BLOG

HSE MATTERS

How secure are your PSM processes?

Highly hazardous chemicals such as toxics, reactives, flammable liquids and gases are used in many industries such as food processing, chemical manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, plastics, paints, etc….  If not properly designed, maintained, and managed safely during manufacture, transport, storage, and use, these chemicals can cause disastrous incidents with significant property damage and potentially fatal-consequences. OSHA and EPA both regulate industries with chemicals over certain threshold quantities through their Process Safety Management (PSM) and the Risk Management Plan (RMP) standards,…

Read More

Evaluating Workplace Health Exposures

Under the OSH Act, employers are required to identify and evaluate health hazard(s) in their workplaces, which includes exposures to air contaminants, chemicals, biological and physical hazards. More than 6 million workplaces in the U.S. are covered by OSHA’s permissible exposure limits (PEL) established for over 500 chemicals listed in tables Z-1, Z-2, and Z-3.  Most of OSHA’s exposure limits are 8-hour time-weighted averages (TWA), however, there are short-term exposure limits (STEL) based on 15 minute exposures, ceiling or peak limits that…

Read More

13 Elements of a Fire Door Inspection

Routine visual inspections and operational testing of fire doors is critical to a building’s maintenance and the life safety of its occupants. Fire doors inspected in accordance with the requirements set forth by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101, Life Safety Code, and NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, require that all fire door assemblies be inspected not less than annually, after installation and maintenance work. Visual inspections and operational…

Read More

Conducting Effective Hazard Assessments

Often during inspections, audits, or accident investigations, we encounter nonexistent, inadequate, or inaccurate hazard assessments. One of the “root causes” of workplace injuries, illnesses, and incidents is the failure to identify or recognize hazards that are present, or that could have been anticipated.  A critical element of any effective safety and health program is a proactive, ongoing process to identify and assess hazards. OSHA requires that hazard assessments be performed in many standards including, but…

Read More

6 Benefits of Partnering to Improve HSE Performance 

Businesses most valuable assets are their workforce.  As such, managing health, safety, and environmental (HSE) aspects and impacts play a critical role in managing a business.  However, for many businesses, managing an HSE system is often overwhelming trying to navigate complex and everchanging regulations, and often do not have the resources to manage internally. For many smaller to mid-sized companies, the responsibilities of managing HSE aspects and impacts often fall on human resources, supervisors, or…

Read More

Major Benefits of Third Party Inspections & Audits 

Performing routine inspections and periodic audits are essential for a company to implement a process that assesses risk and liabilities while developing accurate policies, procedures, and training to continuously improve HSE performance.  Inspections (hazard identification) and audits (program evaluation) are critical to the successful implementation of an effective and continuously improving HSE management system.    Inspections of workplace hazards must be integrated into a company’s HSE program to ensure that hazards are appropriately identified, evaluated (severity,…

Read More

EPA News

- Research and Development (ORD)

WASHINGTON  Today, June 21, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $250,000 in cash prizes for the winners of the Small Communities — Big Challenges  Prize Competition. The winners, representing local governments across five states, had innovative and unique strategies for engaging with their rural communities to identify environmental and public health needs of importance to the community. This engagement addresses longstanding needs because rural communities often do not receive as much support as more populous, urban communities and they also experience, across all ethnic and racial groups, a significantly higher poverty rate than urban America.

“EPA recognizes that rural communities face unique environmental and public health challenges,” said Chris Frey, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “The local governmental winners of this challenge are working with their communities to deliver exemplary science-based approaches to address local environmental and public health issues collaboratively.”

“Environmental justice at its core ensures that anyone, regardless of zip code, has equitable access to resources,” said Theresa Segovia, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights. “This competition helps deliver those resources to rural communities and their local governments, while enhancing EPA’s knowledge of the barriers they face. Our sincere congratulations to the winners.”

EPA awarded eight prizes: $35,000 for the top four winning teams and $27,500 for the four other winning teams for a total of $250,000 in cash prizes. Additionally, one representative from each of the teams received a 1-year National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) membership. Selected projects identified local environmental challenges and engaged with their communities to communicate about issues including water quality, indoor air quality, radon levels, food waste, and recycling.

The “Small Communities, Big Challenges” competition is a partnership between EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, and the National Environmental Health Association.

