EPA Action: FY2006 budget slashes agency funding by 6%
In other news: 1) Agencies agree on surface coal mining applications; 2) Japanese firm to pay $2M for dumping oily wastes; 3) Brownfields, Great Lakes Legacy funds higher in FY2006 request; 4) Hazardous waste tracking system improved; 5) Shipping company sentenced for false oil record book; 6) Ga. cattle firm, farm manager plead guilty to causing bird kill; 7) Minn. electroplating outfit pleads guilty; 8) Ex-Del. official guilty of wetlands discharges...
In other news below, see:
-- Agencies agree on applications for surface coal mining operations
-- Japanese firm will pay $2 million for dumping oily wastes in Pacific;
-- Brownfields funding underscores President's commitment to revitalization;
-- FY2006 budget request more than doubles Great Lakes Legacy funding;
-- Comments sought on protections for human test subjects;
-- Hazardous waste tracking system improved;
-- Shipping company sentenced for false oil record book;
-- Ga. cattle company, owner and farm manager plead guilty to causing bird kill;
-- Minn. electroplating company, owner plead guilty;
-- Ex-Del. official guilty of wetlands discharges...
FY 2006 Budget Protects Public Health and the Environment
WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 11, 2005 -- President Bush's 2006 budget provides $7.6 billion for the EPA and its partners across the nation. EPA Acting Administrator Steve Johnson and key agency officials announced the budget at a Washington, D.C., news briefing today. The budget supports the agency's core work of protecting public health and improving the environment, addresses needs identified in the EPA's Strategic Plan, and increases resources for EPA's critical role in security against terrorist acts.
"The President's budget, coupled with our proven ability to leverage outcomes through strategic partnerships, insures we will continue to pick up the pace of protecting the public and the environment, while fulfilling EPA's role in homeland security," said EPA Acting Administrator Steve Johnson.
Others -- including environmental groups -- noted the $7.57 billion figure offered by the Bush Administration for the EPA's FY2006 budget was actually a 6% drop in funding and protested that as cutting too much into federal safeguards for the environment and clean water. The Environmental News Network (www.enn.com) reported that the administration found significant savings by trimming a clean water program 33%, for instance. This is the popular revolving fund that states use to upgrade sewage and septic systems, and stormwater runoff projects, which lost $361 million over current funding. The lower request actually offsets higher funds appropriated by Congress in 2004 and 2005 that would maintain the $6.8 billion commitment to the program through 2011. A separate $850 million state fund for clean drinking water would stay the same. ENN quoted Rob Perks, of the Natural Resources Defense Council, as saying, "This year's cuts are really bad for clean water."*
Still, the Administration went on to make its case by highlighting areas it felt were strongest in the EPA budget proposal.
To help increase security against potential terrorist acts, the President's Budget provides:
-- A $79 million increase in new resources for EPA homeland security efforts over the 2005 budget, to ensure that EPA's critical role is made a top priority. Included in the $79 million increase in Homeland Security funding is:
-- $44 million to launch a pilot program of monitoring and surveillance in select cities to provide early warning of contamination;
-- An increase of $19.4 million for environmental decontamination research and preparedness, with an additional $4 million requested for the Safe Buildings research program; and
-- More than $11.6 million in new resources to support preparedness in our environmental laboratories.
To address the high priority of reducing nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury emissions, the President's budget provides:
-- That EPA will continue to support the enactment of the Clear Skies legislation, and should legislation not be enacted soon, to finalize the proposed Clean Air Interstate Rule.
To reduce emissions from trucks and other mobile sources, the President's budget provides:
-- $15 million for the national Clean Diesel Initiative, which will be leveraged significantly by working with our partners. EPA and a coalition of clean diesel interests will work together to expand the retrofitting of diesel engines in new sectors.
To ensure cleaner lands and economic revitalization through waste site cleanups, the President's budget provides:
-- $210 million for the national Brownfields Program, an increase of $46.9 million over enacted 2005 funding. Under this program, EPA is working with its state, tribal and local partners to meet its objective to sustain, clean up and restore contaminated properties and abandoned sites. Together with the extension of the Brownfields tax credit, EPA expects to achieve the following in FY 2006:
* Assess 1,000 Brownfields properties;
* Clean up 60 properties using Brownfields funding;
* Leverage an additional $1 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding; and
* Create 5,000 jobs related to the Brownfields efforts.
