News and Analysis
Ohio EPA has announced the availability of a general permit that will be available to applicants for projects that impact ephemeral streams, which flow only for a short time, usually after a large storm or snowmelt.
The general permit comes in response to U.S. EPA’s recently finalized Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The new federal rule removes certain waters from federal jurisdiction under the federal Clean Water Act. States retain the authority to determine oversight of these non-jurisdictional waters. 6/30/2020
Ohio EPA is accepting applications for $3.25 million in grants for publicly accessible electric vehicle charging stations. Eligible applicants include public or private entities in the 26 counties that Ohio EPA has identified as eligible to receive funds from the grant program. Applications will be accepted through Sept. 30, 2020. 7/1/2020
Three states are urging the U.S. EPA to impose new mandates related to the monitoring and reduction of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from industrial stormwater discharges. Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Mexico recently submitted comments on the draft Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) that ask EPA to require permitted industrial facilities to monitor PFAS in their stormwater discharges and to develop practices intended to minimize the potential for PFAS to be introduced into stormwater.
The OMA also submitted comments on the draft permit. The comment period closed June 1, and it remains to be seen whether the EPA will adopt the three states’ suggestions. If it does, it could have wide-ranging implications for states like Ohio that use the federal MSGP as a model for the state general permit. If your company is tracking PFAS issues in Ohio, contact Rob Brundrett to keep up to date on Ohio’s PFAS response. 6/25/2020
Summer heat can bring air quality concerns. Ohio EPA’s Division of Air Pollution Control offers an online air quality data and reporting system that allows Ohioans to monitor conditions from home or work. Tools include a map showing current air quality in several locations across Ohio, as well as air quality index forecasts. 6/24/2020
On Tuesday, June 23, at 11 a.m. (ET), the Ohio Materials Marketplace (OMM) — a free online platform of the Ohio EPA that allows businesses to connect and find reuse and recycling solutions for waste and by-product materials — will conduct a webinar discussing film plastics. This material is used in an increasingly wide variety of industrial, commercial and consumer applications, such as boat wrapping, nursery and agricultural sheeting, and single-use plastic bags. 6/18/2020
Last Friday, June 5, the OMA submitted comments on Ohio EPA’s proposed General Permit for Isolated Wetlands and Ephemeral Streams. The new general permit is a product of the recent federal rule addressing “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. 6/11/2020
The Trump administration this week announced a final rule that clarifies a key section of the U.S. Clean Water Act (CWA) in a move that should expedite the approval of energy infrastructure projects. The U.S. EPA’s new final rule on Section 401 of the CWA requires states and Native American tribes to rule on permit requests within one year of being submitted and clarifies that decisions should be based solely on the project’s effect on water quality.
Rachel Jones, vice president of energy and resources for the National Association of Manufacturers, supported the rule change, saying: “By strengthening the state-federal partnership, the EPA is empowering manufacturers to make sustainable investments.” 6/2/2020
This week, the OMA submitted comments on the U.S. EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) 2020 Issuance of the Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for stormwater discharges associated with industrial activity. The EPA’s draft was more than 1,000 pages. The OMA has followed the MSGP closely for years as it is a good indication of where Ohio EPA will fall on the issue.
In its comments, the OMA wrote: “This proposed draft MSGP continues a recent trend towards a more top-down, command-and-control approach to stormwater regulation, with a highly prescriptive stormwater sampling/corrective action regime as its cornerstone. … This is a most unfortunate trend that increases the regulatory burden on industry with no tie to a corresponding, quantifiable benefit to receiving waters. The new requirements in the proposed MSGP go well beyond what is required by the 2016 MSGP settlement and beyond what Congress intended in the Clean Water Act.” 6/4/2020
This week, the OMA Environment Committee met virtually for its second meeting of 2020. Among the guest speakers was Bob Hodanbosi, the longtime chief of air pollution control at Ohio EPA, who updated members on Ohio’s current air quality status.
While Ohio has seen “dramatic improvement” in its air quality, Hodanbosi reported that it’s “not good enough” to meet certain federal standards, primarily in the category of ozone. The Cincinnati and Cleveland areas are both at high risk of being elevated to “moderate non-attainment” status due to the more stringent, 70-parts-per-billion ozone standard imposed by the U.S. EPA in 2015. An elevated status for either city would mean tighter controls on emitting industries. See Hodanbosi’s PowerPoint presentation.
OMA members also heard updates on federal and state issues, as well as a report from OMA Environmental Counsel Frank Merrill of Bricker & Eckler. The committee will meet again Sept. 29. 5/28/2020