News and Analysis
This week the OMA submitted formal comments to U.S. EPA regarding whether pollutant discharges from point sources that reach jurisdictional surface waters via groundwater, or other subsurface flow that has a direct hydrologic connection to jurisdictional surface waters, may be subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
In its comments the OMA requested that “U.S. EPA undertake a notice-and-comment rulemaking to clearly implement the Clean Water Act, which does not regulate nonpoint sources in the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program.”
OMA wrote: “The resulting rule would provide regulatory certainty for the agency, states, dischargers, courts, and the public. The rulemaking should: (1) reject the “hydrologic connection theory”; (2) confirm that the “hydrologic connection theory” was not based on a thorough analysis of CWA; and (3) endorse a plain language interpretation of the statute.” 5/24/2018
With the Ohio EPA’s phosphorus bill still lacking a sponsor, Gov. John Kasich made waves this week discussing a potential executive order action to move forward on phosphorus regulation.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the governor is considering issuing an executive order if the General Assembly will not limit fertilizer use in parts of the state that heavily contribute to the phosphorus flow into Lake Erie.
As of now it looks like the governor is focused strictly on fertilizer and agriculture and not on industrial point source discharge. However, this is a new twist in the ongoing phosphorus saga that manufacturers will carefully watch as the governor’s final term nears its end. 5/17/2018
The bipartisan water bills targeting the phosphorus discharges in Lake Erie had their first hearing in their respective chambers this week. Senate Bill 299 and House Bill 643 each enjoyed sponsor testimony.
In the Senate, Senators Randy Gardner and Sean O’Brien each presented sponsor testimony (Gardner testimony and O’Brien testimony). The House heard sponsor testimony from Reps. Steve and John Patterson.
The bills are heavily based on a white paper entitled, “Summary of Findings and Strategies to Move Toward a 40% Phosphorous Reduction” from 2017. The bills are not regulatory bills but are instead targeted funding solution bills providing both general revenue funding and capital funding for a variety of strategies that scientists, Lake Erie advocates, agriculture leaders, and others believe can help achieve Ohio’s phosphorus reduction goals.
A reduction of phosphorus loading by 40% by 2025, and an aspirational goal of 20% by the year 2020, are the stated targets. 5/17/2018
Two bipartisan companion bills and resolutions were introduced this week to comprehensively address the health of Lake Erie.
The legislation package sponsored in the Senate by Senators Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) and Sean O’Brien (D-Cortland) and in the House by Reps. Steve Arndt (R-Port Clinton) and John Patterson (D-Jefferson) is aimed to provide millions of dollars to fight and reduce harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.
The package would include $36 million in 2018 and $100 million more per year for ten years if voters approve a Clean Water Bond issue. 5/10/2018
On May 16, Ohio EPA will present the latest on its construction stormwater permit: Stormwater Permit Program Update Ohio- EPA’s NPDES Construction Storm Water General Permit Renewal (OHC000005).
Then on June 13, Ohio EPA will be holding a webinar on Universal Waste Rule Updates.
OMA members were heavily involved in both of these rule rewrites. 5/3/2018
OMA Connections Partner, Dinsmore, has published this informative AIR QUALITY Letter, which provides a range of updates on regulatory changes affecting air quality sources. 5/3/2018
This week Ohio EPA announced the final issuance of the General National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit for Storm Water Associated with Construction Activity.
On the EPA’s website manufacturers can review the public notice, final general permit, fact sheet, and Ohio EPA’s responses to the summary of comments received from interested parties regarding the draft permit.
Thank you to all the members who were actively engaged throughout this process and improved the regulation. 4/26/2018
Pictured: Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler (right) with Kurt Thiede, Chief of Staff, U.S. EPA, Region V
Pictured: Members of U.S. EPA Region V staff
In a meeting this week with representatives of U.S. EPA Region V and Ohio EPA, participating OMA members heard updates on recent developments in all major program areas, and participated in a Q & A session with the agency staff members.
Top leaders of U.S. EPA Region V and Ohio EPA participated in the meeting, including the Region V Chief of staff Kurt Thiede and Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler.
The meeting in Chicago gave manufacturers a better look at the cooperation and the priorities of U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA. Issues discussed included air, water, land, and superfunds.
Members were given the opportunity to ask the regulators questions and nothing was off the table. Members who participated really enjoyed the morning, and the OMA will look to continue with our partners to offer this type of event each year. 4/19/2018
The Ohio EPA has completed its second statewide study which identifies sources and estimates the annual amount of phosphorus and other nutrients flowing from the state’s watersheds into Lake Erie and the Ohio River. The study covers the Maumee, Portage, Sandusky, Vermilion, Cuyahoga, Great Miami, Scioto and Muskingum watersheds, and includes some direct tributaries to Lake Erie.
The results of this study show “no clear trend of an overall decrease in loading in most watersheds, especially in nonpoint source dominated watersheds like the Maumee where the loading in 2017 was the highest of the years reported.”
In the Maumee watershed, 88% of the phosphorous contributed to Lake Erie is from nonpoint sources including agriculture. 4/17/2018
A working group of OMA members, allied with a few other interests, has succeeded in heading off an Ohio EPA regulatory overreach on phosphorus. For now.
See the full description of the EPA proposal here.
Most notable in the regulatory overreach are: a 1.0 mg/L cap on phosphorous, expanding the definition of “fertilizer” as agricultural pollution, civil penalties for odor nuisances, and redefining the state discharge level to protect water quality.
Contact Rob Brundrett for more information on this matter. 4/11/2018