This year’s annual Illinois Manufacturers Association Environment and Energy Conference attracted many attendees and presenters from industry, consultants, and regulatory officials. Notable takeaways included a passionate appeal from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to be patient and proactive on permitting issues as the agency expands its workforce to support Illinois manufacturers’ economic growth and expansion plans. IEPA notes that they seek a partnership with industry rather than an antagonistic relationship and strongly support the state’s development while acknowledging they are bound to federal regulations. The more timely, accurate, and clear permit applications can be prepared, the faster the approval process.
Clean Air Act Changes
Major focuses of the IEPA remain on tracking current and proposed National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), which currently designate East St. Louis and Chicago areas as non-attainment zones for ozone and portions of Madison County as non-attainment zones for sulfur dioxide. Proposed reductions in the allowable limits for particulate matter (PM) 2.5 micrometers (µg/m³) under the Clean Air Act, which could go into effect at any time, will result in the designation of additional non-attainment areas in Illinois and, accordingly, far greater difficulty in air permitting for new or expanding facilities. The current annual average primary standard for PM 2.5 is 12 µg/m³, whereas the proposed standard will likely fall to between 9-10 µg/m³.
Permitting and Enforcement of NPDES
Presenters also noted that in Illinois, the IEPA issues National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits rather than the USEPA. However, USEPA can still issue enforcement violations. Furthermore, many wastewater treatment plants have pre-treatment effluent requirements for industrial users to address potential pollution problems as part of their NPDES permits. These requirements will become increasingly strict when/if PFAS are declared a hazardous substance under CERCLA.
Extended Producer Responsibility
Another noteworthy topic was the burgeoning practice of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Much like RCRA, which requires cradle-to-grave tracking of hazardous materials, EPR deals with tracking non-hazardous materials, such as packaging, from creation through disposal with the goal of reducing landfill wastes via industry-subsidized source reduction and recycling programs. While Illinois is not currently one of the six states (California, Colorado, Maine, Oregon, New Jersey, and Washington) with mandated EPR or equivalent laws, multiple bills proposed in Illinois and elsewhere would require these types of programs for many market segments. Manufacturers are considering what steps they would need to take if a similar bill passes in Illinois. Particularly noteworthy is that these laws apply to states where products are distributed, not merely produced.
Sustainability and Decarbonization in the Energy Sector
Finally, presenters from various energy companies and consulting firms spoke about the path forward for sustainability and decarbonization in the energy sector, noting that it must combine natural gas, nuclear power, and traditional renewables like wind and solar to meet customer needs. SCS’s very own Dr. Charles Hostetler spoke on carbon capture methods (such as geologic sequestration of carbon in Class VI wells) and other operational strategies of manufacturers, electric utilities, solid waste facility owners/operators, and other property owners/developers to address the evolving landscape of environmental regulations.
Keep close tabs on new legislation and regulation changes to assure compliance and avoid costly fines or operational delays. Partnerships with environmental consultants who have strong, established relationships with federal, state, and local agencies and have their finger on the pulse of the environmental landscape are the best way to accomplish your goals as the regulatory scene changes.
About the Author: Rachel McShane, LEP, has over 15 years of experience in environmental due diligence projects (Phase I, II and III Environmental Site Assessments) as well as Brownfields redevelopment, risk-based corrective action, and remediation projects. She is familiar with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental assessments, vapor investigations and mitigation, radon, asbestos, lead-based paint surveys, and leachate monitoring/solid waste management. Reach Ms. McShane at or via LinkedIn.
Commercial Carbon Capture and Sequestration in the US
The US is home to the largest number of commercial carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects worldwide, with approximately 50 new projects announced in 2021, according to the Global CCS Institute. SCS contributes expertise to several ongoing and groundbreaking carbon dioxide geologic sequestration projects. These projects have highly advanced permitting and monitoring requirements.
