News and Analysis
Earlier this week, the OMA weighed in with comments on the Trump Administration’s efforts to rewrite the federal water pollution rule known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) — which defines the scope of federal regulatory jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
Because the courts have rejected the Trump Administration’s effort to suspend operation of Obama-era revisions to WOTUS, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have proposed a narrower rule that may survive judicial scrutiny. The Trump Administration’s WOTUS definition is more restrained and observes traditional limits on the scope of federal power. The public comment period ended this week.
In its comments, the OMA wrote, “The proposed rule strikes an appropriate balance between protecting waters and wetlands, and providing clarity and predictability to stakeholders and regulators,” and would curtail the regulatory “creep” of WOTUS as it affects manufacturing activity. Additionally, the OMA suggested possible improvements to the proposed rule changes, including in the areas of stormwater control features, waste treatment systems, traditional navigable waters, tributaries and ditches.
For the full text of the OMA letter, click here. 4/18/2019
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director Laurie Stevenson addressed the OMA Environment Committee this week, the first of three scheduled committee meetings for the year.
Appointed in January by Gov. Mike DeWine, Stevenson is a 30-year veteran of the agency. She most recently served as deputy director for the agency’s business relations, where she worked closely with the regulated community.
Stevenson told committee members that in addition to enforcing the state’s environmental standards, the agency “has an equal responsibility to helping businesses get from Point A to Point B” regardless of whether the business is large or small. She also briefed the committee on the administration’s budget priorities related to environmental issues, including surface water protections and “best available technology” permitting.
Stay on top of the environmental issues affecting Ohio’s manufacturers by visiting the OMA website. 4/10/2019
A budget proposal of note for manufacturers is removing the rule process requirement for EPA to impose Best Available Technology (BAT), and instead require the BAT method for an air contaminant source to be established in the permit to install issued for that source.
Director Stevenson will be at the OMA Environment Committee on Wednesday, April 10 to discuss this issue and much more. Register today and join your colleagues at the OMA next week. 4/4/2019
This week the House Finance Committee heard from a supporter of Senate Bill 50, which would increase from 25-cents per ton to 50-cents per ton one of the state fees levied on the transfer or disposal of solid waste.
The proceeds of the increase would be used to provide more funding to the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Carmella Shale, director of the Geauga County Soil and Water Conservation District, testified that the increase is needed because of decreases in state funding over the past ten years.
The OMA and other business interests oppose any new fees on solid waste, especially in light of new funding provisions in House Bill 166, the state budget bill, for soil and water conservation districts. 4/4/2019
When in Toledo this week, Governor Mike DeWine announced a new water quality initiative, H2Ohio. The initiative will be included in his proposed state budget which is expected to be unveiled today.
DeWine said the new initiative could provide funding of as much as $900 million over ten years to protect Ohio’s water quality.
Investments would be made in programs affecting state waters including Lake Erie and other rivers, lakes, and waterways. Efforts could include pollution prevention, land-based management programs, water-based restoration programs, as well as science, research and measurement. 3/14/2019
The proceeds of the increase would be used to provide more funding to the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
The bill sponsor, Senator John Eklund (R-Munson Township), also introduced this bill in the 132nd General Assembly. The OMA opposes the increase of the solid waste fee to protect the competitiveness of regulated entities. 3/14/2019
From OMA Connections Partner Dinsmore: “On February 26, 2019, EPA announced its decision to retain the current sulfur dioxide (SO2) National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). The current primary SO2 NAAQS of 75 parts per billion (ppb) averaged over one hour was established in 2010. …
“Several industry groups asserted that the current SO2 NAAQS was too tough and argued that EPA should weaken the standard. They recommended that EPA raise the NAAQS to 110 – 150 ppb, but environmental groups argued the standard was not protective enough of human health and should be lowered to 50 ppb. Ultimately, EPA rejected both arguments and determined the current standard “is requisite to protect public health, with an adequate margin of safety, from effects of SO2 in ambient air.” It noted that this was consistent with the April 2018 recommendation of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, an independent advisory board. EPA also supported its decision by reiterating that SO2 levels in the United States had dropped by more than 85 percent between 1990 and 2017 and more than 60 percent since 2010.
“As a result of this decision, revisions to state implementation plans will not be triggered, and existing sources will not face potential imposition of requirements for installation of additional controls for SO2. However, the one-hour standard remains a potential barrier to permitting new projects with significant SO2 emissions.”
Read the full post here. 3/1/2019
The Ohio Materials Marketplace is a free online platform of the Ohio EPA that allows businesses and organizations to connect and find reuse and recycling solutions for waste and by-product materials.
- Several new materials have been added to the marketplace including: scrap cardboard, expanded polystyrene foam, commingled recyclables, pallet racking, miscellaneous calcium compounds and more!
- 980 members are now in the marketplace.
- The marketplace has helped divert more than 1763 tons (3,526,830 pounds) from the landfill!
Ohio EPA will be hosting its Sustainability Conference in Columbus on April 17, 2019. More information about the conference and registration can be found here. 3/4/2019
In a February 26, 2019 special election,Toledo’s voters passed the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (the LEBOR). The LEBOR is an amendment to the City of Toledo’s Charter that creates a new cause of action for the violation of the right of Lake Erie and its watershed to “exist, flourish, and naturally evolve.”
The LEBOR initiative is similar to many other community rights proposals that seek to establish rights for natural resources that citizens can protect through legal action.
The corporations or entities that could be impacted by the LEBOR’s enactment range far and wide. Generally, companies that have an Ohio EPA issued water discharge permit authorizing them to discharge into surface waters within the Lake Erie watershed could be affected.
On February 27th, Drewes Farm Partnership v. City of Toledo was filed in federal court in Toledo, asserting many challenges to the LEBOR, including the argument that the LEBOR exceeds Toledo’s limited authority to pass legislation and is in violation of state and federal preemption laws. The Drewes case seeks a preliminary injunction to stop the LEBOR going into effect before its defects are litigated.
These, and other legal challenges, are anticipated in the near future, with industry groups, agricultural interest groups, and businesses all interested in challenging the LEBOR for its overreach and broad declarations.
More information can be found in this memorandum from OMA environmental counsel Bricker & Eckler LLP. 2/28/2019
Ohio EPA Offers Compliance Help with Conditional Exemption for Hazardous Waste Contaminated Wipes and ApparelMarch 1, 2019
The Ohio EPA has established a web page to help manufacturers interested in taking advantage of the recently introduced conditional exemption for hazardous waste contaminated wipes and apparel that are laundered and returned for reuse.
The exemption includes – but is not limited to – rags, mops, drop cloths, and apparel (for example, gloves, uniforms, smocks and coveralls), which can be made of woven or unwoven and natural or synthetic materials (fabric, leather or rubber-like material).
Because many of these contaminated textiles are intended to be cleaned onsite or sent to a laundry or similar facility for cleaning, they may be excluded from the hazardous waste regulations provided the facility that generated the material meets all conditions of the exclusion. 2/28/2019