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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

An interesting perspective on the new ASTM Phase I Standard:

EPA Proposes To Add E1527-13 to AAI Rule The good news is that EPA has proposed to amend its AAI rule so that the new ASTM E1527-13 will satisfy the requirements of AAI. The bad news is that EPA has declined to delete E1527-05 from the AAI rule. As a result, property owners and lenders will be able to continue to use E1527-05, thereby undermining the changes to the ASTM standard that were achieved after a protracted process. EPA published a proposed rule and final direct rule in the August 15th federal register. If no adverse comments are received, the final direct rule will become effective in November. If EPA receives adverse comments, it will withdraw the final rule and respond to the comments. The direction that EPA has taken seems ill-advised to this observer. Among the changes in E1527-13 is a presumption that agency files be reviewed as part of the phase 1 process. EPA seems to believe that users will migrate to using E1527-13. However, it is anticipated that E1527-13 will be more costly than E1527-05 because of the time involved to review agency files. Moreover, many of the high volume phase 1 shops were not happy with presumption of doing agency file reviews because it complicated their business model which consists of relying on a high percentage of independent contractors or "1099" employees. Currently, many of these phase 1 operations charge extra for the file review...even though their customers may have anticipated that the agency file reviews were part of the original agreed upon scope of work. EPA's proposed action takes them off the hook. Now, they can urge their clients to just follow the existing E1527-05. Given the pricing pressures that have driven down the quality of phase 1reports, there seems little doubt that market forces will continue to use the E1527-05 standard given that the regulatory language. As a result, this observer believes that many users will continue to opt to use the cheaper version of E1527. The lawyer who recommends to a client that they use the more expensive version of ASTM when both versions provide the same liability protection may find themselves with an ex-client....unless the client has particularly high aspirational goals towards environmental excellence,the aspirational goals.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Phase I Standard (ASTM 1527-13) American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) is revising the current Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) standard. This new revision although not out yet has been freshly titled ASTM E1527-13 and is expected to be released sometime in 2013. The current Phase I standard (ASTM E1527-05) was designed to meet the EPA’s requirement for All Appropriate Inquiry for environmental due diligence. The new Phase I standard is expected to include language addressing the following areas of concerns. Some likely changes to ASTM E1527-13 standard compared to the current ASTM E1527-05 standard include: • Clarifying Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs) • Historical Recognized Environmental Condition (HREC) have been clarified for better clarity • Controlled Recognized Environmental Condition (CREC) is expected to be added as new terminology • Update of Findings and Conclusions sections to reflect the REC, HREC and CREC updates • Specific inclusion of Vapor Migration/Intrusion • Specific regulatory file review requirements • Revisions to User Responsibilities • Vapor Intrusion or Migration is expected to be clarified as included in Phase I ESA investigations and ASTM E2600-10 and lastly • Changes to appendices, especially the Table of Contents/Report Format Appendix and Legal Appendix

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Historic agreement on improving Lake Tahoe clarity signed by California and Nevada Governors

Release date: 08/16/2011

U.S. EPA approves collaborative bi-state plan

SAN FRANCISCO – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein today hosted the 15th Annual Lake Tahoe Summit, at which California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld signed a roadmap to return the lake to almost 100 feet of clarity within 65 years.

The water clarity of Lake Tahoe declined from a visibility level of 105 feet in 1967 to an all time low of 64 feet in 1997. Ten years of scientific study ascertained that fine particulate matter is the prime factor in diminished clarity at Lake Tahoe. The Clean Water Act allows states and U.S. EPA to develop a “diet” for impaired waters like Lake Tahoe to help them recover. This diet is called the Lake Tahoe TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load).

The TMDL represents a decade of collaborative effort between federal, state and local agencies and public stakeholders to better understand the pollutants and sources affecting the Lake’s clarity and to develop a cost-effective, workable solution for improvement.

“I am pleased that California and Nevada have demonstrated unprecedented levels of collaboration in crafting this agreement,” said Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. “Years of hard work and scientific study have paid off, paving the way for much-needed future success at Lake Tahoe.”

