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Chicago's Proposed Petcoke Regulations Full of Loopholes

Energy
Chicago's Proposed Petcoke Regulations Full of Loopholes

By Kari Lydersen

Chicago elected officials have vowed to crack down on the growing piles of petcoke stored by a subsidiary of Koch Industries and another company along the Calumet River on the city’s far southeast side.

But at a public hearing Monday night, local residents made clear that they don’t trust the City Council or Mayor Rahm Emanuel to take meaningful action on the issue.

Southeast Chicago residents packed a hearing on the city’s petcoke piles on Monday night. Photo credit: Kari Lydersen / Midwest Energy News

They think the city’s proposed storage regulations—crafted by the public health department at the mayor’s behest—would allow piles of petcoke to keep growing and polluting their neighborhood.

Alderman John Pope, who represents the Chicago neighborhoods most affected, and Ed Burke, a powerful alderman with an interest in clean air, have proposed two ordinances related to petcoke. One favored by Burke would ban petcoke storage in Chicago. The other, pushed by Pope, would impose site-specific regulations.

Emanuel last month rejected the idea of a citywide ban on petcoke storage, saying a state or federal solution is needed. On Monday, Gov. Quinn (D-IL) proposed emergency rules on petcoke storage statewide.

The proposed city rules would cover storage of solid bulk materials including petcoke, coal, ore and other materials used as fuel. Piles of salt, construction and demolition debris, waste and recycling material would not be subject to the regulations.

After the hearing Pope described the regulations as “some of the most aggressive and comprehensive” in the nation. But every resident who spoke at the meeting—as well as representatives from major environmental and health groups—described the regulations as dangerously full of loopholes and caveats. Many residents also said they think the regulations are a way for city officials to avoid considering a ban on petcoke, which residents at the hearing unanimously said they want.

Pope, like Mayor Emanuel, said a ban could mean a costly and ultimately unsuccessful court battle. As for the ordinances calling for a ban or regulations, Pope said, “we’ll try to decide which one makes sense. We might do them together, or just one or the other.”

In Chicago ordinances almost never pass without the mayor’s support, however, so a ban appears highly unlikely.

A "Swiss Cheese" Proposal

Resident Olga Bautista described the proposed regulations as “Swiss cheese” rife with holes.

The strictest regulations would only cover large new operations that receive more than 10,000 tons every five days or store more than 100,000 cubic yards at a time. Such operations would have to enclose their piles in buildings with door flaps to ensure no dust escapes.

However, existing smaller operations would not be subject to the strictest regulations and could continue storing petcoke outdoors. They would be required to have wind barriers around the piles, spray water and/or chemical sealers on piles and run at least four dust monitors on the perimeter. Piles could not exceed 30 feet high. Loading and unloading would still have to be done in an enclosure.

Residents said the breaks for smaller, existing facilities are unacceptable.

“The Koch brothers will create 10 smaller companies tomorrow and spread it all along the river,” said Carl Camacho, 33, who has lived his entire life in the neighborhood.

“Do they know how wind works?” added Bautista after the hearing. “Those barriers won’t do anything.”

Critics also blasted the fact that the regulations would be crafted and enforced by the city’s health department, which is already considered under-staffed and resource-strapped. The Department of Environment was eliminated in 2011.

The regulations as proposed by the health department would not need City Council approval to be instituted. And most disturbingly to many critics, the regulations provide for variances that can be approved by the department—giving companies exemptions from the rules—without input from residents or City Council oversight.

Representatives of the Environmental Law Policy Center (ELPC), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (RHAMC) criticized the regulations at the hearing and promised to submit detailed comments by the deadline, Jan. 24.

NRDC Midwest advocacy director Tiffany Ingram said the timeline for compliance is way too lenient, giving companies 90 days to come up with a “dust plan” and install monitors, one year to install conveyor belt covers and wind barriers around outdoor piles and two years to build enclosures.

