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- State authorities weigh in on Senate and House TSCA reform bills
Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Lead Senior Scientist.
In recent weeks, two documents have been released by state government officials and organizations that take a deep dive into those aspects of the Senate and House bills to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) most relevant to them. The documents explicitly point to specific provisions in one or both bills that are preferred or opposed.
The bills the documents compare are the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (S. 697), passed by the full Senate on December 17, 2015; and the TSCA Modernization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2576), passed by the House of Representatives on June 23, 2015.
Here are the documents:
- Environmental Council of the States (ECOS): An 11-page table dated January 7, 2016 posted in the “Featured” section of ECOS’ home page provides a side-by-side comparison of the two bills, focused mainly but not exclusively on state-federal relationship issues. (Note that the preamble to the table indicates it does not represent a formal consensus, and many of the indications of preferences begin with a qualifier such as “Many states believe … .”)
- 12 State AGs letter: A 7-page letter dated January 19, 2016 signed by the Attorneys General of 12 states (MA, CA, HI, IA, ME, MD, NH, NY, OR, RI, VT and WA) to the relevant Senate and House committee Chairmen and Ranking Members sets forth principles for state-federal relationships under TSCA reform and provides recommendations for reconciling those provisions of the Senate and House bills.
Both documents are well worth reading in their entireties. To help me understand them, I have developed the table below that lists each specific provision identified in these documents for which a preference or opposition has been expressed or is readily discernible with respect to the Senate or House bill.
In order to be as objective and consistent as possible:
- the table is limited to provisions that are identified as either supported/preferred or opposed/criticized in one of the two bills (i.e., any provisions found in both bills or neither bill are not listed);
- weights are not assigned to provisions; rather, each provision for which there is an indication of preference or opposition is listed;
- references other than to actual text in one or both bills (e.g., the ECOS table’s reference to Senate report language on EPA’s Safer Choice program, which is not addressed in the bill text) are not listed; and
- double-counting is avoided by listing only once cases where the same provision is referenced more than once or where a provision is supported in one bill and criticized in the other.
In the table below:
- an “S” indicates a clear preference for a provision in the Senate bill or opposition to a provision in the House bill that is not in the Senate bill,
- an “H” indicates a clear preference for a provision of the House bill or opposition to a provision in the Senate bill that is not in the House bill, and
- a “–” indicates a provision that was not discussed, or on which a clear position was not expressed, in one of the two documents.
(listed in order of appearance in ECOS table)
State AGs letter Preemption of new state actions prior to final EPA action H H Compliance deadline for EPA requirements S — Exclusion of state information-related requirements from preemption S S Description of state actions preempted S — Exclusion of state actions under air/water/waste laws from preemption
— Caveat relating to conflict with federal requirements S Caveat relating to scope of state action S Scope of preemption with respect to hazards, exposures, risks, uses S S Extent of preemption for new chemicals or significant new uses S — Grandfathering of prior state actions and laws S S Conditions for granting waivers after final EPA action H H Deadlines for EPA to act on waiver applications S S Tort savings clause S — State actions on low-priority chemicals H — Sharing of confidential business information (CBI) with states S — Requirement for resubstantiation of CBI claims S — Extent of allowance for industry-requested chemical reviews S — Deadlines for completion of EPA-initiated and industry-requested reviews S — Exclusion of costs from EPA decisions relating to unreasonable risk S — Timing of exemption for replacement parts S — Fees collection authority S — Penalties in cases of co-enforcement — SSource: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 9, 2016 - 8:29 pm
- What’s in Your Product’s Flavor? Here’s Why You Should Find Out.
By Tom Neltner
As we discuss frequently on this blog, maintaining transparency and control of your company’s supply chain can help limit potential risks to your business. With some food additives, however, transparency is not enough and certain chemicals should be removed from your products, or risk having to reformulate quickly at significant cost or having to recall products with those ingredients.
A set of seven carcinogenic flavor chemicals under review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers a good example of these risks. On Jan. 4, 2016, the FDA announced that it is considering whether to rescind its 1964 approval of – effectively banning – seven flavoring chemicals as food additives.
The flavoring chemicals under review may be found in any food product but are not required to be named on the label. The most commonly used ones appear to be eugenyl methyl ether, myrcene and pulegone. They could be considered natural flavors, since they can be either extracted from plants or chemically synthesized.