Research published in a report by the Congressional Research Service defines three main types of sites ideal for underground CO2 injection and sequestration: depleted oil and gas reservoirs, deep saline reservoirs, and un-mineable coal seams. In each case, CO2 in a supercritical state is injected into a porous rock formation below ground that holds, or previously held, fluids. When injected at depths greater than half a mile, the pressure keeps the injected CO2 entrained within the formation fluids, where the CO2 will subsequently dissolve.
Selecting a Site
The target geological injection interval must have an overlying impermeable caprock, such as shale, so the injected CO2 doesn’t migrate into overlying formations, most specifically, the underground source of drinking water. Fortunately for geoscientists and engineers, most of the technology used to assess the subsurface was initially developed by the petroleum industry, including a variety of geophysical techniques, including seismic reflection.
Using Seismic Reflection Technology
At SCS, our team uses the same seismic reflection technology and methodology developed by the oil and gas industry to evaluate the subsurface. Seismic reflection is a powerful tool when used properly and allows us to interpret the depositional background of the system and identify permeable and impermeable units. Seismic reflection involves generating seismic waves (the source) and measuring the two-way travel time taken for the waves to travel from the source, reflect off an interface, and be detected by an array of receivers at the surface. The reflected signal is based on the density-velocity contrast at the interface. Depending upon the type of source and receivers, seismic reflection, once recorded and processed, provides 2 or 3-D imagery of stratigraphic boundaries and geologic structure –all at depths ranging from hundreds of meters to several kilometers.
In-house experts enable SCS to utilize this amazing tool, which enables teams across the organization to see where the best areas for injection are by interpreting seismic stratigraphy. We can determine the continuity of a layer and the presence (or absence) of faults and fractures. The data can also help us determine the type of fault and whether it is a sealing or a transmissive fault. For example, a fault-bound anticline (when the rocks push up from stress changes) may provide a stratigraphic trap for hydrocarbon and can potentially store CO2.
We use seismic reflection in the initial phases of a project to determine the depths and lateral extent of known lithology. We employ previously mapped lithologic units to correlate the “images” created in seismic profiles to existing formations and, in doing so, perform a “check” on the seismic interpretation.
Long Term Benefits
Seismic reflection provides significant input when choosing a reservoir or siting a well; however, its use doesn’t end with an initial site assessment. The technology provides robust methods for monitoring the CO2 plume and interpreting changes to the subsurface during and post-injection. SCS has two Class VI injection projects where seismic reflection data was employed to identify the target injection zones and seals. The next step will be using the data to look at the subsurface relative to the injection well using downhole sensors, a process known as vertical seismic profiling.
The requirements surrounding the Class VI permitting process are complicated, but SCS has in-house experts with the skills to employ seismic reflection. Teams continue to hone their skills in this area as clients value and trust partners who can demonstrate a thorough understanding of permitting carbon sequestration projects.
The Class VI permit application typically takes 18 to 24 months to receive approval. The process is laborious and expensive. Demonstrating expertise here is critical as SCS Engineers continues to play an integral role in advancing supercritical CO2 projects throughout North America.
Additional Resources and Educational Materials:
About the Author: Candy Elliott, PG, Senior Geologist, holds degrees in geology and geophysics and has 17 years of experience in assessment and remediation, including comprehensive geologic and hydrogeologic site assessments in several states. Her projects include site characterization, site assessment and remediation, brownfields, groundwater monitoring and reporting, groundwater corrective action, mining, and other industrial facility or site development projects. She supports new and existing geologic permitting assignments for waste clients and facilities. Contact Ms. Elliott at or LinkedIn.
The proposed AERR rule would require nearly 130,000 facilities to report air toxics emissions directly to EPA. It would also give states the option to collect the air toxics data from industry (rather than states) and report it to EPA, provided the Agency approves their program. This proposed action would allow for EPA to annually collect (starting in 2027) hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions data for point sources in addition to continuing the criteria air pollutant and precursor (CAP) collection in place under the existing AERR.
