News and Analysis
On April 14, U.S. EPA proposed to retain the current national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM) without revision. After reviewing the air quality criteria and primary and secondary NAAQS for fine and coarse PM, the agency concluded that there is insufficient scientific evidence to support tightening these standards. U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated he believes the current levels will be protective of public health while the agency continues to evaluate PM. EPA will accept public comment for 60 days after the proposed standards are published in the Federal Register. 4/16/2020
This week, the U.S. EPA announced 15 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grants totaling more than $9 million to fund projects addressing excess nutrient runoff from non-point sources, including stormwater and agriculture, to the Great Lakes. Approximately $2.5 million of this amount will be going to Ohio entities. 4/14/2020
General Motors and Honda recently announced an agreement to jointly develop two new Honda electric vehicles (EV) using GM’s global EV platform powered by proprietary batteries. The vehicles are scheduled to be released for the 2024 model-year.
“This collaboration will put together the strength of both companies, while combined scale and manufacturing efficiencies will ultimately provide greater value to customers,” said Rick Schostek, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) celebrated the news, noting that the cars would use batteries made at the forthcoming Lordstown plant. 4/7/2020
The H2Ohio program could see its funding cut due to reductions in state spending during the coronavirus outbreak. Hannah News Service reported this week that Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda said the program will undergo a budgetary “reevaluation” along with other agency programs as a result of the pandemic.
Earlier this year, Gov. Mike DeWine and Pelanda announced that $30 million in H2Ohio funding would be made available for farmers in 14 Northwest Ohio counties to reduce agricultural phosphorous pollution, which is the most significant contributor to the formation of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. 4/7/2020
Among the myriad of concerns facing industry are new environmental challenges caused by staffing issues, essential business determinations, stay-at-home orders, supply chain disruption and other complications from the COVID-19 outbreak.
OMA Connections Partner Squire Patton Boggs is hosting a free webinar at 1 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday, April 14,titled: “Environmental Compliance During COVID-19: Federal and State Agency Guidance on Enforcement & Practical Tips for Businesses.” This webinar will focus on distilling the environmental guidance offered by federal and state regulators, and translating that guidance into practical advice that industry leaders can use to help mitigate enforcement risk. 4/9/2020
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: [email protected]. 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