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EPA Takes Important Step in Assessing Chemical Risk

2014 June 25
Jim Jones


June 25, 2014
2:19 pm EDT

Earlier today, EPA made public a final risk assessment on a number of uses of the chemical, Trichloroethylene, or TCE, as it is more commonly known. The risk assessment indicated health risks from TCE to consumers using spray aerosol degreasers and spray fixatives used for artwork. It can pose harm to workers when TCE is used as a degreaser in small commercial shops and as a stain remover in dry cleaners. It has been more than 28 years since we last issued a final risk assessment for an existing chemical.

EPA conducted the TCE risk assessment as part of a broader effort to begin assessing chemicals and chemical uses that may pose a concern to human health and the environment under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). TSCA is this country’s 38-year old chemicals management legislation, which is badly in need of modernization

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, a Year of Progress at EPA

2014 June 25
Gina McCarthy


June 25, 2014
9:53 am EDT

Climate change supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life. On behalf of our kids and future generations—we have a moral obligation to act. That’s why in June, 2013, President Obama unveiled his Climate Action Plan to cut the harmful carbon pollution fueling climate change, build a more resilient nation to face climate impacts today, and lead the world in our global climate fight.

As part of the President’s plan—he called on EPA to act. And over this past year, we’ve been answering that call.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Reducing the Impact of Stormwater Challenges

2014 June 24
Nancy Stoner


June 24, 2014
2:00 pm EDT

Acting Assistant Administrator for the EPA Office of Water

Stormwater pollution is a dilemma all across the country – even in beautiful mountain towns like Aspen, Colorado. Pollutants such as oils, fertilizer, and sediment from the steep mountains that tower over the town, can be carried via stormwater and snowmelt and deposited into waterways like the Roaring Fork River. This has a huge impact on the ecosystem.

Last month, I toured the Jennie Adair wetlands, a bio-engineered detention area designed to passively treat stormwater runoff in Aspen. I saw firsthand how the city is working to deal with its stormwater challenges. Before this project, stormwater did not drain to a water treatment facility. It used to flow directly into the Roaring Fork River and other water bodies within the city limits, having significant impacts on the water quality.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Consumer Product Companies Leading the Way to Greener Products

2014 June 24
Jim Jones


June 24, 2014
9:00 am EDT

Getting a tour of Earth Friendly Products in Southern California.

Getting a tour of Earth Friendly Products in Southern California.

 

During some recent travel, I spent time with several consumer product companies and retailers who are stepping up as  safer product leaders and innovators, advancing industry beyond the safety “floor” set by the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

In Southern California, I met with Earth Friendly Products. All their products are manufactured in the U.S. and 90% have earned the Design for the Environment (DfE) label.

I also took part in the Safer Consumer Product Summit in California followed by a visit to the Consumer Specialty Product Association (CSPA) meeting in Chicago.Then, outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I met with BerkleyGreen (Berkley Packaging Company Inc.), a family- and woman-owned DfE partner with 29 DfE-labeled products.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Another Favorable Opinion from the Supreme Court

2014 June 23
Avi Garbow


June 23, 2014
4:08 pm EDT

Today’s Supreme Court decision is a resounding win for EPA. At issue was how certain Clean Air Act permitting programs apply to carbon pollution. Justice Scalia, writing for seven of the nine justices, largely upheld EPA’s approach to requiring that carbon pollution be addressed in permits for large emitters, such as power plants and refineries. As Justice Scalia reportedly noted from the bench, “EPA is getting almost everything it wanted in this case.”

EPA’s inaugural suite of carbon pollution rules have now been fully vetted in federal court, and have emerged victorious, and largely unscathed. In fact, the most significant pieces of the Agency’s approach were not even granted Supreme Court review, having been found sound and upheld by the D.C. Circuit. EPA’s scientific finding that carbon pollution endangers public health and welfare was upheld by the D.C. Circuit, and the Supreme Court denied cert on issues related to it. Similarly, the D.C. Circuit upheld EPA’s first set of rules limiting carbon pollution from cars and trucks (and simultaneously saving consumers money at the pump), and the Supreme Court denied cert on issues related to those rules.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Seeing EPA funds helping the Mississippi River

2014 June 17
Nancy Stoner


June 17, 2014
10:44 am EDT

Last month, as part of the Hypoxia Task Force Meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas, I visited a farm in the Mississippi River Delta area, and more specifically in the Critical Groundwater Area of the Bayou Meto Watershed.  I am honored to co-chair the Hypoxia Task Force and meet with my fellow members throughout the Basin, and these personal visits with the people managing the land in the Basin are always a highlight.

