Tuesday, March 13, 2012

WIMS Daily... Tuesday, March 13, 2012

In This Issue
Insurance Think Tank Report On Climate Risk & Other Extreme Events
Broad Coalition Offers Plan To Accelerate Plug-In Electric Vehicles
EPA Wants Comments On Draft AFO Emissions Documents
Rep. Waxman Wants Correction Re: EPA International Grantmaking
Cheap Jewelry Tests High For Toxics Chemicals
4th World Water Development Report From UNESCO
Scottsdale Indemnity v. Village of Crestwood
                      -- MICHIGAN NEWS --
Comments Wanted On Dow Midland Area Dioxin Cleanup Plan
Enviros Question Dow $10 Million Grant To UM
$500,000 For 7 State Clean Diesel Program Grants
Clinton River Watershed Needs Your Vote
ORR Recommends Eliminating 611 Obsolete MIOSHA Requirements
MRC Webinar To Make 2012 The Year Of Recycling

National / International News
Insurance Think Tank Report On Climate Risk & Other Extreme Events - Mar 8: The Geneva Association, which says it is the leading international insurance think tank for strategically important insurance and risk management issues, published the Geneva Report No 5: Extreme events and insurance: 2011 annus horribilis, a global and detailed picture of the major 2011 natural catastrophes and an analysis of the role and mechanisms of insurance in managing climate risk and other extreme events.
    The report comprises nine essays by leading insurance academics, economists and insurers that underline the significant importance of risk adaptation and management measures in developing physical and economic resilience to natural catastrophes, including the important role of insurance in such mechanisms. It also provides the implicit "lessons learned" from the catastrophes that will enable better risk assessment and adaptation to similar risks in future. The report indicates that 2011 was an unusual year with regards to the regional distribution of events and the proportion of geological activity in the total number of events but one consistent theme is the global need for adaptation and risk reduction measures. The report highlights how a clear and transparent allocation of risks and responsibilities among public authorities, private firms, including insurers, and individuals is a key component of any comprehensive disaster risk management strategy.
    The first section of the report, "Insurance and Extreme Events" provides a broad overview of both the economic and insured losses of the 2011 natural catastrophes and a description of the insurance role in managing extreme events. This is followed by an analysis of the potential of public-private initiatives to cover extreme events and the development of catastrophe bonds and other risk-linked securities as sources of capital to for insurance mechanisms. The second section, "2011 Events and National Studies", analyzes the five most significant natural catastrophes of 2011, namely the March 11, Japanese earthquake, the Australian and Thai floods, the New Zealand earthquakes, and the U.S. tornadoes. Each chapter provides a detailed description of the nature of the event, its impact on local insurance markets, and any lessons learned for the management of similar risks in future.
    Walter Stahel, Vice Secretary General and Head of the Risk Management Programme of The Geneva Association said, "Predictions suggest that by 2025 more than 5.5 billion people worldwide will live in cities and a large proportion of them close to regions prone to extreme events. It is also likely that powerful extreme events will affect several of these large urban areas in the coming decades. Governments and decision-makers should keep the dramatic events of 2011 in mind and recognize the potential seriousness of this situation. The insurance industry is one part of any solution for efficient catastrophe risk management. Without a real effort from all stakeholders, including governments, to develop and implement such programmes, it seems inevitable that the worst is yet to come."
    Michael Butt, Chairman of AXIS Capital Holdings and co-Chair of The Geneva Association's Climate Risk and Insurance Project said, "The nature and scale of the challenge of natural catastrophes is greater than can be covered by insurance alone. The principle reason for increasing damage and loss figures are more socio-economic changes rather than changes of natural variability. A closer cooperation and collaboration between governments, industry and insurers is needed to manage disaster risks and to reduce the financial impact of extreme events."
    Access a release from the Geneva Association (click here). Access the complete 147-page report (click here). [#Climate]

Broad Coalition Offers Plan To Accelerate Plug-In Electric Vehicles - Mar 13: A coalition including automakers, electric utilities, environmental groups, and state officials outlined joint recommendations to accelerate the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) nationwide. The PEV Dialogue Group, convened last year by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), presented its recommendations at a Washington, DC event featuring remarks by group members from General Motors, Southern California Edison, the State of Michigan, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The action follows the President's announcement on March 7, for $1 billion to deploy advanced cars & trucks. The President's 4 part imitative the involves a new incentives and a research challenge that invests in breakthrough technologies to make electric vehicles as affordable and convenient to own and operate as gasoline-powered vehicles by the end of the decade [See WIMS 3/7/12].

