Activity on environmental regulations continues to pick up as we head into the midway point for 2021, with increasing incorporation of environmental justice (EJ) into the regulatory landscape.

Analysts predict an increase in EJ claims during the public review process for air permit applications and renewals. There have already been several recent petitions by environmental groups, with a focus on state-issued Title V permits. This is an area that we will be watching as states begin to formulate their own approaches to addressing EJ.

In addition, the EPA announced a proposal to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as part of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act (AIM) of 2020. The EPA also rescinded a rule that established the agency’s procedures for issuing, modifying, withdrawing, and using guidance documents. The aim is to restore the agency’s flexibility to use regulatory action to address urgent public health, safety, and environmental priorities. Other significant environmental actions to keep an eye on:

Ask an Expert: TRI PFAS
This year’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting is due on July 1 and requires facilities to consider the release of 172 listed PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). Even if a site does not have to report for PFAS, retaining documentation to support this will be important. Check in with this month’s featured BC experts as they cover the requirements and approach to handling this year’s reporting. Read “Ask an Expert”

Expanded TRI reporting requirements and tools
In an effort to advance EJ, the EPA announced further expansion of TRI reporting requirements to include additional chemicals and facilities. Changes center around natural gas processing facilities, additional PFAS, and chemicals in the Toxic Substances Control Act work plan. EPA is also enhancing tools to allow better access to TRI data and to make the data more useful for communities and EJ concerns.

Federal funding for water infrastructure projects
A recent report from the American Society of Civil Engineers indicates that government spending at all levels has not kept pace with necessary repairs to aging water infrastructure systems. To that end, EPA announced that $6.5 billion is being made available in the upcoming round of funding under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) and state infrastructure financing authority (SWIFIA) program. This program will provide long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for qualifying programs with the aim to accelerate investment in water infrastructure.

Ask an Expert

In this month’s feature, BC subject matter expert Paul Pepler joins Meghan to help facility operators better understand EPA’s new PFAS TRI reporting requirement.

Question: Because PFAS is a new reporting requirement for TRI this year, can you help me better understand if or how our facility should be preparing?

Answer: TRI reporting is due July 1. With facilities being required to consider the release of 172 listed PFAS, here is a short Q&A to help you prepare your facility.

Does our facility need to submit a report? Paul Pepler
TRI reporting is required if you answer yes to all three of these questions:
Does your facility:
1. Employ more than 10 full-time employees?
2. Fall under a TRI-covered industry sector?
3. Exceed the annual reporting threshold for listed chemicals?

What is the threshold for PFAS TRI reporting?
The manufacturing, processing, and otherwise use reporting thresholds for each of the 172 individually listed PFAS is 100 pounds. While this threshold is significantly lower than other listed chemicals, PFAS are not categorized as chemicals of special concern; therefore, the de minimis exemption may be applied. In addition, facilities may use a Form A and range code reporting, if appropriate.

What information should we be gathering?
With the July 1 reporting deadline approaching, gathering facility data now is important. Collect your purchasing records, safety data sheets, reports (air emissions, stormwater, hazardous waste, wastewater, etc.), and other environmental records to help organize your information. Remember, EPA only requires you to utilize the best readily available information. You do not need to collect new samples, perform new monitoring, or contact suppliers for new data just for TRI reporting.

Do I need to report fire-fighting foam?
If your facility has a fire suppression system onsite that uses a listed PFAS, such as AFFF, you will need to report if 100 pounds or greater of listed PFAS was used for system testing, training, or to suppress a fire. You do not need to report the storage of the chemical or recharging of your system.

What if our facility is under the threshold limit for reporting PFAS?
Even if your facility is under the threshold limit for reporting, you must be prepared to present documentation for why your facility did not report if EPA were to perform an audit.

What records should we keep?
The following records must be kept to support your TRI filing:

  • Final Report
  • All supporting documentation used for applicability evaluation and report (e.g., exemptions claimed, threshold determinations including calculations, basis of estimates for releases, waste manifests, etc.)

About the experts

Meghan Krishnayya, Indianapolis, is the Compliance & Permitting Service Line Director for Brown and Caldwell, with expertise in environmental regulatory program strategy development and implementation.

Paul Pepler is a Principal Engineer, Environmental Compliance, for Brown and Caldwell. He is based in Boston, and has 11 years of environmental consulting and industry experience serving clients ranging from the manufacturing to the energy market sectors.

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