EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT: Patrick Coughlin

Patrick Coughlin is Principal and Senior Scientist at St.Germain Collins with environmental chemistry and public relations experience going back to 1989. Patrick’s proficiency in his field has recently offered him some exciting opportunities, described below. 

Fund Insurance Review Board
The Fund Insurance Review Board (FIRB) hears appeals of Maine DEP decisions and monitors the disbursement of funds related to oil spill cleanups. Legislation passed by the 125th session of the Maine State Legislature approved changes to the makeup of the FIRB and granted new management powers to the FIRB in its oversight of the Groundwater Oil Clean-up Fund (Fund) administered by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Patrick joins fellow appointees Jamie Py, President of the Maine Energy Marketers Association, and Leslie Anderson, Director of Risk and Corporate Counsel for Dead River Company, on the new FIRB team. 

Environmental fees on the sale of gasoline and distillate fuels are collected for the Fund and then allocated to clean up soil and groundwater contaminated by oil spills. St.Germain Collins has a long history of investigating and remediating oil contaminated sites and Patrick has continued this tradition. “The Fund has been financially strained in recent years and there is a backlog of sites to clean-up,” notes Patrick. “Recent refinements to the Petroleum Remedial Guidelines indicate that old, residual contamination at gasoline stations may not pose a significant risk to the environment after all. This is a unique opportunity to greatly reduce the number of sites on the Fund clean-up list and refocus the use of limited funds.” 

E2Tech
In May, the  Board of Directors of E2Tech voted to add Patrick to its ranks. E2Tech, the Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine, hosts a monthly lecture series on environment and energy issues facing Maine businesses, and through its events provides members with networking and business development opportunities. Patrick is looking forward to participating in leadership decisions for this evolving organization, which as Patrick describes, “provides a forum for an exchange of ideas on energy and environment issues and promotes much-needed civil discourse on topics critical to the future of Maine and New England.” 

Biomass Power Association
The final version of the Proposed Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials (NHSM) Rule Amendments is due from EPA any day now. In previous iterations, EPA has not designated construction and demolition debris (C&D) wood as an acceptable “fuel,” which will require boilers that burn this wood to meet overly restrictive Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT) requirements in their boiler emissions. If the final rule from EPA does not designate C&D wood as an acceptable “fuel,” costs associated with emission upgrades to meet the boiler MACT rules will likely result in boiler operators abandoning C&D wood as a fuel source. This would greatly reduce the beneficial use of C&D wood for energy recovery in Maine, New York and the rest of the country, and may divert C&D wood to landfills where it will displace valuable landfill space needed for other wastes. 

St.Germain Collins has provided engineering and permitting services to numerous C&D wood boiler owners and Patrick has worked closely with many of these facilities and with regulators throughout the northeastern US. Because of his experience, Patrick was asked by the Biomass Power Association (BPA) to travel to Washington, D.C. recently along with Bob Cleaves, BPA President, other members of BPA, and members of the Construction Materials Recycling Association (CMRA). The group met with EPA and discussed the need for the continued use of C&D wood for energy recovery as an integral part of our nation’s waste management strategy. Patrick continues to work with this coalition to promote C&D wood as an acceptable fuel. We are optimistic that a solution can be worked out with EPA that will allow for energy recovery of this fuel in a cost effective manner, and with emission controls that continue to be protective of the environment. 

Patrick has over 20 years of experience in the environmental industry and received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and environmental studies from Bowdoin College. He lives in Brunswick, Maine, with his wife, Jennifer, and two daughters, with whom he will be sea kayaking in Casco Bay on weekend adventures this summer. 

If you would like more information about Patrick’s involvement with BPA, E2Tech or the FIRB, feel free to contact him at 207-591-7000.