    The group's report, An Action Plan to Integrate Plug-in Electric Vehicles with the U.S. Electrical Grid, provides a roadmap for coordinated public and private sector action at state and local levels to ensure that PEV owners can conveniently plug in their cars without overtaxing the grid.  It recommends steps to ensure compatible regulatory approaches nationwide, balance public and private investments in charging infrastructure, and better inform consumers about PEVs.

    C2ES president Eileen Claussen said, "With plug-in electrics, we now have a mass-produced alternative to the internal combustion engine. This is a major opportunity to tackle both energy security and climate change, and to put American industries and workers out front on a truly transformative technology. But for PEVs to succeed, we need all the right parties working together. That's what this plan is all about."

    Nearly 18,000 PEVs were sold in the United States last year; over the next year or two, all of the major automakers plan to have models on the road. Some PEVs like the Nissan Leaf rely entirely on battery power, while others like the Chevy Volt have small backup engines to extend their driving range [See WIMS 3/5/12]. Broad deployment of PEVs, which use little or no gasoline, can significantly reduce U.S. reliance on imported oil and curb harmful tailpipe emissions. If accompanied by the gradual decarbonization of U.S. electricity, PEVs can also significantly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. But growth of the PEV market faces major challenges, including new infrastructure letting owners plug in at home and on the road while ensuring the reliability of the grid.

    The PEV Dialogue Group's Action Plan includes recommendations to:

  • Encourage state public utility commissions and other policymakers to establish a consistent regulatory framework nationwide to harmonize technical standards; streamline the installation of household and commercial charging stations; and use electricity rate structures to promote charging at off-peak hours.
  • Assist local policymakers and stakeholders in assessing local needs, developing tailored strategies, and optimizing public and private investment in charging infrastructure.
  • Provide consumers with reliable information on the costs and benefits of PEVs and the choices among PEV technologies.

    Roland Hwang, transportation director at NRDC said, "Instead of policies that increase our addiction to oil, we need to provide Americans more transportation choices. Putting millions of electric vehicles on the road will cut drivers' fuel bills, help the auto industry, keep billions of dollars in the U.S. economy, and curb emissions of dangerous air pollutants. By working together across the political spectrum to enact this Action Plan, we can create a vibrant market for electric cars, restore U.S manufacturing leadership and create thousands of jobs."

    Edward Kjaer, director of PEV readiness, at Southern California Edison, a major electric utility said, "The U.S. electrical grid is a national energy security asset and has the excess capacity, off-peak to support millions of electric vehicles right now. With the PEV Action Plan, C2ES has spearheaded an important effort that will help us all use this critical domestic resource for transportation and begin to reduce this nation's dependence on imported oil." Michael Robinson, VP of sustainability and global regulatory affairs at GM said, "GM is glad to work with groups such as C2ES that are working to advance the adoption of electric vehicles through real-world best practices and stakeholder education."

    Orjiakor Isiogu, a member of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) said, "It has been a pleasure to work with the other members of the PEV Dialogue Group and identify policies that will help seamlessly integrate plug-in electric vehicles with our electrical grid. I look forward to continuing my work within the group and helping it properly balance the needs of electricity customers and the opportunity presented by PEVs."

    C2ES will work with the PEV Dialogue Group and others to promote implementation of the Action Plan. Over the coming months, C2ES is working with the Washington State Department of Transportation to advise transportation officials in seven states on steps to accelerate PEV adoption, and with the U.S. Department of Energy to support DOE-funded Clean Cities Coalitions working in dozens of communities across the country to develop local PEV deployment plans.

