Ohio Chamber Comments on Draft Industrial Discharge Storm Water Permit
On February 25, the Ohio Chamber submitted comments on Ohio EPA’s proposed changes to the draft NPDES General Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity. Many Chamber members operate under the current general permit and I spoke with quite a few of them and they did not understand the need for the change. So, based upon those conversations our comments reflect that we see no technical or environmental reason for Ohio EPA to switch to a multi-sector general permit at this time.
Introducing the Energy & Environment Committee's New Vice-Chair
I am pleased to announce that Nick Maoloni, Corporate Risk Supervisor for Ross Environmental Services, Inc., has agreed to serve as the vice-chair of the Ohio Chamber's Energy and Environment Committee. Nick brings with him a wealth of environmental permitting knowledge on multiple media fronts. Please feel free to drop him a note welcoming him to the new position.
Water Quality Rules Industry Coalition
The Water Quality Rules Industry Coalition (Coalition) met this week for the first time in over two years. The need to reconvene the Coalition stems from Ohio EPA’s release of all four interrelated water quality rule standards packages and the looming comment deadline of June 6. Everyone agreed that Ohio EPA has made it perfectly clear it wants substantive comments on the rules.
During the meeting it was decided that the Ohio Chamber would act as a clearinghouse for collecting and disseminating information being gathered by the multiple impact industry sectors. There was an agreement that while the rules impact each industry sector differently, and they would need to comment individually, there are some common issues that would be good for all of us to be commenting on. For example, where the proposed regulations are more stringent than federal requirements and what sort of cost impacts is industry going to see. Additionally, there was a discussion about how these rules fit with regulatory reform legislation. The regulatory reform legislation, Senate Bill 2, will be signed by Gov. Kasich today. We certainly do not want to put Ohio at a competitive disadvantage with other states.
There was also a discussion about identifying issues that would resonate with the agency and administration. For example, how do these rules impact private property rights? It was pointed out that the definitions in the rules could potentially turn private ponds into lakes which would then be regulated by Ohio EPA.
The Ohio Chamber would also assist in getting parties together that may be interested in similar issue areas. For example, folks that are involved in earth moving activities are interested in getting together to ensure they are sharing information and pooling resources to review the rules for how it would impact them. here was also discussion about breaking out the four rule packages and getting those folks together that were maybe just interested in reviewing one or two of them.
U.S. Sen. Brown Asks Pres. Obama to Re-evaluate GHG Approach
Earlier this week, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) wrote to President Obama urging the administration to re-evaluate the US EPA’s approach to regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and assess their "economic repercussions and potential unintended consequences" on U.S. manufacturers and others.
US EPA Announces Slight Delay in GHG Reporting Program
On March 1, US EPA announced it is extending this year’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting deadline and plans to have the final uploading tool available this summer, with the data scheduled to be published later this year. The original filing deadline was March 31 but US EPA has not done any testing with the system and it appears that it was not quite ready to go. Many were concerned the system hadn’t even been beta tested.
US EPA said they are issuing the extension following conversations with industry and others and the extension will allow them 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 will provide more detail on these intended changes in the coming weeks and will ensure that this reporting extension is in effect before the original reporting deadline of March 31, 2011.
Introducing the Governor’s Executive Assistant on Energy & Environment Issues
Craig Butler has been tapped by Gov. Kasich to head-up energy and environment issues within his office. The governor’s office typically has staff that covers a variety of agencies and issue areas and Craig will be covering Ohio EPA, ODNR, ODA, PUCO, etc. Craig was most recently the Chief of Ohio EPA’s Southeast District Office and had previously served as Chief of the Central District Office and in the Director’s Office assisting business and industry with permitting and compliance issues.
Gov. Kasich Announces PUCO Appointment
On February 28, Gov. Kasich announced the appointment of Andre T. Porter to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). Porter will serve as a commissioner for a term beginning April 11, 2011 and ending April 10, 2016. Andre Porter is a practicing attorney at Schottenstein Zox & Dunn Co., LPA, where he counsels commercial and industrial businesses, municipalities, and trade associations on energy and utility regulation, as well as real estate tax issues. Porter received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Capital University and his juris doctor from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.
Ohio House Announces New Public Utilities Committee Chair
This week, Speaker Batchelder appointed Rep. Peter Stautberg (R-Cincinnati) as Chair of the House Public Utilities Committee. This was done in the wake of the resignation of former Rep. Todd Snitchler who previously chaired the committee. Mr. Snitchler left the House this week for an appointment to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, leaving vacant the chair of the House Public Utilities Committee.
Ohio EPA Refiles VOC and NOx Rules
On February 28, Ohio EPA has refiled rules 3745-21-01, 3745-21-23, 3745-21-28, and 3745-110-03 with the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR). These rules address controls of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx). These rules are being refiled with the JCARR after changes were made based on comments received during the proposed rule comment period. The changes were primarily to provide clarity to the proposed rule language.
US EPA Seeks Comments on Safe Drinking Water Act Contaminant Monitoring
On March 3, US EPA proposed adding 30 currently unregulated contaminants for monitoring in water systems, and submitting this proposal for public comment. Under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act, US EPA currently regulates more than 90 contaminants in drinking water. Additionally, the Safe Drinking Water Act requires US EPA identify up to 30 unregulated contaminants for monitoring every five years. This current proposal is the third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Regulation and includes requirements to monitor for two viruses and 28 chemical contaminants that could be present in drinking water and do not currently have health-based standards. US EPA is accepting comments on the proposed list of 30 contaminants until May 2, 2011.
US EPA Releases Clean Air Act Report
On March 1, US EPA released a report that estimates the benefits and costs of the Clean Air Act. However, I will note the press release only talks about “health cost savings” and does not reference costs to the economy. Additionally, I would say this shows how dramatically air quality has improved based upon the extensive work done by business and industry to reduce their emission levels. As US EPA continues to ratchet down the standards, the cost to the regulated community dramatically increases with smaller and smaller environmental and health benefits.
US EPA estimates that the benefits of reducing fine particle and ground level ozone pollution under the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments will reach approximately $2 trillion in 2020 while saving 230,000 people from early death in that year alone. The report studied the effects of the Clean Air Act updates on the economy, public health and the environment between 1990 and 2020.