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Daily Environmental Briefing Report
Friday, February 8, 2008
© 2008. Permission is granted for Internal, Same-Office Distribution Only.

 

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In This Issue
            -- NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL NEWS --
State of New Jersey v. EPA Vacates Agency Mercury Rules
Legislators Express Concerns Over New Renewable Fuel Standard
EPA Notices 2008 Renewable Fuels Standard Of  7.76%
Forest Service Releases Final EIS On Forest Planning Rule

Survey Shows Image-Driven "Eco-Friendly" Corporate Commitment
EPA Releases New Greenhouse Gas Equivalent Calculator
EPA Announces New Energy Star Spec For Televisions
                   -- GREAT LAKES NEWS --
ATSDR Great Lakes AOCs Report Held Up 7 Months
                     -- MICHIGAN NEWS --
MDNR Approves Land Lease & Reclamation Plan For Kennecott Mine
EPA & MDEQ Approve Bay Harbor Cleanup UIC Well Near Alba
Groups Urge AG Probe Of Entergy Restructuring
Michigan Legislative Tracking (2/7)

 
National / International News
 
State of New Jersey v. EPA Vacates Agency Mercury Rules  - Feb 8: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, Case No. 05-1097, consolidated with 05-1104, 05-1116, 05-1118, 05-1158, 05-1159, 05-1160, 05-1162, 05-1163, 05-1164, 05-1167, 05-1174, 05-1175, 05-1176, 05-1183, 05-1189, 05-1263, 05-1267, 05-1270, 05-1271, 05-1275, 05-1277, 06-1211, 06-1220, 06-1231, 06-1287, 06-1291, 06-1293, 06-1294. In this high profile case involving many states [CA, CT, DE, IL, ME, MA, MN, NH, NJ, NM, NY, PA, VT and WI], environmental organizations and industry groups, the Appeals Court considered petitions for review of two final rules promulgated by U.S. EPA regarding the emission of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from electric utility steam generating units (EGUs) -- the so-called Delisting Rule and CAMR.
    The Appeals Court sets the stage saying New Jersey and fourteen additional States, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the City of Baltimore (Government Petitioners), and various environmental organizations (Environmental Petitioners) contend that EPA violated Section 112’s plain text and structure when it did not comply with the requirements of section 112(c)(9) in delisting EGUs. Government and Environmental Petitioners further contend that CAMR is inconsistent with provisions of section 111, and that both the Delisting Rule and CAMR should be vacated. Certain intervenors -- including various industry representatives, States, and state agencies -- join EPA in urging the lawfulness of the two rules.
    The first rule removes coal- and oil-fired EGUs from the list of sources whose emissions are regulated under section 112 of the Clean Air Act (CAA), Revision of December 2000 Regulatory Finding (Delisting Rule), 70 FR 15,994 (3/29/05). The second rule sets performance standards for new coal-fired EGUs and establishes total mercury emissions limits for States and certain tribal areas, along with a voluntary cap-and-trade program for new and existing coal-fired EGUs. Standards of Performance for New and Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Steam Generating Units (CAMR), 70 FR 28,606 (5/1805).
    The Appeals Court said, "Petitioners contend that the Delisting Rule is contrary to the plain text and structure of section 112. In response, EPA and certain intervenors rely on section 112(n), which sets special conditions before EGUs can be regulated under section 112, to justify the rule. We hold that the delisting was unlawful. Section 112 requires EPA to regulate emissions of HAPs.
Section 112(n) requires EPA to regulate EGUs under section 112 when it concludes that doing so is 'appropriate and necessary.'"
    The Appeals Court states further that, "In December 2000, EPA concluded that it was 'appropriate and necessary' to regulate mercury emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants under section 112 and listed these EGUs as sources of HAPs regulated under that section. In 2005, after reconsidering its previous determination, EPA purported to remove these EGUs from the section 112 list. Thereafter it promulgated CAMR under section 111. EPA’s removal of these EGUs from the section 112 list violates the CAA because section 112(c)(9) requires EPA to make specific findings before removing a source listed under section 112; EPA concedes it never made such findings. Because coal-fired EGUs are listed sources under section 112, regulation of existing coalfired EGUs’ mercury emissions under section 111 is prohibited, effectively invalidating CAMR’s regulatory approach. Accordingly, the court grants the petitions and vacates both rules."
    New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram issued a release saying, "In ruling as it did, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agreed with New Jersey and other states, as well as numerous environmental petitioners that EPA cannot avoid its legal duty to promulgate strict limits on mercury emissions from all power plants -- and do so expeditiously. The ruling means elimination of the EPA’s cap-and-trade approach to regulating mercury emissions. Cap-and-trade allows power plants to purchase emissions reduction credits from other plants that have cut emissions below targeted levels, rather than meet strict emission levels by installing stringent pollution controls to reduce mercury emissions at their own plants."
    Milgram added, “From the beginning we have maintained that the EPA adopted standards for regulating mercury, a dangerous neurotoxin, which were weak, ineffectual and ran counter to the clear intent of the Clean Air Act.” Milgram's release indicates that, "Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of uncontrolled mercury emissions, generating 48 tons of mercury emissions per year nationwide. EPA finalized its cap-and-trade system for regulating mercury emissions from power plants in May 2006 despite reports that called into question the conclusions underlying the rule. Research funded by the EPA itself found that wet mercury deposition rates from local coal-fired industrial sources were many times higher than EPA projections. The research, conducted in Steubenville, Ohio, bolstered arguments that there was significant potential for uncontrolled local emission sources to perpetuate mercury hot-spots."
    Vickie Patton, an attorney with Environmental Defense, which along with Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation was represented by Earthjustice in the lawsuit said, “The federal court agrees with the American Medical Association that EPA's flawed mercury program for coal plants is hazardous to our health. This decision is a victory for the health of all Americans, but especially for our children who can suffer permanent brain damage from toxic mercury pollution.” Alice McKeown, coal analyst for the Sierra Club said, “Coal company claims of ‘clean coal’ will now be put to the test. These mercury pollution reductions will be an important trial run to see if coal is still viable in a cleaner energy future.” The environmental groups said that approximately 1,100 coal-fired units at more than 450 existing power plants account for the emissions of 48 tons of mercury annually. Yet only 1/70th of a teaspoon of mercury is needed to contaminate a 25-acre lake to the point where fish are unsafe to eat.
    
