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- Ready to jumpstart your company's chemical policy?
By Alissa Sasso
We’ve previously introduced our readers to the Chemical Footprint Project (CFP), a benchmarking survey that evaluates companies’ chemicals management practices and recognizes leaders. The CFP recently released a Model Chemicals Policy for Brands and Manufacturers, a template to help companies develop and share their chemicals policies. A chemicals policy institutionalizes a company’s commitment to safer chemicals and ensures understanding of these goals among all levels of their business, including the supply chain.
New resource from @BizNGO and @EDFBiz can help you jumpstart your chemicals policy
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The CFP Model Chemicals Policy builds directly from EDF’s own Model Chemicals Policy for Retailers of Formulated Products. This alignment is important, demonstrating a consistent library of resources for companies to use as they strive to create safer products and supply chains.
The CFP Model Chemicals Policy was developed by the BizNGO Chemical Working Group (in which EDF is an active participant). The policy includes the 4 key components that EDF thinks are important for a successful chemicals policy:
- Improving Supply Chain Transparency
- Cultivating Informed Consumers
- Embedding Safer Product Design, and
- Showing Public Commitment
The CFP Model Policy is intended for brands and manufacturers of formulated products and articles (i.e., hard products, like furniture), meaning it can be used by any business sector. Embedded in the policy template are guidance and specific examples of how other companies have crafted elements of their own policies. The CFP Model Policy also aligns directly with questions in the CFP survey, making it easier for those companies who have participated in the survey to take their chemicals management commitments public in a meaningful way.
The CFP Model Policy will help brands and manufacturers take an important next step in showing their consumers that they are committed to using safer chemicals in their products and supply chain. EDF is pleased to see a new resource that builds consensus for how a company can meaningfully share their safer chemicals journey with the public.
New model policy will help brands to demonstrate commitment to safer chemicals
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For additional information, please see our additional resources:
- EDF’s Model Food Additives Policy for Retailers/ Grocers
- EDF’s blog reviewing Walmart’s latest commitments, including becoming the first retailer to participate in the Chemical Footprint Project annual survey
Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: September 22, 2017 - 10:46 pm
- Proof in pudding: EPA toxics nominee Dourson has consistently recommended “safe” levels for chemicals that would weaken health protections
Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.
[Use this link to see all of our posts on Dourson.]
Earlier this week the New York Times ran an article on the Trump Administration’s nominee to run the EPA toxics office, Michael Dourson. The article detailed Dourson’s longstanding ties to the chemical industry, citing examples of work he did on specific chemicals paid for by the companies that make or use them.
What is remarkable about Dourson’s work in light of his nomination is not just his conflicts, but the fact that his paid work consistently has led to him recommend “safe” levels of his clients’ chemicals that were less health-protective than government standards or guidelines prevailing at the time. The Times article referred to an analysis by EDF in discussing the example of the pesticide chlorpyrifos. Chlorpyrifos is one of 10 chemicals included in EDF’s analysis, which is provided in this post.
EDF first reviewed papers and reports that Dourson or other employees of his company, Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA), co-authored that focused on specific chemicals and that disclosed the work was paid for by companies or trade associations with a vested financial interest in those chemicals. (The one exception is PFOA, where Dourson was hired by the state of West Virginia based on the recommendation of its producer, DuPont.)
We then focused on the subset of those papers or reports that argued for a specific numeric “risk value” or release or exposure limit for the chemical in question. That left us with 10 such chemicals.
Finally, we compared Dourson’s recommended value for a chemical with existing standards or guidelines issued by federal or state government agencies or, in their absence in two cases, by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). [Note: Because what matters most regarding the “safe” level of a chemical is that for the most sensitive endpoint, our comparisons are generally between the values for endpoints that Dourson and others designate to be the most sensitive. The values being compared, therefore, may not always be for the same endpoint, or derived from the same type of risk value.]
The table here (click to enlarge) summarizes the results of our analysis. It shows who funded Dourson’s work on each chemical. Details of the analysis with links to relevant sources are available here.
Several features of this analysis bear mention:
- For all 10 chemicals, Dourson’s recommended “safe” level was less health-protective than the prevailing standard(s) at the time of his work, often dozens or even thousands of times less health-protective – see the right-hand column of the table.
- For several chemicals, government standards have tightened significantly since Dourson’s work, making his standard even less health-protective based on more recent information. (Our table includes comparisons of Dourson’s values to newer standards for 1-bromopropane, PFOA and chlorpyrifos.)
- Three of the chemicals are among the first 10 chemicals EPA is now reviewing under the recently reformed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). If confirmed, Dourson would immediately be overseeing these reviews.
