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  • This Earth Day, 100 percent clean energy is 100 percent possible

    By Jayant Kairam

    More than 25 U.S. cities, 12 countries, and at least 89 companies have all committed to transition to 100 percent renewable energy. That’s because they all recognize the unstoppable potential clean energy has to create jobs, strengthen and protect the economy, and fight climate change.

    Now, U.S. states are throwing their hats into the 100-percent renewable ring. California and Massachusetts have proposed plans to get there, while Hawaii has made the pledge. This 100-percent dream does not come from fantasy, but is actually the result of a number of coalescing factors.

    Earth Day is our time to recognize what’s more: With the right mix of clean energy technologies and solutions, 100 percent renewable is 100 percent possible.

    100 percent is possible

    Cost competitive and scalable renewable energy has taken off over the past 10 to 20 years. The hungry solar market in California for example, has resulted in exponential growth of utility-scale and rooftop solar over the last decade, creating over 150,000 jobs throughout the Golden State.

    Recently, California powered 40 percent of its midday energy demand with solar power. A steady stream of policy actions at the state and local level – timed with the dramatic drop in costs of renewables – have helped make this possible. Across the U.S., current RPS policies alone could result in these benefits:

    • Renewables contributing 40 percent of total electricity generation in the U.S. by 2050;
    • Reducing climate change-causing greenhouse gases and harmful air pollutants like SOx and NOx (which together form ozone) by 6 percent; and
    • An almost 20 percent increase in jobs.

    The bold inspiration, urgency, and benefit of 100 percent renewables is without question, but the pathway for getting there is less clear and will vary by state and region.

    Making 100 percent work

    Let’s take California as an example, especially since it is currently considering a 100 percent renewable portfolio standard. California’s electricity sector currently accounts for a fifth of the greenhouse gas emissions produced in the state. Thanks to legislation passed last year, the sector must reduce those emissions by 40 percent. The state’s current 50 percent RPS is a hugely important piece to achieving those reductions.

    Yet, as California’s leaders consider higher RPS targets, they must simultaneously invest in and develop a variety of resource, policy, and market solutions to ensure the grid stays clean, balanced, and reliable.

    This Earth Day, 100 percent clean energy is 100 percent possible
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    These are clean energy resources that can even-out the variability of renewables, and use market mechanisms to create more competition and opportunity to serve energy demand with renewables throughout the day.

    Smart policies, technology, and market tools are gaining traction around the country and offer some excellent examples of how to lay a foundation for an energy system powered by 100 percent clean resources.

    Connecting Western grid management

    The Western U.S. is full of expansive and diverse natural beauty. This translates into an impressive abundance of clean energy resources like wind, solar, geothermal, and hydro power.

    The Western U.S. is full of expansive and diverse natural beauty. This translates into an impressive abundance of clean energy resources like wind, solar, geothermal, and hydro power. Capitalizing on the West’s resource and population footprint has been the driver for establishing a Western wide wholesale energy market.

    Currently, 38 separate authorities manage the region’s electric grid. Connecting them could increase renewables, reduce pollution and wasted resources, save people money, and create jobs. One sign this would work is the current Energy Imbalance Market, a voluntary market for utilities to sell energy in real-time. It has expanded in recent years to include utilities in Nevada and Arizona, and there has been a noticeable improvement in California’s ability to put more of our renewables to use.

    Solar + storage, and other tech

    Hawaii was the first state in the nation to announce its plan to tackle a 100-percent RPS. Now the state is leveraging the dropping costs of solar-plus-storage technologies. Since the beginning of 2017, Kauai Electric Cooperative has won two such deals, a 13MW solar + 52MWh storage project with Tesla, and 28MW + 20MW storage project with Advanced Energy Solutions.

    The price of the power from these projects is competitive and they’re directly aimed at using as much of the state’s high amount of solar power as possible.

    Back on the mainland, a recent study of a 30 MW utility-scale solar plant equipped with smart inverters shows how clean resources can out-compete fossil fuel resources in operating the grid. Innovation is proof that renewables can be packaged to keep the grid reliable, allow operators to confidently maintain balance between supply and demand, and can alleviate concerns about the variability of renewables.

    Using market signals

    Distributed energy resources, like demand response and electric vehicles, can also provide important grid benefits in a variety of affordable ways. For example, time-of-use pricing (a type of demand response), could drive almost 8,000 GWh of energy demand to times of day when electricity is cheaply and cleanly powered by renewables.

    Here’s what time-of-use pricing could do for California:

    • Increase the amount of renewables we use by 10 percent;
    • Avoid over 8 million tons of carbon emissions; and
    • Save California energy customers, collectively, $700 million a year.

    Using the power of price signals to incentivize electric vehicle charging when its cheapest and cleanest will help transform the growing fleets of clean vehicles into grid assets and help reduce pollution from the transportation sector, as well.

