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Environmental News, Regulatory News

Finalization of a New Rule Addressing the Clean Water Act Definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS)

February 18, 2020

On January 23, 2020 the United States Environmental Protection Agency and United States Corps of Engineers announced the finalization of a new rule addressing the Clean Water Act definition of Waters of the United States (“WOTUS”). The definition of WOTUS is considered to be one of the three critical jurisdictional terms in the Clean Water Act. It is also important because it is relevant to non-National Pollution Discharge Elimination System programs including: Section 404 of the Clean Water Act Wetland PermitsSection 311 Oil/Hazardous Substances Release RequirementsClean Water Act Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Regulations The scope of the definition of WOTUS has been the subject of frequent litigation, legislative oversight, rulemakings, and public policy debates since the enactment of the modern version of the Clean Water Act in 1972. This current version will also likely be met by lawsuits from environmental groups and some states while at the same time it is being championed by organizations representing farming and ranching interests, industry groups, and real…
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Regulatory News, Solid Waste News

U.S. House Passes Bill Targeting PFAS

January 17, 2020

On January 10, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill targeting per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The bill, H.R. 535, passed with a 247-159 vote. Despite the threat of a veto by President Donald Trump, 24 Republicans voted for the bill.  Significant items in the bill include: National regulation of some PFAS substances, specifically requiring the U.S. EPA to establish destruction and disposal guidance for a range of materials, including landfill leachate, biosolids, and "solid, liquid, or gas waste streams" from facilities that manufacture or use PFAS; Amend section 5 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to require a 'poses an unreasonable risk' finding and use prohibition in response to any new chemical notification for a PFAS, for a period of five years;Create a rule under section 8 of TSCA requiring manufacturers of PFAS to submit relevant data;Issue guidance for minimizing the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam; andRevise its Safer Choice standard to require that pots, pans and cooking utensils labelled with…
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Recycling News

Analysis of State Recycling Definitions: Environmental Research & Educational Foundation Report

December 30, 2019

The Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) identified and analyzed recycling definitions used by state agencies in an effort to document the various ways recycling may be defined. Definitions for “recycle”, “recycling”, and/or similar terms such as recyclables were identified through a search of state codes. Definitions were identified for 49 of 50 states. A definition was not found for North Dakota. Definitions were analyzed based on various components, including: What activities are considered to be part of recycling (e.g. collection, sorting, separating, processing, etc.),What are the end product(s) of recycling (e.g. raw material, product, commodity, substitute for commercial product),  the end uses considered as recycling (e.g. reuse, remanufacturing, composting, waste-to-energy), Are any special wastes specifically included in the definition (e.g. waste oil, household hazardous), andWhether recycling occurs to waste materials, or materials prior to becoming waste. State definitions of recycling were found vary widely, and based on EREF’s analysis there are at least 18 distinct ways that recycling is defined throughout the U.S. Activities…
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Environmental News

What are PFAS?

December 10, 2019

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a complex group of over 3,000 man-made fluorinated organic chemicals that have been used worldwide since the 1940s in industry and consumer products such as non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, cosmetics, firefighting foams, and products that resist grease, water, and oil. The most studied PFAS are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). PFOA and PFOS have been phased out of production and use in the United States but may still be manufactured and used in other countries. During production and use, PFAS can migrate into the soil, water, and air. Most PFAS (including PFOA and PFOS) are resistant to degradation, so they do not breakdown in the environment. As a result of their widespread use and persistence, PFAS are present at low concentrations in the environment and many food products. Additionally, PFAS are found in the blood of humans and animals throughout the world. Potential Adverse Health Affects Studies indicate that PFOA and…
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Regulatory News, Solid Waste News

EPA Publishes Rules for Existing MSW Landfills

August 29, 2019

EPA published two actions related to the 2016 Emission Guidelines for Existing MSW Landfills in August 2019. The emission guidelines for MSW landfills (40 CFR Part 60, Subpart Cf) require existing landfills (constructed, reconstructed, or modified before July 17, 2014) that reach a landfill gas emissions rate of 34 megagrams of non-methane organic compounds (NMOC) or more per year or closed landfills that reach an emissions rate of 50 megagrams of NMOC or more per year to install a system to collect and control landfill gas. EPA issued a final rule that aligns state plan timing requirements with the updated Clean Air Act section 111(d) implementing regulations that were finalized with the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. This rule revises the 2016 Emission Guidelines and Compliance Times for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills by updating cross references to the implementing regulations that refer to amended timing requirements for the submission of state plans, the EPA’s review of state plans, and the issuance of federal plans. EPA…
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Regulatory News