- Finally, in every case where Dourson or TERA published a paper of their results, that paper was published in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. I have blogged previously about the large fraction of Dourson’s papers published in this one journal, which has extensive ties to both the tobacco and chemical industries.
Recently The Intercept uncovered an internal industry memo revealing that chemical company employees regarded Dourson and his firm TERA as the place to go when they wanted to develop a new “safe” level for their chemical and then work to “sell” it to EPA or other agencies.
The proof is in the pudding: Dourson has deployed a consistent modus operandi, which as our analysis presented here shows, has led him to consistently recommend chemical safety standards that would weaken our health protections. He’s the last person to be running EPA’s chemical safety program.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: September 22, 2017 - 7:20 pm
- How a tech startup and nimble non-profit exposed toxic releases during the Houston flood
By Matt Tresaugue, Manager, Houston Air Quality Media Initiative
As Hurricane Harvey bore down on the Texas coast, Tony Miller, chief executive of a Silicon Valley startup, wondered how he could help.
His company, Entanglement Technologies, can measure levels of air pollution in real time, important information for emergency responders and people living near storm-damaged refineries and chemical plants.
On Aug. 31, Miller called Elena Craft, Environmental Defense Fund’s Texas-based senior health scientist, and the two quickly came up with a plan to monitor neighborhoods near industrial facilities in and around Houston. Miller was on the road the next day.
By Sept. 4, his van equipped with sensor technology and an analyzer that provides laboratory-grade results was in a neighborhood where city officials had detected unusually high levels of harmful air pollution.
After a day of sample collections, some lasting as long as 5 minutes, the picture was clear: There was a plume of cancer-causing benzene in southeast Houston’s Manchester neighborhood, home to some 4,000 people.
Mobile lab analyzes chemicals in real time
Entanglement’s portable technology can produce a definitive analysis of hazardous chemicals to part per trillion concentrations. The company’s clients include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Defense, oil companies and environmental consultants who need results in real time.
In Manchester, Miller’s team rapidly detected a narrow plume of benzene – roughly as wide as a city block, but invisible to the naked eye. That indicated a nearby source.
The results confirmed the City of Houston’s earlier findings. City officials had used handheld air quality monitors that detected high benzene levels a couple of days earlier, prompting them to ask Craft to start her investigation in Manchester.
The likely source was Valero Energy Corp.’s Houston refinery, which towers over small houses in the neighborhood. More than 95 percent of residents are people of color and 90 percent low-income.
Residents could smell the benzene
On Aug. 27, Valero had reported to the state that heavy rains lowered the floating roof on one of its storage tanks, releasing volatile organic compounds and 6.7 pounds of benzene. In the filing, the company said it would fix the problem by the next day.
State regulators, however, had turned off the city’s extensive network of air quality monitoring stations to protect the equipment from the heavy rains and winds. Without the monitors, there was no data showing what was really happening.
Even so, Manchester residents could tell something was wrong and complained to the city about strong odors. Benzene, a toxic, flammable chemical found in crude oil and gasoline, can cause central nervous system damage and bone marrow damage, and is carcinogenic.
Technology identifies urgent trouble spots
Our partnership with Entanglement Technologies provided the most robust monitoring of air quality in the Houston region after Harvey, exceeding the work of state and federal agencies. It showed that there is no reason to keep communities in harm’s way – or to rely on unverified industry information during a time of crisis.
The levels of benzene found in Manchester far surpassed health-based guidelines set by most other states when Miller’s team took measurements in early September. To ensure the accuracy of the findings, the company collected some samples at the same time and in the same locations as the City of Houston’s mobile monitoring unit.
The toxic pollution in Manchester was soon national news.
The technology his company uses identifies situations that must be dealt with right away, and those that can wait, “so that resources aren’t diverted unnecessarily,” Miller told reporters covering the story.
The EPA, however, waited 10 days after the first high reading to say that Valero had “significantly underestimated” its air pollution during and after Harvey. The agency is now investigating the pollution event.
Photo source: Entanglement TechnologiesRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: September 22, 2017 - 2:44 pm
- Western Climate Initiative expands: Ontario to join California-Québec carbon market
This morning California, Québec, and Ontario signed a linking agreement that officially welcomes Ontario into the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) cap-and-trade market.
The announcement came after an inspiring Climate Week in New York where states, businesses, and individuals showed that despite Washington D.C going backwards, the U.S. will continue to make progress on our commitment to help avert catastrophic climate change. This linkage announcement provides a concrete example of how motivated governments can work together and accomplish more through partnership than they could apart.
Why linkage matters
The agreement will allow participants from all three locations to use carbon “allowances” issued by any of the three governments interchangeably and to hold joint carbon auctions.
