Day: August 27, 2019

EPA Seeks Public Input on 20 High-Priority Chemical Substances Proposal

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is meeting another statutory requirement under the 2016 amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by proposing to designate 20 chemical substances as High-Priority Substances for upcoming risk evaluations. The proposed designation is a required step in a new process of reviewing chemical substances currently in commerce under the amended TSCA.

“By proposing to prioritize 20 chemicals for risk evaluation, EPA is realizing another one of the key requirements of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act,” said Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Alexandra Dapolito Dunn. “Taking public comment will help advance our understanding about how these chemicals are used in commerce and brings EPA one step closer to completing the prioritization process.”

EPA is issuing designation documents for each chemical substance describing the chemical-specific information, analysis and basis EPA used to support the proposed designation. Today’s 20 proposed chemicals are the same the agency identified in March as potential High-Priority Substances. The agency is asking stakeholders and the public to submit comments by November 21, 2019

The 20 proposed high-priority candidate chemicals include seven chlorinated solvents, six phthalates, four flame retardants, formaldehyde, a fragrance additive, and a polymer precursor.

EPA is required to complete the prioritization process and make final designations for 20 High-Priority Substances by December 2019. Finalizing these designations will begin the three-year risk evaluation process to determine if they present an unreasonable risk to health or the environment under the conditions of use. If the agency determines any substance presents an unreasonable risk, it is required under TSCA to undertake risk mitigation – a regulatory action.

Last week, EPA designated another 20 chemicals as Low-Priority Substances as part of the prioritization process. A low-priority designation, when final, means these substances do not require risk evaluation at this time in EPA’s determination.

Learn more about the proposed high-priority chemicals and view the supporting documents.

AASHE 2019 Sustainable Campus Index

The Sustainable Campus Index highlights the most sustainable colleges and universities in 17 impact areas and overall by institution type, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). Access the 2019 edition here.

Vt. Landfill Case Highlights ‘Garbage Juice’ Chemicals In Drinking Water

Read the full story from Vermont Public Radio.

Environmentalists opposed to the expansion of a Northeast Kingdom landfill say Vermont is being inconsistent in how it regulates the landfill’s wastewater.

At issue is leachate – the chemical brew created when water seeps through mountains of trash.

FTC’s Green Guides Apply to Claims Regarding the Environmental Benefits of Simulated and Laboratory-Created Diamonds

Read the full story at JD Supra.

In April 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent warning letters to eight companies advertising simulated or laboratory-created diamonds. In a May 3, 2019, Business Blog item entitled “The many facets of advertising diamonds with clarity,” FTC states that according to the letters, the companies promoted their products without adequately disclosing that they were not mined diamonds. In the blog item, FTC posed questions to FTC attorney Robert Frisby regarding the best ways to ensure compliance with FTC’s Jewelry Guides. The questions include what steps companies should take if they want to advertise the environmental benefits of simulated or laboratory-created diamonds. Frisby notes that the FTC’s Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (Green Guides) offer advice on how to make environmental claims non-deceptively and recommends that companies keep two basic principles in mind:

  1. Advertisers must have a reasonable basis for any environmental benefit claims they make for their products; and
  2. Advertisers must qualify their claims adequately to avoid deception.

Federal Vehicle Fleets: Agencies Have Continued to Incorporate Alternative Fuel Vehicles into Fleets, but Challenges Remain

Download the document.

In responding to fleet management requirements over the past 10 years, agencies have incorporated an increasing number of alternative fuel vehicles into their fleets. These have been predominantly flex-fuel vehicles, as hybrid and battery electric vehicles continue to make up a small percentage of agencies’ fleets (see figure). The Department of Energy (DOE) is responsible for overseeing agencies’ compliance by analyzing fleet data. Most agencies reported meeting the fiscal year 2017 requirements to reduce petroleum use and per-mile greenhouse gas emissions. DOE and other agency officials attributed agencies’ success in meeting these requirements to (1) acquiring low greenhouse-gas-emitting and alternative fuel vehicles, and (2) improving general fleet management such as by reducing miles traveled.

According to agency officials, three challenges have continued to hinder agencies’ efforts to further the goals of reducing federal fleets’ petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions. First, while hybrid and electric vehicles can offer reductions in petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions, the costs of these vehicles and their charging infrastructure make it challenging for agencies to acquire them on a large scale. According to GSA data, agencies purchased 373 electric vehicles (sedans and minivans) in fiscal year 2017—along with about 4,500 hybrid electric sedans—out of a total of over 16,000 sedans and minivans acquired. In total, agencies spent about $10.5 million more to purchase hybrid or electric vehicles than they would have to purchase comparably sized conventionally fueled vehicles. However, agencies did not consistently track the life-cycle costs of these vehicles. Second, agencies also stated that a lack of fuel and infrastructure availability limits agencies’ use of alternative fuel. Third, agency officials stated that a continuing need for larger vehicles limits the number of low greenhouse-gas-emitting vehicles agencies can acquire.