Carcinogenic Flavoring Chemical Chemical Abstract Service Number Sensory Properties per GoodScents Company Benzophenone / diphenyl ketone 119–61–9 Balsam, rose, metallic, powdery, and geranium Ethyl acrylate 140–88–5 Harsh, plastic, acrylate, and fruity Eugenyl methyl ether / 4-allylveratrole / methyl eugenol 93–15–2 Sweet, fresh, warm, spicy, clove, carnation, and cinnamon Myrcene / 7-methyl-3-methylene-1,6-octadiene 123–35–3 Peppery, terpene, spicy, balsam, and plastic Pulegone / p-menth-4(8)-en-3-one) 89–82–7 Peppermint, camphor, fresh, herbal, buchu Pyridine 110–86–1 Sickening, sour, putrid, fishy, and amine Styrene 100–42–5 Sweet, balsam, floral, and plastic
The agency filed the notice in response to a food additive petition from eight public interest organizations, including EDF, which asserted the chemicals were ‘found to induce cancer in man or animal.’ The law is clear that such chemicals must not be added to food. A food additive petition is FDA’s primary mechanism to add, remove or change its approval of food additives.
If FDA accepts the petition for one or more of the seven carcinogenic flavoring chemicals, food containing the affected flavor(s) would be considered adulterated on the same day the agency publishes its decision in the Federal Register. The petition process offers no exemption for existing food or a delayed effective date. The only way to suspend the decision is if someone objects to it and demands a hearing within 30 days of FDA’s announcement of acceptance.
FDA’s goal is to make a decision on food additive petitions within 360 days of filing, although the statute calls for action within 180 days. FDA filed the flavoring chemicals petition on August 17, 2015, so it’s possible they will make a decision by this summer.
Are these chemicals really unsafe?
The public interest groups’ petition asked FDA to determine whether the seven carcinogenic flavoring chemicals are unsafe because they violate the provision of 21 U.S.C. § 348, which states: “no additive shall be deemed to be safe if it is found to induce cancer when ingested by man or animal, or if it is found, after tests which are appropriate for the evaluation of the safety of food additives, to induce cancer in man or animal…” If an additive is found to induce cancer, the law makes clear that it be banned without consideration to the amount people eat.
The National Toxicology Program (NTP) – a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – found each of the seven chemicals induces cancer in man or an animal. Two of the carcinogenic flavors, styrene and eugenyl methyl ether, have been officially designated by NTP to be ‘reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens,’ and NTP studies concluded that the other five induced cancer in animal studies. The California Environmental Protection Agency and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have also designated many of them as carcinogens.
In contrast, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association’s (FEMA) Expert Panel considers all of these same flavors except styrene, which it delisted in 2015, to be Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS).
What do I do now?
Since there may be no notice of FDA’s action between the filing and the final decision, forward-thinking companies should identify which foods they make or sell that may contain any of the seven flavoring chemicals and reformulate the product to remove them. With more than 2,700 other flavoring chemicals allowed to be used, suppliers have options, but it can take time to find a different ingredient mix that provides a comparable taste.
Further reading:Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 9, 2016 - 8:04 pm
- Wyoming Flaring Rule Passes without Needed Improvements to Prevent Waste, Protect AirRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 9, 2016 - 5:00 am
- BLM’s Proposal To Reduce Methane – Why It Matters For America
The west is rightly known for mountain views and desert vistas. Many of these landscapes are managed by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on behalf of all Americans. But something else is a major part of the region as well – tens of thousands of oil and gas wells and their associated infrastructure.
More than 90 percent of oil and gas production on BLM lands comes from the Western U.S. The tax and royalty revenue generated by this production is used to fund local infrastructure needs –schools, roads and other improvements — in rural and tribal communities. But due to outdated policies (they have not been significantly revised in 30 years), too much of our natural gas has been going to waste. That means these communities, and American taxpayers in general, are losing out.
In fact, in 2013, oil and gas companies threw away $330 million worth of the public’s gas according to a recent report – shortchanging the communities that rely on the revenue from these resources most.
A Big Step Forward
Just last month, in an effort to more responsibly manage this public resource, the BLM began a process to update these three-decades-old oil and gas policies. Now, the public has a chance to have a voice in this process as well. Once adopted, BLM’s proposal will make significant reductions in the amount of methane that the industry is currently allowed to flare, leak, or vent into the atmosphere in massive quantities.
The proposal is a positive step for taxpayers, air quality, and our climate. Because natural gas essentially is methane, delivering gas to market (instead of the atmosphere) delivers significant royalty payments back to American taxpayers. According to a recent report, without action, the public could lose out on $800 million over the next decade as a result of wasteful venting and flaring practices. These efforts also will significantly reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas responsible for about a quarter of global warming we are experiencing today.