“Lake Tahoe provides enormous environmental and economic value to California and the nation,” said California Edmund G. Brown, Jr. “These benefits are directly related to the quality and clarity of the Lake. It is incumbent upon all of us to protect and enhance Lake Tahoe's clarity. This historic agreement will ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy Lake Tahoe's beauty and clarity.”

“The Total Maximum Daily Load offers a roadmap to improve Lake Tahoe’s clarity so future generations can enjoy this majestic lake,” said U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. “More than a decade of research went into this plan and I commend California, Nevada and the Environmental Protection Agency for coming together to implement it.”

“Common-sense regulations regarding water clarity at Lake Tahoe are critical to the health, preservation and restoration of this national treasure,” said U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada. “They will also ensure that Lake Tahoe remains a valuable economic resource that is helping put Nevadans back to work.”

“I commend Nevada Division of Environmental Protection and the Lahontan Water Quality Control Board for developing a scientific plan to restore the clarity of Lake Tahoe. The years of hard work and collaboration have paid off,” said U.S. Senator Dean Heller of Nevada.

“Lake Tahoe is one of the largest, deepest, and clearest lakes in the world. Its shimmering blue waters, biologically diverse alpine setting, and remarkable water clarity are legendary,” said Jared Blumenfeld, U.S. EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “By establishing rigorous benchmarks and accountability, this plan ensures that Lake Tahoe’s environment and economy will thrive long into the future.”

The lake contributes significantly to the economies of California, Nevada and the United States. The communities and the economy of the Lake Tahoe Basin depend on the protection and restoration of its stunning beauty and diverse recreational opportunities in the region.

Scientific analysis demonstrates that restoring lake clarity is possible if pollutant load reductions can be achieved in each of the four primary sources of these pollutants: urban stormwater runoff, forest runoff, stream channel erosion and atmospheric deposition. The TMDL outlines measures to reduce each of these sources, with a focus on the urban stormwater runoff source, as it is both the greatest source and the best opportunity to control the pollutants. The TMDL calls for advanced and innovative controls to achieve the needed pollution reductions.

“The water quality goals have long been agreed to. The TMDL makes it possible to go forward by knowing how much pollutant loads need to be reduced, where those reductions can be found, and the rate of improvement that will follow,” said Dr. Geoffrey Schladow, Director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center.

Achieving the load reductions outlined in the TMDL will be challenging. California’s Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection are working closely with local jurisdictions including the counties, departments of transportation, the City of South Lake Tahoe, and other stakeholders to reduce the amount of fine sediment and nutrients entering the lake. The two state agencies are also collaborating with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to ensure that the Regional Plan, which will soon be updated, supports the local government actions needed to implement the TMDL.

“The Basin’s private stakeholders welcome the opportunity to help implement science-based strategies to protect and restore Lake Tahoe’s famed water clarity. Since much of the pollutants of concern are the result of a 50 to 60-year-old built environment, one opportunity for meaningful load reduction is to rebuild many of these older structures incorporating state-of-the art green technologies,” said Lewis Feldman, a local land-use attorney for businesses throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bay Area Municipalities Ordered to Protect San Francisco Bay from Sewage Discharges

Release date: 03/15/2011

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Justice Department, California Water Boards and San Francisco Baykeeper today announced a stipulated order that will settle a Clean Water Act enforcement action against seven municipalities in the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). The settlement is part of a broader enforcement strategy to address sewage overflows to the San Francisco Bay, especially during rain events. During this most recent rainy season, which began in October 2010, nearly 125 million gallons of untreated or partially treated sewage from EBMUD’s wet weather facilities overflowed into the San Francisco Bay during wet weather.

Among other things, the seven municipalities listed as defendants in the order have cooperatively agreed to update aging infrastructure and collection systems that have been major contributors to the overflows.

“This is great news for San Francisco Bay,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Sewer overflows are an egregious problem, and the changes these cities are making will help protect our waters. EPA's goal is to have zero discharge of raw or improperly treated sewage into the Bay."

Raw sewage contains pathogens that threaten public health, leading to beach closures and public advisories against fishing and swimming. This problem particularly affects older urban areas, where minority and low-income communities are often concentrated. Keeping raw sewage and contaminated stormwater out of the waters of the United States is one of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011 to 2013.

