Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Thanks Sierra Club !!

Environmental Law Alert - Going, going… EPA Eliminates Another Source of Startup, Shutdown and Malfunction Exemptions from Clean Air Act

36 States Ordered to Remove SSM and Affirmative Defense Provisions from Their Rules
Alert   6/12/2015

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

EPA will not be able to approve Louisiana SIP as proposed for 1-hour SO2 standard

EPA has “identified a number of instances in which the State’s plan does not follow the EPA’s April 23, 2014, Guidance for 1-hour SO2 Nonattainment Area SIP Submissions and deviates from the modeling protocol approach previously agreed upon between EPA Region 6 and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. Unfortunately, we do not believe we will be able to approve the SIP as proposed. The enclosure to this letter details specific issues and recommendations we have concerning the proposed attainment demonstration SIP.” 
“We appreciate your work on the proposed attainment demonstration SIP and are committed to working with you to address the issues we have identified to ensure the plan is protective of public health in St. Bernard Parish.”       

EPA's comments on Louisiana's State SIP for St Bernard Parish Sulfur Dioxide:

If the State is unable to submit a plan that EPA approves, within 18-  and 24- month milestones from non-approval, EPA must develop a FIP (Federal Implementation Plan) and apply sanctions to St Bernard Parish. Sanctions could include, limited highway funded projects and grants, and, increased emission offsets for new or modified major industry in St Bernard Parish

On April 1 2015 Louisiana submitted its State SIP for St Bernard Parish Sulfur Dioxide:

We need a State SIP with appropriate modeling and permit limits that ensures a violation cannot occur. It is not enough just to now have a promise for reduced production rates, a higher stack, and a monitor without violations. We need federally enforceable limits to protect the air we are forced to breathe. 

Basically, it seems EPA is concerned with what was excluded from the modeling used for the SIP and what was excluded from emissions data for Rain CII calcining plant.  Based on EPA's comments, LDEQ did not include:

-           all four of Rain CII’s permitted operating scenarios. “LDEQ forwarded a document that summarized Rain CII modeling of these four scenarios but it does not appear to follow the parameters previously agreed upon”  The modeling only addresses ONE of the FOUR permitted operating scenarios at Rain.

-          It does not include “Enforceable limits” to address all operating conditions at Rain CII….  It does not clearly state pounds per hour for each stack and does not ensure the limits are to be complied with on a short term rate, such as a 3-hour average.

-          It does not include All major sources within 20 km; “LDEQ should follow the previously agreed upon procedures in the modeling protocol version from late January 2015”

-          LDEQ also did not include minor sources within close proximity to the violating monitor, but EPA previously agreed to this. There is no further information on what these minor sources are or how small business maybe effected in the future.       

-          The background monitor value was not calculated correctly. “LDEQ’s use of an annual average value for 1-Hour SO2 is not acceptable."   “This is a modeling demonstration to show compliance with a one hour standard. As a result, the modeling demonstration needs to show that under worst case conditions (i.e. the most difficult hours of the year) the NAAQS will be protected. As a result, it is not appropriate to use average background conditions as proposed in the SIP.”

-          Excluded modeling receptors inside Chalmette Refinery, considering Rain’s close proximity to ExxonMobil's Chalmette Refinery, “there should be a separate  run for each of the scenarios in the attainment demonstration that evaluates a set of receptors within the Chalmette Refinery”, but that excludes emissions from the Chalmette refinery.

-          Apparently, LDEQ has permitted several EGU turbine facilities in the area that have the capability to burn fuel oil with no hours per year restriction. The largest source is Entergy's Michoud facility in New Orleans East (although New Orleans was not included in the non-attainment designation). The Michoud facility has a permit allowable of over 39,000 tons per year SO2, but no restrictions on hours per year when the power plant switches from natural gas to fuel oil.  The SIP must either include restrictions in an Administrative Order or a permit……  otherwise, this could affect the ability of the area [St Bernard] to achieve and maintain attainment..

-          The modeling protocol is undated and has significant differences from the protocol that EPA approved January 2015.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Chinese sheetrock, Chinese flooring, and now Chinese Methanol

The Louisiana DEQ issued a permit to a Chinese company for a Methanol plant in St James Parish.

Ask no questions, tell no lies


The permit application claims lower emissions than what would require a review for more stringent pollution controls, but fails to include the emissions calculations in the permit record. Even EPA cannot obtain a copy and LDEQ maintains it is not necessary. Thankfully, two environmental groups filed a Petition to EPA to object to the permit.

Louisiana DEQ issued the permit anyway because the emissions data “ were certified as true by a responsible company official and a professional engineer. “ by the Associated Press  June 01, 2015   St James methanol plant challenged by 2 environmental groups


Environmental Injustice

The Chinese company had filed for expedited permits "to construct and operate a plant on a sprawling 1,100 acres — situated between a high school, two churches and an assisted living facility for senior citizens."  “We never had a town hall meeting pretending to get our opinion prior to them doing it,” said Lawrence “Palo” Ambrose, a 74-year-old black Vietnam War veteran who works at a nearby church. “They didn’t make us part of the discussion.”  China’s Louisiana Purchase: Who’s building a methanol plant on the bayou? Al Jazeera investigates ties between Louisiana and the Chinese government in a proposed $1.85 billion methanol plant January 26, 2015 5:00AM ET   by Massoud Havoun


The parish has since then voted to tax themselves to move the community high school and seem to think that’s enough responsibility for driving people out of their homes.  “School officials are planning to move St. James High School from the heavily industrialized location on the west bank of the parish to a 54-acre tract of land near La. 20 and La. 3127. A parish master plan has indicated more corporations will move to the already industrialized area and drive homeowners to other residential areas. “  By Kate Stevens January 21,2015 St. James School Board seeks to place bond proposal before voters. 