To ensure cleaner, safer water, the President's budget provides:
-- $2.8 billion to improve the quality of surface and drinking waters by expanding the nationwide monitoring network and taking watershed-wide approaches to water quality protection;
-- $730 million for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to support sustainable wastewater infrastructure; and
-- $73 million for the Great Lakes programs and regional collaboration. That amount includes $50 million for the Great Lakes Legacy Act program to remediate the contaminated sediment in Areas of Concern such as the Black Lagoon in the Detroit River.
For the Summary of EPA's FY2006 budget request with additional specific program-related information visit:
NOTE: * The paragraph above was added to this EPA report.
Following are other agency developments which may interest you:
Joint regulatory framework set for processing applications for surface coal mining operations
WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 10, 2005 -- Four federal agencies released today a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that offers a joint framework to improve permit application procedures for surface coal mining operations that place dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.
The agencies involved in this agreement are the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Office of Surface Mining. Each will encourage states, tribes and agency field offices to develop collaborative processes that emphasize early and close interagency coordination while maintaining their independent jurisdictional roles.
This framework applies to two types of regulatory programs. It applies to the regulatory program administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). It also applies to regulatory programs implementing the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) of 1977. The Office of Surface Mining administers this program and delegates regulatory authority to states that meet or exceed its requirements.
"We intend to make the permit process more transparent and more understandable," said John Paul Woodley, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works). "We will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the permitting process."
The framework for the joint procedures preserves the authorities and responsibilities of each agency while encouraging participating offices and agencies to integrate efforts and establish a more coordinated regulatory process to the extent allowed by statute and regulation.
"Our intent is to create a collaborative review process with early, close coordination among the agencies," said Jeffrey D. Jarrett, Director of the Office of Surface Mining. "We want to improve the timeliness and clarity of the permitting process and to enhance communication among all involved."
The agencies already conduct similar separate reviews, and joint procedures will help them to minimize redundancy.
"This MOU offers a framework for better coordination and information-sharing for agencies reviewing proposed surface coal mining activities," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, Assistant Administrator for Water in the Environmental Protection Agency. "We believe this MOU is an important step in improving the permit decision-making process."
The joint procedures should also improve collection of environmental resource information, prediction of impacts, and planning for mitigation and reclamation.
"This MOU encourages interagency collaboration at the earliest possible stages of project planning. The result will be a more comprehensive environmental review process, which is extremely important as we integrate fish and wildlife considerations with surface coal mining considerations," said Steve A. Williams, Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Information about the Corps' regulatory program is available at: www.usace.army.mil/inet/functions/cw/cecwo/reg/ and information about surface mining regulations can be found at: www.osmre.gov/. A copy of the MOU can also be found at: www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/.
Japanese Transportation Company Will Pay $2 Million for Dumping Oily Wastes in the Pacific Ocean
PORTLAND, OR, Feb. 7, 2005 -- Fujitrans Corp. of Japan, operator of the Motor Vessel (MV) Cygnus, pleaded guilty to four felony counts of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and was sentenced on Feb. 3 in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon in Portland. Fujitrans was ordered to pay a $1,005,000 fine in the District of Oregon and was also ordered to pay a $335,000 fine in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California where part of the case is based. In addition, Fujitrans will pay $495,000 as community service to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and $165,000 to the Channel Islands National Park located in Ventura, Calif. Both of these payments will benefit local natural resource programs. Fujitrans was also placed on three years probation and was ordered to implement an environmental compliance program. The Cyngus is used to import automobiles into the United States. A whistleblower brought the case to the attention of federal authorities in March 2002. The whistleblower was awarded $360,000 from the fine. Crewmen of the Cygnus had used a bypass pipe to discharge oily wastes into the ocean and they had falsified the ship's Oil Record Book which records the disposition of oil and oily wastes on the ship. The discharge of oil into the ocean can be harmful to aquatic life, therefore it is very important that accurate oil record books be kept on ships and that oily wastes not be discharged into the ocean. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Coast Guard. It was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Portland.