Access the complete 18-page opinion (click here). Access a release from the New Jersey AG (click here). Access a release from Environmental Defense (click here). [*Air, *Toxics]

 
Legislators Express Concerns Over New Renewable Fuel Standard - Feb 7: At the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Chaired by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Oversight Hearing on the recently-passed renewable fuel standard (RFS) contained in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA. H.R. 6, now Public Law No: 110-140 [See WIMS 12/14/07]). Both Chairman Bingaman and Ranking Member Pete Domenici (R-NM) expressed concerns over the new RFS.
    Bingaman said, "...today’s hearing concerns the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which is a cornerstone of this legislation and which some have suggested is flawed.  The RFS requires that increasing amounts of our motor vehicle fuel come from biofuel, such as ethanol from corn and biodiesel from soy.  Homegrown biofuels are good energy policy, good environmental policy and good national security policy.  However, there is some concern that RFS as enacted risks taking the biofuels industry backward rather than pushing it ahead.  I am particularly concerned about three aspects of the RFS: first, early year biofuel requirements could be too aggressive; second, mandates for specific technologies and feedstock could prove to be overly prescriptive; finally, the environmental restrictions may be too narrow. 
    “The RFS almost doubles the amount of ethanol and biodiesel required this year, from 4.7 billion gallons in 2007 to 9 billion gallons in 2008.  While it appears likely that there will be enough ethanol and biodiesel production capacity to satisfy the requirement [See related article below], it is not clear how all of this biofuel will find its way into the fuel tanks of our cars and trucks.  Because the law was signed only weeks before the 2008 requirement came into effect, refiners had no opportunity to ensure that sufficient infrastructure would be in place to handle that much of an increase. 
    “The second concern is that the law favors certain technologies and feedstock with individual mandates... With roughly 80 percent of the advanced biofuels requirement already dedicated to specific feedstock or technologies, there is little room in the RFS for technological advance. A final concern is the definition of ‘renewable biomass’ from which the required biofuel can be derived is too narrow...
    “The question before us now is how to make the RFS work.  The cost of failure is high.  If we cannot produce enough ethanol and biodiesel to meet these aggressive mandates, while maintaining food and fuel prices that consumers can afford, taxpayers will blame Congress, as they should.  Furthermore, the biofuel industry will be tarnished.  For these reasons, I am committed to finding a way to make this RFS work as intended.”
    Senator Domenici said, "The final RFS was inserted by the House of Representatives, and there was no conference committee process to work out differences with the Senate... I think it is pretty obvious that either a lot of good administrative people will have to get together and resolve this in a way that would be extraordinary or we’ll have to end up changing things... So, I ask, is what is on the books going to work? Are we going to have to modify it to reach our goals?  If we don’t know the answer, there will be excuses out there in the market as to why things don’t get done..." Domenici identified a number of areas that may need attention, including very broad waiver authority given to the EPA Administrator, limits on what type of land can be used to cultivate crops, and definitions in the RFS which preclude materials from forest thinning to be used as biomass.
    Access the statement from Senator Bingaman (click here). Access the statement from Senator Domenici (click here). Access the hearing website for links to all testimony, statements and a webcast (click here). Access the Energy Act summary (click here). Access the full text of the Energy Act Enrolled Bill (click here). [*Energy]

