Regulatory Developments: New Approaches to EPA in Managing New Chemical Polymers

Read the full story in the National Law Journal.

One of the consequences of the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is the need for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review and make determinations under Section 5(a)(3)(B) on premanufacture notification (PMN) chemicals submitted to EPA, and then to take required actions.  These requirements raise particular and sometimes challenging issues for new chemical polymers because the way polymers are identified allows for multiple different forms of the polymer to be manufactured.  Thus, while the chemical notifier may intend to manufacture a polymer that does not present hazard or risk concerns, because the same cannot be said of other forms of the polymer that could be made (e.g., at a lower molecular weight or with a higher content of reactive functional groups), EPA saw the need to regulate the new polymer to meet the new law’s requirements, including regulating “to the extent necessary” to protect against unreasonable risk.

This is an important issue under Section 5 given that approximately 60 percent of the PMN chemicals submitted under old TSCA were polymers; historically, EPA saw the need to regulate relatively few new polymers based on the polymer intended to be manufactured.  Using Section 5(e) consent orders and/or Significant New Use Rules (SNUR) to regulate so many polymers would have numerous drawbacks, including the significant burden required in developing, enforcing, and complying with the new regulations as well as slowing down the introduction of polymers that are of low regulatory concern when manufactured as intended.  Recognizing that over-regulating “safe” polymers will be a problem for many stakeholders, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) Charles M. Auer, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Oscar Hernandez, Ph.D., all former Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) employees with decades of EPA experience in reviewing and regulating new chemicals, developed and shared with EPA flexible approaches to getting at and resolving the issues that were presented by new polymer cases.

Cities Need State Help to Meet Paris Climate Goal

Read the full story in Stateline.

Despite Trump’s decision to withdraw, U.S. cities could achieve about 36 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions reductions required to meet America’s share of the goal international leaders set in Paris two years ago, according to research from the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a nonprofit network of major cities around the world.

But many cities may be hamstrung by Republican governors and state legislaturesthat are less supportive of policies that would reduce fossil fuel emissions.

EPA ‘Safer Choice’ Label Program, Criteria Under Fire

Read the full story in BNA’s Daily Environment Report.

Does a detergent that Procter & Gamble Co. makes merit a ‘safer’ label designation? The issue has re-ignited a debate among trade association executives over the type of analysis needed to justify such labels.

How an Eco-Friendly Rideshare Is Changing Life in a Tiny Rural Town

Read the full story in Governing.

In March, Cantua Creek and nearby El Porvenir were named winners of the Just Transit Challenge, a contest hosted by the 11th Hour Project  that is meant “to bring equitable and climate-friendly transportation solutions to cities across America.” The tiny communities won enough money to purchase a seven-passenger Tesla van and begin a formal pilot electric rideshare program. The grant will fund the van purchase, insurance and all program costs for one year, Monaco says. After that, the hope is that modest ridership fees (which have yet to be calculated exactly) should cover the cost of the program; for now, the program’s planned start date is the end of July.

Local foods: Food processing program, student farm allows campus to serve local and sustainably grown items

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

The tasty slices of pizza students will be eating this fall in University of Illinois dining halls will be as close to “locally grown” as most restaurants can get, with many of the ingredients grown right on campus.

Not only do students get to enjoy these home-grown products, but students are involved in every step of the process—from growing the tomatoes and wheat, to the processing and milling after harvest, and even developing the recipes.

The Illinois Sustainable Food Project is a partnership between the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, the Department of Crop Science’s Sustainable Student Farm, and University Housing Dining Services.

Dangers of firefighting foam discussed in 2001, document shows

Read the full story in the Bucks County Courier Times. On-going coverage by the paper is available here.

More than a decade before drinking water supplies in Bucks and Montgomery counties were found to be contaminated by firefighting foams used at three military bases, the foam makers and the military were privately discussing and debating the dangers the foams presented.

That’s according to a series of documents reviewed by this news organization, including the authenticated March 2001 minutes of a meeting of foam manufacturers.

These game-changing solar panels are cheap and can be printed

Read the full story in Mashable.

Despite places like Australia being bathed in sun, the cost of traditional silicon-based solar cells hasn’t inspired people to buy, buy, buy.

But what if you could make the technology cheaper and produce it at a higher scale? Some believe that printed solar is the way forward.


Hawaii becomes first state to enact legislation aligning with Paris Agreement

Read the full story from CNBC.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige has signed legislation support the Paris Agreement, making his state the first to enact measures to implement parts of the international accord to combat climate change.

Five shifts to begin a new story for energy

Read the full story at Futures Centre Explorer.

In May 2017, Forum for the Future and SmartestEnergy held a global online conversation asking: How might we design an energy system inspired by life? It’s the first time a community of people and organisations has come together to consider a different future for our energy system, looking at all its aspects: from infrastructure design to behaviours, skills and interactions.

4 Big Ideas in Sustainable Business

Read the full story from the World Resources Institute.

Green initiatives have taken root in the corporate world. Rising numbers of companies have promised to cut emissions, protect forests and watersheds, reduce food waste and take other steps to ensure a sustainable future for all. While President Trump recently decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, over 900 American companies announced that they are still in. Behind this momentum are passionate CEOs, conscientious consumers and an increasingly purpose-driven workforce.

It’s an exciting time—but there’s still much to do before business, people and the planet reach equilibrium. In mid-May, we brought together our corporate partners for MindShare, two days of open discussion on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. As the communications lead, I was listening for trends, shared attitudes and big ideas. Here are four themes that emerged.