News and Analysis
On March 31, the Trump administration announced it had finalized its roll-back of the Obama-era fuel economy standards for automakers. The administration says the move will save 3,300 lives, as well as billions of dollars in added costs. Several environmental groups have already promised lawsuits over the new rule, which requires that auto fleets average 40 mpg by 2026 — versus 55 mpg by 2025.
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents major auto manufacturers, said this week that progress toward manufacturing more fuel-efficient vehicles will continue regardless. 3/31/2020
You knew this was coming: As some Ohioans search for alternatives to toilet paper, Ohio EPA this week issued an advisory to not flush any product other than toilet paper to avoid clogging sewers and septic systems. 3/31/2020
Ohio EPA has announced that all regulated entities remain obligated to take all available actions necessary to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and permit requirements.
Of course, in some instances regulated entities will have an unavoidable non-compliance situation directly related to COVID-19. In these cases, the director of Ohio EPA may consider providing regulatory flexibility, where possible, to assist entities in alternative approaches to maintaining compliance, such as extending reporting deadlines, waiving late fees, and exercising enforcement discretion.
Ohio EPA has announced that because its district offices and central office are temporarily closed, businesses are encouraged to submit plans, permit applications, and other required documents electronically when there are existing avenues to do so, such as eBiz. Plans under 25 MB can be emailed. For large plans over 25 MB, entities should work with the reviewer/division to upload via LiquidFiles. Directions for submitting docs via LiquidFiles are available on YouTube. 3/25/2020
Due to COVID-19 concerns, Ohio EPA is currently operating with many staff members working remotely. The agency wants businesses to know that if you are working with staff on a current project — and you know the name of the employee you are working with — you can email them using this format: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call the employee directly.
The agency’s website has contact information for every district, division, and office. Businesses can contact Ohio EPA’s main phone line at (614) 644-3020. To report a spill or environmental emergency, contact the spill hotline (800) 282-9378 or (614) 224-0946. 3/20/2020
Ohio EPA’s Compliance Assistance Conference, which was scheduled for March 31 – April 1, has been cancelled due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. The agency says the conference will be rescheduled for the fall 2020. 3/12/2020
This week, the OMA submitted comments on two different clean water draft plans issued by the Ohio Lake Erie Commission.
Earlier this year, officials announced the release of the updated Ohio Domestic Action Plan, aimed at reducing phosphorus in Lake Erie under the bi-national Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Last month, the Lake Erie Protection and Restoration Plan (LEPR) for 2020 was also released for public comment. The LEPR, last published in 2016, reflects actions that the Ohio Lake Erie Commission and its member agencies will take during the next several years.
The OMA has created a water nutrient working group to respond and actively engage on water quality issues to ensure that manufacturing interests are heard. 3/5/2020
Ohio EPA has begun collecting samples to test for the presence of certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Ohio’s drinking water. Ohio EPA expects to complete its sampling of Ohio’s 1,500 public water systems by the end of 2020. The agency has created this site for updates. (It’s worth noting that testing for PFAS in human blood has shown significant declines over the past decade thanks to collaborative efforts led by manufacturers.)
The OMA has created a working group to address PFAS-related issues and possible impacts to manufacturers. If you would like to learn more or participate, contact OMA’s Rob Brundrett. 3/2/2020
Ohio EPA this week hosted its second regional meeting for interested parties, including manufacturers and the OMA, to discuss the likelihood that the Cleveland airshed will be bumped up from “marginal” to “moderate non-attainment” under the federal ozone standard. The standard was lowered to 70 parts per billion during the Obama administration. Earlier this month, Ohio EPA notified parties in the Cincinnati area of the same possibility.
A change in status will trigger additional compliance requirements under the federal Clean Air Act. One of the key components of additional regulatory restrictions would be emissions offsets, so that any new emissions creator would need to be set at the New Source Review offset ratio 1.15:1.
The OMA will continue to work with members and Ohio EPA on this important issue that could affect many of the state’s manufacturers and Ohio’s overall economy. 2/27/2020
The White House Council on Environmental Quality has published a notice of proposed rulemaking reflecting changes to the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The proposed changes would streamline NEPA’s environmental review process and narrow how, and whether, federal agencies consider the effects of climate change in their review of energy and infrastructure projects.
OMA Connections Partner Jones Day, in its quarterly update, notes the proposed rule “will shorten the environmental review process and improve coordination between local, state and federal permitting agencies.” The public comment period is open until March 10, as the administration seeks to get the final rule published before the November election. 2/27/2020