    Access a release from C2ES and list of PEV Dialogue Group members (click here). Access an executive summary and link to the complete recommendations report (click here). Access a White House fact sheet on the $1 billion challenge with further details (click here). [#Energy/Electric, #Transport/PEV, #MITransport]

EPA Wants Comments On Draft AFO Emissions Documents - Mar 13: U.S. EPA has released documents and is requesting comments on the drafts entitled, "Development of Emissions Estimating Methodologies for Broiler Animal Feeding Operations" and "Development of Emissions Estimating Methodologies for Lagoons and Basins at Swine and Dairy Animal Feeding Operations." The documents contain EPA's draft emissions estimating methodologies for determining daily and annual emissions from a broiler chicken animal feeding operation and from a lagoon or basin located at a swine or dairy animal feeding operation (AFO). EPA announced the documents in the Federal Register [77 FR 14716-14717]. Comments must be submitted by June 11, 2012.
    EPA indicates that in January 2005, it announced the voluntary Air Compliance Agreement (Agreement) with the animal feeding operations (AFO) industry. Under the Agreement, participating AFOs were responsible for funding the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study (NAEMS) -- a 2-year study of animal confinement structures and manure storage and treatment units in the broiler chicken, egg-layer, swine and dairy industries. The study's purpose was to gather emissions data that the EPA could use to develop emissions estimating methodologies (EEMs).
    In accordance with the Agreement's monitoring protocol, the EPA developed draft EEMs for animal housing structures and manure storage and treatment units using the emissions and process data collected under the NAEMS and other relevant information. Once the draft EEMs are final, the EPA expects that the AFO industry will use the EEMs to estimate daily and annual emissions for use in determining AFOs' regulatory responsibilities under the Clean Air Act, the Comprehensive
Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.
   Access the FR announcement for more information and commenting instructions (click here). Access links to the extensive draft documents and appendices (click here). [#Air, Agriculture]

Rep. Waxman Wants Correction Re: EPA International Grantmaking - May 12: House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) sent a letter to Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) requesting that he correct continued misrepresentations made by the majority on EPA's international grantmaking practices and retract the erroneous June 2011 report produced by the majority staff.
    In his letter, Representative Waxman indicates, "During the February 28 hearing on the FY2013 budget for EPA, you called EPA's international grantmaking an 'example of EPA mission creep and abuse of discretion.' You cited a 'rise in spending for grants going to other countries' and stated that the 'agency shouldn't be spending taxpayer dollars on such foreign efforts.' Rep. McKinley stated during his questioning of Administrator Jackson that EPA gave $28 million to foreign governments last year.  During your questioning, you cited two EPA grants -- one for work in China and one for work in Thailand -- as of particular concern. These statements misrepresent the Obama Administration's track record in awarding grants for international environmental work. . ."
    Rep. Waxman indicated that, "First, as EPA Administrator Jackson testified, EPA has a long history of awarding grants to organizations and institutions, both here and abroad, to tackle pressing environmental problems. . . Second, I question the basis for your assertions that EPA's grant payments to foreign governments under the Obama administration represent a significant departure from grant-making under previous administrations."
    Rep. Waxman cited EPA information indicating, "EPA has provided the Committee with information on 500 grants to projects that have a foreign component.  In FY2011, the Obama Administration paid out $28 million to these grantees.  But not all of this money went to foreign governments, as Rep. McKinley asserted during the hearing.  In fact, a more careful review of these 500 grants shows that 84% of the funds paid in FY2011 went to organizations based in the United States.  Moreover, in some cases, these grantees appear to have spent only a small percentage of their funding outside of the United States."
    Access a release from Rep. Waxman with links to referenced documents (click here). [#All]

Cheap Jewelry Tests High For Toxics Chemicals - Mar 13: In Ann Arbor, MI, the Michigan Network for Children's Environmental Health and based Ecology Center released new research on toxic chemicals in low-cost children's and adult jewelry. Researchers tested for chemicals -- including lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, bromine and chlorine (PVC) -- which have been linked in animal and some human studies to acute allergies and to long-term health impacts such as birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, and cancer.