ELPC attorney Jenny Cassel said that the allowance for variances “would allow companies to get out of almost every single one of the regulations here, and gives discretion to the commissioner to grant those variances without any input from community.”

She also took exception to the laxer regulations for smaller operations. “There’s no basis in public health why these smaller facilities don’t pose as much as a threat as the larger ones,” Cassel said.

The ELPC and NRDC are members of RE-AMP, which also publishes Midwest Energy News.

The city attorney cited a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study showing no specific illnesses related to petcoke. But RHAMC environmental health programs director Brian Urbaszewski stressed that blowing petcoke is particulate matter, which the EPA, World Health Organization and other agencies have found to have serious health effects.

“Science shows there is no level where you do not see a health impact,” Urbaszewski said.

Critics were also furious that the regulations do not include penalties for violations. The city attorney who summarized the regulations noted that violators would be subject to the existing city fines for air pollution violations—between $1,000 and $5,000 per day. But residents said they were skeptical that fines would actually be levied.

Alderman Pope said that if the regulations are passed, residents will play a major role in enforcing them. “They are our best eyes and ears,” he said.

The regulations require that trucks, barges and trains carrying material in and out of storage facilities have their loads covered, and that trucks go through a wheel wash so they don’t pollute roadways. The regulations also require street-washing and vacuuming machines to clean up any residue. But many residents decried the requirement for trucks specifying that only half the load must be covered.

“The whole regulation is half-you-know-what,” said Lorraine Ashby, a retired attorney, after the hearing where she had made a comment on behalf of the area’s retired union Steelworkers.

“The rules seem more designed to quiet us and help people sell tarps than address the issue,” said resident Anthony Martinez, who helped spark public outrage by posting a photo on Facebook of massive dust clouds blowing from the piles last summer. “Environmental justice is at the root of this issue.”

The regulations would only cover large new operations that receive more than 10,000 tons every five days or store more than 100,000 cubic yards at a time—smaller operations would be exempt from any rules. Photo credit: Josh Mogerman / Flickr

Or Too Tough?

Not a single person at the meeting commented in favor of the regulations. While about 30 residents and advocates blasted them as too lenient—and many more in the audience held signs or called out offering similar sentiments—representatives of the Koch subsidiary KCBX and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce criticized the regulations as too stringent.

Illinois Chamber Energy Council executive director Tom Wolf is concerned about the effect the regulations could have on products and industries unrelated to petcoke. And he opposes the “prescriptive nature” of the regulations—mandating specific practices.

“Regulations work best when they give companies goals they can find creative ways to meet,” Wolf told Midwest Energy News. “It’s goals versus tactics—there can be different solutions for different areas of the city.”

Mike Estadt, KCBX operations manager, said the company would not be able to meet the setback requirements included in the regulations—that bulk storage be at least 660 feet from a childcare center and 300 feet from residences—limits that are already enshrined in city regulations regarding landfills and other operations. The setback requirements “would cause closure of our facility,” he said.

The regulations also call for suspending operations when the wind is blowing at 15 miles per hour or higher—unless dust can be controlled. Estadt said that Chicago’s average wind speed exceeds that level 40 percent of the time, hence the restriction would “effectively prevent us from operating.”

Estadt said that in the past year the company has spent $10 million on dust controls, including about 40 water cannons that automatically respond to wind direction in determining how to spray the petcoke piles. He said that the company took 69 soil samples in the surrounding area this fall, which “showed no unusual dust particles.”

A summary of the study notes that the samples in the neighborhood around the piles found the same soil composition as Chicago soil as a whole, based on federal and state surveys. And they did not find PAHs or “signature metals” of the type linked to petcoke and coal.

“It seems like our systems work,” Estadt said, drawing jeers from the crowd.

