Volume 19, Issue 12, December 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. In this Issue you will find links to the following articles:
EPA Launches Smart Sectors Program in New England to Achieve Better Environmental Outcomes
Emphasis on maritime, food & beverage, and outdoor recreation issues
BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 1 office recently announced the launch of Smart Sectors New England, a partnership initiative between the Agency and regulated sectors that is focused on achieving better environmental outcomes. Based on the national Smart Sectors program, this approach provides a significant opportunity for EPA to consider more forward-thinking ways to protect the environment in collaboration and dialogue with key sectors of the economy in the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
In New England, EPA is engaging with the following business sectors: Maritime Industries, Food and Beverage Industries, and Outdoor Recreation. EPA New England will focus on best practices, convening forums and workshops to facilitate communication, raising public awareness and information sharing, and enhancing knowledge of federal environmental programs.
“EPA believes that if we better engage with important regional businesses, we can achieve better environmental outcomes,” said Alexandra Dunn, Regional Administrator of EPA’s New England office. “EPA’s Smart Sectors program is designed to effectively engage business partners throughout the regulatory process. When industries and regulators better understand each other, the economy, public, and the environment all benefit.”
“Growing New Hampshire’s outdoor recreation economy is an opportunity that will not only bolster our tourism industry, but can also be used as a tool to attract new business,” said New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu. “We welcome partnerships with the federal government and other stakeholders to accelerate this strategy and continue our efforts to grow New Hampshire’s workforce.”
Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and southeast, and Long Island Sound to the south, New England has an extensive coastline that supports robust economic sectors, encompassing a wide variety of uses that support coastal communities, including shipping ports, fisheries’ facilities, boatbuilding, ferries, tourism, recreation, and waterfront revitalization.
Food and Beverage Sector
In each of the six New England states, this robust sector includes the breweries, dairy farms, maple syrup operations, cranberry bogs, and many niche agricultural producers, in addition to many other food and beverage producers and retail providers who support world-famous products tied to the region.
Outdoor Recreation Sector
All six New England states champion thriving outdoor recreation economic sectors. New Englanders enjoy outdoor pursuits during all four seasons, in activities that include downhill and cross-country ski operations, river rafting, hiking and backpacking, photography, bicycling, and fishing and hunting.
A sector-based approach can provide benefits, such as: increased long-term certainty and predictability, creative solutions based on sound data; and, more sensible policies to improve environmental protection. Staff will: conduct educational site visits, host roundtables with EPA leadership, analyze data and advise about options for environmental improvement; and maintain open dialogue with business partners and their environmental committees.
Announced nationally in October 2017, EPA’s Smart Sectors program provides a platform to collaborate with regulated sectors and develop sensible approaches that better protect the environment and public health industry in ways that enhance sustainability, promote best environmental practices for businesses and educate others on how to expand clean recreational efforts across the country.
Massachusetts Emissions Settlement Funding Plan to Electrify Transportation Sector and Reduce Air Pollution
Settlement Funding to be Invested by Massachusetts in Electric Buses, EV Charging Station
BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration recently released the Commonwealth’s final plan to use the first portion of the $75 million secured for Massachusetts through the efforts of the Attorney General’s Office and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) as part of the national Volkswagen (VW) emissions case settlement to reduce vehicle emissions. As part of that plan, the administration announced the availability of $23.5 million in grants for the first phase of the 15-year timeline to spend the VW funds. MassDEP held public meetings across Massachusetts from January to March, 2018, and released a draft plan for public comment this past July.
“Combating the challenge of climate change is a priority for our administration, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector is a vital part of that challenge,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The Commonwealth’s mitigation plan will be a tool for making smart investments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, drive innovative technologies and expand the clean transportation system.”
Under the final Beneficiary Mitigation Plan issued today, the Commonwealth is committed to funding projects that:
- Help Massachusetts achieve greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets and reduce air pollution in the transportation sector;
- Promote electrification of the state’s transportation network;
- Drive technological and policy progress in air pollution mitigation and GHG emissions reduction in the transportation network;
- Serve environmental justice populations; and
- Promote equitable geographic distribution of the mitigation funds across the state.
“The VW mitigation plan reflects the Commonwealth’s continuing commitment to creating a healthy environment for our citizens,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “As our administration continues its efforts to promote an electrified transportation network, we look forward to bringing cleaner air and a safer environment to all communities across the state.”
“We held Volkswagen accountable for duping Massachusetts residents into driving dirty cars that illegally polluted our air, and then lying to regulators about its deceit,” said Attorney General Maura Healey. “This plan will help us invest in future generations by putting clean zero-emission buses on our roads and making electric vehicles more accessible to our residents.”
“The VW Mitigation Plan and its first-year goals are an important blueprint for further electrifying the transportation sector in Massachusetts, and build on our work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Significantly, the plan was drafted to ensure that all Massachusetts residents are breathing clean and healthy air by promoting geographic equity and favoring projects proposed in environmental justice communities.”