“But Black residents in the southern Louisiana region where the plant is to be built, St. James Parish, didn’t even find out about the project until after local and state officials and Chinese diplomats decided to move forward with it last July—helped substantially by a $9.5 million incentive package from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration.”   Typically, LDEQ air permit application copies are available at the public library and online if you know  about it and know the project number assigned. A notice is published in a local paper, but the average citizen is unaware local officials have already made agreements. China Is Building a $1.85B Methanol Plant in ‘Cancer Alley’ Louisiana But No One Bothered To Inform Its Predominantly Black Community   -- January 29, 2015 Posted by Nick Chiles




EPA ozone regulations

EPA and Ozone regulations. 

Senate subcommittee hearing December 2014.
The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review NAAQS standards (national ambient air quality standards) for ozone and for 5 other pollutants every 5 years to ensure they protect public health.
The current 75 parts per billion ozone standard has been too high since the day it was finalized by the Bush Administration back in 2008. That decision by the Bush Administration was so out of line that the scientific advisory committee actually pushed back after the fact, wrote a very unusual letter to Administrator Johnston telling him that he had made a mistake and that the number could not be justified. Given the priorities of that administration the scientific advice was not reckoned with so that’s where the standard was set, and since then since then we have had false comfort that the air we breathe everyday is safe. The revised standard is a significant improvement; it is based on extensive scientific research, including over a thousand studies published since the 2008 standard. 

Industry claims that an ozone standard that protects health will devastate businesses and the economy. When you look at history over and over again those claims have been shown to be exaggerated and usually the contrary is true. In terms of cost and benefits, the benefits of this rule in health and other areas are three time the costs. EPA analysis show that Health benefits translate into economic benefits, excluding California (which already complies), would be 4 billion to 23 billion higher than the costs in 2025. 


Thursday, June 11, 2015

lessons not learned

It’s hurricane season, and not all lessons learned are lessons implemented. so how  prepared are the refineries for rainfall totals and storm surges? how often are they supposed to inspect the berms, levees, and dikes? how long had this been going on? apparently they don't inspect enough 
At approximately 4:30pm on May 7, 2015, Valero received a call from a resident of a nearby trailer park reporting standing water along the rear fence line of his back yard. After clearing significant vegetation, a small breach was discovered in the east dike wall surrounding the [Valero Energy Meraux] refinery’s fire water pond. This pond consists primarily of Mississippi River water pumped into a lined impoundment. The damage to the dike appears to be the result of burrowing nutria.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

why wouldn't Louisiana support the clean power plan

Around the 21 minute mark:

“If your congressmen or governor or senator or stakeholder does not agree that this program is going to reduce green house gases the way you want, there is still reason to consider this program seriously, because you will get huge reductions in smog forming emissions, in fine particulates which are killing people, and in other air pollutants which are causing a lot of significant health problems throughout the country. “  --- Bob Becker, executive director NACAA, observations on the EPA Clean Power Plan

Monday, June 8, 2015

EPA Clean Power Plan and Louisiana House Resolution 49

Louisiana House Concurrent Resolution 49  Scheduled for call to Senate Floor June 8 2015

Urges and requests that EPA withdraw the proposed guidelines for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants. Urges and requests that, in the event EPA adopts the proposed guidelines, the governor and the attorney general use every means at their disposal, including taking legal action, to prevent the guidelines from being implemented


Why States Rejecting EPA’s clean power plan could face bigger rate hikes:  Here's a rundown of what might happen if states refuse to cooperate [with the EPA Clean Power Plan] ––and why it might be in their best interest to comply with the EPA’s rules.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

when the companies own the town

But it's never easy to criticize a company that plays such a huge role in a town's life. In the 2004 documentary "Libby, Montana" by High Plains Films, one resident explained:
"[W.R.] Grace was on the school board, Grace was on the hospital board, Grace owned the bank. And when you talked about dust control here and ... what [the dust] was doing harmful to these people here, the first thing to come out of their mouth was 'You gonna close that mine down, and you gonna put all these people out of work?' Well you didn't have very many friends here when you started talking like that."

Friday, June 5, 2015

Thursday, June 4, 2015

real time monitoring

Real Time Monitoring: A Game-Changer for Industrial Fence Line Communities

by Eduardo (Jay) Olaguer, PhD

Our field experiment, known as the Benzene and other Toxics Exposure (BEE-TEX) Study, is very different from air pollution studies in the past.  The study focused on the development and demonstration of updated methods for real time monitoring and modeling of health-threatening air contaminants and air quality at the neighborhood level.  HARC and its partner research institutions, including UCLA, the University of North Carolina, and Aerodyne Research, Inc., applied the latest real time monitoring and modeling techniques to the measurement and attribution of ambient exposure to air toxics, such as the notorious carcinogen benzene.  The ultimate goal of the project is to help improve air quality and public health in those and other near-industry neighborhoods.

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