Here are some key things to know about the proposed rule from the EPA website:
1. It would require air toxics (hazardous air pollutant) emissions reporting. While most states voluntarily report air toxics emissions data to EPA now, reporting is not consistent nationwide. The proposal would require many industrial facilities to report air toxics emissions data and offers states the option to report emissions on behalf of the industry sources in their states.
2. It would mean that more facilities must report emissions every year by using the same emissions thresholds every year to determine whether a facility’s detailed emissions information must be reported.
3. It would fill reporting gaps for some portions of Indian country and federal waters. The AERR proposal would require industry to report emissions for certain facilities that operate in those areas and that currently are not reported.
4. It includes provisions to limit the burden on small businesses. The proposal includes flexibilities such as allowing certain small businesses to report a facility’s total air toxics emissions instead of detailed data and exempting many collision repair shops from air toxics reporting requirements.
5. It would provide EPA information that would help the Agency improve its estimates of emissions from prescribed fires. EPA is committed to helping communities and our federal, state, local, and tribal partners manage the health impacts of smoke from wildland fires, including prescribed fires. Prescribed fire is a land management tool that can reduce the likelihood of catastrophic wildfires by reducing the buildup of unwanted fuels.
Class VI Underground Injection Control Well Permitting is Part III of our video series on Carbon Capture and Storage. Cutting through red tape and regulatory barriers is key to keeping the permitting process on track for your Class VI UIC well. There are steps you can take to prevent delays and meet key regulatory requirements.
Watch the SCS’s Carbon Capture and Storage webinar to learn more about each phase of the permitting process and how to keep each running smoothly. Carbon capture and storage is an EPA-approved technology companies are exploring to help them reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and understanding the permitting process is key as you plan your project. In this chapter you’ll get answers to these questions:
Your business does not have to be in Illinois to learn from these educational webinars. If you’re ready to explore the benefits of carbon capture and storage but concerned you’ll get delayed by the ins and outs of the Class VI UIC well permitting process, watch Patty Herman’s video to learn more, or contact your local SCS office for a consultation.
Patty Herman graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with a Master of Science in Biological Sciences. Working in diverse and unique habitats enhances her awareness of the ecosystem’s fragility and the need to protect it, especially for agencies during the permitting process. During graduate school, she was selected by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for the Natural Heritage Residency program. The residency provided exposure to resource management in both public and private sectors, interacting with many federal, state, and local agencies, as well as NGOs and landowners. She writes and executes management plans and permits using her intensive experience in land management techniques. She has the unique ability to find common ground with stakeholders, agencies, and the public in safe land management for industrial and manufacturing.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) enables industry and manufacturing to reduce greenhouse gas footprints by up to 2 million metric tons annually, for decades. It’s a great time to learn how this technology works, how it can help you, and what the overall lifecycle of a CCS project looks like. In this chapter, Kacey Garber and Candy Elliot step through best practices based on project experience, regulations (in this example Illinois), and the compilation and submittal of permit applications. You’ll learn about:
Your business does not have to be in Illinois to learn from these educational, non-commercial webinars. Transform how industry leaders like you manage greenhouse gas as a byproduct of modern life.
Helpful Basic Tips:
Early planning and mindful project scoping are critical for a CCS project to understand and communicate the project’s needs, objectives, goals, and conceptualized design. Use site characterization data and have a good handle on the operational parameters to develop a good first model and initial area of review delineation. The monitoring system design should then be tailored based on those data. Use the baseline and operational monitoring data to calibrate the model and refine your area of review delineation.
Early financial planning is also important and should include long-term operations and monitoring. Spend rates will be variable throughout these projects and highly dependent on the project’s phase.
The site geology is a key factor — we highly recommend conducting a feasibility study before beginning a project to assess the suitability of Class 6 injection at the proposed location. In addition, when the permit process begins, it’s important to front-load the site characterization efforts to minimize the uncertainty surrounding your site suitability.