Why GAO Did This Study

Since 1988, a series of laws have been enacted and executive orders issued related to federal goals of reducing federal fleets’ petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions. For fiscal year 2017, federal agencies were required to: (1) to acquire certain types of vehicles, (2) to use more alternative fuel, and (3) to meet targets for reducing petroleum and per-mile greenhouse gas emissions. Federal agencies were also under a directive to increase acquisitions of zero emission (electric) vehicles.

GAO was asked to review federal agencies’ efforts related to these fiscal year 2017 requirements. This report addresses: (1) how agencies reported meeting fleet energy requirements and how agencies efforts changed their fleets and (2) challenges agencies face related to further meeting fleet energy goals.

To conduct this review, GAO surveyed 29 federal agencies subject to fleet energy requirements and selected 5 agencies—of a variety of sizes and missions—for case studies. The case studies results are not generalizable to all agencies. GAO also: (1) reported on DOE’s and GSA’s data on federal fleets for fiscal years 2008 through 2017, including GSA’s acquisition and cost data for fiscal year 2017, the most current data available; (2) reviewed DOE’s and EPA’s information on agencies’ performance related to fiscal year 2017 requirements; and (3) interviewed federal officials. The directives to reduce per-mile greenhouse gas emissions and increase acquisitions of electric vehicles were revoked by an Executive Order issued in May 2018.

Extreme Heat: When Outdoor Sports Become Risky

Download the document.

The National Weather Service heat index includes a combination of air temperature and the relative humidity to capture what it actually feels like outside (which is usually warmer than what the thermometer is reading). When the heat index reaches 90°F, the NWS advises individuals to use “extreme caution” if exercising or working in the outdoors (and that’s for a heat index calculation that assumes a shady location with a slight breeze).  

A Climate Central analysis of 239 locations in the United States shows that 198 cities have experienced an increase in the annual average number of days with heat index temperatures of 90°F or higher over the last four decades, based on a linear regression analysis. These extreme heat days are now comprising much of the summer for many cities in the South and Southwest, while areas of the country that had relatively few summer days reach the 90°F heat index in the past are now experiencing weeks of them. A “danger” day occurs when the combination of heat and humidity makes it feel like it’s 105°F or hotter. Nearly a dozen U.S. cities experienced an increase of at least 4 danger days on average since 1979. 

Climate change’s impact is being felt throughout the world of sports as these extreme heat events become more common. On high heat index days, sports and heat become a dangerous mix. According to the Center for Disease Control, heat-related illnesses are the leading cause of death or disability among high school athletes. During hot, humid weather, sweat cannot evaporate as easily from the skin, so athletes are at greater risk of developing  illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke – the latter being potentially fatal. With an estimated 8 million high school athletes across the U.S., late summer is the time when many head back to football, soccer, field hockey, or track and field practice—and when parents, guardians and coaches need to be vigilant about the potential risk for exertional heat illnesses. 

The increased intensity and frequency of high heat index days are also complicating professional and amateur sports events around the country. The July heatwave that affected Midwestern and Eastern states led to the cancellation of the New York City Triathlona number of running races, as well as horse races in New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. 

Nespresso partners with JD Logistics to expand China recycling services

Read the full story at Marketing Interactive.

Nespresso has expanded its coffee capsule pick-up service to China in a bid to further demonstrate its environmental responsibility

In trucking, is it sunrise for solar?

Read the full story at Supply Chain Dive.

Solar panels on trucks can supplement battery and power lift gates, though the technology today isn’t enough to power a truck down the road.

BD to spend $8m to cut EO emissions in Georgia

Read the full story from Medical Design and Outsourcing.

Becton Dickinson (NYSE:BDX) said this week it will spend $8 million to upgrade emissions controls at two medical device sterilization plants it operates in Georgia.

The plants in Covington and Madison, Ga., both southeast of Atlanta, use ethylene oxide (EO) to sterilize medical devices. The federal Environmental Protection Agency recognizes EO as a carcinogen and lowered its limits on emissions of the sterilant gas in 2016. BD acquired the plants when it bought C.R. Bard in 2017.

BD said in a statement that it volunteered to design and install new emission-reduction technologies and processes to further reduce EO emissions at the plants. The company said it gave Georgia Governor Brian Kemp a plan to have an independent company validate its current emissions destruction of 99.95%, which exceeds the 99% regulatory
requirement.

Environmentalists filmed Iran’s vanishing cheetahs. Now they could be executed for spying.

Read the full story from the Washington Post.

The nine conservationists had embarked on one of the most ambitious wildlife projects in Iran in recent years, setting camera traps in seven provinces to monitor the critically endangered Asiatic cheetah, whose dwindling population stalks Iran’s central plateau.

 They worked with the government, secured the right permits and received funding and equipment from abroad. But the researchers, all Iranian, soon drew the suspicion of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, a powerful branch of Iran’s armed forces, and were arrested last year for alleged espionage. 

Now, four members of the team charged with “spreading corruption on earth” could face the death penalty, and four others could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. The researchers, from the nonprofit Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, are awaiting a verdict in a trial that rights groups say has been marred by abuses and accusations of torture.

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