News and Analysis
The long hard road to remove slag’s definition as a waste in Ohio’s Clean Water Act finished its legislative journey this week with an affirmative House vote. Now Senate Bill 2 awaits the governor’s signature.
Senate Bill 2 focuses on a variety of Ohio water issues ranging from public water systems to Lake Erie dredging. Included in the bill is an OMA-backed provision which would recognize slag as a marketable product and not a waste under Ohio’s water laws. Specifically, the bill exempts slag from excessive regulation, while at the same time requires that it be used in a manner conforming with appropriate water quality standards.
This is great news for Ohio’s steelmakers and slag processors. 6/22/2017
In action on the state budget bill, the Senate this week passed an amendment for which the OMA advocated that would eliminate the fees associated with alternative daily cover (ADC). ADC is material placed on an active waste landfill at the end of each operating day. Removing the fees associated with ADC helps create a stronger market for materials used as ADC.
Another item that was expected to be included in the amendment, but was not, unfortunately, is a provision regarding total maximum daily loads (TMDLs). An amendment was submitted that outlined Ohio’s statutory procedure (described here by OMA environmental counsel Frank Merrill of Bricker & Eckler) for establishing limits for a body of water. The amendment was the product of several meetings between regulators and interested parties. There is speculation that the amendment will yet be included during the upcoming conference committee. 6/22/2017
This week, following several meetings with stakeholders in which the OMA took part, Ohio EPA submitted final revised language to be included in HB 49, the state budget bill, that would describe Ohio’s statutory rulemaking procedure prior to establishing pollutant limits for a body of water.
The bill outlines the scope of the Ohio EPA director’s authority in establishing Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for pollutants for each impaired water of the state or segment thereof.
Here is a memo from OMA environmental counsel Frank Merrill, of Bricker & Eckler, that describes what the regulated community can expect under the new language, including: ” … each TMDL, including modified TMDLs, must go through the public notice, public comment, and public hearing process. … the rule allows for appeals to Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC) of any permit containing limits based on a TMDL, and specifies that indirect dischargers as well as direct dischargers may appeal. The rule therefore provides for due process considerations …” 6/15/2017
OMA Connections Partner, Jones Day, has summarized the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement this way:
The Situation: In a multinational effort to address climate change, nearly 200 countries adopted the Paris Climate Accord in late 2015. But in June 2017, President Donald Trump announced that the United States will cease implementing the provisions of the Paris Accord.
The Result: The United States will no longer observe emissions reductions pledges, and the Paris Accord’s emissions reductions targets will likely not be used by the federal government to determine greenhouse gas policies.
Looking Ahead: Formal U.S. withdrawal will take approximately four years. Also, a coalition of states is considering climate change actions independent of federal regulations.”
Read more from Jones Day about the impacts of this action. 6/7/2017
Reacting to the input of interested parties, Ohio EPA made several changes to its introduced Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) language included in the state budget.
However, several items remain unresolved including automatic stays. Under the bill, Ohio EPA is required to allow public comment when a TMDL is established, and such decisions would be appealable to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission. The bill also allows for appeals of existing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).
OMA environmental counsel Frank Merrill, Bricker & Eckler, provided an updated memo about the latest bill language. 5/25/2017
Ohio EPA is developing a set of rules to implement a new grant program for converting or replacing diesel- and gasoline-powered large vehicles to run on alternative fuels. The agency is seeking public comment on the draft rules.
Legislation passed by the Ohio General Assembly in 2016 authorizes Ohio EPA to create an alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) conversion grant program. A total of $5 million is available for grants to encourage the purchase of new large trucks and other vehicles with a gross vehicle rating of at least 26,000 pounds, that run on compressed natural gas, liquid natural gas, or liquid petroleum gas, including bi-fueled or dual-fueled trucks that can run on both an alternative fuel and on gasoline or diesel fuel. Grants can also cover the cost of converting one or more eligible traditional fuel vehicles into alternative fuel vehicles.
This week Ohio EPA officially posted to its website the new Industrial Storm Water General Permit, which takes effect June 1. Among the posted resources are a fact sheet and responses to comments made by the OMA and other interested parties. The new permit will expire May 31, 2022.
OMA staff and members worked with Ohio EPA over the past year to ensure that the new permit did not become more stringent than the previous iteration. 5/18/2017
The OMA remains committed to the common sense regulation of slag. In written testimony before the committee, OMA’s Rob Brundrett said: “The bill recognizes that slag is a valuable product and not a waste under Ohio’s water laws. Senate Bill 2 exempts slag from excessive regulation while at the same time requiring that slag be used in a matter that conforms with appropriate water quality standards …”
Last week a federal judge ruled the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must pay the past costs of disposing dredged material from the Cuyahoga River into contaminant areas around Lake Erie.
The court also said that the Army Corps was wrong to delay dredging of the river while it argued with the state regarding the disposal of the dredged material.
Ohio EPA and the Army Corps have been arguing over whether sediment dredged from the Cuyahoga River is clean enough for open lake dumping. The Army Corps insists it can be safely dumped into Lake Erie. Ohio EPA contends the material is full of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and therefore should not be dumped into Lake Erie.
Manufacturers who depend on the dredging to clear transportation channels have been held hostage while the parties argue through the courts about disposing of the material. Hopefully last week’s hearing brings parties closer to a final solution. 5/11/2017
If you store oil or oil products, you could be subject to the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations. These federal regulations (40 CFR Part 112) require that certain procedures, methods and equipment be used to prevent and contain discharges of oil or petroleum products. This includes the development of a spill prevention and response plan.
The SPCC regulations apply to non-transportation-related facilities that store oil or petroleum products in greater than threshold quantities and, due to facility location, a discharge could reasonably be expected to reach a waterway (including sewer pathways).
Here’s a good fact sheet from Ohio EPA on the subject. 5/10/2017