Increase in Brownfields Funding Underscores President's Commitment to Revitalization
ST. LOUIS, MO, Feb. 4, 2005 -- President Bush is requesting $210 million for the national Brownfields Program, an increase of $46.9 million. Jim Gulliford, administrator for EPA Region 7, announced the 2006 budget request for the national Brownfields Program at an event in St. Louis.
The Brownfields Program is a top environmental priority for the administration. In 2001, the president was able to secure bipartisan legislation that accelerated the renewal of brownfield sites. In the past four years, more than 20,000 jobs have been created in conjunction with the brownfields grant program representing a doubling of jobs from the previous seven years. Investments leveraged over the past four years ($3.6 billion) represent more than a 100 percent increase over the previous seven years ($2.7 billion). Cleanups in the past four years also represent more than a 100 percent increase over the previous seven years.
EPA is working with its state, tribal and local partners to meet its objective to sustain, clean up and restore contaminated properties and abandoned sites. Together with the extension of the brownfields tax credit, EPA expects to achieve the following in FY 2006: assess 1,000 brownfields properties; clean up 60 properties using brownfields funding; leverage an additional $1 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding; create 5,000 jobs; and train 200 participants, placing 65 percent in jobs related to the brownfields efforts.
Rodney Crim, executive director of the St. Louis Development Corp., hosted today's event in St. Louis and discussed the value of brownfields redevelopment for the community.
"This St. Louis project is another great example of brownfields cleanup and redevelopment," said Gulliford. "It's also an illustration of the great partnerships we are creating across this nation to clean blighted areas and make them a central part of our revitalization effort."
St. Louis illustrates the importance of brownfields funding. The city has dozens of brownfields properties in its inventory and is focusing on the assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment of these properties.
For more information on the St. Louis projects and the Brownfields Program, visit: www.epa.gov/brownfields.
President's 2006 Budget Request more than Doubles Great Lakes Legacy Funding
WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 4, 2005 -- President Bush is requesting $50 million in the FY2006 Budget to implement the Great Lakes Legacy Act. This is an increase of nearly $28 million and more than doubles the level funded by Congress in FY2005.
"Ensuring the health of the Great Lakes is a high priority for this administration," said Ben Grumbles, assistant administrator for the Office of Water. "The president is requesting this substantial increase in the funding to support the commitment to leave the Great Lakes better than we found them."
Some of this money will help continue the remedial work at one of the major Great Lakes Legacy Act projects -- the Black Lagoon -- located near Trenton, Mich. Dredging and disposal of approximately 73,400 cubic yards of the contaminated sediment is currently under way. The dredging will be followed by spreading layers of sand and gravel over the affected area. Restoring the aquatic habitat within the Black Lagoon and preparing the site for recreational and economic redevelopment are the beginnings of revitalizing this valued area. Removing the contamination in this riverbed and providing a natural process for keeping it healthy mean every drop of water flowing through the lagoon will be cleaner.
The natural beauty of the Great Lakes is only one aspect of this vital national treasure. More than 30 million Americans located in cities and communities around the Great Lakes depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water. The five Great Lakes make up the largest surface freshwater system on earth and are home to more than $1 billion dollars in the recreational fishing industry. Restoring and making the Great Lakes cleaner is essential to support the culture and ways of native communities. The Lakes support billions of dollars in shipping, trade, and fishing and provide food and recreational opportunities for millions of Americans.
President's Executive Order 13340 is, in part, being implemented through a large-scale collaboration among the federal government, the Great Lakes states, local communities, tribes and others in the Great Lake region. The collaboration is working toward a December deadline for presenting a plan that will focus the efforts of all toward making the Great Lakes cleaner.
For additional information about the Legacy Act, the Black Lagoon, the Executive Order and Great Lakes collaboration visit: www.epa.gov/greatlakes.
Comments Sought on Protections for Human Subjects
WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 3, 2005 -- Consistent with a court decision, the EPA is publishing a notice that describes the rigorous standards the agency is using to evaluate whether or not to rely on human studies that have been submitted to the agency. The agency's principal considerations are the protection of the welfare of human research subjects and adherence to rigorous ethical and scientific standards.