 
EPA Notices 2008 Renewable Fuels Standard Of  7.76% -  Feb 8: U.S. EPA announced that it is raising the 2008 renewable fuels standard (RFS), which determines how much non-petroleum fuel will power your vehicle, to 7.76 percent. The move is in response to the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), which President Bush signed in December (H.R. 6, now Public Law No: 110-140 [See WIMS 12/14/07]). Last November, EPA announced a RFS of 4.66 percent, based on previous law, that mandated at least 5.4 billion gallons of renewable fuels be blended into the nation's transportation fuels this year. However, EPA is now increasing the standard to 7.76 percent to comply with the new minimum of 9.0 billion gallons of renewable fuel that EISA requires. 
    EISA increases the overall volume of renewable fuels that must be blended each year, reaching 36 billion gallons in 2022. To achieve these volumes, EPA annually calculates the percentage-based standard, which applies to refiners, importers and non-oxygenate blenders of gasoline. Based on the standard, each of the parties determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that it must use. The RFS program creates new markets for farm products, increases energy security, and promotes the development of advanced technologies that would expand the production of renewable fuels.
    On February 7, 2008, the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Chaired by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), held an Oversight Hearing to receive testimony on the energy market effects of the recently-passed renewable fuel standard (RFS) [See WIMS 2/7/08]. 
    Access a release from U.S. EPA (click here). Access the prepublication copy of the Federal Register notice (click here). Access EPA's RFS Program website (click here). Access the Senate hearing website for links to all testimony, statements and a webcast (click here). [*Energy]

 
Forest Service Releases Final EIS On Forest Planning Rule - Feb 7: The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced that it has moved one step closer to finalizing a new planning rule that it said will engage the public in the development, implementation and monitoring of forest plans. The release of the agency’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the 2008 Planning Rule identifies the Forest Service’s preferred alternative and is a procedural move towards the implementation of a new planning rule. USFS said the planning rule is important because it brings people together with the Forest Service to develop land management plans which provide the framework for all resource and recreation management on national forests and grasslands nationwide.
    Joel Holtrop, Deputy Chief of the National Forest System said, “The process of developing a forest plan is a public service that ensures a great future for national forests on behalf of the American public. We’re proud of this vitally important planning process and yet we recognize that improvements were needed to emphasize more public collaboration, to be more adaptive to changing environmental conditions, and to ensure the protection of wildlife. The preferred alternative encompasses all of these elements.”
    After receiving and considering over 79, 000 comments on a draft environmental impact statement, the Forest Service developed "Alternative M" as their preferred alternative. They said, "The alternative is based on public comment and builds on the 1982, 2002, and 2005 Planning Rules and years of professional forest planning experience. The preferred alternative provides extensive public participation and offers an approach to quickly respond to changing natural resource conditions."
    David Dillard, Director of Ecosystem Management Coordination said, “This preferred alternative expands public involvement by requiring early and frequent public dialogue in all phases of the development, implementation and monitoring of land management plans. This exceeds National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements for public involvement. Our goal is to create strong, relevant conversations that address local issues as well as incorporate the latest available science and technology in the plans. Additionally, all plans and projects developed under those plans are expected and required to comply with NEPA.”
    The FEIS will now be sent to the Department of Agriculture for a decision on a final rule for forest planning. The Record of Decision and final rule will be published in the Federal Register in approximately 30 days.
    In a release, Earthjustice points out that almost a year ago, a Federal judge threw out the Forest Service's attempt to seriously weaken the rules that protect 193 million acres of National Forest land all across the country. The court found that administration officials had failed to do a legally required Environmental Impact Statement to determine how weakening protections for wildlife, clean water, old growth, and public involvement in the planning process would affect our forests. Trent Orr of Earthjustice, who argued that case said, "The national forest planning rules are like the Constitution for our national forests, and the Bush administration tried to throw out the Bill of Rights. The Forest Service appears to be rushing out yet another set of regulations that weaken protections for wildlife and biological diversity on the national forests. This proposal will continue to favor industrial forestry over protecting clean streams and fisheries."
    Earthjustice said, "Unfortunately, the court-ordered Final Environmental Impact Statement released today fails once again to live up to what the court, or the law, required. Like the draft released this summer, it provides no actual impact analysis of Bush's proposed regulations or of potential alternative forms of those regulations, which should be the heart of an EIS. Instead, it brashly states that none of the alternatives would affect the environment. This doesn't come close to complying with the National Environmental Policy Act."
   
