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Did 1 text save GM Lordstown millions?

Published: Sun, November 11, 2012 @ 12:10 a.m.

Cruze plant spared costly regulations

By Ed Runyan



State Rep. Sean O’Brien, sitting in the audience at Warren G. Harding High School on Jan. 12, heard remarks from officials of GM Lordstown that made him pick up his phone and write a text message to Scott Nally, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

General Motors officials had just said that proposed limits on the amount of total dissolved solids the company could release into the Mahoning River would force GM to spend $8 million to build additional treatment facilities and $1 million annually to run them.

“I texted the director at the hearing,” said O’Brien, a Democrat from Brookfield whose district, the 65th, is in Trumbull County. “I said, ‘We need to talk.’ Then I arranged a phone conference.”

A couple of weeks after the hearing, O’Brien was on the phone with Nally, along with two representatives from General Motors’ corporate offices in Michigan and a representative from the Delphi Corp.

Both companies were concerned about the economic impact of the requirements, O’Brien said.

Company officials told the director about the types of systems that would be required to bring their discharges up to the proposed level.

“He more like listened. He was on a fact-finding mission at that time,” O’Brien said. “I think it shows he listened,” O’Brien said of Nally.

About two months later, the EPA issued the city of Warren’s wastewater treatment plant a new permit. The permit did not require the city to limit its discharges of total dissolved solids to 622 milligrams per liter, as the EPA had indicated earlier it would.

Instead, it required the city to monitor the water discharged into the river near the treatment plant, something the city had been doing already.

The new permit was a relief to the Tom Angelo, director of Warren’s wastewater treatment department, as well as to companies like GM, Delphi, Thomas Steel and others because it meant additional treatment measures would not be necessary.

Warren’s new permit did present problems for the city’s fledgling brine-water treatment facility, Patriot Water Treatment, however, and Patriot continues to work through those challenges.

O’Brien says he thinks the issues GM raised affected the EPA’s decision-making process because of the importance of GM to the Mahoning Valley.

“Part of it was putting the Cruze in jeopardy,” O’Brien said of the Lordstown-built car. Meeting the new water-quality requirements would have cost GM money that it doesn’t have to spend in other states, O’Brien said.

GM announced in August that the Lordstown plant will receive a $200 million investment to build the next-generation Cruze.

Angelo said he believes scientific reasons, more than political ones, explain why the EPA decided against setting specific limits on total dissolved solids in Warren.

Angelo said his department started testing water quality all along the Mahoning River, upstream and downstream from the city’s wastewater treatment plant, in November 2010. In fact, Warren even tests in Pennsylvania as far as the Ohio River.

“I think it was the hard data that showed that total dissolved solids in the Mahoning River never exceeded 500 milligrams per liter all the way to the Ohio River for one year,” Angelo said of why the EPA decided against specific total dissolved solids limits.

The EPA had argued that the 622 limit was necessary to comply with rules in Pennsylvania, since the Mahoning flows into Pennsylvania.

Angelo said the total dissolved solids in the river already met the Pennsylvania standard of 500 milligrams per liter, so he didn’t understand why the EPA felt it was necessary to set specific limits for the first time in Warren.

“We had the data to show that this wasn’t a concern,” Angelo said.

Enzo Cantalamessa, Warren safety-service director, said the total dissolved solids limit the EPA had proposed “could have had potentially disastrous effects” on businesses that discharge wastewater into Warren’s wastewater treatment plant. “It would have been nearly impossible to achieve.”


1dmacker(546 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Congratulations on eliminating "green" regulations in favor of saving jobs.
Now lets get rid the the similar regulations costing us the loss of coal jobs and higher costs for electricity.
Stop the war on coal.

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2lee(544 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

It's funny how the rules don't apply to the Dems, if they don't like them then just make a phone call. DO THE SAME FOR ALL INDUSTRY

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3Ret(39 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Thank god the EPA doesn't have a double standard.

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4redeye1(5679 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

When its Government Motors they can do anything they like. After all the union fools back BO,so now he owes them and GM . It just makes one wonder what the people will think of the Demoncrats now. They just make special rulings for only certain corporations. How do we know as the general public that these records weren't altered to suit everyone involve except the general public.

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5IslandMike(764 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

THANK YOU PRESIDENT OBAMA!! Without Obama, there would be no GM-Lordstown.

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6redeye1(5679 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Island Mike You are so full BS , every time you open your mouth you fertilize someone else lawn. Maybe you should give some credit to the people who work there once in awhile.

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7Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

True about Honda, Toyota, BMW,
But it is almost impossible to wash the blood of so many Americans off them.
OR did you forget

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8DSquared(1788 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

I guess EPA rules don't apply to Barry's Contributors. More BS from the administration that has no moral compass.

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9jfgiancola(177 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Great, let's get rid of all EPA reguations then we'll have to listen to all the people whine about all the deformed children and death that pollution is responsible for. We do need jobs but a job doesn't help the dead!!

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10youngspartanrepublican(92 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

GM has gotten so many kickbacks from the government it's not even funny...hopefully they go bankrupt again. While Obama and the Democratic Party will be devastated, Mitt Romney can laugh from one of his beautiful homes and say "I was right."

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11jojuggie(1728 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

IM. get a job.

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