EPA proposes rule to enhance reporting of PFAS data to the Toxics Release Inventory

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule that would improve reporting on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) by, among other proposed changes, eliminating an exemption that allows facilities to avoid reporting information on PFAS when those chemicals are used in small, or de minimis, concentrations. Because PFAS are used at low concentrations in many products, this rule would ensure that covered industry sectors and federal facilities that make or use TRI-listed PFAS will no longer be able to rely on the de minimis exemption to avoid disclosing their PFAS releases and other waste management quantities for these chemicals.

“PFAS continue to pose an urgent threat to our country and communities deserve to know if they may be exposed because of the way these chemicals are being managed, recycled, or released. By removing this reporting loophole, we’re advancing the work set out in the Agency’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap and ensuring that companies report information for even small concentrations of PFAS. We’ll make this information available to the public so EPA and other federal, state and local agencies can use it to help best protect health and the environment.”

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.

This proposal reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to address the impacts of these forever chemicals, and advances EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap to confront the human health and environmental risks of PFAS.

TRI data are reported to EPA annually by facilities in certain industry sectors and federal facilities that manufacture, process, or otherwise use TRI-listed chemicals above certain quantities. The data include quantities of such chemicals that were released into the environment or otherwise managed as waste. Information collected through TRI allows communities to learn how facilities in their area are managing listed chemicals. The data collected also help support informed decision-making by companies, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the public.

The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) immediately added certain PFAS to the list of chemicals covered by TRI for the 2021 reporting year and provided a framework to automatically add other PFAS in future years. The NDAA established TRI manufacturing, processing, and otherwise use reporting thresholds of 100 pounds for each of these listed PFAS. However, the previous Administration codified the NDAA provisions in a manner that allows facilities that report to TRI to disregard certain minimal or de minimis concentrations of chemicals in mixtures or trade name products (below 1% concentration for each of the TRI-listed PFAS, except for PFOA for which the concentration is set at 0.1%).

The proposed rule released today would eliminate the availability of that exemption and require facilities to report on PFAS regardless of their concentration in products.

Currently, facilities are required to report to TRI on 180 PFAS per the requirements of the NDAA. However, in data submitted to EPA in 2021 and 2022, fewer facilities reported PFAS to TRI than expected. In response, EPA conducted outreach, and many facilities contacted claimed the de minimis exemption as a reason for not reporting. The rule proposed today would list PFAS as “chemicals of special concern,” which would make them ineligible for the de minimis exemption.

If finalized, this proposal would also make the de minimis exemption unavailable for purposes of supplier notification requirements to downstream facilities for all chemicals on the list of chemicals of special concern, which also includes certain persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals like lead, mercury, and dioxins. This change will help ensure that purchasers of mixtures and trade name products containing these chemicals are informed of their presence in mixtures and products they purchase.

EPA is accepting comments on the proposed rule through Feb. 3, 2023.

Learn more about the proposal.

New federal bill aims to cut plastics production, favoring reuse and refill strategies

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

The Protecting Communities From Plastics Act is the latest effort by Democratic lawmakers to target possible environmental justice impacts from plastics and could have chemical recycling implications.

Fed releases climate risk management proposals for big banks

Read the full story at ESG Today.

The U.S. Federal Reserve Board released a series of proposed principles for large banks with over $100 billion in assets to mange and monitor climate-related risk.

The proposals are aimed at supporting banks’ efforts to incorporate climate-related financial risks into their broader risk management frameworks, and at providing a framework for managing exposure to these risks consistent with the Fed’s existing rules and guidance.

In the introduction to the proposals, the Board notes that the guidance comes as “the financial impacts that result from the economic effects of climate change and the transition to a lower carbon economy pose an emerging risk to the safety and soundness of financial institutions and the financial stability of the United States.”

These hyperlocal weather networks can help states face climate threats

Read the full story at Stateline.

To prepare for climate change, states are getting into the weather business. 

Thirty-eight states are operating or building networks of weather monitoring stations to provide more precise data than they receive from the National Weather Service. They’re using that information to help spot flash floods, assess wildfire risk, inform farming practices and choose locations for renewable energy projects.

The programs are known as mesonets, which are networks that detect weather events spanning 1 to 150 miles. They’re intended to fill the gaps between National Weather Service sites, which can miss localized rain events, wind conditions or air quality issues.

Study finds lake cleanups help house values recover

Read the full story at Bridge Michigan.

A $34.9 million cleanup of heavily contaminated Muskegon Lake and White Lake in West Michigan is estimated to have recovered $16.4 million in lost housing value for nearby homeowners, according to a recent study.

PepsiCo UK swaps out diesel for cooking oil in green logistics roll-out

Read the full story at Food Navigator.

The Quaker-to-Walkers manufacturer is rolling out new logistics initiatives, including replacing diesel with recycled hydrogenated vegetable oil in trips from Cupar to Leicester.

Electric vehicles start to enter the car-buying mainstream

Read the full story in the New York Times.

While sales are still skewed toward affluent buyers, more people are choosing electric vehicles to save money.

Project to provide a better picture of what Mahomet aquifer looks like

Read the full story from the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette.

Scientists will take to the sky over much of Champaign County to get a closer look below the earth later this month.

Area residents shouldn’t be alarmed if they spy a fast-moving helicopter towing what looks like a trampoline frame.

Beginning Nov. 19, as part of a project contracted by the Illinois State Geological Survey at the University of Illinois and funded by Champaign County, the helicopter will be mapping most of the county to provide a three-dimensional look at the Mahomet aquifer, which supplies hundreds of millions of gallons of water per day to East Central Illinois.

Responsible Policy Engagement Analysis

Ceres recently released its second analysis of how the largest publicly traded U.S. companies performed against the Ceres Blueprint for Responsible Policy Engagement on Climate Change, which laid out expectations for how companies should incorporate their exposure to climate change risks into their decision-making on climate change lobbying. The Blueprint calls on companies to:

  • Assess climate-related risks to the company, including physical and transition risks
  • Systematize decision-making for climate risks, including climate lobbying, across the company
  • Advocate in favor of Paris-aligned climate policies
  • Engage their trade associations to support Paris-aligned climate policies

Suspected illegal fishing revealed by ships’ tracking data

Read the full story in Nature.

When fishing vessels hide their locations, they sometimes reveal a wealth of information. Gaps in tracking data can hint at illegal activity, finds a modelling study.