Advances in Re-Using and Recycling Industrial Waste

Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter
Kenneth Cookson and Christopher Allwein

January 11, 2016

This was originally posted on the Ohio Energy + Environment Blog at KBH+R

Recent rule changes and new technology are encouraging recycling and reuse of industrial waste. The Federal EPA’s recently published rule on the handling of coal combustion residuals (“CCRs”) encourages the “beneficial use” of coal ash such as reusing or recycling coal ash to ease use of virgin resources, to lower greenhouse gas emissions, to reduce the cost of coal ash disposal and to improve strength and durability of final product. According to the American Coal Ash Association, nearly half of the coal ash produced in 2014 was used as an ingredient in concrete and wallboard, for road construction or for mine reclamation. Scientists are also exploring the potential extraction of certain materials for use in electronics manufacturing. This is significant as Ohio has 29 coal ash sites.

Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Allows Pre-Enforcement Review of DEP’s Continuing-Violations Penalty Policy under the Clean Streams Law

Manko Gold Katcher & Fox, LLP
Diana A. Silva

January 5, 2016

 This article originally appeared in the Manko Gold Katcher & Fox Environmental Blog

To close out 2015, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued several opinions last week, including one that may potentially impact how parties challenge penalties assessed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) for violation of state environmental laws.  The case, EQT Production Co. v. Dept. of Envt’l Prot., No. J-67-2015 (Dec. 29, 2015), involves a challenge by EQT, a natural gas fracking operator, to civil penalties levied by DEP for contamination caused by a leaking fracking water impoundment.  EQT had already commenced a formal cleanup under Pennsylvania’s “Act 2” voluntary remediation program when DEP issued a civil penalty settlement demand under Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law for over $1.27 million, $900,000 of which was tied to ongoing violations.  DEP took the position that each day the contamination remained in the soil and/or entered groundwater or surface water constituted a continuing violation subject to additional penalties.  EQT disagreed and argued that under the Clean Streams Law, penalties could not exceed those that accrued during the time that contamination was actually being discharged into the environment.  The operator also argued that the Act 2 program governed their remediation efforts to address the contamination that remained at the site.

Continue Reading

EPA Revamps Voluntary Self-Disclosure Audit Policy

Spencer Fane LLP
Andrew C. Brought

January 2, 2016

Businesses and companies seeking to qualify for penalty mitigation and relief by submitting voluntary self-disclosures under EPA’s Audit Policy need to be aware of significant changes and modifications that took effect in December 2015.

As a result of the large number of self-disclosures received by EPA each year, primarily Tier II Reporting violations under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (“EPCRA”), the agency is now requiring companies to utilize a centralized web-based “eDisclosure” portal to process requests for penalty mitigation. While there are no substantive changes to EPA’s April 2000 Audit Policy and the nine conditions necessary for penalty mitigation, 80 Fed. Reg. at 76480, the new changes will require businesses to submit disclosures online and then certify compliance within 60 or 90 days, depending on the circumstances.

Continue Reading

US Lifts Ban on Exports of Crude – Take Advantage of New Opportunities

DLA Piper, LLP
Thomas M. deButts

January 5, 2016

For the first time since the oil embargo that arose in the wake of the energy crisis of the 1970s, US companies are now legally free to export crude oil. That new permission is an outgrowth of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH), a $1.15 trillion spending measure that President Barack Obama signed into law in December 2015.

In addition to its package of tax breaks − among them the extension of renewable energy tax credits − the law lifts the 40-year-long ban on exports of crude oil from the United States, which had only previously been waived for Canada.

In practice, this means that any company that wants to export crude oil will no longer need a Department of Commerce license to do so. Crude oil is now officially classified by Commerce as falling within EAR99, a class of products that do not require such a license. The classification does not permit the export of crude oil to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Sudan and the Crimean Region, which are embargoed by the US. This still leaves the entire rest of the world open for the export of crude oil from the US without a license.

Continue Reading