Access a release from USFS (click here). Access the FEIS and multiple appendices (click here). Access a lengthy release from Earthjustice (click here). [*Land]

 
Survey Shows Image-Driven "Eco-Friendly" Corporate Commitment - Feb 7: BearingPoint, Inc. (NYSE: BE), one of the world’s largest management and technology consulting firms, announced the results of a survey that suggest that corporate image is one of the most significant motivations for U.S. companies to be “eco-friendly”. The survey results were gathered from data from more than 600 executives from large firms around the world. Seventy-one percent of U.S. companies reported that they proactively market the “environmental friendliness” of their products to their customers, which is comparatively higher than the global average of 59 percent. Yet, U.S. companies lag behind their global counterparts in developing “green” supply chains, the process by which products and services get from design to delivery and the operational area of many enterprises that is widely believed to leave the most significant environmental footprint. Globally, the single-most important driver for companies to implement “greener” operations is regulatory compliance.
    Tom Wrobleski, BearingPoint’s North American Supply Chain Practice Leader said, “For several years, U.S. companies have enjoyed significantly less regulatory oversight of their environmental impact. Most of the investment into being environmentally friendly has been driven by improving the corporate image. The U.S. consumer wants to buy socially responsible products and companies know that. That said, we expect to see U.S. companies take a much closer look at their environmental impact during the next few years, as energy costs have skyrocketed making the motivation much less about regulatory pressure and corporate image, and more about cost-savings."
    Also of note is the fact that 36 percent of the companies said their greatest barrier toward the implementation of “environmentally friendly” supply chains is a lack of information while 11 percent saw cost as a limiting factor. Wrobleski said, “Companies want to be environmentally friendly. They know that in the long run, sustainability will become an increasingly important factor for corporate success as it will keep costs contained and ensure resources for the future. The problem, in many cases, is not that it’s too expensive to implement 'green' supply chains, it’s that they don’t know how to.”
    While 83 percent of all companies surveyed claim to factor environmental concerns into their corporate strategy, slightly less than a quarter of U.S. companies have worked to implement “green” supply chains, while approximately 38 percent of European companies and nearly all Japanese companies have taken steps to ease their environmental impact of their supply chain. Wrobleski indicated, “The most significant strides we’ve seen in the U.S. are being taken by industry groups. Industry groups often share the same suppliers and have similar supply chain models so it is in their best interest to work together to build efficiencies at an industry level and, at the same time, enhance the “environmentally friendly” image of their industry.”
    Access a release from BearingPoint and link to the complete survey (click here, registration required). [*P2/Sustainability]
 