Proactive stakeholder engagement surrounding your project is more likely to help lead your project to success. Developing outreach plans help open and facilitate lines of communication with stakeholders, regulatory officials, and public and environmental advocate groups.
Use an iterative project approach – permitting is not a cookie-cutter but a site-specific process. Your early and thorough planning steps help create a feedback loop that will go on throughout the project’s life. It enables flexibility in implementing your approach.
Kacey Garber is an experienced groundwater project manager for active and closed industrial clients, including routine groundwater monitoring and statistical analyses; reports and permit applications; designing sampling and analysis plans; special groundwater studies; and conducting groundwater well construction planning and design. She has also been involved in PFAS work groups and publishes on the topics of UIC and geologic sequestration. Ms. Garber has a Masters degree in Geoscience.
Candy Elliott has 14 years of experience in assessment and remediation, including comprehensive geologic and hydrogeologic site assessments in several states. Her projects include site characterization, site assessment and remediation, brownfields, groundwater monitoring and reporting, groundwater corrective action, mining, and other industrial facility or site development projects. She also supports new and existing geologic permitting assignments for waste clients and facilities. Ms. Elliott is a licensed Professional Geologist.
Engaging With Your Stakeholders and Public Outreach is Part II of our four part video series.
Geologic sequestration can be seen as an incredible public good that reduces greenhouse gas and protects the health and wellness of generations to come, or a local risk. It’s likely you will receive questions and concerns from the public and other stakeholders during your project’s lifecycle. You can use an effective stakeholder engagement plan to help you anticipate and respond to those questions and concerns.
Watch the Geologic Sequestration webinar to learn how to engage your key stakeholders in a supportive, consistent way that demonstrates your commitment to the community and builds trust. Geologic sequestration is an EPA-approved technology companies are exploring to help them reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. In this chapter you’ll learn:
If you’re ready to explore the benefits of geologic sequestration and want to educate the public and stakeholders about the safety and sustainability of Class VI underground injection control wells, watch Richard Southorn’s video to learn more, or contact your local SCS office for a consultation.
Richard Southorn, PE, PG, serves as Project Director in our Chicagoland office. He manages coal combustion residual (CCR) and municipal solid waste projects, ranging from construction plan development to full-scale design services. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Alabama, South Carolina, Kansas, Michigan, Indiana, Hawaii, Oregon, and Georgia; and a licensed Professional Geologist in Illinois and Delaware.
What if you could reduce your company’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 1.5 to 2 million metric tons per year for the next 20 years?
Now you can, with carbon capture and storage technology. Watch the Illinois Basin Carbon Capture and Storage webinar to learn more. Carbon capture and storage is an EPA-approved technology companies are exploring to help reduce GHG emissions.
In Illinois and many other states, leading firms are submitting permit applications for Class VI underground injection control wells. It’s a great time to review the state of the practice and learn how this technology works and how it can help you meet your carbon reduction goals. In this video chapter, SCS answers these questions:
This technology is on track to transform how industry leaders like you manage greenhouse gas as a byproduct of modern life. Watch Charles Hostetler’s short video to learn more, or contact your local SCS Engineers’ office for a consultation.
Dr. Charles Hostetler has nearly four decades of experience as an engineer and hydrogeologist. He has diverse experience in coal combustion residue (CCR) and solid waste management permitting, design, and construction projects. His areas of expertise focus on supporting electric utilities, property owners and developers, solid waste facility owners and operators to meet demands for addressing environmental changes and impacts on their operations.
USEPA recently issued Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15, which includes a focus on PFAS discharges from multiple categories. In conjunction with Plan 15, EPA has determined that revisions to the effluent guidelines and standards for the Landfills Category (40 CFR part 445) are warranted. See Section 6.3.3 of the Plan. Here are a few excerpts regarding landfill leachate:
Landfill leachate and wastewater treatment planning and resource information are available here.