A Larger Struggle

The fight over petcoke taps into a larger ongoing struggle on the far southeast side. This was once the thrumming hub of the region’s steel industry, with up to 40,000 people employed in well-paying union jobs. The mills closed in the 1980s and 1990s, other industries left as well, and the area fell into economic and structural decline.

The southeast side lost population, but the families who remained retain a fierce sense of pride in their home turf. The past few years have seen an increase in proposals for locating new heavy polluting industries or waste-related operations on the southeast side. Meanwhile a proposed upscale development on the old U.S. Steel Southworks site to the east has caused many residents to feel they are being saddled with undesirable operations while being passed over for desirable investment.

The prospect of becoming a massive petcoke dumping ground affiliated with a multi-billion-dollar company epitomizes their worst fears and suspicions.

“Once the petcoke comes there will just be even more garbage sent here,” said resident Richard McGraw, a retired accountant who would like to see solar farms and solar panel manufacturing on the brownfields of the southeast side. “Petcoke will speed the decline of the East Side—we’ll slide into oblivion.”

Rita Campbell thought the closing of the steel mills, where her husband worked, would provide clean air. But now even that silver lining is tarnished.

“You can have all the regulations in the world you want—something’s going to break down, someone’s going to make a mistake…and we are going to suffer for that,” said Campbell, who has lived in the area for four decades. "They need to go somewhere else where there isn’t housing and people living nearby.”

Camacho had the last word of the evening, urging people to join a nascent coalition of local groups and citywide environmental justice organizations bent on banning petcoke.

“Take a drive through my neighborhood—where I live, where I build friendships,” he told the city officials, noting that he used to play baseball and football just blocks from where the petcoke piles now stand. “We want to stay here—that’s why we want these petcoke piles gone."

“The reality of it is we can’t count on Rahm Emanuel," Camacho continued. "Put your faith in politicians, you’ll be there alone. All we have is each other—our community.”

Comments regarding Chicago’s proposed bulk storage regulations can be submitted through Jan. 24 at petcokecomments@cityofchicago.org or by mail to the Chicago Department of Public Health, Attn Environmental Permitting and Inspections, 333 S State St Room 200, Chicago IL 60604.

Visit EcoWatch’s ENERGY page for more related news on this topic.

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Trending

Do you feel embarrassed due to the foul odor coming from your mouth? Or your oral hygiene isn't as good as before, and you are suffering from gingivitis (inflammation of gums)?

Well, these oral problems are skyrocketing, and even young people are suffering from oral issues that result in a lack of confidence.

It's common to change your toothpaste by seeing the TV commercials that claim to free you from bad breath or sensitive teeth, but these products don't always work.

Fighting oral issues isn't that easy, even if you religiously follow what your primary school teacher has taught, to "Brush two times a day!"

Well, there is a much-hyped supplement in the market that claims to help you fight all of these oral issues: The Steel Bite Pro.

Steel Bite Pro is an oral supplement that claims to cure bad breath and other such oral issues like sensitivity and gum problems.

But does the supplement really work, or is it just like the useless toothpaste that you tried before? Let's find out in this review.

Who Should Use Steel Bite Pro?

The best part about Steel Bite Pro is that anyone can use the supplement to get rid of oral issues. The supplement contains natural ingredients such as turmeric, zinc, alfalfa, jujube seeds, and much more, so there are no chemicals at all.

No matter whether you are 20 or 60, you can use this supplement to overcome oral issues and get the confidence back that you are missing due to bad odor and sensitive teeth.

Steel Bite Pro Review: Overview of the Supplement

Steel Bite Pro is an all-natural supplement that contains a mix of natural supplements to rebuild your gums and teeth.

The supplement contains 29 different foods that help you reduce the gum pain and other dental problems you have been facing for years.

More than 55,000 people have used Steel Bite Pro till now, and the results of the supplement are pretty impressive. Furthermore, the supplement is prepared in an FDA-approved facility in the USA.

It is available in the form of pills that you can consume anytime, so using the supplement is incredibly convenient. There are numerous benefits of using the Steel Bite Pro as it solves a plethora of dental problems.

