Batten Down the Hatches: FEMA Releases New Flood Maps for Cumberland and York Counties

Landowners in Maine’s two most populous counties should take heed: the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) prepares to roll-out updated preliminary flood insurance maps for Cumberland and York counties. FEMA announced Monday it plans to issue revised flood hazard maps on April 14. This is consistent with the state’s map adoption schedule, indicating a Spring 2017 release.

A New Model for Offshore Windpower?

According to an article in Maritime Executive, offshore renewable power developers are about to sign an agreement for the construction of islands in the middle of the North Sea as bases for offshore wind facilities.  As the article states: “[t]he generated wind energy could then be distributed from the islands over direct current lines to the North Sea countries of the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Norway and Belgium. Transmission cables would simultaneously function as interconnectors between the energy markets of the countries, so that besides transmitting wind electricity to the connected countries, the countries could also trade electricity.”

Posted on March 13, 2017 .

EPA Releases 2016 Enforcement Figures

This year marks the third annual post from this Blog highlighting EPA’s enforcement and compliance figures. And while this year’s data tells a number of interesting stories, no story is larger than the potential impact of the incoming Trump Administration on EPA’s enforcement figures in 2017. With that as our backdrop—and fully admitting that this time next year, EPA’s data may look very different giving us even more to talk about—here are just some of the interesting facts and trends spotted in last year's data. 

Posted on January 24, 2017 .

USCG Announces Ballast Water Management (BWM) Compliance Program Update

On December 2, 2016, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) issued its first Ballast Water Management System (BWMS) type-approval certificate, ushering in a new era in environmental compliance for companies operating commercial vessels with ballast water systems in U.S. waters (within 12 nautical miles). Based on public information about other, pending applications, we expect additional type approvals to issue soon. 

According to the USCG, with type-approved BWMS now available, any owner/operator of a commercial vessel requesting a BWMS extension to the regulatory deadlines for compliance must provide the U.S. Coast Guard with an explicit statement supported by documentary evidence that installation of the type approved system is not possible. Previously, since no BWMS had received USCG type-approval, vessel owners/operators could apply for extensions to a vessel’s compliance date by annotating that compliance was not possible.

On Tap For Yuengling, Clean Water Act Penalties

Wastewater disposal for large breweries, mid-sized establishments, and even small craft brewers, remains a significant environmental and economic challenge. Recently, the oldest brewery in America received an unpleasant reminder of this fact.

D.G. Yuengling and Sons, Inc. was issued a complaint from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleging that Yuengling violated its discharge permit standards at least 141 times between 2008 and 2015. Yuengling holds an Industrial User (IU) permit that allows it to discharge wastewater to the publically owned treatment works (POTW), but only after it treats its discharge to limits set in its permit. Treatment of wastewater before discharge is known as, “pretreatment.” For brewers like Yuengling, pretreatment largely involves balancing pH levels and minimizing Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) (a measure of how easy it is for microorganism at the POTW to breakdown organic materials) and Total Suspended Solids (TSS) (a measure of how much particulate material is in wastewater). High levels of BOD and TSS make it difficult for the microorganism at the POTW to do its job of breaking down organic matter and sludge. The remnants from the brewing process such as yeast, sugars, and proteins all elevate both BOD and TSS.