Using the $23.5 million allocated in the Beneficiary Mitigation Plan’s first phase of funding, the Commonwealth will dedicate:
- $11 million to support the replacement of diesel transit buses with new electric buses at the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) and the Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA);
- $5 million to supplement the network of existing electric vehicle supply equipment, with a focus on funding charging stations at workplaces, multi-unit dwellings, and publicly accessible sites; and
- $7.5 million to be made available for proposals that will be submitted in response to a VW Open Solicitation by MassDEP this year for eligible projects specified under the settlement agreement that reduce emissions from certain types of diesel vehicles, non-road equipment, and marine vessels.
“The VW trust fund provides a unique opportunity to greatly cut emissions across multiple transportation sectors,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “The projects can address pollutants from bus fleets, trucks, locomotives, cargo-handling equipment, and ferries and tugboats, and fund the installation of hundreds of electric vehicle charging stations across the Commonwealth.”
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice, acting on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the State of California and a multi-state coalition of states – led by Massachusetts and other states – sued VW for unlawfully installing defeat devices – software that allowed certain model-year VWs, Audis and Porsches to cheat emission testing and emit more nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution than was legally allowed by federal and state regulations. As a result of the settlements of the federal case, every state in the country was eligible to receive a share of a $2.925 billion environmental mitigation trust, based on the number of vehicles registered in the state and equipped with the software. More than 14,000 vehicles registered in Massachusetts contained defeat devices.
In addition to the federal settlement, Massachusetts – through the efforts of the Attorney General’s Office and MassDEP – reached settlements in the states litigation with VW that included significant consumer relief and the largest ever state environmental penalty of more than $20 million.
MassDEP, the lead agency for administering the VW funding, developed the draft Beneficiary Mitigation Plan after receiving hundreds of comments from key environmental, industry, and nonprofit groups in a series of public meetings held across the Commonwealth from January to March. The draft plan was released in July for public comments on how to invest the mitigation funds to improve air quality by reducing NOx emissions, the pollutant associated with VW’s use of “defeat devices.”
NHDES Proposes New PFAS Drinking Water Standards
Initiates Rulemaking for PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS and PFNA
CONCORD, NH – On December 31, 2018, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) initiated rulemaking to establish Maximum Contaminate Levels (MCLs) and Ambient Groundwater Quality Standards (AGQS) for four per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) and perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS) to ensure greater protection of public health related to the consumption of drinking water. Specifically, NHDES filed a request for a fiscal impact statement for the new MCLs with the New Hampshire Legislative Budget Assistant, meeting the January 1 deadline established in New Hampshire Chapter Laws 345 and 368 of 2018 (i.e. SB 309).
These MCLs are drinking water quality standards that non-transient public water systems (water systems serving the same 25 people at least 60 days a year) must comply with. An AGQS is the standard used to require remedial action and the provision of alternative drinking water at a contaminated site. It also dictates the conditions under which treated and untreated wastewater may be discharged to groundwater. Current law requires AGQSs be the same value as any MCL established by NHDES and also that they be as stringent as health advisories set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In 2016, NHDES adopted EPA’s health advisory for PFOA and PFOS as an AGQS ( 70 parts per trillion (ppt) combined).
To establish MCLs for PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS and PFNA, which by law then become AGQSs, NHDES had to also address the extent to which the contaminant is found in New Hampshire, the ability to detect the contaminant in public water systems, the ability to remove the contaminant from drinking water, and the costs and benefits to affected parties that will result from establishing the standard, and then develop a MCL for each compound that is protective of the most sensitive population at all life stages. The development of these standards was greatly enhanced by affected parties responding to NHDES’ request for studies and information to be considered in deriving the MCLs (www.des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/max-contaminant-levels.htm).
Using the most recent and best science available, NHDES is proposing the following drinking water standards that are protective of the most sensitive populations over a lifetime:
PFAS Proposed MCL and AGQS
PFOA 38 ppt
PFOS 70 ppt
PFOA & PFOS (combined) 70 ppt
PFHxS 85 ppt
PFNA 23 ppt
Within the next month, NHDES is expected to release a summary report on the development of the drinking water standards (MCLs) including an explanation of the health risk assessment for each compound and information on cost, benefit, occurrence, and ability to detect and treat these chemicals. The report will be posted on the NHDES PFAS webpage – https://www4.des.state.nh.us/nh-pfas-investigation/
The majority of the work NHDES has performed to date has been focused on deriving the individual standards for PFOA, PFOS, PFNA and PFHxS that protect the most sensitive population through their lives. During the rulemaking process, NHDES expects to continue researching health studies on these chemicals as well as risk management approaches that are scientifically valid that could address any compounding effects between chemicals. Further exploration on quantifying benefit to affected parties will also occur. This continued effort will be done in tandem with considering public comments received on the initial rule proposal. NHDES recognizes and thanks the many stakeholder groups who have participated to date, and hopes they continue to be engaged throughout the public comment process.
Public hearings on the proposed MCLs will occur in southern NH, at Pease Tradeport, and at the NHDES offices in Concord in early March, which will provide the public more than a month to review the proposal and companion report. Depending on the comments received, it is anticipated that the final proposals will be filed by summer. The effective date of the new rules has yet to be determined.