Today’s settlement is the latest in a series of Clean Water Act settlements that will reduce the discharge of raw sewage and contaminated stormwater into United States’ bays, rivers, streams and lakes. Other U.S. cities that have made similar improvements following a federal order include: Los Angeles, San Diego, Honolulu, Cincinnati, Washington D.C., and more than 40 more. The initiative will focus on reducing discharges from sewer overflows by obtaining cities’ commitments to implement timely, affordable solutions to these problems, including the increased use of green infrastructure and other innovative approaches.

As part of the order, Oakland, Emeryville, Piedmont, Berkeley, Alameda, Albany, and the Stege Sanitary District (which serves Kensington, El Cerrito and the Richmond Annex section of Richmond) will make substantial improvements to their wastewater collection systems to reduce sewage spills to the Bay. These defendants are collectively referred to as ‘satellite communities’ in the stipulated order.

After filing an initial administrative order, EPA referred this action to the Justice Department in December 2009. Following this referral, the United States filed suit against the satellite communities. The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board and the State Water Resources Control Board are also participating in the litigation and the settlement.

"The San Francisco Bay is a national treasure which will be protected through the implementation of the commitments made in this agreement," said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. "The settlement will also result in a healthier environment for the communities that surround the Bay by improving the infrastructure and operation of the municipal sewage systems."

As part of the settlement, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board will help to oversee the satellite communities’ compliance with the stipulated order. "This settlement is a significant step in ensuring coordinated and proper investments by the east bay communities in their sewer infrastructure,” said Bruce Wolfe, Executive Officer of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. “This will result in healthier creeks and a cleaner Bay."

San Francisco Baykeeper intervened as a plaintiff in this action, and is a party to this stipulated order. "The plans we have agreed to here will set in motion significant projects that will create green jobs and result in a cleaner Bay,” said Jason Flanders of San Francisco Baykeeper. “We look forward to working with EPA and the Waterboards to ensure that these infrastructure improvements occur expeditiously."

The Justice Department, California Water Boards, Baykeeper, and the Satellite Communities collaborated in settlement negotiations aimed at developing initial measures that would complement the work required by a 2009 EBMUD Stipulated Order. As with the EBMUD Stipulated Order, the Satellite Communities stipulated order will provide initial relief needed to reduce the ongoing violations and assist in developing a final remedy.

In addition, each of the Satellites have specific requirements based on an inspection of each collection system previously conducted by EPA and input from Baykeeper. As in all federal Clean Water Act enforcement actions, the defendants in this case could face penalties as part of the future settlement.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

EPA approves California’s efforts to become nation’s first perc-free dry cleaning state// hazardous dry cleaning chemical to be removed by 2023

Mar. 8, 2011

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved California’s regulations banning the use of the toxic air contaminant perchloroethylene (PERC) from the state’s dry cleaning operations by 2023. This action means that the current federal regulations will be replaced with California’s more stringent approach, which now can be enforced by the federal EPA and citizens of California.
PERC, a possible human carcinogen, is a man-made liquid solvent often used in the dry cleaning industry, in textile mill operations, by chlorofluorocarbon producers, for vapor degreasing and in metal cleaning operations. The dry cleaning industry is a leading user of PERC in the U.S.

“We applaud California’s efforts to rid its dry cleaning industry of this dangerous toxin,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “The state’s approach gives consumers healthier dry cleaning alternatives.”

According to California’s Air Resources Board, the estimated number of PERC-using machines has been steadily dropping from 4670 machines in 2003 to 2000 machines in 2009. Meanwhile, the estimated number of wet cleaning and CO2 machines – which use less toxic cleaning methods – has almost tripled from 90 machines in 2003 to 253 machines in 2009.

EPA’s Toxic Reporting Inventory database reports that more than 107,043 pounds of PERC were released to the environment in California in 2009, mostly through air emissions.

Exposure to PERC can occur in the workplace or in the environment following releases to air, water, land, or groundwater. Exposure can also occur when people use products containing PERC, spend time in dry cleaning facilities that use PERC, live next to dry cleaning facilities, or bring dry cleaned garments into their homes. Once in the body, PERC can remain stored in fat tissue. In addition to being a possible human carcinogen, exposure to PERC is also associated with chronic, non-cancer health effects, including liver and kidney damage in rodents, and neurological effects in humans.

