Regulation

Republicans tell states to break the law and ignore Obama’s climate rules

Read the full story in Grist.

Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) proposed a bold solution for any state that doesn’t like President Barack Obama’s flagship plan to slash carbon emissions: Just ignore it. The new rule, issued under the Clean Air Act, aims to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint 30 percent by 2030. It would require every state to devise a plan to cut the carbon intensity (pollution per unit of energy) of its power sector. By simply ignoring the mandate, McConnell reasoned, states could delay taking steps like shuttering or retrofitting coal-fired power plants until the rules get killed by the Supreme Court (even though the chances of that happening are pretty remote).

New efficiency standards would help address heating bills of many homes in cold climates

Read the full post from the Appliance Standards Awareness Project.

On the heels of a proposed rule for new efficiency standards for furnaces, late on Friday the US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a proposed rule for another type of home heating equipment. While the proposed standards for boilers would save money for many consumers in cold climates, higher standards could achieve significantly greater energy savings.

Data Sharing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between EPA and FDA

EPA and the Food and Drug Administration are pleased to announce a Memorandum of Understanding to share data on pesticides and toxic substances. This sharing of information will better inform both agencies’ assessments of the risks to the public and the environment.

FDA and EPA have complementary roles in their regulatory authority for some substances incorporated into food (including animal food and feed), animal drugs, and cosmetics. FDA is responsible for protecting and promoting the public health by ensuring, among other things, the safety of food (including animal food and feed), animal drugs, and cosmetics by enforcing the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and several related public health laws. EPA is responsible for managing the pesticides and toxic substances programs under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, the FD&C Act, and the Toxic Substances Control Act. The MOU establishes a process of disclosure and sharing of their respective databases that will facilitate the decisions of each agency related to food safety, veterinary medications, and cosmetics. This data sharing will provide the most up-to-date information and assist in coordinating reviews between agencies.

Sometimes a given substance may be regulated by both agencies. For example, a manufacturer of an antimicrobial food wash is required to demonstrate to FDA that its use is safe and does not adulterate food. The manufacturer may also be required to demonstrate to EPA that use of the same substance (labeled as a pesticide) will not hurt the environment.  This agreement regarding information sharing and opening channels of communication between the agencies will serve to facilitate the accomplishment of our respective missions.  The MOU is available at www.regulations.gov.  Enter the following docket number in the Search field: EPA-HQ-OPPT-2003-0004.  Read the Federal Register Notice announcing this MOU at: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/02/27/2015-04149/access-to-confidential-business-information-by-the-food-and-drug-administration-office-of-foods-and

EPA Designates Mahomet Aquifer as “Sole Source” of Drinking Water in East-Central Illinois

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a decision to designate a portion of the Mahomet Aquifer system as a sole source aquifer. More than half of the population in east-central Illinois relies on the Mahomet Aquifer system as a source of drinking water.

The Safe Drinking Water Act gives EPA authority to designate all or part of an aquifer as a “sole source” if contamination of the aquifer would create a significant hazard to public health and there are no physically available or economically feasible alternative sources of drinking water to serve the population that relies on the aquifer. The designation authorizes EPA review of projects that receive Federal financial assistance to assess potential for contamination of the aquifer system that would create a significant hazard to public health.

The Mahomet Aquifer system is an underground layer of water-bearing sand and gravel that fills a wide bedrock valley in an area that includes 14 east-central Illinois counties. The aquifer system provides about 58 million gallons of drinking water each day for 120 public water systems and thousands of rural wells that serve about a half million people in Illinois.

EPA’s public comment period on the designation began on March 13, 2014, and closed on June 12, 2014. EPA held public hearings on May 13 in Champaign and on May 14 in Morton. Following a review of public comments, EPA prepared a Responsiveness Summary which addresses comments and answers questions. The decision goes into effect when it is published in the Federal Register.

The Responsiveness Summary and other relevant documents will be available to the public at EPA’s regional office, 77 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago; Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., Champaign; Bloomington Public Library, 205 E. Olive St., Bloomington; Pekin Public Library, 301 S. Fourth St., Pekin; Havana Public Library, 201 W. Adams St., Havana; and Watseka Public Library, 201 S. 4th St., Watseka.

For further information, go to www.epa.gov/region5/water/gwdw/mahomet

Seattle on cutting edge of cutting food waste

Read the full story in the Seattle Times.

San Francisco may have been the first city to make its citizens compost food, but Seattle is the first to punish people with a fine if they don’t. In a country that loses about 31 percent of its food to waste, policies like Seattle’s are driven by environmental, social and economic pressure.

USDA publishes final BCAP rule

Read the full story in Ethanol Producer Magazine.

The USDA has released the final rule for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, and though the general scope of BCAP is not changing with its recently published final rule, there are some key changes being made to the program, including matching payment and funding amounts, material eligibility and project areas.

Comment Period Extended for Revised Draft Guidance for Federal Agencies on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Effects of Climate Change in NEPA Reviews

On December 18, 2014, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released revised draft guidance on how Federal agencies should consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews of their proposed actions.

The revised draft guidance supersedes the draft guidance issued by CEQ in February 2010 and applies to all Federal agency actions, including land and resource management actions. CEQ has extended the public comment period on the revised draft guidance for an additional 30 days, with the comment period now closing on March 25, 2015. View the Federal Register notice here.