This full linkage can have a number of benefits.
- The concrete benefits that economists often point to include “liquidity” from a larger market, meaning that if participants need to purchase or want to sell an allowance, it is easier to find a trading partner.
- There are also significant administrative benefits to joining an existing market and to working together, including sharing the administration of auctions.
- A larger market can also provide access to lower cost reduction opportunities, which lower the overall cost of compliance for the whole market, allowing governments to maintain and strengthen the ambition of their commitments.
- The less tangible benefits of having partners that are equally committed to addressing the challenge of climate change can’t be ignored. California may not have a willing climate partner in Washington D.C. but the state is finding the partners it needs in Québec and Ontario and together they can prove that cap and trade provides an effective model for international collaboration and a cost-effective way to keep harmful climate pollution at acceptable levels.
Choosing the right partners
To ensure any carbon market linkage is strong, partners must be carefully selected by evaluating the compatibility of each program. California, Québec, and Ontario started this process early by working together (along with several other states and provinces) in 2009 to develop best practices for establishing cap-and-trade programs.
This carbon club model is one that EDF has identified as a powerful potential driver of climate action
When full linkage is being considered, one of the most important threshold questions is how ambitious each potential partner’s cap is; the cap is the key feature of each program that ensures the environmental goals of each government are met, and a weak cap would impact all participants. Ontario, California and Québec have all cemented into law ambitious and world-leading climate targets for 2020 and 2030. Beyond that, there are some design elements which should be aligned among all programs and others that can differ and outlining these parameters is a negotiation among participants.
Ontario is demonstrating that the WCI carbon market model is an accessible one for ambitious governments to consider joining. This carbon club model is one that EDF has identified as a powerful potential driver of climate action. Hopefully other states and provinces will take Ontario’s lead. Here are some locations to watch:
- Several Canadian provinces are actively developing cap-and-trade programs that could link with WCI one day.
- State legislators in Oregon may have a chance to vote during their short session in early 2018 on a “cap and invest” program that is being designed with WCI linkage in mind.
- Momentum on carbon markets is also growing elsewhere in the Americas. Mexico is in the process of developing its own national emission trading system and has expressed an interest in linking such a system with the California-Québec-Ontario market.
- And just this past June, in the Cali Declaration, the heads of state of the Pacific Alliance countries of Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Peru embraced the vision of a voluntary regional carbon market in agreeing to strengthen monitoring, reporting, and verification frameworks for greenhouse gas emissions.
California, Québec and Ontario are creating a model for action that is ripe for others to adopt as is or adapt as needed. This type of bottom-up partnership that matures into real and ambitious collective action is the future of international climate policy.
Note: More details on the linkage concepts discussed in this blog can be found in chapter 9 of the EDF co-authored report Emissions Trading in Practice: A Handbook on Design and Implementation.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: September 22, 2017 - 2:18 pm
- Nearly 100,000 Solar Jobs in Jeopardy with Solar Tariff DecisionRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: September 22, 2017 - 4:00 am
- New Report Outlines How to Unlock Additional Funding Streams for Restoration
For the nearly 40 percent of Americans who live near the coast, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria provide vivid reminders that living there comes with risks. These events also demonstrate that we need to rebuild stronger and smarter, by incorporating both gray and green infrastructure into coastal resiliency and protection plans. Strong community support – which stems from involvement in need identification and planning – is crucial for moving communities toward resilience So is funding. Houston’s chief resilience officer, Stephen ...
The post New Report Outlines How to Unlock Additional Funding Streams for Restoration appeared first on Restore the Mississippi River Delta.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: September 21, 2017 - 8:39 pm
- How Illinois is working toward a cleaner, more equitable energy future
By EDF Blogs
By Tyler Fitch, 2017 EDF Climate Corps Fellow
EDF Climate Corps fellows are designing clean energy solutions that reduce pollution and save money across the country. And at my summer fellowship with Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Midwest clean energy team as a part of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, I pursued ways to make clean energy benefit more than just one bottom line.
My work resulted from the Future Energy Jobs Act, a monumental piece of bipartisan legislation that aims to transform Illinois' clean energy economy and “benefit all citizens of the State, including low-income [communities].” Those lofty goals were enshrined in law in December 2016, the result of hard work and negotiation from the Clean Jobs Coalition, a group of more than 200 environmental, business, and faith organizations dedicated to promoting clean energy in the state.
The energy landscape is changing in Illinois, and – if the Future Energy Jobs Act achieves what it set out to do – the future will be brighter for everyone. Here’s how.