SCBC winners and the titles of their submissions are listed below:

Clay County Health Department, Clay County, W. Va., for Meeting the Clay County Community Where They Are On Plastic Recycling Dunn County Land & Water Conservation Division, Dunn County, Wis., for Dunn County, Wisconsin—Groundwater Contamination Study Florida Department of Health, Orange County, Fla., for Building on Bithlo’s Transformation Logan County Health District, Logan County, Ohio, for Covid-19 Indoor Air Quality In Area School Districts Marathon County Conservation Planning and Zoning Department, Marathon County, Wis., for Using the “Marathon Method” to Tackle Elevated Nitrates in Municipal Drinking Water Supplies Oconto County Public Health, Oconto County, Wis., for Radon Testing in the North Woods—What is That? I Could Have That? Whatcom County Health and Community Services, Whatcom, Wash., for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Foothills Region Through Creative Food Recovery “Freedges” Whitman County Public Health, Whitman County, Wash., for 2023 Lower Snake River HAB Response

Read the winning Small Communities, Big Challenges submissions.

 

- Region 02

NEW YORK (June 21, 2024) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia and We Stay/Nos Quedamos joined other dignitaries at a rooftop community garden to mark the selection of the organization to be awarded a half million dollars to support a climate justice project. The grant is under the Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving Cooperative Agreement Program (EJ CPS) to advance a new climate resilience and emergency preparedness project in the South Bronx.

Through the project, entitled Climate Justice, Community Resilience, and Emergency Preparedness Curricula for South Bronx Youth and Adults, Nos Quedamos will give South Bronx community residents the skills needed to prepare for climate change and associated impacts such as flooding, blackouts, and the urban heat island effect. The grant will also support improvements to physical infrastructure in the form of hubs. These local climate resiliency hubs at three public sites will be equipped with solar panels, wireless charging stations, water catchment systems and more. They will serve as havens during emergency and climate-related events. Nos Quedamos’ project will bolster community knowledge to increase local climate leadership.

“As we combat extreme heat and other climate issues, EPA is happy to support organizations like Nos Quedamos leading the way towards sustainable, healthier communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “This grant, funded by the Inflation Reduction Act will help support climate resilience efforts in communities such as the South Bronx in a very real way.”

"We Stay/Nos Quedamos is excited to receive the EJ CPS grant from the EPA, through which we will be developing a novel environmental justice and housing justice curriculum for youth leaders in the Bronx, who are on the frontlines of climate justice and community resiliency work” said Nos Quedamos’ Basil Alsubee. “Our curriculum is produced through a joint collaboration with the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance and the City University of New York, bringing faculty, students, organizers, and youth community members at the table to discuss learning objectives and pedagogy. Our curriculum centers on field trips, movie screenings, board games, mapping activities on GIS, and other interactive skills-based and hyper-local place-based learning tools. The curriculum combines knowledge and practice in community organizing and community planning, gearing our youth to be change-makers, educators, and planners in their own communities."

“When I fought day and night to get the Inflation Reduction Act over the finish line, it is the work of groups like Nos Quedamos that I had top of mind,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “This $500,000 grant will help prepare the South Bronx community for the impact of climate change – like extreme heat and flooding – while strengthening our physical infrastructure. With temperatures hot, hot, hot in NYC right now, it is clear how urgently this funding is needed. I look forward to working with Nos Quedamos, the EPA, and all relevant parties to tackle climate impacts like extreme heat and flooding head on and protect our communities.”

“EPA’s EJ CPS program is vital to advancing environmental justice and helping organizations that provide assistance to communities impacted by climate change, pollution, and other environmental stressors,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “I am thrilled to see We Stay/Nos Quedamos receive this $500,000 in federal funding from the Inflation Reduction Act that will help boost climate resilience and emergency preparedness in the South Bronx. As the impacts of climate change continue to harm our communities, I will continue to fight for federal resources to support organizations working to advance environmental justice.”

“As we increasingly feel the effects of climate change, there is no nobler cause than working on the ground to prepare our communities for the ever-changing future,” said U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres (NY-15). “It is my honor to stand with Nos Quedamos and their critical work of fostering resilience. Congratulations to them on securing this transformative grant, which I know will be reinvested into the people of the South Bronx and make a real difference. I look forward to working with the EPA and other federal agencies to increase opportunities for grassroots environmental organizations in the South Bronx and beyond.” 

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar said, “I applaud the Biden-Harris Administration, EPA Administrator Regan, and Regional Administrator Garcia for their continued commitment and investments to ensure the Bronx and other communities vulnerable to sources of pollution are able to improve vital physical infrastructure to increase resiliency in the wake of climate change impacts. This $500,000 federal investment complements the many actions Governor Hochul, DEC, and other public and private partners are advancing to help improve resiliency to extreme heat, flooding, and other climate impacts in environmental justice communities.”