EPA Releases New Greenhouse Gas Equivalent Calculator - Feb 7: U.S. EPA's has announced a new Greenhouse Gas Calculator that helps turn greenhouse gas (GHG) savings into more easily understood everyday terms. The calculator converts GHG-related savings estimates, typically presented in "million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MMTCO2Eq)" into familiar terms such as the greenhouse gas emissions that would result from: Driving a particular number of cars for a year; Using a particular amount of gasoline or barrels of oil; Using a particular number of tanker trucks' worth of gasoline; Providing energy to a particular number of homes for a year; Growing trees across a particular number of acres for a year; Recycling a particular quantity of waste instead of sending it to the landfill; or Generating electricity from a particular number of coal fired power plants for a year.
    The Calculator allows users to enter savings in emissions, electricity consumption, gallons of gasoline, or number of vehicles and determine up to 13 different ways to express the magnitude of the savings. The calculator uses the latest emission factors, approaches and statistics available through 2007. 
    As an example, if a typical household switched all its incandescent light bulbs to Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs, it would save about 75 percent of the lighting electricity use, or about 1,463 kWh a year. After five years, these energy savings are equivalent to: Saving about 10,289 pounds of CO2 emissions; Conserving 530 gallons of gasoline; Saving 11 barrels of oil; Planting 120 tree seedlings; or
Recycling 1.6 tons of waste.
    Access an EPA release (click here). Access the EPA Calculator (click here). [Note: WIMS has added a link to the GHG Equivalent Calculator on the EcoBizPort Climate Change website (click here).] [*Climate]
   
 

 
EPA Announces New Energy Star Spec For Televisions - Feb 5: U.S. EPA announced a revised Energy Star specification for televisions. Effective November 1, 2008, TVs that carry the Energy Star label will be up to 30 percent more efficient than conventional models and will save energy while they are on and when they are off. The new modifications are expected to prevent greenhouse gas emissions while offering U.S. consumers the very best in terms of feature-rich, high-quality TVs. According to recent market research, North American shipments of TVs will top 36 million units in 2008. These TVs will typically be larger, in use more hours a day, and offer more vibrant pictures and other great features than their predecessors. However, these enhancements can come with a hefty energy price tag.
    EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said, "Energy Star's new specifications for televisions are turning the channel on energy guzzling sets -- making them go the way of rabbit-ears and the black and white TV. After the new specification goes into effect, if all TVs sold in the United States meet the Energy Star requirements, the savings in energy costs will grow to about $1 billion annually and greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by the equivalent of about 1 million cars. The United States now has more than 275 million TVs in use; they consume over 50 billion kWh per year.
    Access a release from EPA (click here). Access the Energy Star TV/VCR website for detailed information (click here). [*Energy]

 
Great Lakes News
 
ATSDR Great Lakes AOCs Report Held Up 7 Months - Feb 7: According to the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), "For more than seven months, the nation’s top public health agency has blocked the publication of an exhaustive federal study of environmental hazards in the eight Great Lakes states, reportedly because it contains such potentially “alarming information” as evidence of elevated infant mortality and cancer rates."
    CPI says the 400-plus-page study, Public Health Implications of Hazardous Substances in the Twenty-Six U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern, was undertaken by a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the request of the International Joint Commission (IJC), an independent bilateral organization that advises the U.S. and Canadian governments on the use and quality of boundary waters between the two countries. The study was originally scheduled for release in July 2007 by the IJC and the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
    CPI has obtained the study, which it says "warns that more than nine million people who live in the more than two dozen 'areas of concern' [AOCs] -- including such major metropolitan areas as Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee -- may face elevated health risks from being exposed to dioxin, PCBs, pesticides, lead, mercury, or six other hazardous pollutants."
    Access a brief article on the report and link to the report which is marked throughout "do not quote or cite" (click here). Access links to various Internet citations to the report (click here). Access various Blog posts regarding the report (click here). Access various news media reports (click here). Access complete information on Great Lakes AOCs (click here). [*GLakes]

 
Federal Register Highlights
 
The following is a summary from our Daily REGTrak Bulletin* for:
Friday, February 8, 2008.
__________________________________
ANPR - Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; FR - Final Rule; FRD - Direct final rule; FRI - Interim final rule; ICR - Information Collection Request; ND - Notice of data, information, reports, etc. availability; NF - Notice of Funding Opportunity; NM - Notice of Meeting; NS - Notice of administrative/court settlement; PR - Proposed Rule; ROD - Record of decision
 
*If you need further information on the above announcements you may want to subscribe to our REGTrak service. Subscribers receive a complete Federal Register summary of nationally applicable environmental announcements, contact information and direct links to the full-text of each announcement (pdf & html) before 8 AM each day for $139 per year (click here). You can also access our Federal Regulatory website and follow the links from there (click here).
Article Coding:   [Air] = Air; [All] = Cross-Media, ecosystems; [Climate] Climate Change; [Drink] = Drinking Water; [Energy] = Energy; [GLakes] = Great Lakes; [Haz] = Hazardous Waste; [Land] = Land Use, Forests; [P2] Pollution Prevention, Sustainability; [Remed] = Remediation, Brownfields; [Tanks] = AST, UST; [Toxics] =Toxics, Pesticides; [Transport] = Transportation; [Solid Waste];  [Water] = Water; [Wildlife] = Wildlife, Endangered Species.