From policy to action
The Future Energy Jobs Act went into effect on June 1, 2017 – my first day on the job. I’m at my most comfortable knee-deep in a financial spreadsheet, so this was my first foray into crafting clean energy policy. At EDF, it isn’t just about ensuring a project has a good return on investment; it’s about making sure those returns benefit everyone. That means moving from financial problems to human problems, and translating the goals of the legislation into effective real-world programs.
It’s about making sure those returns benefit everyone.
Turning the policy into reality lies with just two public entities. The Illinois Power Agency is tasked with designing and administering the programs, but only once it has approval from the 5 governor-appointed members of the Illinois Commerce Commission.
Throughout the design and approval process, both organizations solicit public comments, information, and proposals – and that’s where EDF and the Clean Jobs Coalition come in. We work on behalf of the environmental, business, faith, and environmental justice communities by submitting comments and making proposals that advocate for cleaner, smarter, and more equitable energy decisions.
Here are just a few of the ways the Future Energy Jobs Act will help Illinoisans and how we’re bringing them to life:
- Community solar: Community solar allows people who can’t or don’t want to install solar panels on their roofs – like tenants – to “subscribe” to a solar project at a local church, school, or business. Illinois will have incentives to drive new community solar projects, unlocking the benefits of solar energy to the 49 percent of households who aren’t able to install systems onto their own rooftops. EDF is proposing an innovative and flexible approach that supports solar projects of all sizes and locations, and ensures all households and small businesses have access to them.
- Job training: Renewable energy is a major engine for U.S. job creation and economic growth that continues to provide local, well-paying jobs across the country. A new utility jobs program will “establish a pool of trained [solar] installers across the state,” providing training and employment opportunities across Illinois, including to foster care alumni and citizens returning from incarceration. As a Clean Jobs Coalition member, EDF is at the table, connecting the dots between community groups and renewable energy industry leaders to train people for 21st century energy jobs.
- Curbing local air pollution: The Illinois Power Agency is directed to “maximize the health and welfare of its residents” by reducing local air pollutants that come from burning coal, like sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. In a state where 38 percent of electricity comes from coal, increasing renewable energy will likely reduce reliance on coal-fired plants, bringing cleaner air and healthier lives to Illinoisans. EDF recommends compensating renewable energy projects for their environmental health benefits and prioritizing projects in the communities hit hardest by pollutants.
Illinois is already starting to see the Future Energy Jobs Act come to life. After a U.S. district court decision upheld the policy’s authority earlier this summer, August saw the Illinois Power Agency release their new electricity procurement plan and local utility Commonwealth Edison unveil their job training implementation plan. And there’s a lot more work ahead.
As my EDF Climate Corps fellowship and time with inspiring colleagues ends, I’m confident that the movement toward inclusive, clean energy embraces some of the best and brightest in the Midwest. I look forward to seeing how diverse stakeholders and innovative policy help Illinois justly transition toward the clean energy economy.
Photo source: Margo Kuchuris WisemanRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: September 21, 2017 - 6:35 pm
- New report: Unlocking Private Capital to Finance Sustainable Infrastructure
When two large storms knocked out an estimated $200 billion in economic value within a week, critical gaps in our infrastructure preparedness were laid bare. The 2016 “Hell or High Water” series from ProPublica and The Texas Tribune predicted a scenario that “visualizes the full spectrum of what awaits Houston” if it were hit by a large-scale hurricane. Experts consulted for the series cite Houston’s unimpeded development as a principal factor contributing to the region’s high exposure to flood risks.
According to Rice University engineering professor Phil Bedient, there is no way to design a system to handle the volume of water that Hurricane Harvey dumped on the greater Houston area. That said, if Houston hopes to arrive at a cost effective solution for mitigating future flood damage, Bedient recommends targeted, balanced investments in green and gray infrastructure.
In essence, this is also the message of EDF’s new report Unlocking Private Capital to Finance Sustainable Infrastructure. The report acknowledges the US’ $1.4 trillion funding gap to meet its infrastructure needs and provides a two-pronged path forward for the public sector to fill this gap.
EDF's new Investment Design Framework points to investment-ready sustainable infrastructure projects
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On one side, the report provides case studies that examine innovative infrastructure solutions, like DC Water and Sewer Authority’s green infrastructure approach to solving its stormwater management issues, to right-size the scale of the need. On the other side, the report provides a new Investment Design Framework to facilitate the development of investment-ready sustainable infrastructure projects. Informed by extensive research and interviews with industry experts, the framework identifies four key elements for attracting private investment in sustainable infrastructure:
- Suitable investment models: The values associated with the economic, environment and social outcomes of a project should be monetized and captured as a stable revenue stream. This revenue stream will help determine appropriate investment models and potential partners.
