 via Flickr CC

An excellent way to put a stop to fracking is to do it town by town and county by county.

New York Supreme Court Justice Phillip R. Rumsey ruled last month that the Town of Dryden, NY has the right to adopt zoning rules that prohibit natural gas drilling that uses the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, method of extraction.

In Anschutz Exploration Corporation v. the Town of Dryden and the Town of Dryden Town Board, Rumsey concluded that the town’s zoning ordinances are not preempted by the state’s Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

March 14, 2012 at 2:00 am

PNW: First US coal-free region by 2025

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TransAlta, the last operating coal-fired plant in the Pacific Northwest, is shutting down, but not until 2025 under a deal between Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, TransAlta state regulators and environmental groups.

Gregoire finalized the deal on April 29 when she signed legislation that will systematically end coal-burning in the state. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

May 3, 2011 at 2:00 am

Sustaining Sustainability Standards

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Sustainability is becoming a widespread corporate mantra but choosing the right set of sustainability standards is getting complicated. There are a variety of options available for companies seeking internationally accepted responsibility codes and standards to guide their reporting and, well, to brag about in CSRs.

Since 2000 the United Nations Global Compact has been a leading initiative for businesses “that are aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

March 29, 2011 at 2:00 am

Arch Coal Settles on Clean Water

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Arch Coal, the second largest coal supplier in the U.S., agreed to pay a $4 million fine for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky in a settlement reached earlier this month with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department.

In addition to the monetary settlement, Arch will implement changes to its mining operations in those states “to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act,” the EPA said. The measures will prevent an estimated 2 million pounds of pollution from entering the nation’s waters each year. Arch will also implement a treatment system to reduce discharges of selenium, a pollutant found in mine discharges.

The joint federal-state complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of West Virginia alleged numerous violations of Arch Coal’s permits that set limits on the discharge of pollutants into streams. EPA said alleged excess discharges of iron, total suspended solids, manganese and other pollutants “reflect deficiencies in operation and maintenance of wastewater treatment systems” in place at four of Arch’s mining facilities: Coal Mac, Inc.; Lone Mountain Processing, Inc.; Cumberland River Coal Co.; and Mingo Logan Coal Co.

Arch also agreed to implement a series of inspections, audits and tracking measures to ensure treatment systems are working properly and that future compliance is achieved. In addition company is required to develop and implement a compliance management system to help foster a top-down, compliance and prevention-focused approach to Clean Water Act issues, EPA said.

Under the settlement, $2 million of the $4 million civil penalty will be paid to the U.S. The remaining $2 million will be divided between West Virginia and Kentucky based on the percentage of alleged violations in each state. The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

In January the EPA revoked Arch’s water permit for Spruce No. 1 mine in West Virginia, saying the mountaintop removal operation there would pollute water, harm wildlife and Appalachian communities in West Virginia.

Meanwhile the EPA is extending the reporting deadline for greenhouse gas emissions from thousands of companies, which had been set for March 31, to an unspecified date later this year

“To ensure that the requirements are practical and understandable to the thousands of companies already registered to report under the program, the agency is in the process of finalizing a user-friendly online electronic reporting platform,” the EPA said.

EPA said it plans to have the final information uploading platform available this summer, with the GHG data scheduled to be published later this year. “This extension will allow EPA to further test the system that facilities will use to submit data and give industry the opportunity to test the tool, provide feedback, and have sufficient time to become familiar with the tool prior to reporting,” the agency said.

Is the EPA caving in to intense and mounting political and budgetary pressure? Perhaps—we’ll see how hard the Obama administration will fight for its most activist agency.

Is the Arch penalty enough? Will Arch really follow through and change its ways? Again, we’ll see. The penalty is a hefty chunk of change but keep in mind that Arch posted net profits of nearly $159 million last year, a 278 percent increase over its 2009 profit.

Arch moved $3.2 billion worth of coal in 2010, so in the great scheme of all things Big Coal, Arch can probably live with this slap-on-the-wrist settlement.