(l) Liquids addition. The owner or operator of a designated facility with a design capacity equal to or greater than 2.5 million megagrams and 2.5 million cubic meters that has employed leachate recirculation or added liquids based on a Research, Development, and Demonstration permit (issued through Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), subtitle D, part 258) within the last 10 years must submit to the Administrator, annually, following the procedure specified in paragraph (j)(2) of this section, the following information:
(1) Volume of leachate recirculated (gallons per year) and the reported basis of those estimates (records or engineering estimates).
(2) Total volume of all other liquids added (gallons per year) and the reported basis of those estimates (records or engineering estimates).
(3) Surface area (acres) over which the leachate is recirculated (or otherwise applied).
(4) Surface area (acres) over which any other liquids are applied.
(5) The total waste disposed (megagrams) in the areas with recirculated leachate and/or added liquids based on on-site records to the extent data are available, or engineering estimates and the reported basis of those estimates.
(6) The annual waste acceptance rates (megagrams per year) in the areas with recirculated leachate and/or added liquids, based on on-site records to the extent data are available, or engineering estimates.
(7) The initial report must contain items in paragraph (l)(1) through (6) of this section per year for the most recent 365 days as well as for each of the previous 10 years, to the extent historical data are available in on-site records, and the report must be submitted no later than June 21, 2022.
(8) Subsequent annual reports must contain items in paragraph (l)(1) through (6) of this section for the 365-day period following the 365-day period included in the previous annual report, and the report must be submitted no later than 365 days after the date the previous report was submitted.
If you need assitance meeting the regulations, please contact your project manager or send a request to
Recent changes to regulatory guidance in California are arguably making obtaining closure on sites with vapor intrusion health risk concerns more difficult to achieve. The Draft Cal-EPA Supplemental Vapor Intrusion Guidance (DSVIG) suggests changes to the methods in which vapor phase transport and potential health risks are modeled and calculated for occupants of buildings with known soil or groundwater contamination beneath them. These changes, which result from a multi-year working group collaboration, recommend a more extensive and site-specific data collection effort. They include indoor air quality calculation methods relying on EPA work and guidance and empirically derived attenuation factors (AFs) which some would argue lead to overestimating potential health risks.
The consequences of the DSVIG are potentially significant if adopted as is and appear likely to result in more sites being “screened in” with vapor intrusion issues and more sites requiring mitigation. The impact, resultant costs, and possibly detrimental secondary effects include decreases in affordable housing production, particularly in urban infill areas. And while none would argue with appropriate protection of health risk, the question is whether the studies and empirical data used to support the DSVIG represents the best available science and is truly representative and predictive of risk.
The DSVIG adopts an attenuation rate of 0.03 for the flux of both soil and sub-slab vapor to indoor air based on a previous 2012 EPA Study comprised of empirical data collected from buildings arguably not representative of modern construction in California. The development of a reliable screening level attenuation factor for California based on high-quality, recent, California-specific data:
1) Will be protective of human health, as no toxicological imperative or basis supports a call for accelerated or immediate action (as evidenced by the fact that the DSVIG workgroup commenced its work in 2014 and issued the review draft in 2020).
2) Will ensure California’s environmental policy satisfies the gold standard for data quality and insightful analysis in which the state once took pride.
3) Will not unnecessarily decimate the California housing development market. The empirically derived screening level AF in the DSVIG is overly conservative based on the available data. More accurate empirical data and measurement methods for site-specific measurement are available.
Oversimplifying the VI health risk assessment methods has constrained the environmental community’s ability to apply science-based health risk screenings, often resulting in costs associated with additional environmental assessment and mitigation. An additional revision to the DSVIG to utilize a screening level AF more reflective of the current California data and building specifications could save state resources, increase infill development by reducing urban sprawl, promote housing development, all while protecting human health.
Take a deeper dive into this topic in the Daily Transcript article Vapor intrusion rules hamper infill projects.