Covering Existing Sources
One aspect of the proposal that’s particularly powerful is its commitment to address pollution and waste occurring now. The BLM’s proposed rules will set an important precedent for the Environmental Protection Agency who so far has declined to regulate existing oil and gas wells. The BLM rule targets new as well as existing sources, the wells and equipment in use today that are contributing to the more than 7 million metric tons of methane pollution emitted by the industry nationwide each year.
BLM’s proposal is a strong step toward better management of our energy resources and tackling the issue of climate change. But there’s room for improvement. Over the next two months, BLM will solicit public comments on the proposal and we encourage the agency to consider these key elements as they finalize their rules:
- More frequent leak inspections. Requiring operators to check their facilities for leaks on a quarterly basis will make a big dent in industry’s emissions. Colorado and Wyoming have successfully enacted similar policies on leak inspections, setting a strong precedent for BLM to level the playing field.
- Limit the waste of federal resources due to gas flaring. The BLM proposal places a presumptive ban on venting and some restrictions on flaring of natural gas from oil wells. But the rule should make gas capture planning mandatory and binding and should place time limits on the wasteful practice.
BLM can and should act to limit methane waste and pollution from federal and tribal lands. In fact 80 percent of Westerners support commonsense rules that can cut oil and gas waste on publically owned lands. Fortunately, those voices can be heard in coming weeks as the BLM accepts public comment on the proposal and in hearings across the west. We’ll be there and we hope you will join us to fight for better climate protections, reduced waste, and cleaner air.
Photo source: EarthworksRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 8, 2016 - 4:31 pm
- Moms Know What’s Best: How Time-of-Use Electricity Pricing can Benefit California Families
By Jamie Fine
California’s “big three” utilities, at the behest of state regulators, are in the process of examining and improving how they price electricity, including something called time-of-use (TOU) electricity pricing. This option – which rewards people who shift some of their electricity use to times of day when clean energy is abundant and electricity is cheaper – can help California families create safer communities while saving money on their utility bills. Mom’s Clean Air Force California mom Linda Hutchins-Knowles agrees, and recently wrote this opinion piece in the San Jose Mercury News encouraging others to adopt TOU.
Linda, like many moms, wears multiple hats. As a mother, she wants to help leave her children a safer, more sustainable word. As an advocate, she supports increasing our use of clean energy over dirty fossil fuels to help clean our air and environment as a whole. Finally, as a consumer, she wants to do these things without breaking the bank.
Moms Know What’s Best: How Time-of-Use Electricity Pricing can Benefit California Families
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This is where TOU electricity pricing comes in. As Linda notes, Californians will soon have the opportunity to adopt TOU when Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric transition all residential customer to this program in 2019 – with the option to opt-out for those who prefer tiered rates (the option currently in place for these customers). This will improve the resiliency of the electric grid and optimize the use of California’s growing clean energy resources. To illustrate how, she uses the example of California’s ample and growing solar power resources. The state currently produces so much solar energy, sometimes it produces more than it can use. Under TOU, electricity will cost less when this resources is abundant, incentivizing people to use energy during that time.
To get the most out of this tool, Linda rightly illuminates that just as California families and residents are diverse, their electricity pricing options should reflect their different needs. This is why she calls for utilities to create options that fit for tech-savvy Bay Area and Silicon Valley customers and people who already use tools to manage their energy use like smart thermostats.
These options, paired with effort from the utilities to empower all of their customers – including elderly and low-income Californians – by studying how their bills may be impacted, will ensure this program is successful for everyone. Environmental Defense Fund will also be busy in the coming months advocating for a menu of varied pricing options. Ensuring the utilities inspire the use of new technologies and empower those who already use energy management technologies (like smart thermostats) to shift their use will also be part of our strategy.
In the meantime, if you live in California, why not listen to a mom and consider jumping on the TOU train now? Simply contact Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric today to sign up.
This post originally appeared on our California Dream 2.0 blog.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 8, 2016 - 4:27 pm
- New Report Confirms FirstEnergy’s $4-Billion Boondoggle
By Dick Munson
FirstEnergy’s plea to keep four aging power plants alive will cost Ohio customers almost $4 billion, according to a new study out today by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). The proposal is currently in front of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO).
The report, entitled A $4 Billion Bailout in the Buckeye State, outlines in clear terms how the utility giant hopes to force Ohioans to subsidize the continued operation of its outdated power plants, put customers on the hook for those plants’ escalating costs, and ensure future profits for FirstEnergy executives and shareholders.
