Annual Progress Report, 2013
Enforcement & Stewardship
Enforcement in Focus
Enforcement of environmental laws is the foundation of EPA's work. The Pacific Southwest Region has consolidated its civil enforcement activities to further strengthen these critical efforts.
In February 2013, EPA's Pacific Southwest Regional Office created a new Enforcement Division that brings together the compliance inspectors and data specialists formerly in its Air, Water, Waste, and Communities & Ecosystems Divisions. The move strengthens the Agency's robust regional enforcement program by integrating its enforcement team.
By consolidating the enforcement of key federal statutes, the Pacific Southwest Region will be better positioned to strategically target inspections and investigations, provide better training and coordination for enforcement staff, enhance field presence throughout the region, and collaborate more effectively on enforcement matters with states, tribes and the Department of Justice.
A sampling of significant enforcement actions over the past year include:
- Three Nevada gold mines owned by Barrick Gold Corp. will correct under-reported releases of cyanide, lead, mercury and other toxics; pay penalties of $278,000; and spend $340,000 to identify toxic metal compounds formed during milling at the Cortez/Pipeline gold mine, one of the world's largest. Barrick will also audit all seven of its U.S. gold mines to ensure correct reporting and pay up to $250,000 in additional penalties.
- At Honolulu's Waimanalo Gulch Landfill, fires often fouled the air with smoke, while decomposing trash emitted toxic gases including methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The landfill will monitor gas to prevent fires, and pay a $1.1 million penalty. It has already built a gas collection system.
- In California's San Joaquin Valley, the Fresno County company JD Home Rentals spent $74,000 to replace windows that contained toxic lead-based paint at four of its properties with new energy-efficient windows. The company also paid a $7,500 penalty for failing to inform tenants about potential lead hazards.
(For information on air enforcement cases in California's San Joaquin Valley, see Clean Air: Focus on the San Joaquin Valley »)
Growing the Food Recovery Challenge
Food is the largest single type of waste going to landfills – 21% nationally. EPA is working with 20 universities and 10 other institutions in the Pacific Southwest to reduce, reuse or recycle it.
On America Recycles Day, November 15, 2012, Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld joined University of California officials at UC Berkeley's Crossroads Dining Hall to see how the famed campus is participating in EPA's Food Recovery Challenge, a voluntary program that reduces food waste through donations to charity, reducing overproduction, composting, and anaerobic digestion.
In 2012, EPA recruited 22 new participating institutions in the Pacific Southwest, for a total of 30. A major university campus feeds thousands of students, typically disposing of tons of food waste every day. The 20 participating campuses, with a total of 460,000 students, have pledged to reduce wasted food over the next year.
Besides the 20 campuses, other participants include grocers and entertainment venues, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers Stadium and MGM Resorts.
Nationally, 33 million tons of food waste goes to landfills each year. Since food production and transport use enormous quantities of water and energy, reducing this waste can have a substantial environmental payoff. Another reason to keep food out of landfills: When it decomposes, it forms methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
Excess food can be donated to community food banks or recycled into valuable, nutrient-rich compost. Many California cities compost their greenwaste and food waste, producing a rich organic soil amendment that is used in vineyards, farms, parks and gardens.
The Food Recovery Challenge is part of EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Program, which seeks to reduce the environmental impacts of food and other widely used materials through their entire life cycle, from extraction of raw materials to recycling and disposal.
Environmental Awards Recognize Trailblazers
EPA's Pacific Southwest office gives awards each year recognizing outstanding work to protect public health and the environment.
From Arizona to Guam, twelve individuals and organizations were recognized as role models in 2012 for their accomplishments. They include:
Children's Environmental Health: Dr. Jeanne Conry of Roseville, Calif., a practicing obstetrician, advanced children's environmental health by promoting better prenatal and preconception care. Prenatal exposures are a key risk factor for infants and children. Dr. Conry has made environmental health a new emphasis for the obstetrics community, and helped make chemical exposures a priority for the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Green Government Award: The Sustainable Cities Network, a collaborative program created by Arizona State University's Global Institute of Sustainability to increase regional dialogue and action among Arizona communities, has helped advance initiatives associated with green infrastructure, low-impact development, and streamlining solar processes. As one of the country's first university/community-based sustainability outreach programs, it serves as a successful model that can be replicated by other universities.
Sustainable Agriculture Champion: Organic walnut farmer Russ Lester of Dixon Ridge Farms in Winters, Calif., is a sustainable farming pioneer. Walnut shells fuel the farm's biogas-powered generator, reducing the need for outside power. The farm has 3,500 square feet of photovoltaic solar panels, with a planned 100,000-square-foot expansion. Dixon Ridge is also a leader in water conservation and reduced packaging.
Zero Waste Advocate: Adobe Systems Inc., collaborating with Cushman & Wakefield, the City of San Jose, Republic Services, and GCA, developed a world-class recycling program that diverts an astonishing 100% of solid waste from its headquarters facility. This model has been replicated by many other Silicon Valley companies. Adobe's complex has about 2,500 employees, a million square feet of space, a cafeteria and restaurant.
Pacific Islands: Zero Waste, Green Building
EPA works with partner agencies on environmental issues in Pacific island territories and nations scattered across thousands of miles of ocean, from American Samoa to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
In Guam, residents celebrated their biggest America Recycles Day on November 15, 2012. For the first time, the island's government announced Guam's recycling rate – 17.85% of municipal waste – which was more than 29,000 tons. This was quite an achievement, since the island only recently introduced a pilot program for curbside recycling.
Governor Eddie Calvo announced plans to increase Guam's recycling rate in 2013 by 3%. His administration has also been working closely with EPA to develop a plan for Zero Waste.
EPA staff worked with Guam EPA, the Department of Defense, and island recyclers and disposal companies to establish the recycling measurement system used to track Guam's progress toward Zero Waste.
In October 2012, American Samoa's EPA moved into their new green office building, replacing the one damaged in the 2009 earthquake and tsunami. The new structure is designed to generate more renewable energy than it consumes. Its power bill went from $2,000 down to $5 in its first month of operation. It is expected to be the first building in the U.S. Pacific territories to achieve the highest "platinum" certification of the U.S. Green Building Council.