Join PPM at the Annual LSWA Environmental Conference

The Louisiana Solid Waste Association’s Environmental Conference will be held at the Louisiana Cajun Dome on March 20-22 in Lafayette, Louisiana. PPM Principal, Todd Perry, will be presenting 35 Years of UST Compliance, How Far We’ve Come on Thursday, March 21.

The conference will be geared towards “working to preserve Louisiana’s environmental paradise,” and it will also offer additional training courses including ethics training. Attendee registration is available here, and additional information can be found on LSWA’s site.

Please stop by PPM’s booth #20, and drop off your business card for a chance to win one of our great PPM drawings!

Posted in Alabama, Blog, Company News, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

Will We See You at the Gulf Coast Food and Fuel Expo?

PPM is looking forward to the 2019 Gulf Coast Food and Fuel Expo in Biloxi, MS. In 2018 this expo hosted over 600 attendees from thirteen states, and it provided opportunities to meet top decision-makers and buyers in the petroleum marketing and convenience store industries.

This year’s annual conference and trade show will be held at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center March 13-14. The main event will feature a large regional tradeshow, but there are also educational sessions, networking events, brand meetings, a cocktail reception, and a golf tournament open to attendees and exhibitors. To register for this event, visit here and to view the schedule visit here.

Come by and see us at booth 310/312 and make sure to drop a business card in our fishbowl for a chance to win a custom Kula cooler.

Posted in Alabama, Blog, Brownfields, Company News, Environmental Compliance, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

EPA Enforcement Annual Results for Fiscal Year 2018

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its annual enforcement results for the 2018 fiscal year (ranging from October 1, 2017, to September 30, 2018). The report highlights the results of the agency’s civil and criminal enforcement over the past year. Susan Bodine, the Assistant Administrator for OECA, summarizes EPA’s enforcement priorities, explaining “In fiscal year 2018, we continued our focus on expediting site cleanup, deterring noncompliance, and returning facilities to compliance with the law, while respecting the cooperative federalism structure of our nation’s environmental laws.”

Highlights from the 2018 report include:

  • EPA assessed approximately $69.5 million dollars in administrative and civil judicial penalties in FY 2018. The report notes that it typically takes 2.25 years to move civil cases referred by EPA to the Department of Justice resolved via settlement or to proceed towards litigation with the filing of a complaint.
  • In FY 2018 over 1,560 facilities voluntarily disclosed violations pursuant to EPA’s self-disclosure policies. This represents a 47% increase in self-disclosures from FY 2017 and an even greater climb from earlier years (for example, there were only 666 facilities that self-disclosed in FY 2015). EPA attributes the increases in the self-disclosure of environmental compliance issues to increased use of the eDisclosure reporting that was launched two years ago and EPA’s introduction of the New Owner Audit Policy this past fiscal year.
  • EPA reported $88 million in criminal fines, restitution and court ordered environmental projects. The fines and restitution imposed in FY 2018, however, were higher than at any point in the 2008 to 2012 period. The data also shows that EPA continues to pursue criminal enforcement cases.
  • EPA conducted about 10,600 inspections and compliance evaluations in FY 2018. Although this represents about a 10% decline from the prior year, it is consistent with a nearly decade-long continuing decline in EPA inspections and evaluations. Part of the decline, as reported by EPA in its annual report, is attributable to increased reliance on data analytics and other tools to improve inspection targeting.
  • EPA reported that private parties committed to spend roughly $453 million to cleanup new sites. Despite the agency’s stated focus on increasing Superfund enforcement, this amount is less than half of FY 2017’s approximately $1.26 billion total. However, a couple of significant cleanup cases can heavily impacted the annual totals.

The full report of EPA’s 2018 enforcement and compliance assurance accomplishments is available here, https://epa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=0b9d73f351d648698f63bba3f3b15114, EPA’s FY18 Enforcement Annual Results Data Graphics are available here, https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2019-02/documents/fy18-enforcement-annual-results-data-graphs.pdf and EPA’s News release for the 2018 Annual Environmental Enforcement Results can be found here, https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-announces-2018-annual-environmental-enforcement-results.

