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EPA Week In Review: 12/09 - 12/13

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With the holidays comes a flurry of activity at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In case you missed it, here's the lowdown: This week, EPA joined the Department of Justice (DOJ) in announcing a major settlement for the Kalamazoo River Superfund Site. The $245 million settlement will advance cleanup efforts and fund future response efforts at the site. The Kalamzoo River site is on the EPA Administrator’s Emphasis List of Superfund sites targeted for immediate, intense action. 

On the policy front, EPA unveiled a revised regulatory text to ensure U.S. refiners are able to distribute cleaner marine fuel for use in ships operating outside of our Emission Control Areas (ECAs). This revision will allow for a smooth implementation of the Jan. 1 2020 (IMO 2020) global marine fuel limit for sulfur and is expected to lead to significant global health benefits.

Additionally this week, EPA announced the availability of $44 million in grant funding under Diesel Emission Reduction Program (DERA). The grants will fund projects that aim to modernize outdated diesel-engine fleets across the country, ensuring that all Americans are breathing cleaner air.


Cleanup of Kalamazoo River Superfund site: ‘It’s a huge deal’

What They're Saying About the Settlement...

EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Bodine: “This is a terrific settlement. It not only ensures that responsible parties will continue to clean up contamination at the Kalamazoo River Superfund site, but also ensures that both past and future costs incurred by the EPA and the state will be recovered.”

Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division: “This agreement marks a milestone in efforts to clean up Superfund sites in the Great Lakes region... Under this settlement, cleanup and restoration efforts will be accelerated and that’s really good news for communities in the region and the environment.”

EPA Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp: “Today’s agreement is a big step towards cleaning up the Kalamazoo River. This Administration is committed to cleaning up and restoring contaminated sites so they can be put back to productive use in the community.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel: “This settlement is an important step for the State and the federal government in cleaning up contamination in and near the Kalamazoo River. I look forward to continued cooperation with our federal partners on this site to benefit our communities... and to protect public health, safety, and welfare.”

Michigan Environment, Great Lakes & Energy Director Liesl Clark: “This settlement represents substantial progress in the cleanup and restoration of the Kalamazoo River... It also provides funds for the selection of natural resource projects to restore natural resources and help compensate the public for lost recreational opportunities within this important Southwest Michigan watershed.”

AP: Company to pay $245M toward cleanup of Kalamazoo River PCBs: “The agreement represents a significant milestone in the overall cleanup, which is expected to end up costing about $851 million... The Kalamazoo River project is among those on the Superfund list designated by the Trump administration for special attention because of cleanup delays, [deputy assistant administrator in the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance John] Irving said.”

Michigan Live: $245M cleanup of Kalamazoo River Superfund site: ‘It’s a huge deal’The proposed settlement will allow for the selection of projects to benefit injured natural resources and help compensate the public for lost recreational opportunities along the Kalamazoo River, [EGLE Director Liesl] Clark said. A $27 million portion of the settlement amount would fund the Kalamazoo River Natural Resource Trustee Council. Of that, $25 million would go toward planning and completing several environmental restoration projects, EGLE said, to address natural resource damage.


EPA to Award $44 Million in DERA Grants

This week, EPA announced the availability of grant funding to implement projects aimed at reducing emissions from the nation’s existing fleet of older diesel engines. EPA anticipates awarding approximately $44 million in DERA grant funding to eligible applicants.

EPA is soliciting applications nationwide for projects that significantly reduce diesel emissions and exposure, especially from fleets operating at goods movements facilities in areas designated as having poor air quality. Applicants may request funding to upgrade or replace diesel-powered buses, trucks, marine engines, locomotives and nonroad equipment with newer, cleaner technologies. Priority for funding will also be given to projects that engage and benefit local communities and applicants that demonstrate their ability to promote and continue efforts to reduce emissions after the project has ended.


U.S. Refiners to Deliver Cleaner Marine Diesel Fuel with Key Regulatory Change

To aid the smooth implementation of the Jan. 1 2020 (IMO 2020) global marine fuel limit for sulfur that takes effect January 1, 2020, EPA is revising key regulatory text to ensure that U.S. refiners and suppliers can permissibly distribute cleaner global marine fuel for use in ships operating outside of our Emission Control Areas (ECAs). The international sulfur content limit for fuel used outside ECAs is currently 35,000 parts per million (ppm) and is decreasing to 5,000 ppm. This reduction is expected to lead to significant health and welfare benefits globally.

“These targeted regulatory corrections will clear the way for U.S. refiners to provide cleaner marine fuel for ships that sail across the globe,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Hitting this key deadline is vital to meeting the terms of this important treaty that protects air quality and human health both at home and abroad.”

These technical corrections to the diesel fuel regulations will allow fuel suppliers to distribute distillate diesel fuel that complies with the 5,000 ppm international sulfur standard for ships instead of the fuel standards that otherwise apply to distillate diesel fuel in the U.S.

Read more here.


Highlights from Around the Country

INDIANA: EPA awards $100,000 to help endangered species at Gary nature preserve: “The money will go to reduce invasive species, improve habitat and removal of targeted fish and wildlife that affect the ecosystem's chemical, physical and biological makeup. The grant is part of the agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative... ‘With this grant, EPA is reaffirming its commitment to protecting and restoring Lake Michigan so it can continue to be a source of vitality for generations to come,’ EPA Region 5 Chicago Administrator Cathy Stepp said.’” (Chicago Tribune, 12/11/19)

OKLAHOMA: Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma receives funding from EPA: “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded more than $75,000 to the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma to support water quality programs. The funding will help the tribe maintain, protect and improve the water quality of waterbodies on tribal land, including rivers, lakes, and groundwater. ‘Clean water is a precious resource, and the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma is committed to protecting and maintaining it in their lakes, rivers and streams,’ said Regional Administrator Ken McQueen. ‘EPA is proud to continue supporting their environmental efforts.’” (Tahlequah Daily Press, 12/12/19)

WASHINGTON: Auburn to receive $3 million in EPA funding to improve drinking water distribution system: “The city of Auburn will receive $3 million in funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to replace more than 700 gooseneck fixtures in the city’s distribution system that will help reduce the risk to human health from exposure to lead in drinking water.” (Auburn Reporter, 12/09/19)


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