Phillipsburg receives loan, grant

Funds will go toward construction of a new wastewater collection facility.

The money will construct a new wastewater collection system for the village, located in Montgomery County.

Currently, wastewater from the Village of Phillipsburg is being handled by failing, on-site systems. The wastewater collection system to be built is using new funds that will convey wastewater to Dayton for treatment.

Portman asks EPA to rethink regulation

Sen. Rob Portman last week urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to rethink a regulation that demolitions of vacant properties be subject to an EPA rule governing asbestos removal.

Portman, R-Ohio, said the regulation has effectively barred Ohio land banks and others from demolishing vacant and foreclosed-upon homes. The state has some 100,000 vacant properties awaiting demolition, and Ohio groups – led by the Thriving Communities Initiative in Cleveland – argue that the EPA’s reinterpretation of federal regulations governing asbestos removal has gummed up the process and made it costlier for cities and land banks to demolish such properties.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Portman said that the EPA has recently begun reinterpreting federal regulations to require nearly all demolition to be subject to rules on asbestos removal. Starting today, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is scheduled begin releasing $75 million to Ohio counties and land banks for demolition purposes. Portman said because of the new rules, 25 to 40 percent fewer properties will be demolished with these dollars.

“Given the staggering cost increases and the growing need for demolitions, I urge you to work with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and local stakeholders to reassess this regulation’s impact on local land banks and the communities they serve,” he wrote.

Brown, Portman try to protect jobs

Brown and Portman last week sent a letter to the International Trade Commission urging them to continue existing antidumping and countervailing duty orders aimed at defending jobs at Mead Products in Kettering. Current duties are at risk of expiring. Because of that, Brown and Portman asked ITC Chair Irving A. Williamson to maintain existing relief against unfairly traded imports of lined paper school supplies from China, India, and Indonesia.

The original orders went into effect in 2006 and are reviewed every five years. Mead, which has 250 employees in Kettering, relies on the orders to maintain jobs and keep prices fair for domestically produced lined paper.

Without the orders, the two wrote, “increased dumped and subsidized imports would quickly erode all of the gains that the domestic industry has made since the orders were imposed.”

“China, India, and Indonesia all have a demonstrated ability and interest to ship significant quantities of unfairly priced lined paper imports to the United States,” they continued. “At the same time, lined paper purchases are driven by large retailers that import directly, have significant purchasing power, and are able to command the lowest prices.”

The two wrote that if the current orders aren’t maintained, domestic lined paper production would be at risk.

Portman joins call for special counsel

Portman last week joined 30 other Republican senators to ask U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special counsel to investigate national security links out of the executive branch.

The letter was also signed by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and others.

“The numerous national security leaks reportedly originating out of the Executive Branch in recent months have been stunning,” they wrote. “If true, they reveal details of some of our Nation’s most highly classified and sensitive military and intelligence matters, thereby risking our national security, as well as the lives of American citizens and our allies. If there were ever a case requiring an outside special counsel with bipartisan acceptance and widespread public trust, this is it.”

Jack Torry and Jessica Wehrman cover Washington news for the Dayton Daily News and The Columbus Dispatch.

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