    Over half (57%) of the products tested had a "high" level of concern due to the presence of one or more hazardous chemicals detected at high levels. Four products contained over 10% cadmium, a known carcinogen. Fifty percent contained lead, with over half of these containing more than 300 ppm of lead in one or more components, exceeding the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) limit of lead in children's products. Jeff Gearhart, Research Director at the Ecology Center and founder of HealthyStuff.org said, "There is no excuse for jewelry, especially children's jewelry, to be made with some of the most well studied and dangerous substances on the planet. We urge manufacturers to start replacing these chemicals with non-toxic substances immediately."

    Ninety-nine pieces of jewelry were tested from 14 different retailers, including: Ming 99 City, Burlington Coat Factory, Target, Big Lots, Claire's, Glitter, Forever 21, Walmart, H&M, Meijers, Kohl's, Justice, Icing and Hot Topic. Samples were predominantly collected from retailers in Michigan, with 5 other states participating, including Ohio, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Vermont. The study measured the presence of the chemicals with an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer -- a proven, accurate indicator of elements in products. Anyone concerned about these jewelry products can visit the HealthyStuff.org and search by brand, jewelry type and chemical detected.
    According to a release, the CPSC indicates that parents and caregivers should not allow young children to be given, or to play with, cheap metal jewelry, especially when unsupervised. The CPSC states that: "Swallowing, sucking on or chewing a metal charm or necklace could result in exposure to lead, cadmium or other heavy metals, which are known to be toxic at certain levels of exposure." However, the groups indicate that in 2010 the CPSC declined to regulate cadmium in children's products, and instead has supported an industry developed voluntary standard. In response, six states have moved to regulate cadmium in the absence of Federal leadership, including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington State. In addition, a wave of consumer pressure is pushing a rewrite of the Toxics Substance Control Act (TSCA), the federal law that regulates chemicals in commerce. The TSCA reform bill, the Safe Chemicals Act (S.847), was introduced by Senator Lautenburg in 2011 and now has 15 co-sponsors.
    Access a release and link to extensive information (click here). Access the HealthyStuff.org website (click here). [#Toxics]

4th World Water Development Report From UNESCO - Mar 12: The 4th World Water Development Report (WWDR-4) was released at the 6th World Water Forum. The report highlights the need to recognize water as a critical resource and underlines the global dimensions of its management, including climate change as a "central external driver" affecting water and demands for water use. The report was released by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and UN-Water. The WWDR-4 has been published in three volumes: Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk; Knowledge Base; and Facing the Challenges.

    Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk, volume one of WWDR-4, provides an overview of status trends and challenges, including drivers of water consumption, water resource variability, water's social and environmental benefits, water management, institutions and capacity development, moving from raw data to informed decisions, and regional challenges. Part two of the first volume addresses working under uncertainty and managing risk, including risk and uncertainties associated with the key drivers, the problem of undervaluing water, transforming management institutions to deal with change, investment and financing for a sustainable future, and responses to risks and uncertainties, including through mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

    The Knowledge Base, volume two of WWDR-4, provides status reports of challenge areas and regional reports. It addresses challenge areas such as quantity, quality, human settlements, managing water along livestock value chains, the energy-water nexus, freshwater for industry, allocating water, valuing water, water infrastructure, developing knowledge and capacity, water related-disasters, and desertification and drought. The regional reports highlight regional issues, effects of external drivers, principal risks, uncertainties and opportunities, geographical hotspots, and responses.

    Facing the Challenges, volume three of WWDR-4, presents 15 case studies showcasing national efforts, as well as efforts at the river basin levels, from throughout the world, including: the Mara River basin shared by Kenya and Tanzania; Jordan; Pakistan, with reference to the Indus River basin; the Tiber River basin, in Italy; the St Johns River basin, in the USA; and Costa Rica. The case studies highlight challenges such as increases in the number of water-related disasters due to climate change and the importance of increased cooperation among countries especially on transboundary water resources.