Click here to Get the Best Deal on Steel Bite Pro from the Official Website.

Pros and Cons: Steel Bite Pro

To understand the supplement better, it is essential to know about its pros and cons.

Pros

Convenient to Use

The dietary supplement is convenient to use as it comes in the form of pills. You can take the pill anytime, even when you are in your office or somewhere else. Now there is no need to use multiple kinds of toothpaste and splurge money by visiting a dentist.

All-Natural Ingredients

All the ingredients present inside the supplement are natural, and there are no chemicals that can harm your teeth or gums.

Affordable

When you compare the cost of 1 bottle with the cost of a special toothpaste with the fee that your dentist charges, Steel Bite Pro will seem much more affordable. The supplement is available in multiple packages, so you will find it affordable to use.

No Side Effects at All

There are no side effects to using Steel Bite Pro, so you can rest assured that you won't face any headaches or other issues while curing the oral issues. The reason why Steel Bite Pro has no side effects is due to its natural ingredients.

Designed by Experts

The supplement is designed by experts that have been in the industry for years.

No Additional Medicines Are Required

When you are using Steel Bite Pro, you can avoid using other medicines that you have been taking to cure oral issues.

Attacks on the Pain

There are several ingredients present in Steel Bite Pro that attack tooth and gum pain so that you get some instant relief with the supplement.

Comes With a Money Back Guarantee

The supplement comes with a 60-day money back guarantee, so you can claim a full refund if you find the supplement isn't working for you, or if it isn't doing what the manufacturer has promised.

Cons

You Can Purchase It From the Official Site Only

The supplement is only available for purchase from the Official Website. Sometimes the supplement gets out of stock, so you have to wait for it to get back in stock.

A Single Bottle Costs More

If you buy a single bottle of the supplement, it'll cost you more than other packages with multiple bottles.

Ingredients in Steel Bite Pro

All the ingredients present in Steel Bite Pro are natural and have proven benefits for humans. Here is a list of supplements explained in detail and how they can benefit you if you start using Steel Bite Pro.

Turmeric

As per a study, there are innumerable benefits of using turmeric on your teeth. The natural herb has antimicrobial properties that help remove the plaque effectively from the teeth, exterminate bacteria and help cure sensitivity.

Moreover, turmeric is good for fighting oral inflammation issues. When applied on teeth, the ingredient gives instant relief from pain and is effective in curing mouth ulcers as well.

Berberine

Berberine is a natural herb with proven antioxidant power to help you get rid of microorganisms developing inside the mouth. Furthermore, the ingredient has anti-inflammatory properties and is good for curing oral issues caused due to viruses and bacteria.

Yarrow

It is another natural ingredient that is used in a range of health supplements due to its healing power. The ingredient naturally heals the gums and the damage caused to the teeth by bacteria and microorganisms.

As per a study, it helps reduce the infection, oral pain, and cures other dental issues.

Milk Thistle

Your liver has a significant impact on your oral health, and that's where milk thistle works. The natural ingredient eliminates toxins from the liver and detoxifies your mouth as well.

Here is a study that proves how milk thistle is beneficial in detoxifying the liver.

Alfalfa

The decaying of teeth is the initial phase of damage caused by bacteria thriving inside your mouth. Alfalfa works by reducing tooth sensitivity drastically and repairs the tooth decay caused by the bacteria.

It even stops the bacteria from growing further so you can expect good oral health.

Ginger

A lot of natural supplements for teeth contain ginger because of its benefits on the teeth and the stomach. This ingredient present in the Steel Bite Pro reduces nausea and inflammation.

As per this study, there are umpteen other benefits of ginger as well, such as it maintains the pH inside your mouth.

Jujube Seeds

Jujube seeds are good for boosting the immunity. Also, the ingredient has excellent antioxidant properties and is rich in Vitamin C, which is beneficial for the teeth and overall oral health.