 

Contributed by Todd Perry, Principal
Posted in Alabama, Blog, EPA News & Regulations, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

PPM Celebrates 25 Years

This month PPM Consultants is celebrating our 25th anniversary in business. The celebration will continue throughout the year in appreciation of our wonderful clients and exceptional team. The company will also celebrate its silver anniversary during its annual PPM Roadshow in February, where the firm’s principals will meet with PPM staff to share their vision for the upcoming year, as well as reflect on the previous year’s successes. Founding principals Todd Perry, Keith Pyron and Michael McCown agree they will be reflecting on 2018 proudly. Perry said, “2018 was a truly special year, with incredible record breaking growth across all measurable indices. These accomplishments would not be possible without our fantastic clients and outstanding team.”

PPM was founded on January 17, 1994, to provide environmental consulting services to the petroleum marketing industry, with a primary focus on soil and groundwater contamination assessment and remediation. The company began operations with a five-person office in Monroe, LA and a one-person office in Mobile, AL. Since then, the firm has seen both geographic and revenue growth, and has diversified its environmental offerings to include air, water and waste permitting and reporting, due diligence and other services to the manufacturing, energy, commercial and government sectors. The focus of the firm, both then and now, is to provide common sense, cost-effective environmental solutions to clients, who depend on PPM for honest answers to complex problems.

McCown states, “We’ve seen our finest year ever by focusing on our clients’ needs.” McCown is quick to acknowledge that meeting client goals on a daily basis is the only way that company milestones like reaching $27 million in revenues and growing offices have been possible. With this approach, PPM has grown to seven offices across the Southeast with a staff of over 100. Since its founding, PPM has earned repeated placement on the Inc. 500, the ENR Environmental 200, and the Zweig-White Hot Firm lists for being one of the fastest-growing environmental firms in the nation.

PPM looks to 2019 with goals to exceed $30 million in revenue, extend its service area and acquire firms whose services will provided expanded geographic coverage and synergy with PPM’s existing offerings.

The PPM team looks forward to many more great years ahead. Pyron adds, “It has been a truly great and satisfying experience to have been in business the last 25 years with our team.”

Posted in Alabama, Blog, Company News, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

A Year-End Review of EPA’s Recent Air Permitting Guidance Changes

As we enter into 2019, it is important to reflect on the air permitting guidance changes we have seen in what has been a very active year in EPA air permitting guidance. These guidance changes, especially those under the complex NSR review process, will impact the air permitting process for capital projects going forward. Below is just a brief summary of some of the major EPA actions affecting the air permitting process in 2018:

Once In, Always In Policy

Withdrawal of the “Once In, Always In” policy was published on January 25, 2018. This memorandum reverses a long-standing policy that EPA has held since 1995 that a source subject to major source standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP) would always remain subject to those standards, even if it subsequently reduces its emissions below the major source threshold. (Link)

Project Emissions Accounting

Changes to the NSR “Netting” process were published on March 13, 2018. This memorandum establishes the concept of “Project Emissions Accounting,” and allows a facility subject to NSR review to consider both emissions increases and decreases in the first step of the NSR review process, rather than just increases. (Link)

NAAQS

President Trump issued a memo to EPA on April 12, 2018, which was followed by the EPA “Back-to-Basics” memorandum on May 9, 2018. Both of these memoranda address the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) review process and aim to make the process more transparent, and stress that attainment determinations be made in a timely manner. (Link 1, Link 2)

Source Aggregation

EPA clarified source aggregation and the definition of “Common Control” in a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on April 30, 2018 regarding Meadowbrook Energy, LLC. Further refinements to source aggregation policy were included in an October 16, 2018 letter from EPA to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources regarding the Janesville City Landfill. Both letters stress that common control is not merely the ability to influence another facility, but the power to direct activities which would directly impact air emissions and compliance obligations. (Link 1, Link 2)