Written by William DiBenedetto

March 15, 2011 at 2:00 am

Spruce Down: Saving the Mountain top

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A 12-year battle over the future of one of the largest West Virginia mountaintop removal coal mines was resolved this week when the Environmental Protection Agency “vetoed” Spruce Mine No. 1.

Since 1998, the Sierra Club, along with Coal River Mountain Watch, WV Highlands Conservancy, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Public Justice and the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment have fought the Spruce mine specifically and the practice of blowing up mountain tops to get at coal.

And now, apparently Spruce is stopped.

In its final determination, EPA says that after “extensive scientific study,” a major public hearing in the state and more than 50,000 public comments, it is using its authority under the Clean Water Act to halt the disposal of mining waste in streams at Arch Coal’s Mingo-Logan Coal Company mine. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

January 21, 2011 at 2:00 am

Kicking coal’s ash

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Distracted and disturbed by oil rig explosions, massive oil spills, feckless oil companies and volcanic ash clouds? Speaking of ash, here’s some good news that maybe escaped the attention it deserves: The Environmental Protection Agency wants to regulate coal ash with new rules that will ensure the “safe disposal and management” of ash produced from coal-fired power plants.

Coal ash is known more formally as coal combustion residuals; it is the byproduct of coal combustion and is disposed in liquid form in large surface impoundments and in solid form at landfills.

The residuals contain contaminants such as mercury, cadmium and arsenic, which are associated with cancer and various other serious health effects. The EPA said its risk assessment and damage cases “demonstrate that, without proper protections, these contaminants can leach into groundwater and can migrate to drinking water sources, posing significant health public concerns.”

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Written by William DiBenedetto

May 20, 2010 at 8:04 am

Posted in coal, environment, regulation

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Sick Streams: Environmentalists Massing against Massey

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The Sierra Club and other environmental groups last month took their anti-coal campaign against Massey Energy to another level, filing a lawsuit against five Massey coal subsidiaries for thousands of Clean Water Act permit violations.

Sierra Club, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Coal River Mountain Watch and the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy went after Massey – America’s fourth largest coal company – and its subsidiaries in the lawsuit filed in West Virginia’s Southern District Court in Charleston for allegedly violating permit limits by dumping toxic aluminum into waterways from as many as 16 mines covered under seven Clean Water Act permits in the state.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

May 5, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Vessel emissions reduction system proposed by WSC

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Rather than dealing with a strew-pot full of environmental emissions regulations and fees, a group comprising the world’s largest international liner shipping companies is proposing a new global vessel efficiency system (VES) intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The 29-member World Shipping Council’s proposal is asking the UN’s International Maritime Organization take the lead in applying vessel efficiency design standards for new and existing vessels in the world fleet that will improve their carbon and fuel efficiency.

Under the VES proposal, newly-built vessels would be subject to mandatory efficiency standards requiring them to be built with features and technologies that further improve the energy efficiency to reach defined levels, according to a WSC statement. “These standards would be similar in nature to the fuel efficiency standards required of cars and trucks in many countries around the world today. The standards would also be tiered with higher standards required over time as technology developments allow further improvements.”

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Written by William DiBenedetto

February 1, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Progress on reducing emissions at Seattle port

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The Port of Seattle may be running a bit ahead of the game, or at least ahead of the hammer of stringent pending Environmental Protection Agency rules with the results it is reporting from its activities in connection with the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy.

“Trucks, ships, and cargo-handling equipment will see lower emissions levels,” the port says.

The port’s staff last week reported favorable results to the five-member port commission, which oversees port activities, on the major components of the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy. Initial results from the At-Berth Clean (ABC) Fuels Program, Clean Truck Program, and retrofits on cargo handling equipment “show goals are either being met or exceeded, preventing tons of pollution from entering the local environment.”

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Written by William DiBenedetto

January 18, 2010 at 12:21 pm


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