In this process, the agency is following instructions from the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to determine on a case-by-case basis, applying statutory requirements, the Common Rule, and high ethical standards as a guide, whether third-party human studies will be relied on in the regulatory decision-making process. The Common Rule defines ethical standards necessary for conducting human research and applies to research conducted or supported by the 17 participating federal agencies.
EPA's approach does not encourage private parties to conduct nor commit EPA to rely on, human studies, but establishes a credible plan to develop and implement agency policy in this area. EPA will be applying the protections found in the Common Rule, as well as high ethical standards, to determine if human studies can be considered in regulatory decisions. Studies conducted by third parties, including private industry organizations, are not currently required to meet the requirements of the Common Rule, although many do.
By using acceptable human studies, the agency can generate more realistic and accurate risk assessments, and ensure that all relevant data is taken into account in regulatory decisions.
Another part of this notice invites comments on the initiatives the agency will undertake to develop a comprehensive plan for the review and consideration of future studies involving human subjects. A major part of this effort will be to evaluate and adopt, as appropriate, the recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on human testing. In December 2001, the agency asked the NAS to provide recommendations to the agency to help address the difficult scientific and ethical questions related to whether to accept, consider or rely on human subjects research submitted to the agency. EPA is seeking comments on its future plans, which include rule making processes, extensive public engagement and developing additional guidance as needed.
The public comment period is open for 90 days. To obtain a copy of the notice and background information on human studies, visit: www.epa.gov/oppfead1/guidance/human-test.htm.
Hazardous Waste Tracking System Improved
The EPA is improving the tracking of hazardous waste shipments by establishing a nationally standardized manifest form. This new form makes the nation's hazardous waste tracking system more efficient by replacing various state formats with one national form. This streamlined approach will benefit waste handlers and regulators by reducing the costs and time associated with managing multiple forms, while maintaining the safety of EPA's well established cradle-to-grave hazardous waste tracking system.
By employing a streamlined and consistent national standard, hazardous waste handlers can better track complicated shipments, such as container residues, rejected wastes and international shipments. The new form also makes it easier to collect data for hazardous waste reporting. The Manifest will be printed to precise EPA specifications that ensure uniformity, and each form will carry a unique preprinted manifest tracking number. EPA will oversee the registration process. Waste handlers can generate their own manifest forms once they have registered with the Agency. Record keeping, reporting requirements, and other changes also vastly improve and modernize hazardous waste tracking. The new form will be phased in over an 18-month transition period. Once the new form is in place, handlers will be able to obtain new forms from any source that has registered with EPA to print and distribute them.
More than 139,000 businesses, in approximately 45 industries, are expected to achieve time and cost efficiencies through use of the new tracking system. These businesses ship approximately 12 million tons of hazardous wastes annually, and use between 2 and 5 million hazardous waste manifests.
More information is available at: www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/gener/manifest/mods.htm.
Enforcement Wrap-Up for Week of Feb. 3, 2005
Shipping Company is Sentenced for False Oil Record Book: Pacific and Atlantic Corp. of Athens Greece, operator of the Motor Vessel John G. Lemos, pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Jan. 19 in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon in Portland, Ore., on charges that it falsified the Lemos' Oil Record Book. Pacific and Atlantic was ordered to pay a $500,000 fine, $250,000 of which will be paid to the Columbia River Estuary Coastal Fund. In addition, Pacific and Atlantic must also establish an environmental compliance program for all 10 vessels in its fleet. On Jan. 4, the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Office conducted a routine Port State Control Inspection of the Lemos at the Port of Portland. The Lemos is a 473-foot, Cypress-flagged bulk cargo carrier. The inspection of the vessel revealed false entries in the ship's Oil Record Book. After initiating a joint criminal investigation, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and EPA Criminal Investigation Division special agents executed a federal search and seizure warrant on the Lemos and presented evidence to the grand jury three days later. Falsifying an Oil Record Book can prevent regulators from determining that a ship is
following required pollution control practices. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Portland.
