More EPA Enviro-Newsbrief
Y2K & Environmental News
Enviro-Newsbrief January 4, 1999 The following is a daily update summarizing news of interest to EPA staff. It includes information from current news sources: newspapers, newsletters, and other publications. For more information, contact the EPA Headquarters Information Resources Center at (202) 260-5922, or e-mail LIBRARY-HQ. **Viewpoints expressed in the following summaries do not necessarily reflect EPA policy** A searchable archive of past Enviro-Newsbriefs can be found on the EPA web site at the following URL: http://www.epa.gov/natlibra/hqirc/enb.htm ** GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE ** Industries Press Plan For Credits In Emissions Pact. The New York Times, January 3, 1999, ppA1, A15. Big businesses are trying to get legislation passed that will give them valuable credits for early actions to control greenhouse gases whose emissions would be strictly limited under the Kyoto treaty. Although many companies do not want the Senate to approve the treaty, they want to make sure that they receive credit for any reductions they achieve before the treaty takes effect in 2008. The legislation could potentially moderate opposition to the treaty by big industry groups and link their financial interests to the goals of those that support the treaty. "This is a potential winner," said Eileen Claussen, executive director of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. "It helps get the United States moving. It is voluntary. It is supported by industry. It seems to me there should be a way to get legislation like that through Congress." Some companies could earn credits now that could be applied against limits they would face later. Three Senators, led by John Chafee (R-RI), introduced legislation late in the last session that would assure that companies achieving early reductions would earn credit under any program that the government eventually adopts. The bill is supported by Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Connie Mack (R-FL). "While the climate debate will indeed continue over the next few years, we strongly believe that there is a voluntary, incentive based approach which can be implemented now," Chafee said at a meeting of the National Association of Manufacturers. "The good guys who take action now will be rewarded by having these actions count," he said. "This credit program may also make early greenhouse gas reductions financially valuable to the companies who make them." As drafted, the bill gives ton-for-ton credits to any of the more than 150 companies that are voluntarily trying to cut emissions under various Federal programs. Some environmentalists have criticized the bill, however. John Stanton, legislative director for the National Environmental Trust, said the bill "does not provide sufficient guarantees that emission reductions credited under it will actually result from reduced emissions, as opposed to phantom paper reductions." According to 1997 figures, companies participating in voluntary programs reported that they had reduced greenhouse gas emission by about 137 million tons of carbon dioxide. Under the bill, these companies would qualify for credits. One individual filed a report in a voluntary program in 1995. Clarence Lewis, who worked as a consultant to the energy department, claimed he cut his personal emissions of carbon dioxide by between three and four tons by never having more than one light at a time turned on in his house and by commuting to work outside rush hours. "I just wanted to demonstrate what the ordinary citizen could do," he said. "You don't have to be a gigantic power plant to reduce carbon dioxide emissions." ** UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANKS ** Cost of Replacing Underground Tanks Sinks Some Gas Stations. The Washington Post, January 4, ppB1, B5. The Subaitani family couldn't pay the tens of thousands of dollars required to replace the underground storage tanks at their gas station in Maryland, so they closed their shop. "We have no idea what we're going to do," Cathy Subaitani said. "Especially at Christmas time, I think it's really crummy. It's a disaster." The Subaitani family closed their station just three days before EPA's December 22 deadline for replacing or upgrading old underground storage tanks that hold gasoline and other fuels. The EPA rules were passed ten years ago, but not enforced until now. The Subaiatanis said they were not told about the rules when they purchased the station eight years ago, and did not learn of it until four years later. They wanted to upgrade their tanks, but EPA officials told them that they would need to replace their tanks. Federal officials said there are about 360,000 documented tank leaks nationwide and about half of those have contaminated ground water. Large corporations have upgraded their equipment but many small gas station owners have struggled to comply with the regulations. EPA estimates that 40% of the approximately 1 million underground storage tanks in use are in violation of the standards. Federal officials have stated that they will give small operators and local and state governments a break in enforcing the new rules by initially concentrating on larger sites or those near environmentally sensitive areas. "The EPA recognized that this might be a financial burden and gave people 10 years to comply," said Ruth Podems, an EPA spokeswoman. "Now the deadline has come, and we're going to start enforcing. We're not backing off on the mom-and-pops. We're just looking at the big guys first." ** CLEAN AIR ** Air Quality Data Indicate Eastern Visibility Not Improving, West Making Some Progress. Daily Environment Report, January 4, 1999, AA-1. EPA's latest analysis of air quality trends in the US shows that the eastern portion of the country may have a harder time than the West in improving visibility conditions by cutting regional haze. Although the western states have made some progress in improving visibility in the pristine areas, conditions in the East appear to be the same, or maybe getting worse, according to an agency official. The report also provides evidence that sulfates are playing the most significant role in visibility impairment across the country. The agency's report measured visibility trends over a ten year period from 1988-1997. It examined visibility conditions in 37 national parks and wilderness areas. The report centered on changes in the severity of visibility impairment during the 20 percent of days when visibility conditions were their worst, the 20% of days when visibility was at its best, and the 20% of days when conditions were average. "One can see that the worst visibility days in the West are only slightly more impaired than the best days in the East," said the report. David Guinnup, a supervisory environmental engineer with EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, said the agency established that during the past 10 years visibility impairment has grown more severe in the East during the worst days and best days, but has shown a slight improvement during the average days. In the four years after 1993, visibility impairment appears to have worsened by about 4% in the east on the worst days, according to the report. This followed a period, leading up to 1993, when visibility declined more severely in that region.
More EPA Enviro-Newsbrief
Y2K & Environmental News
Back to the Top
Website maintained by Michael R. Meuser
Copyright © 1996-2009 MapCruzin.com