FirstEnergy executives know economics are not on their side
Specifically, FirstEnergy’s Ohio utilities have proposed what they call a Retail Rate Stability Rider (otherwise known as a “bailout”) through which the costs and risks of three coal-fired plants (named Sammis, Clifty Creek, and Kyger Creek) and one nuclear reactor (named Davis-Besse) would be passed on to the utility’s captive customers. According to the IEEFA report,
These plants were all spun off to a deregulated affiliate created in 2000, when FirstEnergy expected that it would be able to earn substantial profits by selling energy and capacity into the competitive wholesale PJM markets. However, FirstEnergy clearly does not believe that the units are currently profitable. Nor does it believe that expected market conditions will make the units profitable in the coming years.”
In other words, FirstEnergy once embraced competition, thinking it could make lots of money selling power into regional markets. The corporation instead made lots of bad business decisions, like doubling down on coal investments. Not only are several of its generators no longer profitable, but they will remain uneconomic for years to come. FirstEnergy executives, says the report, “recognize this reality, which is why their proposal aims to transfer costs and risks to consumers.”
That is, the utility’s well-paid executives realize market forces are aligned against them. Consider, for instance, “the precipitous recent decline in natural gas prices and the decline in the cost of generating power at natural gas-fired power plants.” Other headwinds include the dramatic drop in renewable-energy installation costs and the flat growth in electricity demand because customers are cutting their waste by increasing efficiency.
Moreover, the report points out how FirstEnergy’s power plants are old – and getting increasingly expensive to operate. As generators age, their maintenance costs rise, they need additional capital investments, and their performance degrades. Utility executives recognize these facts, too, and they’d prefer shifting those rising costs to their customers.
Report findings reinforce high costs and big risks
The report also addresses the cost implications of the bailout. FirstEnergy claims its subsidies eventually will produce $561 million in benefits, yet IEEFA notes the utility has failed to make public its calculations and economic assumptions. Based on testimony before the PUCO, FirstEnergy is assuming natural gas prices will rise significantly, allowing their now-uneconomic power plants to better compete. As mentioned above, gas prices have been falling because new exploration and drilling technologies have increased supplies substantially. There is no sign of low natural gas prices going away.
Using more realistic assumptions, IEEFA calculates the subsidies will result in extra charges – at the hefty price of $4 billion – rather than benefits. This staggering cost mirrors the $3.9 billion predictions of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel.
By looking at the economics of coal-fired power plants in other parts of the country, the report offers further evidence that FirstEnergy’s proposal is risky. The market for merchant, coal-fired power plants is essentially in free fall. According to the study,
Dynegy bought the Danskammer plant in Newburgh, N.Y. (along with a partial share of the Roseton plant) for $900 million in 2001. When the plant was resold in 2013, its value had plummeted to $3.5 million. Dominion Resources sold its 1600 megawatt Brayton Point coal plant in Southeastern Massachusetts for an estimated $55 million in 2013, shortly after spending $1 billion to complete capital upgrades on the plant. One month after acquiring the plant, the new owner announced a decision to retire Brayton Point in 2017.”
The same market forces that have reduced the value of these coal plants also apply to Sammis, Clifty Creek, and Kyger. FirstEnergy’s solution: transfer the costs and risks of those plants to customers.
The report makes several other important and telling points:
- FirstEnergy claims its proposed deal would promote resource diversity, when it actually would merely subsidize the continued operation of uneconomic generating units and expose customers to significant risks. The intention of resource diversity is to reduce risk.
- The bailout is a piece of FirstEnergy’s larger strategy to “re-regulate” (what we have called “re-monopolize”) some of its struggling power plants by shifting the costs and risks of those plants to ratepayers, while guaranteeing a 10.38 percent return on equity each year for FirstEnergy and its shareholders on the plants in question. Higher returns mean bigger bonuses for executives and larger dividends for stockholders.
- The FirstEnergy proposal is “a bad deal for Ohio customers:” It would lock Ohio into subsidizing the continued operation of aging and uneconomic power plants, while hindering opportunities for lower cost and cleaner energy resources that could provide jobs and significant economic benefits for the state.
Any which way you look at it, the subsidy plea only favors FirstEnergy – and leaves Ohioans to shoulder the brunt of the deal. Here’s hoping the PUCO commissioners read the report carefully.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 8, 2016 - 2:42 pm
- Protect The West from Oil & Gas Climate PollutionThe Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has proposed a rule putting strict limits on this pollution--and we have a limited amount of time to show our support.Read more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 8, 2016 - 1:11 pm
- California Finalizes Important Emergency Rules in Response to Aliso Canyon DisasterRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 8, 2016 - 5:00 am
- UN agency’s new efficiency standard takes first step on aircraft carbon emissionsRead more »Source: Main Feed - Environmental Defense | Published: February 8, 2016 - 5:00 am