EPA’s EJ CPS program provides financial assistance to eligible organizations working to address local environmental or public health issues in their communities. The program builds upon President Biden’s Executive Orders 13985 and 14008, creating a designation of funds exclusively for small nonprofit organizations, thus ensuring that grant resources reach organizations that may have not applied for federal funding in the past.

We Stay/Nos Quedamos, along with four other New York city based community-based organizations were selected for EJ CPS grants late last year totaling close to $1.8 million in total. 

From the start of the Biden-Harris Administration, achieving environmental justice has been a top priority. in August 2022, Congress passed, and President Biden signed, the Inflation Reduction Act into law, creating the largest investment in environmental and climate justice in U.S. history. EPA received $3 billion in appropriations to provide grants and technical assistance for activities advancing environmental and climate justice. 

Learn more information on the Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving Cooperative Agreement Program.

Follow EPA Region 2 on X and visit our Facebook page. For more information about EPA Region 2, visit our website.

24-050

- Air and Radiation (OAR)

WASHINGTON — Today, June 21, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy announced that applications are open for $850 million in federal funding for projects that will help monitor, measure, quantify and reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sectors as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. Oil and natural gas facilities are the nation’s largest industrial source of methane, a climate “super pollutant” that is many times more potent than carbon dioxide and is responsible for approximately one third of the warming from greenhouse gases occurring today. Today’s announcement builds on unprecedented action across the Biden Administration to dramatically cut methane pollution, with agencies taking nearly 100 actions in 2023 alone, including the finalization of an EPA rule that will yield an 80% reduction in methane emissions from covered oil and gas facilities.  

This funding from the Inflation Reduction Act—the largest climate investment in history—will help mitigate legacy air pollution, create good jobs in the energy sector and disadvantaged communities, reduce waste and inefficiencies in U.S. oil and gas operations, and realize near-term emissions reductions, helping the United States reach President Biden’s ambitious climate and clean air goals. The funding will specifically help small oil and natural gas operators reduce methane emissions and transition to available and innovative methane emissions reduction technologies, while also supporting partnerships that improve emissions measurement and provide accurate, transparent data to impacted communities. Today’s announcement constitutes a key part of broader technical and financial assistance to be provided by the Methane Emissions Reduction Program.  

“Today, we’re building on strong standards and historic progress to cut methane pollution and protect communities across the country,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “These investments from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda will drive the deployment of available and advanced technologies to better understand where methane emissions are coming from. That will help us more effectively reduce harmful pollution, tackle the climate crisis and create good-paying jobs.” 

“As we continue to accelerate the nation’s clean energy transition, we are taking steps now to drastically reduce harmful emissions from America’s largest source of industrial methane – the oil and gas sector,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “I am proud to partner with EPA to help revitalize energy communities and deliver long-lasting health and environmental benefits across the country.”  

“President Biden’s historic investment agenda has enabled the U.S. to aggressively and ambitiously take the actions we need to decarbonize every sector of the economy. We are making significant progress in our efforts to cut pollution – including super-pollutants like methane – while creating thousands of quality jobs and lowering energy costs for Americans,” said Assistant to President Biden and National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi. “From implementing the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan that lays out a detailed roadmap for the federal government, to launching a Methane Task Force that brings all relevant agencies together around robust implementation, to hosting the first-ever White House methane summit that has catalyzed cross-sector partnerships, President Biden’s leadership on tackling methane is part of a comprehensive and historic climate effort that is spurring technological innovation, creating good-paying jobs and economic opportunity, cutting pollution in every sector, and holding polluters accountable. Today’s investments further those aims by providing the resources needed to monitor methane emissions and rapidly identify potential leaks to help protect our communities and planet.”  

The primary objectives of this funding opportunity announcement are to: 

Help small operators significantly reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations, using commercially available technology solutions for methane emissions monitoring, measurement, quantification and mitigation.  Accelerate the repair of methane leaks from low-producing wells and the deployment of early-commercial technology solutions to reduce methane emissions from new and existing equipment such as natural gas compressors, gas-fueled engines, associated gas flares, liquids unloading operations, handling of produced water and other equipment leakage.  Improve communities’ access to empirical data and participation in monitoring through multiple installations of monitoring and measurement technologies while establishing collaborative relationships between equipment providers and communities.  Enhance the detection and measurement of methane emissions from oil and gas operations at regional scale, while ensuring nationwide data consistency through the creation of collaborative partnerships. These partnerships will span the country’s oil and gas-producing regions and draw in oil and natural gas owners and operators, universities, environmental justice organizations, community leaders, unions, technology developers, Tribes, state regulatory agencies, non-governmental research organizations, federally funded research and development centers and DOE’s National Laboratories.  