    Access a release from UNESCO and link to related information (click here). Access Volume 1 (click here). Access Volume 2 (click here). Access Volume 3 (click here). [#Water]

Scottsdale Indemnity v. Village of Crestwood - Mar 12: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, Case Nos. 11-2385, 11-2556, & 11-2583. Appealed from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. The appeal in a diversity suit governed by Illinois law requires the Appeals Court to interpret the pollution exclusion from coverage found in most general liability insurance policies. The most common policy is the "commercial general liability policy" drafted by the Insurance Services Office and purchased by businesses to insure against losses arising out of general business operations. The policies at issue in this case are "public entity general liability policies," which are issued to municipalities to cover analogous risks and contain the same pollution exclusion as the commercial general liability policy.
    Two insurers sue for a declaration that they have no duty either to defend a series of tort suits brought against their insureds (the Village of Crestwood, Illinois, and past and present Village officials) or to indemnify the insureds should the plaintiffs in those suits prevail. The district court, holding that the allegations in the tort complaints triggered the pollution exclusion, granted summary judgment for the insurers, precipitating the appeals, which are multiple because there are a number of different declaratory-judgment suits.
    In 1985 or 1986 Crestwood's mayor and other Village officials learned from state environmental authorities that one of the wells was contaminated by perc (PCEperchloroethylene, also known as tetrachloroethylene). Village officials promised the state authorities that the well would be used only in emergencies. But instead, for reasons of economy, the well continued to be used as a source of the daily Village water supply -- without disclosure to the Village's residents. The well remained in use until 2007, and not until 2009 was it sealed.
    Hundreds of Crestwood residents, having learned of the contamination of their water supply from a series of articles in the Chicago Tribune, sued the Village and past and present Village officials in an Illinois state court seeking damages for injury to health. In a parallel suit the State of Illinois seeks an injunction requiring the Village to finance "a site inspection to determine the
nature and extent of contamination" and take "all necessary steps to remediate the contamination." All these suits are pending.
    In its reasoning the Appeals Court said, "The insureds might as well be arguing that because the Village has never manufactured perc it is responsible for none of the harms that dispersing perc might cause. That would be like a murderer arguing that his victim was killed not by him but by his gun. The Village "caused" the contamination of its water supply (it could have sealed the well a quarter of a century ago, when it discovered the well was contaminated) in a perfectly good sense of the word. . .
    Finally, in affirming the district court the Appeals Court indicates, "The insurers conceded at oral argument that the duty to defend would be activated if so enigmatic a complaint were allowed. The complaints actually filed, however, describe in copious detail the conduct giving rise to the tort suits, and in doing so inadvertently but unmistakably acknowledge the applicability of the pollution exclusion."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Drink, #CA7]

Federal Register Highlights
The following is a summary from our Daily REGTrak Bulletin* for:
Tuesday, March 13, 2012.
Federal Register
Vol. 77, Issue 49 
    1. AGRICULTURE, AIR - ND. EPA. Notice of Availability: Draft Documents Related to the Development of Emissions Estimating Methodologies for Broiler Animal Feeding Operations and Lagoons and Basins for Swine and Dairy Animal Feeding Operations PDF | Text |
    2. ALL - ICR. EPA. Agency Information Collection Activities OMB Responses To Multiple Agency Requests PDF | Text |
    3. AIR, TOXICS - NM. EPA. Notification of a Public Meeting and Two Public Teleconferences for the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee's Review of EPA's Integrated Science Assessment for Lead PDF | Text |
    4. AIR - ICR. EPA. Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; NESHAP for Natural Gas Transmission and Storage (Renewal) PDF | Text |
    5. AIR - ICR. EPA. Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; NSPS for Kraft Pulp Mills (Renewal) PDF | Text |
    6. DRINK - ICR. EPA. Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Public Water System Supervision Program (Renewal) PDF | Text |
    7. AIR - ICR. EPA. Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; NSPS for Grain Elevators (Renewal) PDF | Text |
    8. LAND, AGRICULTURE - ICR. EPA. Information Collection Request; Economic Assessment of Conservation Reserve Program Lands for Hunting PDF | Text |
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
Comments Wanted On Dow Midland Area Dioxin Cleanup Plan - Mar 12: MDEQ issued a release indicating that it has received The Dow Chemical Company's work plan to address dioxin contaminated soils in Midland. As part of the review process, MDEQ is accepting public comment on the plan through April 25. The work plan is for cleanup of soil contaminated by airborne emissions from Dow's historic waste management practices. It was submitted as part of corrective action work required under the company's Hazardous Waste Management Facility Operating License.

