Enjoy Your Food This Holiday and Appreciate our Food System

Food glorious food

What is there more handsome

Gulped swallowed or chewed

Still worth a kings ransom

What is it we dream about?

What brings on a sigh?

Piled peaches and cream about six feet high

 -From the musical Oliver

For many, food conjures up warm holiday memories of dinner with families and aromas that fill homes as friends and families gather. However, food has become (or perhaps more appropriately, it always has been) very political.

In today’s world, food is at the nexus between essential human needs, the environment, activism, politics, and the battleground of command-and-control environmental regulation.

For the producers of food, at least in the western world, they are business men and women caught in this ongoing battle, and by-in-large, doing their best to turn a profit and comply with the morass of regulations and the attack from activists.  The messages to producers are numerous:

•        The global population continues to grow, so we need more food.

•        Consumers are more health conscience, so we want more “natural” choices.

•        The public wants the food to be sustainable and to leave a small carbon footprint.

•        While we are not sure what they are, we certainly hope you are not a “factory farm.”

•        And GMO’s sure sound bad so that’s something we should probably avoid.

•        …oh and because the economy continues to suffer, we want it cheap!

Are these conflicting messages?  And in the battle for attention, what messages do the public and consumers hear as it relates to agriculture?

Unfortunately, it’s the shriller and more fantastic that grabs the attention of a world that thrives on sound bites and “Tweets.”  Consider this statement from the October 2011 National Conference to End Factory Farming: For Health, Environment, and Farm Animals. “Over the past few decades, the rise of factory farming has institutionalized animal cruelty, caused massive environmental destruction and resource damage and resource depletion, and posed a constant threat to human and animal health”  http://factoryfarmingconference.org/.

It sounds quite horrific, and what decent human could possibly favor such a system? And if you have never been to a farm or taken the time to really understand farming, you might continue to be misled.

But what if our western world and modern ways of farming were actually more productive and created a smaller environmental footprint?  As Dr. Jude Capper points out in her blog, “…as we move across the globe from developed to developing regions, productivity decreases and the carbon footprint per kg of milk increases…” http://bovidiva.com/2011/10/28/can-population-control-shrink-the-yield-gap-developing-solutions-for-developing-regions/

Of course, sound, scientific information is not nearly as juicy as “institutionalized animal cruelty and massive environmental destruction.”

So where does all of this leave us as we look to 2012?  While we cannot do much about the global economy, we remain committed to helping you put science on your side to help you make good business decisions.  A workable spill plan for fuels; an NPDES permit (when necessary) that isn’t burdened with onerous regulatory requirements; an effective storm water management plan; a safe and sustainable water supply; standing up to regulators and activists saying, “no!” to unreasonable requests; and providing scientific support when the battle reaches the courtroom.

I plan to enjoy plenty of “glorious food” this holiday season. In the meantime, should you find yourself in need of assistance with environmental issues, large or small, in 2012 – The Dragun Corporation will be here, as we have been, ready to assist you.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

New TRI Reporting Requirement

As you are planning for your 2012 environmental reporting, don’t forget to include hydrogen sulfide.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Hydrogen sulfide was added to the TRI list of toxic chemicals in a final rule published on December 1, 1993. On August 22, 1994, EPA issued an Administrative Stay of the reporting requirements for hydrogen sulfide in order to evaluate issues brought to the Agency’s attention after promulgation of the final rule…”

However, with the Administrative Stay lifted, facilities are required to submit TRI reports for hydrogen sulfide beginning with the 2012 reporting year (reports due July 1, 2013)

For more information about the reporting requirement for hydrogen sulfide see the EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/tri/lawsandregs/hydrogensulfide/indexf.html

If you have questions or need assistance with TRI reporting, contact Matthew Schroeder, P.E. (mschroeder@dragun.com) at 248-932-0228.

EPA 2011 Enforcement Results

Today, the EPA released their annual enforcement and compliance results for FY 2011.  According to the EPA, enforcement has resulted in “commitments” to the following

Install pollution controls for a cleaner tomorrow: $19 billion invested to improve environmental performance and compliance efforts, a record year, including $3 billion dollars to clean up hazardous waste in communities

Protect people’s health from dangerous pollution: 1.8 billion pounds of harmful air, water, and chemical pollution reduced and 3.6 billion pounds of hazardous waste reduced, properly disposed of or treated

Deter illegal pollution through civil penalties: $168 million in civil penalties assessed ($152 million in federal penalties and $16 million in actions taken jointly by EPA and state and local governments)

Fight environmental crime: $35 million in fines and restitution, $2 million in court ordered environmental projects and 89.5 years of incarceration to deter future violations and hold violators accountable

Invest additional resources in affected communities: $25 million committed by companies through enforcement settlements to conduct supplemental environmental projects in communities”

Of course, what some might consider an “investment” others would consider “bleeding money.”  Our objective is to help companies protect the environment, maintain compliance, and avoid bleeding money in the process.

If you have questions about environmental assessments or remediation, contact Jeffrey A. Bolin, M.S. (jbolin@dragun.com) at 248-932-0228.

ECO Report: Ontario Losing Momentum on Environmental Issues

According to a November 29, 2011, Media Release, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO), Gord Miller, is “worried that Ontario has lost momentum when it comes to the province’s pressing environmental issues.” 

Appointed by the Legislative Assembly, the ECO is tasked with monitoring and reporting on compliance with the Environmental Bill of Rights, the government’s success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and in achieving greater energy conservation in Ontario.

Mr. Miller goes on to suggest that he is unhappy with some who oppose the current direction of environmental policy in Ontario. “Some people really are very good at casting doubt or confusion in the public’s mind on the nature of environmental problems and their possible solutions. After all, they are often complicated issues. And, some of these people may be legitimately sceptical. But there are others who are public relations professionals and are deliberately confusing the issues to serve the agenda of one or another vested interest.”

As it relates to ECO’s assessment of the Ministry of the Environment’s performance, the ECO is concerned about the progress in addressing waste. In the Media Release they state, “The Ministry of the Environment has written four different reports and discussion papers outlining options for increasing waste diversion in the province. But this has resulted in little action on what should be one of the government’s top environmental priorities.”

However, in regard to cooperation with ECO, the report states, “Throughout the reporting year, the ECO regularly interacts with the EBR office at MOE, as well as its staff….the EBR office staff have been co-operative and provided helpful responses to ECO requests. Overall, the ECO continues to see an improvement in response times and co-operation from MOE.”

The entire report can be found here http://www.eco.on.ca/uploads/Reports-Annual/2010_11/Final-English-Bookmarked-2010-AR.pdf.

The Dragun Corporation is an environmental consulting and engineering firm with offices in Windsor, Toronto and Detroit.  If you have any questions about environmental permitting, planning or environmental remediation issues, contact Christopher Pare (cpare@dragun.com) at 519-979-7300.