California’s Airborne Toxic Control Measure for dry cleaning operations implements a ban on the use of PERC in dry cleaning operations in California. All remaining PERC dry cleaning machines must be removed from service by January 1, 2023. The California Air Resources Board identified PERC as a toxic air contaminant in 1991, and adopted the current Airborne Toxic Control Measure regulating PERC dry cleaning operations in 2007.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

EPA issues rule to reduce water pollution from construction sites

EPA issues rule to reduce water pollution from construction sites

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 23, 2009 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued a final rule to help reduce water pollution from construction sites. The agency believes this rule, which takes effect in February 2010 and will be phased in over four years, will significantly improve the quality of water nationwide.

Construction activities like clearing, excavating and grading significantly disturb soil and sediment. If that soil is not managed properly it can easily be washed off of the construction site during storms and pollute nearby water bodies.

The final rule requires construction site owners and operators that disturb one or more acres to use best management practices to ensure that soil disturbed during construction activity does not pollute nearby water bodies. In addition, owners and operators of sites that impact 10 or more acres of land at one time will be required to monitor discharges and ensure they comply with specific limits on discharges to minimize the impact on nearby water bodies. This is the first time that EPA has imposed national monitoring requirements and enforceable numeric limitations on construction site stormwater discharges.

Soil and sediment runoff is one of the leading causes of water quality problems nationwide. Soil runoff from construction has also reduced the depth of small streams, lakes and reservoirs, leading to the need for dredging.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Economic Stimulus Plan and The Environmental INdustry

When President Barack Obama signed an environmental economic stimulus bill into law in 2009, he earmarked $500 million for green jobs training, according to the New York Times. Environmental careers are considered one of the top fields for graduates and for people searching for new careers, due to the impact of global warming and the support of the federal government for new jobs that help the environment. The New York Times identified four main career paths for people looking to start an environmental career: green organizations that will benefit from the stimulus package, jobs in renewable energy, environmental lawyers and environmental consultants who will help companies follow guidelines to make their businesses and products more environmentally friendly. Additionally, there are environmental jobs that have been around for years, including environmental scientists, environmental engineers and environmental educators.

    Green Organizations

  1. Environmental organizations like Green Corps train people to work at places like the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the Endangered Species Coalition and the National Wildlife Federation. These jobs are mainly organizing jobs, where efforts are placed in fundraising and growing awareness. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has federal offices as well as state offices that hire people to fill jobs such as environmental specialist and staff assistant. Job boards at and regularly post green jobs from the private and public sectors.
  2. Renewable Energy Jobs

  3. With $62 billion of government stimulus money for clean energy, environmental projects and research efforts, there are many businesses and nonprofits that will receive grants and open new jobs in renewable energy. These jobs are for people who can build, design or contribute to research for solar energy, wind energy, water energy, biomass and fuel cell energy. and are two job boards that specialize in renewable energy careers. Some of these jobs include environmental architects, energy efficiency engineers, wind analysts and project managers.
  4. Environmental Lawyers

  5. Environmental lawyers may work in-house to advise their companies on best environmental practices, or may work out in the field by suing companies that illegally pollute the environment. is a job board for these types of attorneys, and bills itself as the top environmental law firm. Earth Justice hires interns, associate attorneys and law clerks all over the United States.
  6. Environmental Consultants

  7. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, environmental consultants work closely with their clients' projects to identify and solve and environmental problems. For example, an environmental consultant might inspect a construction site to make sure there is no environmental pollution. The BLS reports that environmental consulting firms are one of the largest specialties in scientific consulting. Environmental consultants are employed by government agencies, as well as private clients.
  8. Environmental Scientists and Engineers

  9. The Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies two main lucrative environmental careers: environmental scientists and engineers. Environmental scientists work in the government, as well as with private companies to identify and solve environmental problems. Environmental chemists may analyze chemicals in soil, for instance, while environmental biologists may work to protect endangered species. Environmental engineers use their engineering backgrounds to help design environmentally safe structures. According to the BLS, they may work in such fields as waste treatment or pollution control.

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