    The conceptual agreement behind the proposed cleanup plan was introduced at a public information meeting March 1, in Midland. If approved, the work plan will allow Dow to proceed with sampling soil at residential properties in the resolution area and offering cleanup for properties that test above the action level. MDEQ notes that, "Properties that test less than or equal to the action level and those that have had cleanup will not be considered contaminated under Michigan law." Sampling and cleanup work will be done only with the consent of the property owner. Soil sampling is expected to begin in June.
    Among other things, the work plan includes: A proposed Midland site-specific dioxin "action level" of 250 parts per trillion for soil; A soil sampling design plan for the affected properties; A description of the process to be used to trigger cleanup on individual properties; A description of cleanup activities to be taken and process to address deferred cleanups; and, A schedule for the proposed work, which is expected to run through 2017.
    MDEQ indicated it will host an April 17 public hearing to allow interested persons to submit oral or written comments regarding the work plan. The hearing is scheduled from 7-9 PM, at the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library Auditorium, located at 1710 West St. Andrews Street in Midland. Representatives from MDEQ and Dow will be available for a short pre-hearing meeting at 6:30 PM to answer questions.
    Public comments also will be accepted at Dow's Midland Resolution Center during three informal public availability sessions this month. The sessions are scheduled for: March 19, 11 AM to 3 PM; and March 28 and 29 from 4-8 PM. The Resolution Center is located at 1008 Jefferson Street in Midland. Other public availability sessions may be scheduled based on interest.
The work plan, related materials, and the public notice, which contains additional information on how to provide public comment, are available at the website below. MDEQ will consider and provide a response to all significant public comments as part of the work plan review and approval process.
    Access a release from MDEQ (click here). Access the work plan and related materials (click here). Access the Midland Resolution website for more information (click here). [#MIToxics, #MIRemed]

$500,000 For 7 State Clean Diesel Program Grants - Mar 12: MDEQ announced more than $500,000 in State and Federal grants were awarded to seven applicants around the State to reduce diesel emissions. The funding from the department's State Clean Diesel Program helps owners and operators of diesel engine vehicles and equipment to find ways to upgrade their engines so that inefficient diesel engines are replaced by cleaner-burning diesel engines and technologies. 
   The seven clean diesel grant awards include: City of Clare ($54,253) for a diesel engine heavy duty vehicle replacement; Greater Lansing Area Clean Cities of Grand Ledge ($118,153) for propane hybrid school bus replacements and diesel engine exhaust control equipment; Lenawee Intermediate School District of Adrian ($113,563) for diesel engine school bus replacements. City of Melvindale ($60,000) for a heavy duty diesel engine vehicle replacement; City of Morenci ($65,100) for a heavy duty diesel engine vehicle replacement; NextEnergy of Detroit ($112,020) for diesel engine exhaust control equipment; and Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision of Detroit ($95,919) for cleaner marine engines and idle reduction equipment.

    Since 2008, $3.9 million in State and federal funding has been awarded to Michigan diesel engine fleets through the U.S. EPA's National Clean Diesel Campaign and the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act Program. Another $1.9 million has been leveraged by both public and private diesel engine fleet owners, operators and their partners and invested directly in these projects. The efforts will reduce the amount of soot released by more than 64 tons over the lifetime of the affected diesel engines.
    Access a release from MDEQ (click here, post soon). [#Air]

Enviros Question Dow $10 Million Grant To UM - Mar 12: Environmental groups raised questions about the independence of the University of Michigan's sustainability efforts in light of the announcement that Dow Chemical will award the University of Michigan $10 million for sustainability education. Tracey Easthope, environmental health director at the Ecology Center, an Ann Arbor-based nonprofit said, "While a major gift to further sustainability education is laudable, it is important to assure the complete independence of the University. Multi-disciplinary sustainability education is critical for our future, but transparency is key. We urge the University to make public the details of this gift, including whether the gift comes with strings attached."