- Standardized performance measurement: Determining revenue streams requires meaningful and standardized environmental and financial metrics. Standardization of performance outcomes across technologies and within sub-sectors are needed to scale the market.
- Transparent risk management: Many sustainable infrastructure approaches and technologies are new and have limited performance data. This can make it difficult to assess risks. However, governments and investors can work together to identify and assess risks, take mitigating approaches, and distribute risks across multiple parties that align risk with potential reward.
- Facilitating effective stakeholder engagement: Sustainable infrastructure projects that utilize innovative financing methods are often complex and require technical, financial, and legal expertise. Additionally, strong leadership and project champions are needed to drive innovative solutions and engage stakeholders to deliver successful outcomes.
Can sustainable infrastructure investments catalyze growth in the American clean energy economy?…
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As our focus shifts from storm tracking and mandatory evacuations to rebuilding and recovery, it is imperative that we seize the opportunity to do so in a way that will improve the resilience of our communities. The case studies and the Investment Design Framework included in the report are helpful tools to help make this happen. Embedding principles of sustainability into our infrastructure investment decisions is critical to achieving long-term economic, social, and environmental goals in the most cost-effective way possible. Success hinges on the public sector engaging broadly with the private, non-profit, and philanthropic sectors. We hope these stakeholders view this report as an invitation to engage with us and each other to overcome key investment barriers and unlock the flow of capital needed to deploy the infrastructure of the future – sustainable infrastructure.
Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: September 21, 2017 - 6:20 pm
- EDF Releases Guidebook to Accelerate Investment in Sustainable InfrastructureRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: September 21, 2017 - 4:00 am
- New red snapper proposals need safeguards from overfishing
By Monica Goldberg
Lawmakers in the House and Senate recently introduced legislation aimed at the perpetually contentious Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery. Thanks to stronger conservation standards and accountability, red snapper numbers in the Gulf have tripled in the last decade and catch limits have doubled, leading to increased value for commercial fishermen and access for charter and for-hire vessels. Unfortunately, private anglers are stuck under a profoundly broken management system. Congressman Garret Graves, Senator Bill Cassidy and others on Capitol Hill propose to give the Gulf states the chance to manage this specific part of the red snapper fishery.
We share the desire to give private anglers more flexibility and certainty in their fishing opportunities, and states are already innovating under current law, such as the LA Creel program in Louisiana. The new bills (H.R. 3588 and S. 1686) have improved significantly from similar attempts last Congress. But without further safeguards, they threaten to take us back to the failures of the past, when the fishery was severely depleted and red snapper was hard to find for seafood consumers and anglers alike.
The current proposals would give the five Gulf States authority to manage the private angler portion of the red snapper fishery in both state and federal waters; commercial and charter/for-hire fishermen would remain under federal management. But because the bills lack provisions to ensure that the private angler sector stays within its quota (after exceeding it nine of the last 12 years), the bills would jeopardize the sustainability of the fishery and undermine the commercial and charter sectors.
Current law requires federal fishery managers to keep every sector – commercial, charter and private angler – within an annual catch limit. If one group exceeds its quota, managers must make adjustments to make up for the overage and prevent it happening in the future to ensure long-term sustainability.
Under these bills, however, the five Gulf States would have exclusive power to set the season length for private anglers. It would be up to them to honor the science-based catch limits established for private anglers and make it optional to reduce season lengths if overages occurred. Even under the current, tighter standards, overages are common. In 2016, for example, the sector exceeded its catch limit by 1.14 million pounds, some 28 percent. Without a mandatory backstop in the law affecting private anglers, federal authorities would have to sharply reduce commercial and charter/for-hire quotas to make up for any private angler overages.
The bills do give the Secretary of Commerce a so-called “nuclear option” to take over red snapper fishing in state and federal waters if a state undermines the overall rebuilding plan. But because interfering with a state’s newly legislated rights to manage red snapper – especially in its own waters — is such a drastic step, we agree with others who “doubt the aforementioned federal tool would be imposed.” That would leave the hard-won rebuilding of the Gulf red snapper population in short-term jeopardy. NMFS estimates that private anglers will land more than 11 million pounds of red snapper — triple their quota — under this year’s extended season that was granted by the Commerce Secretary.
The bills’ supporters have asserted that they want any new legislation to keep private angler fishing within the established quotas, and it is undoubtedly possible to amend these bills to make that intention clear in the text. This relatively simple fix would prevent the hard-won gains in this fishery from being quickly erased and ensure that red snapper can be enjoyed by all Americans.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: September 20, 2017 - 5:07 pm