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In The Works

Volume 19, Issue 3 - March 2018

In The Works is a monthly newsletter providing Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) news and regulatory updates. The newsletter is provided by Loureiro Engineering Associates, Inc. of Plainville, Connecticut.


EPA Administrator Pruitt: GHG Emissions Standards for Cars and Light Trucks Should Be Revised

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is announcing the completion of the Midterm Evaluation (MTE) process for the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2022-2025, and his final determination that, in light of recent data, the current standards are not appropriate and should be revised. Administrator Pruitt is also announcing the start of a joint process with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop a notice and comment rulemaking to set more appropriate GHG emissions standards and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

“The Obama Administration's determination was wrong,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Obama’s EPA cut the Midterm Evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality, and set the standards too high.”

Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), EPA sets national standards for vehicle tailpipe emissions of certain pollutants. Through a CAA waiver granted by EPA, California can impose stricter standards for vehicle emissions of certain pollutants than federal requirements. The California waiver is still being reexamined by EPA under Administrator Pruitt’s leadership.

“Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country. EPA will set a national standard for greenhouse gas emissions that allows auto manufacturers to make cars that people both want and can afford — while still expanding environmental and safety benefits of newer cars. It is in America's best interest to have a national standard, and we look forward to partnering with all states, including California, as we work to finalize that standard,” said Administrator Pruitt.


Connecticut Governor Malloy and Commissioner Klee Criticize Trump Administration Decision to Weaken Tailpipe Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards

Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Rob Klee are criticizing a decision recently announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to roll-back greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards for automobiles.

“As we have seen too often from the Trump administration, the EPA’s announcement today again abdicates its leadership role on climate, energy and the environment,” Governor Malloy said. “States have long led the way on many important issues, including climate change. President Trump is once again putting the interests of big business ahead of the health and economic interests of the American people. This shortsighted decision will lead to decreasing fuel efficiency, which means more frequent stops at the gas station and higher gas bills for Connecticut drivers. We will continue to work with California and other like-minded states to safeguard the protections provided by the federal Clean Air Act and the Advanced Clean Car program.”

“Human-induced climate change is the most significant environmental issue we face today, and taking action now to mitigate the most damaging impacts of climate change offers one of the greatest opportunities for reshaping, reenergizing, and transforming our economy to create the green jobs and green industries of the future,” Commissioner Klee said. “While this administration may actively try to prevent states from exerting their sovereign rights to fill the void created by federal inaction, we will continue to do our part as a national leader to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change, and look forward to a time when our federal government again allows science and not the demands of the auto industry to drive the important goals and objectives of the advanced clean cars program.”

California is allowed to set their own motor vehicle tailpipe standards in recognition of their unique air quality challenges and of their early efforts that pre-dated the federal Clean Air Act. Connecticut and 11 other states are authorized to adopt California’s standards under section 177 of the federal Clean Air Act provided U.S. EPA first issues a waiver to California under section 209 of the federal Clean Air Act indicating California’s standards are at least as stringent as federal standards.

The standards at issue are part of a broader agreement made in 2012 among the State of California, U.S. EPA, U.S. DOT/NHSTA and the major auto manufacturers. Under this agreement, California and the federal government agreed to harmonize state and federal tailpipe emission standards for greenhouse gases with federal fuel efficiency standards. The State of California agreed to find vehicles certified as meeting the federal tailpipe standards as being deemed in compliance with the California standards (also adopted by 12 other states, and when combined represent 35% of the national light duty vehicle market). The agreement included a mid-term evaluation during which California assessed three elements of the clean cars program: the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) regulation, the one milligram per mile (mg/mi) particulate matter (PM) standard, and the light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards for 2022 and later model years. U.S. EPA agreed to conduct a similar review of the standards for model year 2022-25.

California’s technical staff worked with U.S. EPA and NHTSA to review the federal light-duty greenhouse gas standards for 2022 through 2025 model years. This review included collaborating on a second joint Technical Assessment Report (TAR) to re-assess the technical assumptions and analysis used to develop the greenhouse gas standards. The Draft (Joint) TAR was published for public comment in July 2016. After reviewing public comments, U.S. EPA updated their analysis and published for public comment in November 2016 a Proposed Determination that the 2022 through 2025 federal standards remain as adopted. Subsequent to a review of public comment, U.S. EPA concluded their midterm evaluation and published a Final Determination in January 2017 that affirmed the existing federal greenhouse gas standards would remain as adopted. In March 2017, EPA rescinded the Final Determination, and announced that a “new” Final Determination would be published by April 1, 2018.