    The groups said in a release that the details of the relationship between Dow and the University of Michigan have not been made public, but groups are raising questions about the possibility that through the gift, the company could have inappropriate influence over University activities. The groups indicated that another major gift from Dow to UM -- $15 million to study the dioxin contamination in mid-Michigan -- continues to be controversial. Advocates are urging the University to signal that independence and transparency remains paramount, and to make public the terms of Dow's gift.

    The groups said that Dow Chemical's gifts to other universities have also generated controversy, including at the University of California, among other institutions. At Berkeley, a Dow gift created a new position in the Center for Responsible Business at Berkeley. The position is currently held by a Dow Chemical employee formerly from Dow's plastics division who leads a project on sustainable products and innovations and teaches a course in the program. Mike Wilson, director of the Labor Occupational Health Program at the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at the School of Public Health at Berkeley said, "At this point, industry support for infrastructure improvements at UC-Berkeley is critical. But influencing education and research is another thing entirely. The presence of a Dow executive on campus has been a source of continuing controversy and has had a corrosive effect, I think, on the University."

    Michelle Hurd, a member of the Lone Tree Council said, "Those of us living downriver awash for decades in Dow Chemical's dioxin view this sustainability partnership with a great deal of skepticism. The EPA has documented in detail the company's politics, delays and deviation from accepted scientific practice, all contributing to Dow's failure over decades to address their dioxin contamination in Lake Huron and Michigan's largest watershed. Dow has not earned a major voice in sustainability education."

    On March 12, Dow announced that the company and UM would bring together 300 students from all areas of study to help solve some of the world's most pressing sustainability challenges in a new and unprecedented fellowship program. Andrew Liveris, chairman and chief executive officer of Dow and U-M President Mary Sue Coleman told a Detroit Economic Club audience that Dow will provide a gift of $10 million over six years to support the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program at U-M. According to a release from Dow, the real-world, multidisciplinary program will leverage U-M's nearly $1.25 billion research portfolio to engage in and help solve some of the world's most pressing sustainability challenges, while driving innovation in Michigan and around the globe.

    Liveris said, "At Dow, we know that the most successful partnerships are formed when there is a foundational belief that business interests and public interests should be aligned in order to create long-terms solutions for the greater good of humanity. Our collaborative partnership pushes aside the standard thinking and supports unique models that will give rise to the next generation of innovators in Michigan and across the world."

    Dow indicated that the program includes fellowships for masters, doctoral and postdoctoral students and a supporting lecture series focused on sharing sustainability research and best practices. Under the program, teams composed of fellows at various levels from different disciplines would also compete for awards supporting high-impact sustainability solutions that address a sustainability challenge.

    Access a release with additional comments from other groups (click here). [#MISustain]

Clinton River Watershed Needs Your Vote - Mar 12: The Clinton River Watershed Council (CRWC) and the City of Rochester Hills have been chosen as one of six finalists to receive a $25,000 grant from MillerCoors, one of the nation's top brewers, and River Network, a national non-profit working to improve the health of local rivers and watersheds. The winner will be chosen through an online voting competition; the finalist with the most votes will win a $25,000 grant, while second place will receive $15,000 and third place will receive $10,000. The remaining projects will each receive $2,000. 

    The Clinton River project money would be used for the "WAIT WAIT… Don't Step There, Fish Here!" project which will address intensive traffic at Yates Park that has contributed to streambank erosion and subsequent destruction of fish habitat and water quality impacts. Streambank restoration, public access development and an ongoing public awareness campaign will help protect one of the most popular fishing locations on the Clinton River. Show your support by voting for Clinton River Watershed between February 21 and March 19. The competition winners will be announced on March 22 at RiverNetwork.org.
    Access the voting site with more information and a video (click here). Access the CRWC website for more information (click here). [#MIWater, #MIWildlife]

ORR Recommends Eliminating 611 Obsolete MIOSHA Requirements - Mar 12: The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Office of Regulatory Reinvention (ORR) released a report to Governor Snyder containing recommendations for improving Michigan's workplace safety regulations while continuing to protect Michigan's workers. According to a release, Governor Snyder has reviewed the recommendations and has asked the ORR and MIOSHA to work toward implementing the recommendations. The ORR made 624 recommendations for changes to 334 separate Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) rules that exceed the Federal standards. The recommendations contemplate the rescission of over 611 distinct MIOSHA requirements (this includes entire rules or parts of rules). The ORR made nine other distinct recommendations separate from the review of existing MIOSHA rules.

