EPA announces start of new cleanup projects at 22 Superfund sites, along with 100 other ongoing cleanups

On Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the second wave of approximately $1 billion in funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to start new cleanup projects at 22 Superfund sites and expedite over 100 other ongoing cleanups across the country.

Thousands of contaminated sites exist nationally due to hazardous waste being dumped, left out in the open, or otherwise improperly managed, including in manufacturing facilities, processing plants, landfills, and mining sites. Superfund cleanups help transform contaminated properties and create jobs in overburdened communities, while repurposing these sites for a wide range of uses, including public parks, retail businesses, office space, residences, warehouses, and solar power generation. In addition, these sites can support natural areas, parks, and recreation facilities, providing greenspace and safe places for families to play outside.

“Thanks to President Biden’s historic investments in America, we are moving faster than ever before to progress clean up at contaminated sites – from manufacturing facilities to landfills – in communities across the country,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan “But our work is not yet finished – we’re continuing to build on this momentum to ensure that communities living near many of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned releases of contamination finally get the investments and protections they deserve.”

The $1 billion investment announced today is the second wave of funding from the $3.5 billion allocated for Superfund cleanup work in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. With the first wave of funding announced in December 2021, EPA deployed more than $1 billion for cleanup activities at more than 100 Superfund National Priorities List sites across the country. Thanks to this historic funding, EPA started 81 new cleanup projects in 2022, including projects at 44 sites previously on the backlog. By starting four times as many construction projects as the year before, EPA is aggressively bringing more sites across the country closer to finishing cleanup. For example, in Evansville, Indiana, EPA continued to reduce exposures to lead and arsenic in soil in the neighborhoods of the Jacobsville Neighborhood Contamination site by starting the next phase of cleaning up contaminated residential soils.

In addition to funding cleanup construction work, this investment is enabling EPA to increase funding for and accelerate essential work needed to prepare sites for construction and ensure that communities are meaningfully involved in the cleanup process. In 2022, EPA more than doubled its spending for Superfund pre-construction activities like remedial investigations, feasibility studies, remedial designs, and community involvement.

EPA is committed to carrying out this work in line with President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative by advancing environmental justice and incorporating equity considerations into all aspects of the Superfund cleanup process. This will help ensure that historic and ongoing impacts of contamination on overburdened communities are fully considered and addressed. Out of the 22 sites to receive funding for new cleanup projects, 60% are in communities with the potential for environmental justice concerns based on data from EJSCREEN, an environmental justice mapping and screening tool that provides EPA with a nationally consistent dataset and approach for combining environmental and demographic socioeconomic indicators.

The funding announced today includes new cleanup projects at the following 22 Superfund sites:

StateSite NameStateSite Name

In 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, known as Superfund. The law gave EPA the authority and funds to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up the most contaminated sites across the country. When no viable responsible party is found or cannot afford the cleanup, EPA steps in to address risks to human health and the environment using funds appropriated by Congress, like the funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

For more information on each site, please visit https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-sites-new-construction-projects-receive-bipartisan-infrastructure-law-funding

To see highlights from the first year of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding at Superfund sites, please visit https://www.epa.gov/infrastructure/cleaning-superfund-sites-highlights-bipartisan-infrastructure-law-funding

For more information about EPA’s Superfund program, please visit https://www.epa.gov/superfund

How tensions with Russia are jeopardizing key Arctic research

Read the full story at e360.

With the Ukraine war, international collaborations with Russia on Arctic research and oversight have been strained or broken off. This loss of critical cooperation is compromising efforts to confront mounting environmental risks in the Arctic, from shrinking sea ice to pollution.

The economic tides just turned for states

Read the full story from RMI.

States across the country have a massive new opportunity to boost their local economy through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) — and now, for the first time, that opportunity is quantified. Thanks to historic investment in clean energy technologies, low-carbon alternatives for energy, transportation, appliances, and manufacturing are cheaper than ever, sometimes already undercutting their fossil fuel counterparts.

States can capitalize on this opportunity and support the use of new tax credits and rebates that will allow individuals and businesses to buy new electric vehicles, heat pumps, renewables, energy efficient equipment, and more while saving money. More than that, it’s creating thousands of clean technology and energy jobs in the United States right now, reinvesting in parts of the country where manufacturing once thrived, and stimulating what could be a global climate and clean energy “race to the top.”