Dandelion

Dandelion is a natural ingredient extracted from herbs. The ingredient is rich in minerals and has immense benefits such as fighting the bacteria and preventing the infections occurring inside your mouth.

Zinc

Zinc is essential for teeth, and that is why many toothpaste brands advertise that their product contains a good amount of zinc. Further, zinc is a natural immunity booster and fights against bacteria to prevent gum disease and cavities.

Moreover, zinc repairs the enamel on your teeth that's damaged due to toothpaste or any other reasons. Here is a study that shows the benefits of zinc for your teeth and mouth.

Chicory Root

Chicory root acts as a catalyst and increases the effectiveness of other ingredients. The reason why you get instant relief from pain after using Steel Bite Pro is due to the presence of chicory root in the pills.

Celery Seeds

Bacteria result in bad odor and can create cavities in the teeth. Furthermore, some bacteria result in tooth decay and harm the gums. The celery seeds fight these bacteria and prevent further growth.

Yellow Dock

To stay healthy, the teeth need to absorb the minerals present in the saliva. When your teeth are damaged for any reason, they stop absorbing the minerals, and the damage continues further.

Yellow dock helps the teeth to absorb the minerals while reducing the inflammation. Various studies have proven the efficacy of yellow dock for teeth and gums, and it is a natural and effective ingredient to keep the teeth healthy.

Raspberry, Chanca Piedra, and Artichoke

These three natural ingredients have similar properties and contribute a lot to the effectiveness of Steel Bite Pro. The ingredients have good amounts of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin K, Vitamin C, magnesium, phosphorus, and folate.

The purifying agents will remove bacteria and other impurities from the mouth so that the other ingredients work well by repairing the teeth and gums.

Feverfew

The worst thing about oral issues is the pain that you have to go through. Steel Bite Pro claims to help with the pain as it contains feverfew, which is a natural pain reliever. The ingredient suppresses oral and dental pain so you will feel better instantly.

As per a study, there are some other benefits of feverfew, because it is a medicinal plant that suppresses other pains as well. Also, there are no side effects of feverfew at all.

Burdock Root

The root of the burdock plant comes loaded with antioxidants that improve the gum health and the overall health of your mouth.

The best thing about Steel Bite Pro is that the ingredients are present in exact quantities, so you can rest assured that there will be no side effects. Every ingredient is tested in the labs for its efficiency, and that's what makes the Steel Bite Pro a considerable option if you want to improve your oral and dental health.

Click here to See the full list of ingredients in Steel Bite Pro on the official website.

How Does Steel Bite Pro Work?

It is crucial to understand how the supplement works so that you can decide whether to invest in it or not. Below is a step by step process that will help you understand Steel Bite Pro on the go.

Step 1:

When you start consuming the supplement, the pills break down in your mouth. The ingredients then mix with saliva to perform their particular actions.

Step 2:

The ingredients fight the bacteria and heal issues such as wounds while reducing the inflammation caused in the mouth.

Step 3:

The supplement cements the root of the teeth so that there are no further oral and dental issues. Also, it heals the gums and repairs the enamel to provide you relief from sensitivity.

The minerals present in these ingredients strengthen the crown area of the teeth while repairing the cracks so that the damage can be stopped.

Step 4:

The supplement also has some impact on your overall health as the ingredients detoxify the liver by flushing away the toxins.

Step 5:

Consuming the supplement regularly will help you maintain the shield on the teeth that fights against bacteria and microorganisms. Also, it improves the condition of the teeth and curtails bad breath.

The working of Steel Bite Pro is really simple, as there are no complex ingredients present in the supplement. It is easy to use, and all you have to do is consume the pill regularly to keep your oral and dental health up to the mark.

Benefits of Steel Bite Pro

There are many benefits of using Steel Bite Pro since it is an all-natural supplement that has no side effects at all. Here are some benefits you need to consider before buying it.