 
Michigan News
 

MDNR Approves Land Lease & Reclamation Plan For Kennecott Mine
- Feb 7: The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) authorized a land surface use agreement, and also approved Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company's proposed post-mining reclamation plan which constitute the final approvals the company needs from the State of Michigan before beginning construction of an underground mine in the State’s Upper Peninsula, northwest of Marquette [See WIMS 1/30/08]. Kennecott said the Eagle Mine will serve as the only primary nickel mine in the United States, and will employ hundreds of area workers over the coming decade during construction and operations. The MDNR approvals complete the State’s permitting role. A Federal underground injection control permit is still needed, and under consideration by U.S. EPA [See WIMS 1/14/08].
    Opponents of the operation had hoped MDNR would deny the lease agreement and plan. As a first step in a legal challenge to halt the mine, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Huron Mountain Club and Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve have already filed a contested case petition and a lawsuit against MDEQ for its approval of the mining proposal in December.
    Eagle General Manager Jon Cherry said, “Completion of the state approval phase marks an important milestone in the development of the Eagle project, as it moves the project to realization. Achieving the necessary state approvals has been the focus of our activities over the last four years, and obtaining them literally moves the project ‘off of paper and onto the ground’. The approval process has been thorough and rigorous, as expected of the first new mine in Michigan’s modern era.” Kennecott officials have said the company has additional exploration activities underway that could potentially extend the role mining plays in the economy for many years to come. Kennecott said its production of minerals from the underground ore body at Eagle could generate a royalty of up to $50 million to the State’s Natural Resources Trust Fund, based on commodity prices for nickel and copper.
    The land surface use agreement covers a 120-acre area of State-owned land where aboveground facilities and equipment will be built to service mine operations, along with the portal to the underground deposit. Approval of the reclamation plan provides additional regulatory agency oversight of Kennecott’s activities related to removing facilities and returning the land to pre-mining conditions once mining operations have concluded. The MDEQ also has oversight of post-mining activities at the site.
    NWF issued a release saying that MDNR's decision to grant a 40-year lease of public lands in the Upper Peninsula "to a foreign-owned mining company amounts to corporate welfare" Michelle Halley, attorney for NWF said, "the unprecedented lease is a clear-cut case of  the DNR sacrificing public land for private gain." She said, "KEMC [Kennecott] did not adequately address subsidence concerns, ignored some requests related to identifying and preventing leaks, and submitted materials that were woefully lacking. Experts tell us that this project is still fatally flawed, making the DNR land-lease approval even more appalling.”
    NWF said, "Inadequate monitoring fees are also of grave concern. Located beneath the Salmon Trout River and with the likelihood of contaminating the entire watershed, opponents say close monitoring of this project is an absolute necessity." Halley indicated that expectations for monitoring by MDNR are low saying, “With a monitoring fee of only $4,000 per year, no meaningful monitoring will occur. That amount will not even cover lab fees for the most basic of water quality testing, much less staff time for collecting samples and on-site inspections.” NWF said while lawsuits and contested cases are on-going in regards to the MDEQ permits, NWF and other citizens groups opposed to the mine plan to mount a legal challenge of the DNR lease approval.   
    Access a release from Kennecott (click here). Access a release from NWF (click here). Access the MDEQ OGS Eagle Mine Information website for links to additional information (click here). Access the MDEQ Kennecott website for the Metallic Mineral Mining Operations Surface Use Lease Revised 01/28/08 (click here). Access the NRC Agenda for links to the Kennecott Mining and Reclamation Plan and Surface Use List (click here, scroll down to Director's Action Items). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on the Kennecott Mining Proposal for previous WIMS articles, links and background information (click here). Access links to various media reports on the decision (click here). [*MIAll]
 
