Archive for the ‘regulation’ Category
Except for a small but mostly insane group of climate change deniers, it’s generally acknowledged that the globe’s climate is at risk—therefore how companies assess the financial impact of climate change in their risk portfolios should be an important consideration, both for their operating models and bottom lines. Seems logical, right?
Maybe not so logical it seems. Ceres, a nonprofit advocacy group that focuses on corporate sustainability, contends that not many companies believe climate change will have a material impact on their business. “Roughly half of the 3,000 biggest publicly traded companies in the U.S. say mum’s the word, reporting zilch in their annual filings to U.S. regulators,” it says. Read the rest of this entry »
The 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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
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 »