TOPIC: Environmental Protection Agency

EPA troubled by Wisconsin’s clean water regs

In 1974, Wisconsin became the sixth state in the country to administer its own water pollution regulations under a clause in the federal Clean Water Act. Lee Bergquist of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that this arrangement has proven problematic: the U.S. EPA wrote a letter to the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources two weeks ago that cites 75 apparent omissions and deviations from federal law.

The important issue here is whether Wisconsin is keeping its water clean. Judging from Bergquist’s piece, though, the EPA might be more upset with Wisconsin’s processes and protocols than the effect of regulating in a different way.

Meanwhile, progress in cutting auto pollution

In the midst of the ruckus over the debt ceiling, Barack Obama announced strong new fuel efficiency standards for automobiles. This is something of a “man bites dog” story at a time of major cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency and Congress’s apparent inability to avoid a federal default. TIME’s Michael Grunwald writes that the standards represent “a big victory in the fight to reduce our foreign oil addiction, our carbon emissions, and our gasoline costs.” The success in writing such an ambitious law — that cars must go 55 miles per gallon by 2025 – seems largely due to the fact that Detroit automakers are literally indebted to the Obama administration, not to mention efforts by California to up tailpipe emission standards.


California calls dibs on nation’s first hexavalent chromium limit

A framework for the nation’s first-ever limit on how much cancerous hexavalent chromium can be in drinking water was released yesterday by state environmental officials in California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Wyatt Buchanan.

The California Environmental Protection Agency set a goal of .02 parts-per-billion, and will now work with state public health authorities to set a legally enforceable limit. (more…)

Beach (clean-up) reading

This blog has looked a lot at the federal money available, and unavailable, to clean the Great Lakes. Laura Fosmire of Wisconsin’s Ashland Current has an in-depth look at the issue of money for monitoring beach contamination, clearly an unavoidable issue, especially with the atrocious heat wave that has hit the Great Lakes region in the last week.

Naturally, there’s a major funding issue here: Ohio gets almost as much money as Michigan, even though Michigan has three times as many beaches. The funding formula used by the EPA doesn’t sufficiently take into account the fact that Michigan and Wisconsin have a lot of beaches — many which become very popular when it gets up to 95 degrees each day.

Illinois takes new stab at using all its coal

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill yesterday that lets Chicago Clean Energy build a $3 billion coal gasification plant in a rundown section of southeast Chicago, reports the Chicago Tribune. The Illinois EPA, though, opposes the bill: They do not want Chicago Clean Energy (a subsidiary of the Leucadia National Corp. holding company in New York) to add pollution to an already highly polluted area. Environmental groups and consumer advocates also oppose the plant as too environmentally costly and too expensive. The gasification plant appears to be another flawed idea as Illinois figures out what do with its coal resources. (more…)

Cost-benefit analysis of new EPA air rule

Lee Bergquist and Thomas Content of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analyze the local impact of the new EPA rule to fight ozone and particle pollution from power plants. The authors focus on the higher electric bills that may result from the regulation. But the more important issue seems to be whether EPA’s claim is true that the “rule will save up to 34,000 lives a year.” That seems well worth a slight increase in fees to Wisconsin electricity users.

Sea turtles come before sea-based energy sources

A proposed settlement between environmental groups and the federal government over protecting much of the waters off of California’s coast for endangered leatherback sea turtles could scupper plans to harness the Pacific as an energy source, writes John Upton of The Bay Citizen.

Essentially, the plan would designate over 70,000 square miles of ocean as critical habitat, including the entire coast of Washington, two thirds of Oregon’s and about two thirds of California’s. (more…)

What is the EPA? It’s the Environmental Protection Agency

Businesses survive if they are healthy in every possible way.  They need ideas, energy, people, and the ability to solve problems. This includes problems posed by government regulation.  The head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, is facing a lot of heat from business leaders, as John Broder’s thoughtful overview in the New York Times makes clear.   But whatever the EPA does, it’s not trying to make life difficult for businesses — it’s trying to protect the environment.  And in the end, as Elizabeth Shogren reports on NPR, EPA’s regulations don’t actually make life all that hard for businesses.

Five feet high and rising (the ocean, that is) at Hampton Roads

Darryl Fears reports on a realistic approach to climate change in a great Washington Post snapshot of the area around Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Including the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, this part of the country is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels because the land itself is sinking due to long-term geological processes. In a few generations, Virginia Beach could be left without a beach, and the Norfolk Naval Station could be more underwater than even the Navy likes to be. (more…)

Army Corps v. California trees

Six years and thousands of miles away from the poorly designed flood walls and levees whose post-Katrina failure inundated New Orleans, environmental groups in California have filed a federal lawsuit to prevent what they contend is an unproven, costly and potentially damaging flood protection strategy ordered by US Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps, under scrutiny after a natural disaster became a man-made catastrophe, decreed in 2007 that local levee districts would in the future lose guarantees of federal aid and loans unless all trees and shrubs were removed from levees under its nominal jurisdiction around the nation. (more…)