EPA Proposes National Compliance Initiatives for FY2020-2023

August 29, 2019

EPA has selected six National Compliance Initiatives (NCIs) for fiscal years 2020-2023 for the enforcement and compliance assurance program. The six NCIs advance EPA’s objectives to improve air quality, provide for clean and safe water, ensure chemical safety, and improve compliance with environmental laws, while sharing accountability between EPA, states, and Indian tribes with authorized environmental programs. Creating Cleaner Air for Communities by Reducing Excess Emissions of Harmful Pollutants: EPA will focus on reducing emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from significant sources that have a substantial impact on air quality and may adversely affect an area’s attainment with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards or that may adversely affect vulnerable populations. Additionally, EPA will focus on sources of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) that have a significant impact on air quality and health in communities. Stopping Aftermarket Defeat Devices for Vehicles and Engines: This initiative will focus on stopping the manufacture, sale, and installation of defeat devices on vehicles and engines used on public roads as well…
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Regulatory News

EPA Proposes Adjustment to Two-Step New Source Review Process

August 29, 2019

On August 9, 2019 EPA proposed the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Nonattainment New Source Review (NNSR): Project Emissions Accounting regulation to clarify and eliminate uncertainty relating to Step 1 of the New Source Review applicability process. EPA had previously issued the Project Emissions Accounting Under the New Source Review Preconstruction Program memorandum explaining that EPA interprets NSR regulations to allow emissions decreases, as well as increases, to be considered during Step 1 of the NSR applicability process as long as the decreases and increases are part of the single project being assessed. The August 2019 rule proposes revisions to the NSR regulations to codify this approach of including both increases and decreases resulting from the project. The rule also proposes to withdraw the Project Netting Proposal released in 2006. The comment period for the proposed rule closes on October 8, 2019.
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Regulatory News

What’s Going on with WOTUS?

May 2, 2019

Last year, Blackstone shared an article explaining that the definition of the waters of the United States (WOTUS) was in limbo. The 2015 Clean Water Rule attempted to provide a clearer definition of WOTUS but has been under numerous court challenges. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) published a proposal to rescind the Clean Water Rule in July 2017, and in February 2018, finalized a delay of the effective date of the Clean Water Rule to February 6, 2020 (the Applicability Date Rule) while they worked on a new rule to replace it. A year later we are still in limbo without a clear definition, but with one on the way. Over the past year there have been lawsuits over the Applicability Date Rule, a court case ruling that delay of lawsuits opposing the 2015 Clean Water Rule were unwarranted, a nationwide injunction issued for the Applicability Date rule, a court vacatur of the Applicability Date rule, court…
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Company News

Alternative Earthen Final Cover Services

April 23, 2019

Blackstone Environmental provides design, monitoring and evaluation services to landfills in the implementation and management of the Alternative Earthen Final Cover (AEFCs). Native grasses, wild flowers, shrubs and trees are key for areas surrounding landfills to eventually mimic the natural state before landfill development, and sustained biodiversity as a result of trees and grasses will provide food sources for different wildlife species. AEFCs are constructed to perform as well as Subtitle D caps and are more cost effective and sustainable over the long term. Additional benefits include final covers that provide a naturally sustainable, ecosystem-based design requiring less maintenance and offering improved structural integrity, water uptake, vegetation health, nutrient recycling and wildlife/aesthetic characteristics. For more information about Blackstone’s AEFC services, contact Kyle Kukuk at 913-956-6223. Photos: Taken at Hamm Sanitary Landfill (HSL) last month outside of Lawrence, Kansas. HSL has been approved under the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Research, Development and Demonstration regulations to construct an AEFC.
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Company News

Project Profile: Stormwater Channel Restoration

January 29, 2019

Blackstone Environmental recently provided water resource engineering to an industrial facility in Nebraska to assist in replacement of an undersized storm water culvert and restoration of channel riprap lining and vegetation. Project An existing channel crossing the culvert system, which consisted of multiple circular corrugated metal pipes, did not provide adequate hydraulic capacity or have the ability to pass woody debris downstream. The existing culverts needed replacement, and the client requested a box culvert to improve hydraulic capacity through the channel. Existing channel banks downstream of the culvert crossing were eroding due to lack of riprap and exposure to the elements over many years. The native soils are highly erodible, which was evident in multiple areas of the storm water channel. Services This project included water resource engineering, streambank stabilization and Corps of Engineers environmental permitting. Blackstone designed a new concrete box culvert for an access road crossing for the main storm water channel running through the facility. The existing culvert was undersized and was…
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