Massachusetts Establishes Innovative Residential Recycling Program

The Baker-Polito Administration recently announced a new resource through the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to help cities and towns across the Commonwealth increase the quality of the residential recycling stream. The Recycling IQ Kit will help municipalities educate residents on how to better recycle in order to remove contaminants from the recycling stream and make those materials more attractive to the world’s commodity markets.

The program funding of $187,500 involves awards of $40,000 each to Dartmouth, Lowell, Lynn and New Bedford, $20,000 to Halifax, and $7,500 to Chatham. Additional funding is available to more communities that signup to implement the strategies included in the Recycling IQ Kit program.

“The Commonwealth is committed to sustainability and protection of our environment, and working collectively, we can continue to increase the economic value and environmental benefit of recycling in all of our communities,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The Recycling IQ Kit is an innovative way to help cities and towns reach these important goals.”

“Cities and towns lead the way when it comes to recycling, so we are proud to offer this new program to help reduce their recycling costs,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The Recycling IQ Kit is designed for communities to easily provide feedback and information so residents better understand what can go into the recycling cart.”

The Commonwealth encourages residents do their part to recycle at home, work or school, however, items are often placed in recycling bins that can contaminate the valuable materials and add handling costs at the local recycling facility. The Recycling IQ Kit provides steps, tools and resources to “Increase the Quality” or IQ of the materials collected locally.

“Massachusetts residents are eager to recycle, but at times, recycling can be confusing and putting unwanted items in a recycling container can increase costs,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The Recycling IQ Kit will help residents make good recycling decisions to reduce trash costs and create greater recycling value.”

“MassDEP is committed to working with municipal recycling officials, haulers and recycling facilities to clean up the materials stream and insure a healthier recycling industry,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “With a robust recycling infrastructure in Massachusetts, it’s more important than ever to protect the investments made by local and state government and private industry and keep the supply chain of good, clean recyclables flowing to end-users to make new products and packaging.”

The Recycling IQ Kit was created by MassDEP and The Recycling Partnership, and it has been tested in nearly a dozen Massachusetts communities. Municipalities can apply for funding of $7,500 to $40,000 to implement the Recycling IQ program, which involves providing direct feedback to residents by leaving “oops” tags on recycling carts letting them know what should and should not be recycled. The funding also pays for production of signage, mailers and banners and for staff to monitor recycling carts and distribute educational materials.


New Hampshire Joins Northeast States, Major Automakers in Initiative to Help Drive Change by Driving Electric

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has announced its role as a state campaign partner in a historic initiative between Northeast States and automakers to increase electric car use throughout the region. The "Drive Change. Drive Electric." Campaign, launched at the New York International Auto Show, will focus on the benefits of electric cars and advancing consumer awareness, understanding, consideration and adoption of these vehicles in the region. Together, states and automakers are working toward a sustainable future with more battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles on the roads, as well as more infrastructure support in place. The campaign launch coincides with the Auto Show, where automakers are featuring a broad range of electric cars.

The "Drive Change. Drive Electric." campaign is designed to focus attention on the availability of a growing variety of desirable electric models, tax and purchase incentives, a rapidly-expanding network of charging stations and economic benefits – including fuel price savings – for current and next generation drivers. The campaign will showcase the performance benefits and affordability of these vehicles that are easy to maintain and come in a range of models that fit the needs of any lifestyle. The "Drive Change. Drive Electric." campaign will encourage the public to test drive an electric car.

Automakers offer over 30 high-quality electric cars in almost every vehicle segment and many more are coming over the next few years. However, transforming mobility requires more than large numbers of high-quality cars.  Customers must be aware of and comfortable with the new technology and understand how it benefits them and their family. Automakers alone cannot drive this awareness, so the partnership in the 'Drive Change. Drive Electric.' campaign offers a perfect avenue to collectively fuel consumer knowledge of electric cars and their benefits," said Mitch Bainwol, president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an automotive trade association representing 12 automakers.

"Electric cars are a growing segment of the Northeast car market, but far too many drivers remain unfamiliar with the benefits of driving electric. Increasing sales of electric cars will deliver critical environmental and economic benefits across the region," said Arthur Marin, Executive Director of the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) on behalf of the state campaign partners. "The Northeast has long teamed with the automobile industry in pioneering the development of advanced technology vehicles, and electric drive is the ultimate in clean, efficient and high performance personal transportation. The unique partnership behind this campaign will promote market transformation that benefits consumers and industry alike, and also provides significant air quality benefits across the region. Together we can help more drivers see themselves in electric cars."

The 'Drive Change. Drive Electric.' campaign will initially focus in the Northeast region. Elements of the program include a newly-launched website, advertising, social media, strategic partnerships, events and other content efforts. The platforms will work together to connect the public with information to help them experience and consider an electric car as their next vehicle purchase, reaching those beyond today's enthusiastic and early adopters, to generate excitement about joining the electric car movement.