Draft guidance on source aggregation and adjacency in NSR review was published on September 4, 2018. This guidance stresses that functional interrelatedness should not enter into a decision on whether or not two sources are “adjacent,” and that adjacent means physical proximity only. This guidance does not, however, include a physical distance threshold for adjacency, as is used in the industry-specific oil and gas adjacency criteria (one quarter mile). (Link)

ACE Rule

On August 21, 2018, EPA proposed the Affordable Clean Energy Rule as a replacement to the 2015 Clean Power Plan. This rule establishes emissions guidelines for states to develop plans to address Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from coal-fired power plants. (Link)

Ambient Air

On November 9, 2018, EPA published draft guidance on the definition of “ambient air.” If finalized, this guidance would allow ambient air analyses to exclude areas that are inaccessible due to reasons other than just fencing or physical barriers. Public comment on this draft guidance is open through December 21, 2018. (Link)

Project Aggregation

On November 15, 2018, EPA published a reconsideration of an earlier action in 2009 that clarifies what is considered a “project” under New Source Review (NSR) and when projects should be aggregated together during an NSR analysis. This action affects how facilities going through Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Nonattainment New Source Review (NNSR) characterize their projects when determining whether they constitute a “major modification.” While there will still be some case-by-case element to what constitutes a “project,” this action gives regulated entities as well as regulators criteria to help make a judgment on whether certain changes at a facility should be aggregated in an NSR analysis. (Link)

With all the movement we saw in 2018, we can expect 2019 to be another active year. PPM will continue to stay up-to-date on the latest regulatory developments and summarize their impact on the regulated community.

If this summary has sparked your interest in a certain area, please feel free to reach out to ned.coleman@ppmco.com for a collaborative discussion regarding your facility.

 

Contributed by Ned Coleman, P.E., Senior Environmental Engineer
Posted in Alabama, Blog, Environmental Compliance, EPA News & Regulations, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

Merry Christmas from Our Family to Yours

One of the traditions we look forward to the most at PPM is sending to our clients a special Christmas greeting. Each year our card’s art is drawn by one of our team member’s children, and we love sharing what Christmas looks like through their eyes.

We are always excited by the talent of these up-and-coming artists and are thrilled to showcase each of the entries we received below. The winner of this year’s contest is Drew Duff, son of Gretchen Duff (Monroe office).

Great work, Drew!

 

DREW, AGE 10 — WINNER

I love Christmas because: It is the season of giving.

ARLO, AGE 3 

I love Christmas because: Of the snow and Santa Claus bringing presents.

AUDREY, AGE 7

I love Christmas because: You get to find your Elf in the morning when you wake up!

AVA, AGE 9

I love Christmas because: It is Jesus’ birthday.

CARAH, AGE 6

I love Christmas because: It snows and you can make snowmen. You get joy and love from your family.

CASADIE, AGE 10

I love Christmas because: Jesus was born this time of year, and in Christmas time Christmas music is played. I love Christmas music and movies.

CHANCE, AGE 6 MONTHS

I love Christmas because: For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

EMALYN, AGE 7

I love Christmas because: We can celebrate God’s birthday and get presents.

GRANT, AGE 11

I love Christmas because: I get cookies and Jesus is born.

LAYLA, AGE 6

I love Christmas because: I get presents and the elf comes and hides in things.

MEREDITH, AGE 11/2

I love Christmas because: Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!

REED, AGE 9

I love Christmas because: It’s Jesus’ birthday. I get to spend time with my family and get to open presents.

SCHUYLER, AGE 9

I love Christmas because: You get to spend time with your friends and family. You can feel joyful and give gifts.

TATE, AGE 8

I love Christmas because: Spending Christmas with my very good family and the birth of Jesus.