Georgia Cattle Company, Owner and Farm Manager Plead Guilty to Causing Bird Kill: Kahn Cattle Company of Bartow County, Ga.; Roger F. Kahn, owner of Kahn Cattle Co.; and Glen M. Bramlett, farm manager of the company, all pleaded guilty on Jan. 21 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Rome, Ga., to unlawfully killing approximately 3,300 migratory birds in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. In addition, Kahn Cattle Company pleaded guilty to illegally disposing of hazardous waste in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. On or about Jan. 20, 2003, Kahn and Bramlett spread corn laced with a chemical known as Warbex around a pond on property owned by Kahn Cattle Company. The tainted corn was spread in order to kill nuisance birds. Warbex is a topical preparation that is applied to cattle to control insect pests. It contains Famphur, which is a highly toxic substance that is not meant for ingestion. As a result of this act, federal and state agents ultimately collected 3,326 birds, including a great horned owl, red-tailed hawks, mourning doves, Canada geese, a mallard duck, a cardinal, blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, a brown thrasher, grackles, crows and cowbirds. The case was investigated by the Atlanta Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with support from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Atlanta.
Minnesota Electroplating Company and Owner Plead Guilty: Hard Chrome Inc., which operated an electroplating facility in Minneapolis, Minn., pleaded guilty on Jan. 6
in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in Minneapolis to illegally storing hazardous waste in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). On the same day, Hard Chrome's owner and operator Richard Walters pleaded guilty to knowingly making and delivering a false writing with respect to Hard Chrome's illegal actions. Subject to approval of the plea by the court, the plea agreement will require Hard Chrome to implement a program to detect violations of environmental law, pay a
$250,000 criminal fine, pay $42,800 to the Hennepin County Department of Environmental Services, pay $10,000 to the Midwest Environmental Enforcement Association and pay the Minneapolis Fire Department $47,200 to buy hazardous materials response equipment. The Hard Chrome plating facility had plank flooring which had gaps of several inches between the boards. Between July and October 1999, Hard Chrome operated its facility in a manner that allowed hazardous industrial wastes including liquids from plating tanks; tank bottom sludges; and wastewater treatment sludges, containing caustics, acids, zinc, nickel, chromium, cyanide and other heavy metals, to fall through the floor and pool in open lagoons in the facility's basement. Hard Chrome at no time had a RCRA permit to store these hazardous wastes. In addition, on or about Oct. 16, 2000, Richard Walters made and delivered a false writing related to the
facility's operations. Open pools of hazardous waste create a serious potential for injury to humans who are exposed to them. The case was investigated by the Minneapolis Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the City of Minneapolis Regulatory Services, Hennepin County's Department of Environmental Services and the Metropolitan Council Environmental Services. Investigative support was provided by EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center and EPA Region 5. The case is being
prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Minneapolis.
Ex-Delaware Official Pleads to Clean Water Act Violation: William Daisey of Milton, Del., pleaded guilty on Jan. 24 in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington to violating the Clean Water Act by directing that water contaminated with hydrocarbons be discharged into a wetland area that borders the Great Marsh which, in turn, borders the Broadkill River. Daisey was the chief of operations for the Dredging Program of the Delaware Division of Soil and Water Conservation which is part of the Delaware Division of Natural Resources and Environmental Controls (DNREC). The Dredging Program was located at the site of a closed clam processing plant formerly
operated by the Doxsee Food Company. Doxsee sold the site to the DNREC which used it as a base of operations for their dredge vessels, beach restoration equipment and crews. The site contained several tanks of used oil contaminated with water, and Daisey separated a significant quantity of the oil from the water to recover the oil to use as a heating fuel. Water left over from the process was collected in 600 gallon tanks which were then emptied into the wetland between January 2000 and April 2001. The Dredging Program did not have a permit for wetland disposal of this water which was still contaminated with residual oil. Disposing of oily wastes in wetlands can harm fish and wildlife. When sentenced, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000. The case was investigated by the Philadelphia Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Wilmington and the Environmental Crimes Section of
the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
For earlier EPA news reports, see:
-- Agency acts against Walmart, contractor for stormwater violations
-- Agency integrates hazardous materials into national response plan
-- Broad municipal coalition urges EPA to finalize wastewater blending guidance
-- Two federal agencies sign watershed management agreement