A competitive solicitation for this funding will enable a broad range of eligible U.S. entities to apply, including industry, academia, non-governmental organizations, Tribes and state and local governments. This funding opportunity is expected to achieve measurable outcomes for skilled workforce training, community involvement and environmental justice. Funding applicants are required to submit Community Benefits Plans to demonstrate meaningful engagement with and tangible benefits to the communities in which the proposed projects will be located. These plans must provide details on the applicant’s commitments to community and labor engagement, quality job creation, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, and benefits to disadvantaged communities as part of the Justice40 Initiative. Established in Executive Order 14008, the President’s Justice40 Initiative set the goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal climate, clean energy and other investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.  

Read more details of this funding opportunity. For any questions on the application, applicants must submit written questions through the FedConnect portal at FedConnect.net. For assistance with any technical issues with grants.gov, please contact 1-800-518-4726 or [email protected]. More information, including applicant eligibility, can be found on the government grants page

About the Methane Emissions Reduction Program 

The Inflation Reduction Act, through the Methane Emissions Reduction Program, directed EPA to take action to tackle wasteful methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. Utilizing resources provided by Congress in the Inflation Reduction Act, EPA is partnering with DOE to provide $1.36 billion in financial and technical assistance to improve methane monitoring and reduce methane and other greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector. These investments are also expected to result in co-benefits of reducing non-greenhouse gas emissions such as volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants.  

Today’s announcement builds on the $350 million in formula grant funding EPA and DOE announced in December 2023 to states to support industry efforts to voluntarily reduce emissions at low-producing wells, monitor emissions, and conduct environmental restoration at well pads.  

Visit EPA and DOE websites for more information about the Methane Emissions Reduction Program. 

Delivering on the U.S. Methane Action Plan 

The funding opportunity announced today is a part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s comprehensive, whole-of-government strategy to reduce harmful methane emissions across economic sectors, as outlined in the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan. Below is a summary of recent and ongoing initiatives:   

In December, EPA announced final standards that will sharply reduce methane and other harmful air pollutants from the oil and natural gas industry, including from hundreds of thousands of existing sources nationwide, promote the use of cutting-edge methane detection technologies and deliver significant economic and public health benefits.    In May, EPA issued a final rule to strengthen, expand and update methane emissions reporting requirements for petroleum and natural gas systems under EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, as required by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. The final revisions will ensure greater transparency and accountability for methane pollution from oil and natural gas facilities by improving the accuracy of annual emissions reporting from these operations.  EPA is working to finalize a Waste Emissions Charge rule, which will provide an incentive for companies to adopt best practices to reduce wasteful emissions and help capture near-term opportunities for methane reductions while EPA and states work toward full implementation of the final oil and gas rule.   The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration proposed a new rule to significantly improve the detection and repair of leaks from more than 2.7 million miles of natural gas pipelines. The proposed rule would deploy pipeline workers across the country to keep more product in the pipe and prevent dangerous accidents, creating up to $2.3 billion annually in estimated benefits.   The Department of the Interior is deploying nearly $5 billion funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for workers to plug tens of thousands of orphaned oil and gas wells throughout the United States, including $64 million in 2023 for hundreds of improperly abandoned wells on federal lands, up to $660 million for states to plug thousands of high-priority orphaned wells on state and private lands, and an initial investment of nearly $40 million for Tribal Nations to address orphaned wells on their lands.   The Department of Agriculture, EPA and Food and Drug Administration recently launched a new Draft National Strategy for Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics to accelerate the prevention of food loss and waste – a major source of methane emissions.   The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law appropriated more than $11 billion over 15 years to eligible states and Tribes to reclaim abandoned coal mines, which will address dangerous safety and environmental conditions, including the elimination of major sources of water and methane pollution.   The Administration recently released the first ever National Strategy to Advance an Integrated U.S. Greenhouse Gas Measurement, Monitoring, and Information System to enhance coordination and integration of greenhouse gas – including methane – measurement, monitoring and information efforts. Such efforts include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s collection of high-resolution methane leak data via the EMIT Mission on the International Space Station, aircraft flights coordinated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Institute for Standards and Technology to connect satellite data to specific emissions sources on the ground, and the work of DOE and the State Department to coordinate international methane data collection and measurement efforts via a new Measurement, Monitoring, Reporting and Verification Working Group and the UN Methane Alert and Response System.  

Together, these efforts across the Biden-Harris Administration are accelerating reductions in methane emissions, cutting costs, supporting clean air and public health in disadvantaged communities, creating good jobs and advancing President Biden’s ambitious climate goals.