News and Analysis
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
The Ohio Senate has passed House Bill 242, legislation that is supported by the OMA and packaging manufacturers to prohibit local governments from placing fees or taxes on auxiliary containers or packaging, including bags. Last week, the Senate committee that heard the bill added an amendment that sunsets HB 242’s provisions after 12 months. The bill will go to the House for a potential concurrence vote. 5/28/2020
Last week, the OMA led a coalition of business groups by filing comments to the U.S. EPA’s correction of the inclusion of Ohio’s air pollution nuisance rule. The comments support the U.S. EPA’s proposal to remove the nuisance rule from Ohio’s state implementation plan (SIP). Ohio’s public nuisance provision is a general rule prohibiting public nuisances and has no connection with the purposes for which SIPs are developed and approved. Manufacturers often find themselves in the crosshairs of lawsuits based on the SIP provision, even while in compliance with the permit limits. 5/28/2020
OMA Connections Partner Thompson Hine will host a free webinar at 1 p.m. (ET) on Tuesday, June 9, to address environmental compliance in a COVID-19 world. The webinar will focus specifically on best practices and risk mitigation strategies. Register here. 5/28/2020
This week a Senate committee passed House Bill 242 along party lines. The bill prohibits local governments from placing fees or taxes on auxiliary containers or packaging including plastic bags and cardboard containers. The bill was amended to sunset after 12 months. The OMA provided proponent testimony and has actively worked to pass the bill in both the House and Senate. 5/21/2020
All members are invited to the OMA Environment Committee meeting on Thursday, May 28, 10 a.m. – noon. This is a virtual meeting.
Our agenda includes:
- Our annual presentation from special guest Bob Hodanbosi, Chief of the Division of Air Pollution Control, Ohio EPA.
- Coverage of current legislative and regulatory updates including changes as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Register here! 5/21/2020
The Ohio Lake Erie Commission recently approved its 2020 Lake Erie Protection and Restoration Plan (LEPR). The LEPR, last published in 2016, reflects actions that the commission and its member agencies will take over the next several years to protect and restore the lake, while promoting economic development for the region. The state’s actions complement federal and local initiatives. The plan is available at the Ohio Lake Erie Commission website. 5/14/2020