If you haven't already prepared a "worst-case scenario" environmental crisis-management plan for your company, you may want to get started.
So says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which reports that an estimated 66,000 organizations throughout the country that handle any of 140 toxic, flammable and volatile substances will be required to have such a plan in place by June 21, 1999.
Companies affected include chemical manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of propane, and municipal facilities such as public drinking water systems, wastewater treatment plants and public utilities, among others.
"Companies and facilities affected by the Accidental Release Prevention Requirement: Risk Management Plan under the Clean Air Act Section 112( r ) should begin planning now," says W. Michael McCabe, regional administrator for the EPA's mid-Atlantic region, based in Philadelphia. "The risk management plan submitted to EPA will be immediately available to state and local government agencies, the general public and all interested stakeholders."
Of those 66,000 entities, 9.7 percent are agricultural retailers; 9.5 percent are food processors, food wholesalers and other refrigerated warehouses and cold storage; 5.4 percent are chemical, petrochemical, petroleum refining, and paper and related industries; 2.3 percent are wholesale chemical distributors; and 43.6 percent are propane retailers and users.
McCabe is quick to note that the requirements do more than simply serve to prevent major damage in the event of an accident. He says the companies benefit from improved operating performance due to better training and safer operations, fewer employee injuries, better community and employee relations, and a reduction in down time caused by equipment malfunctions.
"In the broadest sense, risk-management planning relates to local emergency preparedness and response, pollution prevention at facilities and worker safety," McCabe says. "In a more focused sense, it forms one element of an integrated approach to safety and complements existing industry codes and guidelines."
For more information about the requirement, contact one of several local Small Business Development Centers or the EPA's hotline at (800) 424-9346. Its Internet address is www.epa.gov/swercepp.
Energy 2000 conference
Energy suppliers, energy service companies, trade associations, regulators, clean-energy advocates and technology companies from around the nation will be converging Nov. 10-11 on Harrisburg for "Energy 2000: Creating a Clean Energy Future."
The conference, at the Harrisburg Marriott hotel, is designed to explore how the state's new competitive electricity market can foster the development of new renewable energy sources.
Invited speakers include Vice President Al Gore and Assistant Department of Energy Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Dan Reicher, among other heavyweights. It's sponsored by the Pennsylvania Campaign for Clean Affordable Energy, a statewide network of consumer and environmental organizations. For more information, contact Jan Jarrett at (717) 697-2111 or visit the following Web site: www.paenergycampaign.org.
New Energy Ventures, which only recently entered the Pittsburgh energy provider market, doesn't want to wait too long to take its services to the rest of the country. That's why the company has launched a series of ads aimed at Congress and the U.S. president to convince them to federally introduce a more competitive electric industry.
"If New Energy Ventures were able to provide power to every federal government facility in a fully competitive energy market, we could save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year," says Michael Peevey, president and CEO of New Energy Ventures, which bills itself as the nation's largest retail energy service provider. "Once we get past the temporary hurdle of paying off utilities for the high-priced investments they made in power plants-the so-called stranded-debt problem-competition will reduce electricity prices at least 25 percent nationally, and as much as 40 percent in some states. For the federal government alone, that could mean annual electric energy cost savings of at least $870 million."
Finding clean air online
The Foundation for Clean Air Progress says the nation has experienced considerable progress against air pollution. People just don't know about it.
For that reason, the foundation has created its own Web site at www.cleanairprogress.org to better inform people. The whole point of the Web site is to demonstrate the fact that, as the foundation points out, U.S. pollution laws are working.
The Web site includes information about air quality trends across the country, information about how individuals and organizations can help reduce pollution, and some "striking facts" about the success of current pollution reduction efforts.
"There is an alarming lack of public understanding about the state of air quality in the U.S.," according to Allen Schaeffer, foundation secretary. "Nearly two-thirds of the public thinks the air we breathe today is worse than it was 10 years ago, when the exact opposite is true. It is critical⊃that people have an accurate understanding of the situation."
It's "green" power
A new program launched earlier this year by the state and some electricity suppliers now identifies electricity products that come from at least 50 percent renewable resources.
Called the Green-e Program, the logo flags products that not only demonstrate the use of renewable resources, but also those whose non-renewable-resourced energy has equal or lower air emissions and no nuclear power beyond that used for the electricity the customers would have had if they did not switch.. The renewable resources include the sun, water, wind power, sustainable biomass (including landfill methane), heat from the earth or energy conservation.
"The Green-e logo gives customers the confidence of knowing that their electricity protects their health as well as their wallets," says Jan Hamrin, executive director of the San Francisco-based Center for Resource Solutions, which administers the Green-e program. "Now⊃they can send a powerful message about protecting the environment with a single decision. Switch to green power."