Posted in Alabama, Blog, Company News, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

Deregulation Trends in the Wake of “In-One-Two-Out” Policy

On January 30, 2017, the day President Donald Trump took office, one of his first measures was to sign in Executive Order 13771.1 This executive order became known as the “In-One-Two-Out” policy whereby for every new regulation adopted, two regulations should be cut so as to not increase the incremental costs of new regulations.  It has been almost two years since this executive order was signed and there are two significant trends already showing.

 

 

  1. The total number of regulations has decreased

Figure 1 below shows the total number of pages in the federal register by year.2 In 2017, there was a significant reduction of 35% in the total number of pages in the Federal Register. The last time there was fewer pages of regulations was in 1993, 25 years ago.

Figure 1

[1] “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs”. E.O. 13771 of Jan 30, 2017

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/02/03/2017-02451/reducing-regulation-and-controlling-regulatory-costs.

[1] “Reg Stats | Regulatory Studies Center | The George Washington University”. Regulatorystudies.Columbian.Gwu.Edu, 2018, https://regulatorystudies.columbian.gwu.edu/reg-stats. Accessed 30 Oct 2018.

  1. The rate of new significant regulations has substantially slowed

Not only has the total number of regulations decreased, but also the rate at which new regulations being published has dramatically decreased. Figures 2 and 3 show a step decline in significant new regulations, where “significant regulatory action” means any regulatory action that may have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more.3,4 This trend equates to an 81% reduction in new significant regulations between 2016 and 2017.

Key Take-Aways

The data over the past year and a half shows that the pace of regulations has slowed, which promotes a stable regulatory climate (i.e. not a lot of new projected regulations). This reduced regulatory expansion period may lead companies to consider:

  • New projects or expansions
  • Debottlenecking projects
  • Asset Acquisitions or Divestitures
  • Other various permit modifications or amendments

If your company is in a capitol deployment mode and needs additional support in regards to environmental permitting and/or plans for your projects, be it manpower or technical expertise, PPM Consultants can assist in your environmental needs.

[3] Ibid.

[4] “Further Amendment to Executive Order 12866 on Regulatory Planning and Review.” E.O. 13442 of January 18, 2007 https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2007/01/23/07-293/further-amendment-to-executive-order-12866-on-regulatory-planning-and-review.

 

Contributed by Brandon Bass, P.E., Project Engineer
Posted in Alabama, Blog, Environmental Compliance, EPA News & Regulations, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

Brandon Bass, P.E. Joins PPM Consultants as Project Engineer

Brandon Bass joined PPM Consultants as a Project Engineer in the firm’s Birmingham, Alabama office. Bass has seven years of experience in air quality and compliance that he brings to PPM.

Bass has extensive knowledge of environmental regulations, New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), and Title V permitting and compliance. He also has experience in environmental auditing, Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) programs, Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reporting, Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), environmental due diligence on greenfield and brownfield sites, along with others.

His project background includes air permitting and compliance, environmental due diligence for renewable energy development, GHG program audit and development for refineries, applying industrial process knowledge in context of regulatory requirements including developing process flow and data flow diagrams, and ambient air monitoring.

Bass holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering, with an Environmental concentration, from Louisiana State University. Bass is a licensed professional engineer in Alabama and Louisiana with extensive Title V knowledge.

Posted in Alabama, Blog, Company News, News

Upcoming Compliance Dates for Refinery Sector Rule 40 CFR 63 CC

Compliance Date and Summary of Requirements

January 30, 2019, is rapidly approaching, and for those facilities with flares subject to the requirements in Subpart CC, that’s your compliance deadline for completing a Flare Management Plan (FMP). Flares that are subject to the requirements in §63.670 are also subject to the flare monitoring requirements in §63.671, which include developing a monitoring plan, operating a continuous parametric monitoring system (CPMS), and submitting periodic reports.

