Environmental Protection Agency


In what is considered to be a blow to U.S. corn growers, the EPA today sent a letter to the Gen. Wesley Clark chaired trade association “Growth Energy” indicating that the EPA needed more time to complete tests on how an increase by 5% (from 10% ethanol to 15% ethanol) in ethanol content may damage engines and fuel lines.

The good news for Growth Energy, which formally petitioned for the increase, was that the EPA reported that two tests showed that engines in newer cars can handle the higher blend. “The announcement is a strong signal that we are preparing to move to E15,” Growth Energy said in a statement, asserting that the switch would mean 136,000 new jobs.

However, the Renewable Fuels Association saw it as a major blow to the growth of biofuels in the U.S. “The delay threatens to paralyze the continued evolution of America’s ethanol industry,” RFA president Bob Dinneen said. “Moreover, this delay will chill investment in advanced biofuel technologies at a critical time in their development and commercialization.”

As it stands, the U.S. ethanol industry benefits from a tax credit, a tariff on imported ethanol and from the nation’s Renewable Fuel Standard, which will require fuel distributors to blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol with gasoline in coming years. But the industry is fast reaching that point and will exceed 11 billion in 2009.

The E15 blend has been controversial in part because of the damage that ethanol, a corrosive, already has caused in fuel lines and other components of boat engines and some small motors.

The EPA is involved because of air pollution implications and was required under the Clean Air Act to act by today on Growth Energy’s waiver request. The federal agency said that is has been working with the Energy Department to conduct tests “as quickly as possible given the available testing facilities.”

The Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based advocacy organization, praised the EPA’s deliberate process. The group’s Craig Cox said that sound science had trumped “efforts by well-funded and politically well-connected ethanol lobby to short circuit” the testing process.

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For the Post analyzing the EPA’s Press Conference, follow this link:  https://transportenvllaw.wordpress.com/2009/03/31/epa-proposes-to-create-an-emission-control-area-along-the-us-coastlines-to-cut-harmful/

EPA issued the following press release this morning:

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will hold a joint news conference on Monday with federal and state officials to announce a new proposal to address harmful emissions from ships that travel near communities where tens of millions of Americans live, work, play and learn.

Administrator Jackson will be joined by Coast Guard Rear Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, Senator Frank Lautenberg and Congressmen Donald Payne and Albio Sires on Monday at Port Newark in New Jersey.

Emissions from ocean-going ships can contaminate the air in nearby communities. These ships dock at more than 100 U.S. ports and more than 40 of those ports are in metropolitan areas that do not meet federal air quality standards.

Who: EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Coast Guard Rear Admiral Sally Brice-O’Hara, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, Senator Frank Lautenberg and Congressman Donald Payne, Congressman Albio Sires

What: Press conference to announce proposal to slash harmful ship emissions

When: Monday, March 30, 2009 at 12:00 p.m.

Where: Berth 50 at Port Newark.

Rain Location: New York Shipping Association Training Center, 1210 Corbin Street, Elizabeth.

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A Federal judge in Corpus Christi, Texas, on March 17, 2009, fined General Maritime Management $1 million and sentenced it to serve five years of probation. In addition, the company must rehire the whistleblowers if they reapply for employment, submit monthly reports, under oath, regarding conpliance, and allow a court appointed official to perform three audits of each vessel and three audits of its shore side office during the probation period.

The criminal convictions were related to events occurring on board the Genmar Defiance during a voyage to Corpus Christi in November, 2007.  On November 24, 2007, engine room crew members were directed by the tanker’s First Engineer, Cavadas, to assist in hooing up a flexible hose between the ship’s bilge pump and the overboard discharge valve bypassing the vessel’s pollution prevention equipment – its oil-water separator – and allowed crewmembers to pump the contents of the bilge tank directly into the Straits of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.

Two days later, one of the crew members working in the ship’s engine room was ordered by First Engineer Cavadas and Chief Engineer Rodrigues to assist in connecting a hose from the vessel’s fresh water supply to the oil content meter on the ship’s of oil-water separator. The connection allowed the engineers to “trick” the oil content meter and prevent it from shutting a valve that would re-circulate oily water to the bilge tank where it would be treated through the oil-water separator before being discharged overboard.  By tricking the oil content meter, the oily water was permitted to be discharged directly overboard in violation of international law.  Two engine room crewmen secretly photographed the illegal connection and provided the photographs to the Coast Guard during a boarding of the vessel on November 26, 2007, while the Genmar Defiance was docked at the Valero refinery.

Engine room operations on-board large ocean-going vessels such as the Genmar Defiance generate large amounts of waste oil.  International and U.S. law prohibit the discharge of waste oil above 15 parts per million oil to water, which can be achieved by the proper operation of an oil-water separator.  The law also requires that all of the oil transferred onto, off of, or between tanks within a ship be recorded in the Oil Record book so all the oil on a ship can be accounted for when the ship is inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard and other port state control authorities around the world.

In the end, General Maritime was convicted of making false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard and failing to maintain an accurate Oil Record Book designed to prevent pollution of the world’s oceans as required by United States and international law.