Our first-of-its-kind analysis shows the potential benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act state by state. Most of the financial incentives that will be used from the IRA will be in the form of tax credits, which means keeping billions of new investment dollars in-state and lowering the federal tax burden of residents across states. Taking full advantage of the IRA can also lead to a flood of private sector funding as industries and clean energy developers look to build new projects.

A cancer-causing chemical has been on EPA’s radar for years. Why is it still there?

Read the full story from the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

When Jacquelyn Scott checked her mailbox in August, she found a letter from an unexpected sender: the Environmental Protection Agency.

Its message was even more surprising. A facility less than half a mile away from Scott’s south Memphis home — one that she didn’t know existed — emits ethylene oxide.

In its letter, the EPA told Scott and other residents that ethylene oxide is about 60 times more dangerous than it previously thought but assured them that the facility at 2396 Florida St. was following regulations.

Scott said she scanned the letter and put it aside. Soon after, she got an email from Memphis Community Against Pollution about a meeting at the South Branch Library to discuss ethylene oxide’s cancer risk. That message got Scott’s full attention.

Sterilization Services of Tennessee appeared on the EPA’s list of high-risk facilities in August, but the company has refused to comment until after there are new regulations on the books.

About 85% of ethylene oxide releases are fugitive emissions, meaning they escape through vents, doors and windows, but EPA regulations don’t account for this type of emission. The EPA is moving to enact tighter restrictions on the chemical’s emissions, but a pending lawsuit claims the agency has already missed two deadlines for new standards.

Water tech catches a wave

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Waterplan represents a new generation of “aquapreneurs” focused on industrial and commercial water applications. From planning tools to advanced wastewater filtering and recycling systems to freshwater generation technologies, these startups are thirsty for funding and finding more investors willing to fill their cups as 2030 looms.

How plants are inspiring new ways to extract value from wastewater

Read the full story from Australian National University.

Scientists are drawing inspiration from plants to develop new techniques to separate and extract valuable minerals, metals and nutrients from resource-rich wastewater.

ECL raises $7 million to build zero emissions, green-hydrogen powered data center

Read the full story at ESG Today.

Modular data center developer and operator ECL announced today it has raised $7 million in seed funding, with proceeds aimed at supporting the delivery of its first built-to-suit, modular data center with fully-renewable 1MW power and zero emissions.

ECL, founded by data center veterans from companies including Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Cisco, HPE and Bloom Energy, aims to develop fully green data centers using disruptive engineering, design and emerging technologies, including power management and cooling innovations, and using off-grid power sources. The company’s data center design consumes no local resources, including power or water, and operates with zero emissions at extremely low noise levels.

The company said that its new data center will be the world’s first fully green, off-grid data center, using green hydrogen as its primary power source.

EPA considers tougher regulations on livestock farm pollution

Read the full story from PBS News Hour.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will study whether to toughen regulation of large livestock farms that release manure and other pollutants into waterways.

EPA has not revised its rules dealing with the nation’s largest animal operations — which hold thousands of hogs, chickens and cattle — since 2008. The agency said in 2021 it planned no changes but announced Friday it had reconsidered in response to an environmental group’s lawsuit.

While not committing to stronger requirements, EPA acknowledged needing more recent data about the extent of the problem — and affordable methods to limit it.

The Federal Reserve is starting a climate experiment

Read the full story at Vox.

The US Federal Reserve is running its very first climate change experiment.

The central bank this month announced details about how it will conduct a “pilot climate scenario analysis exercise” involving the six largest US banks: Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo.

The Fed basically wants major banks to game out how they’ll handle climate change-related shocks. For example, what would happen to their real estate holdings in the northeastern United States under a future hurricane when sea levels are higher? These scenarios are grouped together in the exercise as “physical risks.”

Then there are “transition risks”: How will financial institutions cope with a wholesale shift away from fossil fuels toward cleaner energy? What will happen to their investments in coal mines or gas plants? How will loans fare when customers turn away from businesses with a large impact on the climate?

These are immensely consequential questions, not just for the banks, but for everyone. How banks manage, or fail to manage, climate risks will affect things like home loans, business lending, retirement accounts, and insurance — things that will touch every sector of the economy. The Fed has set a deadline to receive these reports from banks by the beginning of August.

Turning food waste into biodegradable bioplastics

Read the full story from Virginia Tech.

Researchers in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences received a $2.4 million USDA grant to create affordable bioplastics and reduce plastic waste remaining both on land and in the sea.