EPA Pulls Back the Curtain on More CBI Claims Regarding Toxic Chemicals' Safety

by Matt Shudtz | June 09, 2011

EPA announced Wednesday that staff from the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention are making good on a promise to give the public increased access to health and safety studies about the toxic chemicals that pervade our lives. I applaud EPA for their work. Until Congress reforms TSCA to free EPA’s hand in regulating toxic chemicals, we have to rely too much on an imperfect alternative system, where public interest groups use publicly available data to inform the public about risks and campaign for chemical limits at the state level (see, e.g., BPA). . Broad access to the health and safety studies that EPA has just released, along with the TSCA Inventory and Chemical Access Data Tool, ensures that public interest groups and consumer advocates will have plenty of evidence to back their campaigns.

EPA’s data release is part of an ongoing effort to reassess whether certain information, once claimed to be confidential business information by the company submitting it to the agency, still deserves the protections that go along with the CBI designation. Under various sections of TSCA, chemical companies must submit health and safety studies about their chemicals to EPA. For instance, under § 8(e), companies must submit any study “which reasonably supports the conclusion that [a] substance or mixture presents a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment.”  Skimming over EPA's list of recently released studies, it looks like many were 8(e) submissions.

The reason EPA ...

Pawlenty Attacks Government 'Bureaucrats' For Shower Efficiency Requirements Enacted by Congress, Signed by George H.W. Bush

by Ben Somberg | June 07, 2011
How easy it is to make fun of those out-of-control, unelected government bureaucrats! The examples of their wild behavior are just so plentiful. Here's Tim Pawlenty in his big economic speech this morning (prepared remarks, video): Conservatives have long made the federal bureaucracy the butt of jokes. And considering some of the bureaucrats in Washington, and what they're actually in charge of doing -- like the strength of our showerheads, the vigor of our toilet flushes, or the glow of ...

Notes from the 2nd World Congress on Cities and Adaptation to Climate Change

by Robert Verchick | June 05, 2011
Bonn--At a climate conference in Germany, with lager in hand, I was prepared to ponder nearly any environmental insult or failure. But rat pee? Really?  The urine of rats, as it turns out, is known to transmit the leptospirosis bacteria which can lead to high fever, bad headaches, vomiting, and diarrhea. During summer rainstorms in São Paulo, Brazil, floodwaters send torrents of sewage, garbage, and animal waste through miles of hillside slums and shanties. Outbreaks of leptospirosis often follow the floods. And in ...

Sunstein Denounces SBA's 'Deeply Flawed' Study of Regulatory Costs

by James Goodwin | June 03, 2011
In testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in mid-April, Cass Sunstein, Administrator of the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), was asked to comment on a much-disputed $1.75 trillion estimate of the annual cost of federal regulations. The number comes from a report commissioned by the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, often referred to as the Crain and Crain report, for its authors. The $1.75 trillion estimate is grossly at odds with ...

Score: Utah 2, BLM Wilderness Protection 0

by Dan Rohlf | June 03, 2011
Few things in politics are certain, but it’s a safe bet that Barak Obama will not carry the state of Utah in his 2012 re-election bid. But despite its dismal electoral prospects in the state, the Obama Administration knuckled under to pressure from Utah and other western Republicans this week when Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar did an about-face on the Bureau of Land Management’s “Wild Lands” policy. The policy, announced by the Secretary less than six months ago, allowed ...

A Teachable Moment for the Obama Administration: Sunstein Should Address Wild Estimates on Regulatory Costs, Challenge Regulatory Critics on Misleading Study on the Cost of Regulation

by Sidney Shapiro | June 02, 2011
The Obama administration has been busy with its regulatory look-back, which required agencies to identify health, safety, and environmental standards to be reviewed in the coming months, with the possibility of eliminating or modifying them (in some cases, the specific proposal for modification or elimination was already made last week).   In explaining why the look-back is necessary, the administration sounds too much like the Chamber of Commerce or other anti-regulatory critics and not enough like candidate Obama, who once unapologetically ...

New CPR White Paper Tackles Industry Myths About BPA

by Lena Pons | June 02, 2011
For the last two decades, scientists have amassed evidence that bisphenol A (BPA) poses a threat to human health. BPA is a chemical used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastic, can liners for food and beverages, and thermal paper used for register receipts. It is used in so many applications that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found traces of BPA in 93 percent of people it tested. Although scientists have targeted BPA as a public health concern, plastics ...

The Endangerment Litigation

by Daniel Farber | June 01, 2011
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. I’ve just spent some time reading the initial briefs in the D.C. Circuit on the endangerment issue.  They strike me as much more political documents than legal ones. A brief recap for those who haven’t been following the legal side of the climate issue.  After the Bush Administration decided not to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, the Supreme Court held that greenhouse gases would be covered if they met the statutory requirement of ...

OSHA Releases Self-Evaluation of its Role in Federal Response to BP Oil Spill

by Matt Shudtz | May 31, 2011
OSHA published a report (pdf) last week on its role in the federal government’s response to last year’s massive oil spill. Within days of the blowout aboard the Deepwater Horizon, OSHA officials were in Louisiana, working to ensure that the people involved in the response and cleanup had adequate protection from the myriad hazards they would face. The new report is mainly a list of accomplishments, not an introspective “lessons learned” self-evaluation that could have paved the way for policy changes that ...

