The Obama EPA is getting tough with some state agencies. For example, on September 8, 2009, EPA Region 6 proposed to disapprove key aspects of the Texas clean-air permitting program. It has been reported that EPA is not happy with Texas. National Journal reported that EPA “ordered Texas and West Virginia to get tougher on polluters.”
On another front, EPA is moving to develop new regulations to control ash ponds owned by coal-fired power plants. The impetus comes from the collapse of TVA’s ash pond retaining wall in December 2008 that sent tons of coal ash into the waterways and people’s homes. EPA issued a statement that said “current regulations, which were issued in 1982, have not kept pace with changes that have occurred in the electric power industry over the past three decades.”
EPA is also looking into regulating the emission of mercury from the nation’s 500 coal fired power plants. It will take the form of a mercury control plan.
On the water side, EPA has teamed up with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. This was in response to President Obama’s May 12 , 2009 Executive Order 13508 to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. A draft report was issued on September 3, 2009 and it addresses some very thorny issues of land runoffs from farms, industrial animal facilities and urban centers. All of these issues are highly charged politically and EPA is considering new regulations and more enforcement in these areas.