Category: Regulation

EPA coal ash announcement turns up the heat on Illinois municipal utility

Read the full story at Energy News Network.

Residents fear groundwater contamination from coal ash, but Springfield’s City, Water, Light and Power says closing ash ponds will actually endanger water supply.

EPA stops posting ‘critically important’ chemical risk data

Read the full story from Bloomberg Law. See also the story in The Intercept.

The EPA has all but stopped posting online data about new types of problems commercial chemicals may cause, frustrating public interest groups and businesses that use the information to make health and safety decisions.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it went from posting substantial risk notices for hundreds of chemicals every year in its ChemView database—to posting just two notices since 2019—because the employee who updated the website retired, and because it’s not legally required to keep the website up to date.

The only way to view the data immediately is to visit the EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. That leaves the public “completely blind to critical health and safety information for hundreds of chemicals,” said Jennifer McPartland, a health scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund.

EPA to assess health impacts of leaded aircraft fuel

Read the full story in The Hill.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will investigate the potential negative impacts on human health from the emissions of airplanes using leaded fuel, the agency announced Wednesday.

A 2016 EPA report indicated piston-engine planes are the single largest airborne source of lead exposure. Leaded fuel from other sources was phased out in 1996 under the Clean Air Act, but it remains the only useable fuel for piston-engine airplanes, about 170,000 of which are currently airborne, according to the National Academies of Sciences. Overall airborne lead exposures in the U.S. have fallen 99 percent since 1980.

The agency will issue a formal proposal for public comment in 2022 before determining a final action next year, according to the EPA.

EPA denies extension for Ameren to stop dumping coal ash, gypsum at two power plants

Read the full story in the Missouri Independent.

The move was part of a series of steps the agency said it would take to protect communities from harmful coal ash contamination.

PFOA and PFAS take another step towards becoming full-fledged members of the CERCLA family of hazardous substances

Read the full story at JD Supra.

On January 10, 2022, U.S. EPA forwarded to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a proposed rule that seeks to designate perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as “hazardous substances” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).  Although not unexpected since this was of the key elements of U.S. EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap, U.S. EPA’s proposed rule is unique in that it represents one of the first times that U.S. EPA has by rule sought to designate a chemical as a CERCLA hazardous substance.  U.S. EPA’s actions in sending the proposed rule to OMB may also be foreshadowing for a similar effort to designate PFOA and PFOS as “hazardous wastes” under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) which would subject these substances to RCRA’s cradle to grave regulatory scheme.     

Science Advisory Board (SAB) criticizes draft EPA PFAS documents over lack of transparency

Read the full story at Products Finishing.

In the first week of January 2022, the Science Advisory Board (SAB) PFAS Panel reviewed draft documents for deriving a maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as well as an analysis of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk reduction as a result of reduced PFOA and PFOS exposure in drinking water.  EPA uses health-based MCLGs to set enforceable drinking water standards after taking into consideration cost and technology concerns.  EPA will use the CVD document in its cost-benefit analysis for the enforceable drinking water standard…

EPA science advisors criticized several aspects of the draft documents the agency plans to use to set enforceable drinking water limits, saying that even when the agency’s approach appears to be reasonable, EPA has failed to adequately explain its rationale.  The criticisms follow, and in some cases echo, concerns a variety of public commenters have raised about the documents, where state health officials, industry groups and drinking water officials have said the documents contain numerous errors and inconsistencies. Specifically, the panel reviewed a draft framework for estimating noncancer risks associated with PFAS mixtures, raising concerns it could hamper ongoing state efforts to control the chemicals.

EPA moves to crack down on dangerous coal ash storage ponds

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

The Environmental Protection Agency is taking its first major action to address toxic wastewater from coal-burning power plants, ordering utilities to stop dumping waste into unlined storage ponds and speed up plans to close leaking or otherwise dangerous coal ash sites.

Plants in four states will have to close the coal ash ponds months or years ahead of schedule, the EPA said Tuesday, citing deficiencies with groundwater monitoring, cleanup or other problems.

Advancing Equity in Utility Regulation

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For the first time in over 30 years, the EPA adds to its list of hazardous air pollutants

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to add a powerful dry-cleaning solvent, 1-bromopropane, to its list of hazardous air pollutants was long overdue, environmentalists and industry officials say. Researchers, bureaucrats and even many chemical makers have viewed it for years as a dangerous airborne pollutant suspected to damage nerves and cause cancer.

Yet it took a decade of prodding to prompt EPA officials to register it as a hazardous air toxic. The final rule was announced in a notice published in the Federal Register on Wednesday. The designation allows the agency to set limits on emissions of the solvent, valued by dry cleaners, auto shops and other businesses for its ability to treat dirty fabrics and greasy metal parts.

New Jersey passes ambitious recycled content bill, which now heads to governor for signature

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

New Jersey’s recycled content bill, S2515, is on its way to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk after passing the state’s Assembly and Senate Jan. 10. 

Starting in 2024, rigid plastic containers will need to contain at least 10% postconsumer recycled content, and plastic beverage containers will need to contain at least 15%. These rates will rise incrementally over the years and cap at 50% by 2036 and 2050, respectively, according to the bill.

The bill also establishes a 35% standard for recycled content in glass bottles; a 20% standard for plastic carryout bags; a standard of between 20% and 40% for paper carryout bags, depending on size; as well as a range of standards for plastic trash bags based on thickness. Polystyrene packing peanuts will be banned in 2024.  Washington is another state that recently banned this packaging.

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