EPA Issues New Designation for “Most Efficient” Appliances

Environmental Law

 

This month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) introduced a new designation for top energy-efficient appliances. The moniker “Most Efficient” will be placed on the top performing appliances in seven categories, including clothes washers, central air conditioning units, refrigerator-freezers, and televisions. The “Most Efficient” label will be placed on those products already within the Energy Star program. The true objective of this program is to incentivize manufacturers to develop more energy efficient products and bring them to market. Although this program is currently in its pilot phase, it is obvious the potential impact it may have in driving energy efficiency standards higher, saving both the consumer and the environment. Currently 15 washers, 18 televisions, and 4 central air conditioners are already listed as Energy Star Most Efficient.

For more information on energy efficiency and federal energy standards, please contact Miriam Villani or Jason Kaplan.

Posted by Miriam Villani

Proposed Solid Waste Rulemaking to Promote Hazardous Waste Recycling

Environmental Law

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) proposed a modification of the 2008 Definition of Solid Waste (“DSW”) rule of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”). The DSW is critical in determining whether a waste is subject to regulation under Subtitle C of RCRA. This rulemaking is being done in an effort to encourage recycling of hazardous waste and to promote the economic, environmental, and public health benefits of waste recycling. The new provisions will attempt to improve the 2008 rule, focusing on more stringent oversight of hazardous waste recycling and greater transparency in the storage and transport of hazardous waste. Under the new rule, companies recycling on-site will be subject to enhanced storage and recordkeeping requirements. Those facilities shipping waste off-site will be required to transport waste to a permitted hazardous waste recycling facility.

Additionally, an impetus for this rule modification lies with environmental justice concerns, as the prior rule may have had a disparate impact on low-income and minority communities. USEPA is focusing more closely on how its regulations may disproportionally affect these vulnerable communities. Through an environmental justice analysis, USEPA is using its policy discretion to remedy these concerns. The USEPA has engaged in such an analysis for the 2008 DSW rule, and has drafted an environmental justice analysis methodology report for review and comment. The 60-day comment period for the proposed provisions will begin once the proposal is published in the Federal Register.  The docket for the rulemaking is EPA-HQ-RCRA-2010-0742 and can be accessed at http://www.regulations.gov/ once the proposal is published.

For more information on hazardous waste recycling and RCRA waste disposal requirements, please contact Miriam Villani or Jason Kaplan.

Posted by Miriam Villani

Using Green Space to Improve Water Quality in the Bronx and Harlem Watersheds

Environmental Law

 

Instead of building hard cement pipes and sewer lines, a new federal partnership, as part of its urban waters initiative, will be developing green spaces in order to help cities meet Clean Water Act requirements. This past week the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) announced the Bronx and Harlem River watersheds in New York would be a site for a pilot program for the new urban waters initiative. The objective of the initiative is to assist cities in the development of green infrastructure, systems which are both environmentally friendly and less expensive to construct than the brick and mortar methods once used.

Water runoff and combined sewer overflow are major reasons for the poor water quality in our urban coastal zones. Storm water flows along parking lots, roads, and pipes, picking up and carrying contaminants to the nearest water source. The objective of the initiative is to reduce these impermeable surfaces and develop green spaces where rain and storm water can be filtered through the ground before reaching a major water source, i.e. your local stream, river, bay, or ocean. A federal partnership is actively engaging regional and local agencies and organizations to build support for these revitalization efforts. The USEPA and the Department of the Interior will work with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Transportation as well as the NY City Department of Parks and Recreation and Transportation and Planning. It appears that this collaboration has a secondary mission, to build leadership on the local level, engaging and serving community partners and increasing environmental awareness, especially among the youth.

For more information on New York State water quality thresholds and groundwater contamination, please contact Miriam Villani or Jason Kaplan.

Posted by Miriam Villani