Acting Assistant Administrator Nancy Stoner meets with farmers in Arkansas.

Acting Assistant Administrator Nancy Stoner meets with farmers in Arkansas.

We know that nonpoint source nutrient pollution from fertilizers in the Mississippi River Basin is the most significant threat to water quality in the region and to the Gulf of Mexico. The Arkansas Discovery Farms Program helps many stakeholders make informed decisions about the sustainable future of their farms.  I am delighted to note that the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission has provided EPA Nonpoint Source Program Section 319 funds to the Arkansas Discovery Farm Program – this is just one example of these funds supporting local watershed work across the country.  During my visit, Drs. Mike Daniels and Andrew Sharpley of the University of Arkansas described the Arkansas Discovery Farms Program and how they work with eight participating farms in Arkansas. read more…

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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The Clean Power Plan – Following a Consistent Approach to Setting State Goals

2014 June 10
Janet McCabe


June 10, 2014
3:37 pm EDT

The Clean Power Plan – following a consistent approach to setting state goals
EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan is continuing to get plenty of attention and lots of good questions. That’s great because it means people are digging into the proposal to see how it works.  We have heard a number of questions about the proposed state goals – and rightly so.  The proposed state goals are fundamental to how the program will cut pollution, so it’s important that you understand how we developed them, why they are different from state to state, and how states can meet them.  So let me provide a little more information.

How did EPA calculate the state goals?
As I mentioned last week, the Clean Power Plan works by setting state goals that gradually reduce each state’s carbon intensity rate, or “pollution-to-power ratio.” To do that, the state goals are determined by using a formula that takes the amount of CO2 emitted and divides it by the megawatt-hours of electricity generated (lbs/MWh). This is what we call a rate-based approach. Many other Clean Air Act rules have used emissions rates in the past to reduce other pollutants from power plants and many other types of facilities.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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A Shared Commitment: Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security

2014 June 6
Mathy Stanislaus


June 6, 2014
9:54 am EDT

This is a joint blog from: Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Caitlin Durkovich, Assistant Secretary Office of Infrastructure Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and David Michaels, Assistant Secretary, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor.

On August 1, 2013, the President issued Executive Order (EO) 13650 – Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security – to improve the safety and security of chemical facilities and reduce the risks of hazardous chemicals to facility workers and operators, communities, and responders. Chemicals and the facilities that manufacture, store, distribute and use them are essential to our economy and livelihood, but the handling and storage of chemicals can present a risk that must be addressed. read more…

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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At the Intersection of Human Health and Environmental Protection

2014 June 5
Jane Nishida


June 5, 2014
2:44 pm EDT

A community’s health, safety, and productiveness is dependent on the protection of its environment. This intersection, between environmental stewardship and community growth, is one of the most important aspects of the work we do every day at EPA. That’s why one of Administrator McCarthy’s key themes is making a visible difference in communities across the country. However, it’s not just cities and towns here in the U.S. that benefit from environmental protection. Worldwide, our homes are safer, our children are healthier, and our economies are stronger when we invest in environmental stewardship.

During my time at EPA, I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the impact of environmental protection in communities worldwide. When I traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I saw firsthand the environmental challenges that communities were facing in Africa and other parts of the world. read more…

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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A very short fact check

2014 June 4
Tom Reynolds


June 4, 2014
6:27 pm EDT

Remember when we predicted that the special interests and their allies would waste no time launching false attacks on EPA’s common sense proposal to limit carbon pollution? It didn’t take long for them to prove us right.

As part of our commitment to ensure Americans are getting accurate information about our policies, we’ll continue to dig into the false claims and misleading “analyses.” And sometimes our opponents will make it easier than others. For example, in a “study” making the rounds today from the Heritage Foundation, the wheels fall off before the car is even out of the garage. Let me just quote them:

“While not directly modeling the EPA’s regulations…”

See what they did there? They just admitted that the whole analysis has nothing to do with what EPA actually proposed. Now that disclaimer doesn’t stop them from making all sorts of dire claims intended to sound like they’re about EPA’s proposal. But it’s a good warning about how little those claims have to do with reality.

To be a little more precise, the Heritage “study” is about the effects of fully phasing out coal from the American energy mix. By contrast, EPA’s plan projects coal to be more than 30% of our energy mix well into the future. In fact, the proposal leaves states with enormous flexibility to choose the fuel sources and methods that work best for them. In addition, when the effects of this plan are in place in 2030, average electricity bills will be 8 percent cheaper.

So next time you hear special interests or politicians citing a scary report from the Heritage Foundation, make sure and ask them about the fine print.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.