Archive | August, 2011

What to do when EPA has sent you a violation notice.

31 Aug

During the course of my environmental practice, both at EPA and in private practice, I’ve seen too many regulated companies mishandle a violation notice, notice of violation, or finding of violation (terminology varying by agency and the division of an agency).  Companies have failed to respond, have provided an incomplete response, or have provided inaccurate information.  I have seen all of these permutations lead to administrative penalties (and associated legal and consulting costs) when no penalty was necessary.

Many regulated companies are under the mistaken impression that a violation letter is the end of the enforcement process.  That is incorrect.  In truth, EPA is still in the information gathering stage and has not made a decision whether to pursue an administrative penalty.  In addition, the agency enforcement team has a significant amount of enforcement discretion in determining whether the violations observed during an inspection warrant formal enforcement (i.e., a penalty).  Thus, the response to the violation notice is of crucial importance to the agency’s decision whether to pursue enforcement and should be treated as such.

Due to the significant legal and financial impact stemming from the response to a violation notice, this is the optimal time to engage an environmental attorney.  As an environmental attorney, we are best suited to understand how given facts do or do not constitute violations and can word responses most appropriately.  Furthermore, as a former EPA attorney, I have an excellent sense for how the agency decides to pursue formal enforcement and for which violations the agency decides to pursue a significant penalty.  As a result, I can tailor a response to a violation notice such that it minimizes the risk of formal enforcement.

If you have any questions regarding EPA violation notices, contact us at 773-609-5320, info@thornenvironmentallaw.com, or through our web contact form.

Disclaimer: This article cannot, and does not, create any attorney/client or consultant/client relationship.

 

 

OSHA’s new online recordkeeping tool

20 Aug

OSHA, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, launched a new online tracking tool to help employers better comply with its recordkeeping and reporting requirements. The tool, OSHA Recordkeeping Advisor, is intended to “simulate and employer’s interaction with a Recordkeeping rules expert.” The new tool does not actually keep any records and is completely confidential.

According to the OSHA press release, the new tool is intended to help companies determine: (more…)

EPA proposes to exempt captured CO2 storage from hazardous waste regulations

17 Aug

Under a recent proposed rulemaking, EPA has manifested its intent to exclude captured and sequestered CO2 from regulation under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Assuming that the CO2 injection wells meet stringent conditions, EPA concluded that the sequestered carbon would not pose a risk to human health or the environment. The rulemaking falls under the interagency task force on carbon capture and storage (CCS), which was developed to provide a consistent national framework for CCS development.

Injection wells will still be regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). In another recently finalized rule, the EPA designated a new class VI of underground injection wells. The permitting process for Class VI wells is intended to insure that the wells are properly sited and will not pose a threat to the environment or nearby drinking water sources. Overall, this represents fewer regulatory barriers for a CCS developer. (more…)

Illinois increases e-recycling requirements

15 Aug

Governor Quinn signed Senate Bill 2106 (P.A. 97-0287) on August 10.  Under the new law e- recycling requirements will now cover keyboards, fax machines, videocassette recorders, portable music players, video game consoles, electronic mice, scanners, digitial converter boxes, cable receivers, satellite receivers, digital video disc recorders, and small-scale servers.  The statute also requirers manufacturers to recycle at 40% of the total weight of the electronic devices sold in that category in program year 2012 and 50% in program year 2013 and beyond.

If you have any questions regarding the recycling of e-waste, contact us at 773-609-5320, info@thornenvironmentallaw.com, or through our web contact form.

Disclaimer: This article cannot, and does not, create any attorney/client or consultant/client relationship.

Recycling asphalt shingles: Illinois passes new statute

13 Aug

Gov. Quinn has signed House Bill 1326 (P.A. 097-0314).  Facilities that transfer, treat or store general construction or demolition debris were previously required to divert 75% of the incoming material for recycling and, in the case of wood, also energy production.  In an effort to promote the recycling of asphalt shingles, these facilities will receive double credit for all asphalt shingles recycled in accordance with a beneficial use determination under Section 22.54 of the Environmental Protection Act.   incoming general consturction or demolition debris and recovered wood can receive double credit for recycling asphalt roofing shingles.

Pursuant to permit and beneficial use requirements, the asphalt roofing shingles may be recycled by asphalt pavement producers.  In addition, IDOT is encouraged to make use of the the recycled asphalt to reduce its carbon footprint and costs.

If you have any questions regarding the beneficial use determinations and the recycling of asphalt shingles, contact us at 773-609-5320, info@thornenvironmentallaw.com, or through our web contact form.

Disclaimer: This article cannot, and does not, create any attorney/client or consultant/client relationship.

Grants for Illinois Green Manufacturers

11 Aug

The department of Commerce and Economic opportunity is tasked with promulgating guidance for the distribution of Green Manufacturing grants. In general, applicants can receive a grant of up to $250,000 for projects intended to have positive environmental benefits, such as improving air quality, waste reduction or the addition of renewable energy generation to a manufacturing facility. The goal of the grants is to reduce the overall manufacturing footprint and achieve cost savings at the facility. The regulations can be found at 20 ILCS 605/605-524.

Generally manufacturers with fewer than 500 employees are eligible to apply for a grant.  If you have any questions regarding the Green Manufacturing Grants or would like assistance applying for a grant, contact us at 773-609-5320, info@thornenvironmentallaw.com, or through our web contact form.

Disclaimer: This article cannot, and does not, create any attorney/client or consultant/client relationship.

The Global Reporting Initiative

9 Aug

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is fast becoming the standard for sustainability reporting. The GRI develops frameworks for reporting non-financial disclosures through a consensus-based process. The main reporting document, which was published in 2006 is available on the GRI’s website and is freely available to the public. This document lays the foundation for the metrics that an organization can use to measure and report on its economic, environmental and social impacts.

The technical guidelines, now in version 3.1, only provide the basic framework for reporting and are generally supplemented by sector supplements. These supplements are available for electric utilities, food processors, mining, and financial services, among others. Sector supplements are in the development process for several sectors including: airports, construction and telecommunications. (more…)

The Carbon Disclosure Project

1 Aug

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is a not-for-profit company created for collecting data on carbon emissions. The goal is then to have this data available for investors, who can use it when making financial decisions. At this time there are about 3,000 organizations involved in the CDP. Generally, the reports made the DCP are available to the public at the CDP’s website.

The CDP provides a consistent, global reporting framework. The advantages to this program are its comparability and credibility due to the amount of organizations participating. The major disadvantages of the program are its costs and the potential to disclose some of your company’s confidential business information. However, both of these drawbacks can be minimized. (more…)

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