All Published Articles
On June 2, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an ambitious and likely contentious rule to diminish significantly the United States’ contribution to greenhouse gases (GHG). The rule is proposed under the authority of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and takes direct aim at the coal industry by requiring a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants by 2030, using 2005 as the baseline year. This column summarizes key aspects of the rule and its implications for Pollution Engineering readers.
On June 24, 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued three final guidances and one draft guidance that it intends to provide "greater regulatory clarity for industry on the use of nanotechnology in FDA-regulated products." See http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm402499.htm. One final guidance addresses FDA's overall approach for all products that it regulates, while the two additional final guidances and the new draft guidance provide specific guidance for the areas of foods, cosmetics, and food for animals, respectively.
On March 19, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an administrative order to Pathway Investment Corp. (Pathway) of Englewood, New Jersey, to stop the sale of plastic food storage containers that are not registered with EPA, in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). According to a press release issued on March 31, 2014, by EPA concerning the stop sale order, the Company’s Kinetic Go Green Premium Food Storage Containers and Kinetic Smartwist Series Containers contain “nanosilver” as an active ingredient, and the Company markets other products as containing nanosilver, which the Company claims helps reduce the growth of mold, fungus, and bacteria. EPA notes that such claims can be made only for products that have been properly tested and are registered under FIFRA. EPA states that, in addition to the order sent to Pathway, it also issued warning letters to Amazon, Sears, Walmart, and other large retailers directing them not to sell these food storage containers. This enforcement action put nanosilver in the public spotlight, and not in a good way. This article summarizes recent regulatory developments pertinent to nanosilver, and discusses the recent EPA enforcement action to explain what the case means, and what it does not mean.
Reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) may be a little closer to reality since Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, released on February 27, 2014, a much anticipated discussion draft that would update TSCA. The Chemicals in Commerce Act (CICA) keys off of Senate Bill (S.) 1009, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), which was introduced on May 22, 2013, by late Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA). Under Shimkus’s leadership, the Subcommittee has held five hearings that reviewed core sections of Title I of TSCA and the proposed Senate amendments to those sections. This column provides an overview of the discussion draft of the new, not-yet-numbered House bill, the CICA, and compares its key provisions with the Senate’s approach to TSCA reform under S. 1009.
On May 23, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted its 2014 Regulatory Agenda, which still includes RIN 2070-AJ54, "Nanoscale Materials; Chemical Substances When Manufactured, Imported, or Processed as Nanoscale Materials; Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements; Significant New Use Rule." See http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201404&RIN=2070-AJ54.
In late March, EPA and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) proposed a rule that would dramatically revise and expand the reach of the Clean Water Act’s (CWA) jurisdiction. Unquestionably, determining the scope of the CWA’s jurisdiction, particularly over streams and tributaries, has become confusing and complex following several Supreme Court decisions and various EPA interpretations issued in response to these decisions over the years. For nearly a decade, Congress, state and local officials, industry, agriculture, environmental groups and the public have asked for a rulemaking to provide clarity. The proposal is already generating much controversy and should invite significant comments.
How to address and manage potential risks posed by pesticide “drift” -- the unintentional movement of some level of pesticide outside of the intended area of application -- has long been a challenging, complex regulatory policy issue. It is difficult to dispute that when applying a pesticide product some small amount may, in some circumstances, move off-site. In other words: “drift happens.” The issue quickly becomes whether, from a risk management perspective, the amount of off-site movement matters. That question is, in turn, heavily dependent on factors specific to the pesticide application at issue, such as the nature of the specific pesticide (e.g., its volatility), the application method used (e.g., aerial or ground application), and climatic conditions. Because many such factors must be considered, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found it challenging to devise a “drift policy” or define generally what, if any, level of potential drift is acceptable. This article explores the current situation.
In last week’s Special Report on Scale-up in Industrial Biotechnology, the Digest noted that a consistent lesson shared by leading biotech heavyweights at the BIO World Congress scale-up session is to “avoid an afterthought approach to regulatory compliance.” As luck and good scheduling would have it, after lunch on the same day, savvy conference-goers got up-close-and-personal with two senior U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulators and a seasoned company executive involved with biobased chemicals at a session titled “Commercializing Renewable Chemicals and Biobased Products: The Importance of Successfully and Efficiently Navigating the Regulatory Process.” This article highlights the top tips for gaining EPA regulatory approval shared by EPA’s Dr. Tracy Williamson and Dr. David Widawsky at the session.
Chemical plant safety is once again in the limelight due to some high profile and very public catastrophes. On January 3, 2014, a federal working group created by the Obama administration’s Executive Order (EO) 13650 issued a set of preliminary options intended to improve chemical plant safety and security. This is a priority topic commanding considerable attention and readers should be aware of and engaged in these developments. This column explains why.
The tragic spill of a chemical into the Elk River in West Virginia that occurred on Jan. 9, 2014, has spurred the development of new legislation. On Jan. 27, 2014, Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) introduced the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act of 2014. The regrettable spill and the mismanagement of the spill’s consequences by federal and state regulators reads like a case summary of mistakes to avoid when managing a crisis of epic proportions. The legislation that may emerge from this tragedy could prevent similar events in the future.