The New BOEMRE-NOAA MOU: A Good Start, But More is Needed

by Holly Doremus | May 27, 2011
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. I was excited to read this story in the LA Times, saying that BOEMRE and NOAA had reached an agreement that would give NOAA more say in decisions to approve offshore drilling. (Draw whatever conclusions you like about what my geeky excitement says about how boring my life must be.) This agreement is certainly needed, as the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Commission has noted, and as I’ve written in this paper forthcoming in Boston College’s Environmental ...

Administration's Regulatory 'Look-Back' Announcement Panders to Industry, Focuses Primarily on Eliminating Regs, Diverts Agencies from Crucial Work

by Amy Sinden | May 26, 2011
Following up on President Obama’s January Executive Order calling for agencies to conduct a regulatory “look-back,” the Administration today released a target list of health, safety, and environmental standards to be reviewed by agencies in the coming months, with an eye toward eliminating or modifying them. The President’s January announcement was driven by politics, and from all appearances, the process of reviewing these regulations will be as well. In an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal, and in a speech ...

Sunstein to Outline Regulatory Review Plans; Industry Yawns; Public Health and Safety Agencies Lose out from Diverted Resources

by Rena Steinzor | May 25, 2011
Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator Cass Sunstein heads to the American Enterprise Institute Thursday morning to speak about federal agencies' plans to "look back" at and review existing regulations. Meanwhile, agencies statutorily obligated to protect public health and safety, such as EPA and OSHA, are diverting resources from pressing work so that they can structure and soon carry out a hunt for a supposed treasure of frivolous old regulations that need to be revised or eliminated. Strikingly, ...

The McAteer Report: A Mine Safety Blockbuster

by Thomas McGarity | May 19, 2011
The report issued this morning by the Governor's Independent Investigation Panel on the West Virginia mine explosion that killed 29 miners at the Massey Energy Company’s Upper Big Branch Mine just over a year ago will never make the New York Times best seller list. But it should be required reading for all policymakers with responsibility for protecting the safety of the workers who spend much of their lives deep underground digging coal. Although the Mine Safety and Health Administration ...

Lisa Jackson Steps Back (Again) on Boiler MACT: One of the Top 12 Rules Now in Indefinite Limbo. Delay Violates the CAA

by Rena Steinzor | May 18, 2011
This post was written by CPR Member Scholars Rena Steinzor and Catherine O'Neill, and Policy Analyst James Goodwin. By any reasonable estimation, it should have been a jewel in the EPA’s regulatory crown. Released in February, the EPA’s final Boiler MACT rule (actually, it’s two rules—one addressing large boilers and the other addressing smaller ones) would annually prevent up to nearly 6,600 premature deaths, more than 4,000 non-fatal heart attacks, more than 1,600 cases of acute bronchitis, and more than 313,000 ...

Inventory Update Reporting Rule Delayed Following Five Industry Meetings at the White House and Some Specious Claims

by Matt Shudtz | May 13, 2011
EPA announced Wednesday that it is delaying the reporting period for its Inventory Update Reporting requirement. It's not good news. EPA had announced its intention to revise (pdf) the TSCA Inventory Update Rule (IUR) back in August of last year. The TSCA Inventory is the official list of chemicals in commerce, and the IUR is the regulation that requires companies to submit production and use data to EPA to ensure the Inventory accurately represents all of the chemicals out there. Determining the ...

Tester: Don't Get the (Toxic) Lead Out

by Dan Rohlf | May 10, 2011
In an impressive effort to demonstrate that crafting bad environmental legislation knows no partisan boundaries, Democratic Senator John Tester of  Montana – who recently spearheaded a successful effort to remove wolves from the endangered species list through a budget maneuver – last month introduced legislation to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating lead ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Several environmental organizations last year petitioned EPA to mandate the use of non-lead bullets and shot, noting that ...

Will the Atmosphere Make it as the Public Trust Doctrine's Next Frontier?

by Alexandra Klass | May 06, 2011
On Wednesday, Our Children's Trust, an Oregon-based nonprofit, made headlines when it began filing lawsuits on behalf of children against all 50 states and several federal agencies alleging that these governmental entities have violated the common law public trust doctrine by failing to limit greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.  The claims seek judicial declaration that states have a fiduciary duty to future generations with regard to an “atmospheric trust” and that states and the federal government must ...

Did Environmentalists Kill Climate Legislation?

by Frank Ackerman | May 06, 2011
Cross-posted from Triple Crisis. Climate legislation, even in its most modest and repeatedly compromised variety, failed last year. And there won’t be a second chance with anything like the current Congress. What caused this momentous failure? Broadly speaking, there are two rival stories. It could be due to the strength of opposing or inertial forces: well-funded lobbying by fossil fuel industries, biased coverage by increasingly right-wing media, the growth of the “Tea Party” subculture and its rejection of science, dysfunctional ...

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