Many of the facilities subject to Subpart CC were already required to develop FMPs under 40 CFR Part 60 Ja; however, the additions to Subpart CC necessitate updates to the existing plans to ensure both regulations are met. Whereas Ja focused on minimizing overall flare volumes and emissions of pollutants such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), Subpart CC addresses minimizing hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions by placing enhanced monitoring and operational requirements on flare combustion such as:

  • Continuous operation of a pilot flame
  • Operation without visible emissions (VE)
  • Maximum flare tip velocity
  • Minimum combustion zone heat content (>270 Btu/scf) and proper steam or air assistance

In addition to the monitoring and operational requirements, facilities subject to Subpart CC must develop a CPMS monitoring plan that details quality control/quality assurance (QA/QC) requirements and procedures including, but not limited to:

  • Identification of the specific flare being monitored and flare type
  • Parameters monitored and type for each flare
  • Description of the monitoring equipment
  • Description of the data collection and reduction systems, including algorithms used to demonstrate compliance
  • Routine QA/QC procedures with descriptions for calibrations, calibration drift, spare parts inventory, etc.

Additionally, facilities should use this time to conduct a thorough review of their FMPs and other monitoring plans to verify the plans are accurate and reflect the existing design and operation. Changes to existing flare minimization plans/strategies along with addressing modifications to the facility’s baseline or developing alternatives baselines should also be discussed during this time. This is also a good time for a facility to review its fence line monitoring program, which was first required to be implemented on January 30, 2018, since it will be coming up on a full years’ worth of data to analyze.

PPM has professionals with flare management plan experience who would be happy to discuss these required updates. Please give us a call at (251) 990-90000 if you need help or have any questions. Feel free to reach us by email: Isaac Smith (isaac.smith@ppmco.com), Ned Coleman (ned.coleman@ppmco.com).

 

Contributed by Isaac Smith, Environmental Compliance Manager
Posted in Alabama, Blog, Environmental Compliance, Louisiana, Mississippi, News

2015 UST Rules to Begin Full Implementation

The 2015 Revised Underground Storage Tank (UST) Regulations will begin full implementation in some states and 16 non-program approved states on October 13, 2018.  The revisions strengthen the 1988 federal UST regulations by increasing emphasis on properly operating and maintaining UST equipment. The revisions will help prevent and detect UST releases, which are a leading source of groundwater contamination.

In addition, EPA added new operation and maintenance requirements and addressed UST systems deferred in the 1988 UST regulation. Below is a summary of five key operational changes:

  • Overfill Prevention Equipment Inspections Overfill protection equipment must be tested and operationally inspected once every three years, and the owner must demonstrate that the equipment operates properly. In addition, owners must inspect automatic shut-off devices, flow restrictors, and alarms.
  • Spill Bucket Testing Spill prevention equipment must be tested once every three years. The spill bucket must be liquid tight and in proper operational condition.
  • Sumps and Under Dispenser Containment (UDC) Integrity Testing Once every three years, tank owners must test all sumps used for interstitial monitoring, and the test must show that the equipment is liquid tight using either vacuum, pressure, or liquid testing methods.  If you have double-walled sumps and/or automatic alarm shut-off sensors, your requirements may be different.
  • Sumps, UDC and Release Detection Equipment Inspection Visual Once a year, tank owners must visually check the sumps for damage, releases, and leaks.  Also probes and sensor tests must be conducted annually to ensure they are in operational condition.
  • Monthly Spill Bucket and Release Detection Walk Through Inspections Every 30 days, tank owners must conduct monthly UST system walkthrough inspections for spill buckets, fill caps, release detection equipment, alarm conditions, check/remove obstructions in fill pipe, and check interstice of double-walled spill buckets (if present).

Several resources are available through EPA and your state websites, such as guidance, summaries and forms.  EPA’s resources can be found here, https://www.epa.gov/ust/revising-underground-storage-tank-regulations-revisions-existing-requirements-and-new#compliance.

Be sure to go to the EPA and your state website and regulators for more specific information about the requirements in your state. If you need additional information or have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at todd.perry@ppmco.com or Zane Hood at zane.hood@ppmco.com.

 

Contributed by L. Todd Perry, Principal
Posted in Alabama, Blog, Environmental Compliance, EPA News & Regulations, Louisiana, Mississippi, News