Prevents Bleeding and Improves Gum Health

The reason why your teeth bleed is due to the loose gums. The space between the tooth and the gum results in bleeding, and that's where Steel Bite Pro helps. The supplement tightens the gums so that there is no bleeding at all.

Whitens the Teeth Naturally

The ingredients present in the supplement, such as zinc and milk thistle, whiten the teeth naturally. There is no need to invest in expensive teeth whitening toothpaste if you are using Steel Bite Pro.

Reduces Bad Breath

The supplement contains ingredients that improve the overall health of the teeth, and it automatically reduces bad breath.

Helps Cure Tooth Pain

Steel Bite Pro has feverfew, which is a natural pain reliever ingredient. The ingredient cures tooth and gum pain and can have instant results after you consume Steel Bite Pro.

Click here to Learn more about the Benefits of Steel Bite Pro on the official website.

Side Effects of Using Steel Bite Pro

You may find it surprising, but Steel Bite Pro has no side effects at all as the supplement contains natural ingredients and has exact quantities so that there are no ill effects on your health. If you keep using the supplement as prescribed, then it can have some excellent results.

Who Should Refrain from Steel Bite Pro?

Steel Bite Pro is an all-natural dietary supplement to improve your dental and oral health.

Anyone can use the supplement, including pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. There are no harms of using the supplement.

However, it would be great to consult a doctor before using the supplement to find out if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.

Dosage and Tips to Start

To get the most from Steel Bite Pro, you should consume two pills with water every day. Take both capsules together anytime that's convenient for you.

To get the best results, follow a brushing regime, and massage your teeth regularly with some good-quality oil to increase the effectiveness of the pills.

Where to Buy Steel Bite Pro, and Guarantees?

You can only buy Steel Bite Pro from the Official Site, as the supplement is not available anywhere else for purchase. You can choose from three available options:

●1 bottle (60 pills) $69

●Three bottles (180 pills) $117

●Six bottles (360 pills) $294 (Best Deal)

You get a 60-day money back guarantee with all the packages, no matter if you go for one bottle or six bottles. You are eligible to claim the full refund within 60 days of the date of purchase.

Steel Bite Pro Reviews: Closing Thoughts

After this definitive review, it will be easier for you to find out whether you should use Steel Bite Pro or not. The supplement contains a mix of 29 natural ingredients that have proven benefits and are tested in labs.

It is essential to get rid of oral and dental issues before things get out of control and you have no option left despite visiting a dentist.

Getting a good quality supplement is essential, so Steel Bite Pro is a viable option if you need a supplement with no side effects.

Anyone can use this supplement irrespective of age, sex, and medical conditions. Lastly, buy the supplement only from the official site so that you can easily claim the refund if required.

Click here to Get the best deal on Steel Bite Pro from the official website.

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A ghost forest in Nags Head Woods, North Carolina on Oct. 16, 2017. NC Wetlands / CC BY 2.0


Along the Atlantic coast, ghost forests provide haunting signs of sea-level rise. These stands of bleached and broken tree trunks are all that remain after salty water inundates a forest.


Matt Kirwan is with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. He says ghost forests are not a new phenomenon, but they're moving inland faster as seas rise.

"Eventually they'll fall apart and become stumps surrounded by marshland," he says. "And so when you see a ghost forest now, you're seeing where the marsh will be in the future."

Marshes are valuable ecosystems, so in some ways, that's positive.

"Ghost forests are a surprising indicator of ecological resilience in coastal systems," Kirwan says. "They mark how marshes naturally migrate in response to sea-level rise."

But that migration comes at a cost.

"Places that people have lived for hundreds of years are becoming too wet and too salty to grow crops on, in some cases," Kirwan says. "And of course, the forest resources are being lost. And in some cases, people are forced to move from their homes as the land becomes too flooded."

So ghost forests have become eerie symbols of rapid change.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

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