    Steven Hilfinger, Chief Regulatory Officer and LARA Director said, "Elimination of duplicative and unnecessarily burdensome rules will reduce costs for businesses and allow MIOSHA to focus on enforcing rules that are core to their mission of workplace safety. None of the rescinded requirements are present in federal OSHA regulations. Eliminating these Michigan‐specific amendments will result in less complex and more efficient regulations and will make Michigan more competitive in attracting and growing businesses." The ORR formed recommendations after a comprehensive review process, including convening an Advisory Rules Committee (ARC) of stakeholders that included representatives from manufacturers, unions, utilities, construction companies, pharmaceutical companies, municipal organizations and more, as well as senior officials from MIOSHA.

    Access a release from ORR (click here). Access the complete recommendations (click here). [#MIAll]

MRC Webinar To Make 2012 The Year Of Recycling - For Mar 13: The Michigan Recycling Coalition (MRC) is conducting a free "e-rally" webinar on March 27th to rally support for an initiative to make recycling a priority for Michigan lawmakers. Interested parties are invited to dial-in to this e-rally webinar to find out more about the opportunity, learn how to make a buzz about recycling, and pull away with a roadmap for driving decision makers into action. 

    Achieving a 50% recycling rate backed with sustainable funding is just one of the goals of the initiative to make 2012 the Year of Recycling. The year when Michigan understands that discarded material is a valuable resource and institutes a funding method that will support a best-in-class statewide recycling program. When the Statewide recycling message is being revved up in every hometown across the State it "will gain the speed and momentum to drive decision makers and Governor Snyder to release the parking brake and take action to support a comprehensive statewide recycling program." MRC said, "We're closer than we've been in a long time and with your help we can make a statewide recycling program happen in Michigan."

    In related news, it is noted that MRC Annual Conference & Trade Show will take place in Grand Rapids, May 8-10, 2012. MRC indicates that the Conference is the biggest and best opportunity of the year to engage in recycling issues with hundreds of public and private recycling professionals throughout Michigan.

    Access an announcement and register for the webinar (click here). Access the MRC conference website to learn more (click here). [#MIP2, #MISolid]

Environmental Federal Register, Vol. 77, Issue 49, Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Federal Register
Vol. 77, Issue 49
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
There are 8 announcements in this issue
    1. AGRICULTURE, AIR - ND. EPA. Notice of Availability: Draft Documents Related to the Development of Emissions Estimating Methodologies for Broiler Animal Feeding Operations and Lagoons and Basins for Swine and Dairy Animal Feeding Operations PDF | Text |
    2. ALL - ICR. EPA. Agency Information Collection Activities OMB Responses To Multiple Agency Requests PDF | Text |
    3. AIR, TOXICS - NM. EPA. Notification of a Public Meeting and Two Public Teleconferences for the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee's Review of EPA's Integrated Science Assessment for Lead PDF | Text |
    4. AIR - ICR. EPA. Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; NESHAP for Natural Gas Transmission and Storage (Renewal) PDF | Text |
    5. AIR - ICR. EPA. Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; NSPS for Kraft Pulp Mills (Renewal) PDF | Text |
    6. DRINK - ICR. EPA. Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Public Water System Supervision Program (Renewal) PDF | Text |
    7. AIR - ICR. EPA. Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; NSPS for Grain Elevators (Renewal) PDF | Text |
    8. LAND, AGRICULTURE - ICR. EPA. Information Collection Request; Economic Assessment of Conservation Reserve Program Lands for Hunting PDF | Text |
Contact us about a FREE Subscription with links
Until September 1, 2012 (click here)
32 Years of Environmental Reporting for serious Environmental Professionals