Regulation

EPA quietly revamps policy for alleged major air polluters, ends ‘watch list’

Read the full story from SNL Energy.

The U.S. EPA scrapped a system to track facilities that have chronically polluted the air, water and soil and overhauled the way it handles alleged air polluters, according to previously unreleased documents obtained by SNL Energy.

The overhaul targeted a 1998 policy that established the designation of “high priority violations,” or HPVs, for certain facilities. Air pollution from these facilities, according to the EPA, is “most likely to be significant for human health and the environment.” There are more than 2,000 facilities across the U.S. that have unresolved HPVs, according to agency data. Coal-fired power plants, natural gas compressor stations, oil refineries and manufacturing facilities are among the most common of the alleged offenders.

As part of a new policy, the EPA narrowed the criteria and eliminated a complicated matrix. The criteria and matrix were used together to determine if a facility had committed an HPV. Instead, the new policy sets a threshold of “at least seven days” of continuous or regularly recurring illegal air pollution for a facility to qualify as an HPV. The new policy also makes it easier for regulators to remove a violation from HPV status, reduces the number of meetings required to discuss HPVs, and eliminates a deadline of 270 to 300 days to resolve or address an HPV.

 

 

EPA Provides Additional Information on Clean Power Plan

As part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s extensive outreach since issuing the proposed Clean Power Plan, EPA is making additional information and ideas available for public comment in a notice of data availability (NODA). At the same time, EPA is following through on its commitment made in June to propose goals to reduce carbon pollution in areas of Indian Country and U.S. Territories where fossil-fuel power plants are located.

EPA has engaged in unprecedented outreach to a broad range of stakeholders since proposing the Clean Power Plan, including states, utilities, industry, public health and environmental groups, labor, and community groups. During the many meetings, conference calls, and the nearly 1.5 million public comments the agency has received so far, stakeholders have identified a wide range of ideas and information.

In issuing today’s NODA, EPA is seeking to ensure that all interested parties are aware of the issues and ideas that have been consistently raised by a diverse group of stakeholders, so that everyone has the opportunity to consider them as they formulate their comments, which are due on Dec. 1, 2014. Notices of data availability are commonly used to present additional information for the public to consider. They do not change a proposal, nor are they a complete summary of the wide variety of ideas that have been raised. They allow EPA to continue seeking ideas and comments on these and many other issues as the agency works toward a final rule that is flexible and empowers states to chart their own, customized path to meet goals for reducing harmful carbon pollution.

In a separate but related action, EPA is proposing goals for areas of Indian Country and U.S. Territories where fossil-fuel fired power plants are located to reduce their carbon pollution by 2030. Proposed goals for these areas were not included in the June 2014 proposed Clean Power Plan. The supplemental proposal relies on the approach used in the June 2014 Clean Power Plan and is based on new information and data provided through additional outreach to covered facilities and tribal and territorial governments. The proposal outlines a diverse range of options that tribes and territories could use to meet their goals. EPA will hold a public hearing on the supplemental proposal on Nov. 19, 2014 in Phoenix, Ariz. and will accept comment through Dec. 19, 2014.

Today’s actions are part of the common-sense steps laid out in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and the June 2013 Presidential Memorandum. Power plants account for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. While there are limits in place for arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution emissions, there are currently no national limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

In 2009, EPA determined that greenhouse gas pollution threatens Americans’ health and welfare by leading to long-lasting changes in our climate that can have a range of negative effects on human health and the environment. Taking steady, responsible steps to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants will protect public health, continue the United States’ international environmental leadership, and move the nation toward a cleaner, more stable environment for future generations, while supplying the reliable, affordable power needed for economic growth.

Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Determination 29 for Significant New Alternatives Policy Program

Read the full Federal Register Notice.

This Determination of Acceptability expands the list of acceptable substitutes for ozone-depleting substances under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program. This action lists as acceptable additional substitutes for use in the refrigeration and air conditioning, foam blowing, and fire suppression and explosion protection sectors.

DATES: This determination is effective on October 21, 2014.

Final Rule: Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Adjustments to the Allowance System for Controlling HCFC Production, Import and Export 2015-2019

The EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, signed the following final rule on 10/16/14, and EPA is submitting it for publication in the Federal Register. While we have taken steps to ensure the accuracy of this Internet version of the rule, it is not the official version of the rule for purposes of regulatory requirements. Please refer to the official version in a forthcoming Federal Register publication, which will appear on the Government Printing Office’s FDsys website: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/search/home.action and on Regulations.gov: http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0263. Once the official version of this document is published in the Federal Register, this version will be removed from the Internet and replaced with a link to the official version.

Enhanced EPA Oversight Needed to Address Risks From Declining Clean Air Act Title V Revenues

Download the document.

Weaknesses in the EPA’s oversight of Title V revenues and expenditures jeopardize program implementation and, in turn, compliance with air regulations for many of the nation’s largest sources of air pollution.

Hazardous chemicals in your pizza box? Petition asks FDA to ban them

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

U.S. manufacturers stopped using a hazardous chemical in pizza boxes and other food wrappers three years ago — but it may still be seeping into your takeout food.

That’s because foreign companies can still use perchlorate and perfluorocarboxylates (PFCs) – which can cause permanent brain damage in infants – in paper products that are imported into the United States.

On Thursday, a group of consumer and health groups filed a food additive petition with the Food and Drug Administration, asking that the agency pass regulations that would close this loophole and clearly ban the chemicals in food production. Perchlorate helps to reduce static and PFCs keep grease from soaking into food containers.

EPA Finds Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments of Little or No Benefit to U.S. Soybean Production

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released an analysis of the benefits of neonicotinoid seed treatments for insect control in soybeans. Neonicotinoid pesticides are a class of insecticides widely used on U.S. crops that EPA is reviewing with particular emphasis for their impact on pollinators. The analysis concluded that there is little or no increase in soybean yields using most neonicotinoid seed treatments when compared to using no pest control at all. A Federal Register notice inviting the public to comment on the analysis will publish in the near future.

“We have made the review of neonicotinoid pesticides a high priority,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “In our analysis of the economic benefits of this use we concluded that, on a national scale, U.S. soybean farmers see little or no benefit from neonicotinoid seed treatments.”

During the review of the neonicotinoids, EPA found that many scientific publications claim that treating soybean seeds has little value. Part of our assessment examined the effectiveness of these seed treatments for pest control and estimated the impacts on crop yields and quality, as well as financial losses and gains. The law requires EPA to consider the benefits of using pesticides as well as the risks.

The analysis concluded that:

  • There is no increase in soybean yield using most neonicotinoid seed treatments when compared to using no pest control at all.
  • Alternative insecticides applied as sprays are available and effective.
  • All major alternatives are comparable in cost.
  • Neonicotinoid seed treatment could provide an insurance benefit against sporadic and unpredictable insect pests, but this potential benefit is not likely to be large or widespread throughout the United States.

This analysis is an important part of the science EPA will use to move forward with the assessment of the risks and benefits under registration review for the neonicotinoid pesticides. Registration review — the periodic re-evaluation of pesticides to determine if they continue to meet the safety standard — can result in EPA discontinuing certain uses, placing limits on the pesticide registration, and requiring other label changes.

Sign up for pesticide program updates to be notified by email when the EPA opens the docket and invites comment on its analysis of the benefits of neonicotinoid seed treatments on soybeans.