EPA & MDEQ Approve Bay Harbor Cleanup UIC Well Near Alba - Feb 7: U.S. EPA Region 5 announced that it has approved a permit for Beeland Group LLC, of Jackson, MI, a subsidiary of CMS Energy, to construct and operate a Class I underground injection disposal well in Antrim County to dispose of treated contaminated ground water from an ongoing cleanup of a former cement kiln site at Bay Harbor, along Little Traverse Bay [See WIMS 1/17/08]. The permit only allows the disposal of nonhazardous liquid waste. Tinka Hyde, Acting EPA Water Division Director said, "EPA understands that people are concerned about the safety of underground injection wells. The agency has carefully reviewed Beeland's permit application, supporting technical information and public comments and has determined that the well can operate safely and will not harm sources of drinking water or the Jordan River."
    Star Township supervisor Richard Steel said, "We’re going to do what we have to to keep it out of the township.” The company proposes to send the wastewater deep underground, more than 1,000 feet below the closest source of drinking water. The well would be located a quarter mile west of the intersection of Alba Highway/County Road 42 and Patterson Road, east of Alba which is northeast of Mancelona. EPA said similar disposal wells operate elsewhere in Antrim County and are used to dispose of brine from oil and gas production.
    MDEQ also issued a release and Director Steven Chester said, "Our decision affirms that this proposal meets all existing environmental standards, however, we will continue to work with CMS to explore long-term disposal options. The contamination at Bay Harbor must be remediated to protect human health and the environment in a manner that is best for Michigan." CMS is a former partner in developing the Bay Harbor property and has taken responsibility for addressing the contamination problem. The company is currently evaluating long-term options for treatment and disposal, but intends on using the Alba well in the near-term in order to have a dedicated disposal well closer to the source of the problem. CMS currently disposes the treated water at the Grand Traverse Wastewater Treatment Plant and in a commercial disposal well located about 50 miles from Bay Harbor and 15 miles east of Gaylord.
    Access a release from U.S. EPA (click here). Access a release from MDEQ with links to the permit and response to comments (click here). Access a fact sheet on the proposal (click here). Access more information on the Bay Harbor cleanup (click here). Access more information from EPA (click here). [*MIWater, *MIDrink]

 
Groups Urge AG Probe Of Entergy Restructuring - Feb 7: Six environmental groups sent a letter to Michigan’s Attorney General, Michael Cox, urging him to investigate the corporate restructuring of Mississippi-based Entergy Nuclear, which owns and operates the Palisades nuclear reactor in Covert, as well as bears responsibility for the high-level radioactive wastes stored at the former site of the Big Rock Point nuclear reactor in Charlevoix. The groups said Entergy is seeking permission from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to spin off Palisades and Big Rock Point -- and several additional reactors in Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont -- as limited liability holding companies [See WIMS 1/16/08, Federal Register announcements]. 
    The groups say, the Clarion Ledger in Mississippi recently quoted Entergy CEO J. Wayne Leonard as saying "the [nuclear] plants in Michigan and the Northeast had been ‘the real cash cow’ driving Entergy's earnings growth over the past nine years." Michael Keegan of the Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes in Monroe said, "Incredibly, Entergy’s first name for this corporate restructuring was SpinCo. It couldn’t be more appropriate, as Entergy spins a web of illusory holding companies and legal gimmicks to shield itself from the catastrophic risks Palisades, Big Rock Point and other reactors pose to the Great Lakes and State of Michigan."
    The coalition urged Attorney General Cox to "open up the process for the maximum public scrutiny and understanding, as capitalization has direct implications for Entergy's ability to assume its share of liability for any nuclear accidents under federal law." They said the restructuring will have ramifications of control, ownership, liabilities, and ultimately, potential conflicts of interest." The environmental coalition also urged Attorney General Cox to consult with the Attorneys General of Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont on this Entergy Nuclear spin off of reactors in those states. The groups have also sought an extension from the NRC in order to submit comments and consider formal intervention. Groups involved in the coalition include: Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes, Don't Waste Michigan, Huron Environmental Activist League and Michigan Environmental Council.
    Access a release from the groups (click here). [*MIEnergy, *MIHaz/Nuclear]

 
Michigan Legislative Tracking (2/7)
 
Click on the bill number for complete status, full text, & analyses. Uppercase is Senate action; lowercase is House action. For a complete list of environmental legislation this session (click here).

IN THE HOUSE

SB 0047 of 2007 Economic development; tax increment financing; water improvement tax increment financing authority; create.  [2nd Reading]
 


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