    Why it matters

    The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) – the organization charged with  balancing much  of California’s grid – recently reported they will have to shut off 6,000 to 8,000 MW of solar due to over-generation (when supply exceeds demand). High levels of curtailment, aka wasted renewable resources, are not the goal of a 100 percent renewable target. Nor are the severe ramps of energy demand that CAISO projects when increasing amounts of variable renewable resources shut down at the end of the day. Currently, fossil fuels like natural gas service much of that high demand.

    We need to make sure the road to 100 percent is paved with clean energy resources that will help integrate, store, and use those renewables throughout the day and do so affordably.

    This way, California and other states and nations can continue to prove how to balance vibrant economic growth with a strong commitment to climate and energy policy.

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  • Progress takes vigilance to reduce children’s exposure to lead

    By Tom Neltner

    Tom Neltner, Chemicals Policy Director

    The United States has made significant progress over the past fifteen years towards reducing children’s exposure to lead. While much more needs to be done to eliminate the more than $50 billion a year in societal costs from lead, the progress is good news for children since it is well known that there is no safe level of lead in children, and it can impair their brain development, contribute to learning and behavioral problems, and lower IQs.

    Achieving this progress has required a diligent and ongoing commitment from all levels of government. If we expect to continue to make progress – and not backslide – the federal government needs to remain committed to reducing sources of lead exposure. So far what we’ve seen from the Trump Administration raises serious concerns about any real commitment to protecting children’s health, including from lead.

    Lead has a toxic legacy from decades of extensive use in paint, gasoline, and water pipes. As long as lead is in the paint, pipes, and soil where we live, work and play, progress is far from inevitable. Protecting children from lead takes constant vigilance, especially when the paint or plumbing is disturbed. Flint provided a tragic example of what happens when we turn away. Without vigilance, the positive trends we have seen in blood lead levels could all too easily reverse course and go up. That is why the proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget, which would eliminate the agency’s lead-based paint programs, are yet another indication that this Administration is turning its back on protecting children’s health.

    Mean blood lead levels in young children dropped 56% from 1999 to 2014

    Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) demonstrates that from 1999 to 2014 the levels of lead in children’s blood or “blood lead levels” (BLL) dropped preciptiously. Average BLLs in young children declined by 56% during that period with the rate of decline increasing after 2010. For children with a BLL greater than 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter (µg/dL), the reduction was an impressive 86%.


    Progress result of important policy decisions

    Looking at the chart above, it’s clear we’ve made significant progress in reducing children’s exposure to lead. So what happened since 1999? You can learn more about the different lead policies on EDF’s interactive tool that plots federal policy decisions and blood lead levels. Here is a quick summary of the major actions taken during this time:

    • 1999 – The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) promulgated its Lead-Safe Housing Rule setting strict standards for lead-based paint in more than 1.2 million federally subsidized homes. The rule went into effect in 2000.
    • 2001 – EPA promulgated hazard standards for dust and soil contaminated by lead-based paint in housing and child-occupied facilities.
    • 2008 – EPA adopted its Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) that requires lead-safe work practices by trained and certified renovators when they disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 housing or child-occupied facilites. The rule, which went into effect in 2010, was estimated to affect more than 4.4 million projects each year.
    • 2008 – EPA promulgated a National Ambient Air Quality Standard for lead that was ten-fold lower than the one set decades earlier.
    • 2008 – Congress enacted the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) which set more stringent standards for lead in paint and in children’s products and required a third-party to certify that children’s products met the standards.
    • 2011 – Congress lowered the definition of lead-free plumbing from 8% to 0.25% with compliance required in 2014.
    • 2012 – CDC adopted a BLL Reference Level for young children that was half of its previous level of concern. That same year, Congress virtually eliminated funding for CDC’s lead office as part of its sequester cuts and has restored only part of it.

    Each of these federal policy decisions had an impact in some way on the impressive drops in BLLs since 1999. And each built on earlier policy decisions banning lead from paint, gasoline, and metal food cans, and sustained investment in Lead Hazard Control Grants at HUD. There is no realistic method to assess the relative contribution of each policy change.

    Progress is not inevitable – it results from sound policy and vigilance by all levels of government

    Vigilance is imperative when the lead is distributed throughout our communities, whether in the estimated 37 million older homes with lead-based paint or 6.1 million with lead pipes connecting their home to the drinking water main under the street. While no renovator wants to poison a child, people usually are more careful when they are being monitored and can be held accountable. Ultimately that means people in the federal government are on-board and have the time and resources to provide the essential oversight. And the policies only work if they are updated regularly to reflect the latest scientific research.

    With lead costing our society more than $50 billion annually in lost IQ points, reduced attention spans, and more violent behavior, the proposed cuts are incredibly shortsighted. The proposed cuts at EPA as well as HUD and the other agencies, if adopted by Congress, run a very real risk of slowing the progress we have seen in protecting young children from lead. The numbers could go up if we, as a nation, do not remain committed to continued progress: that means updating standards, ensuring that laws are complied with, and providing the resources federal and state agencies they need to protect children. Few areas of environmental health have such a direct and tangible feedback as levels of lead in the blood of young children.

    The data is clear: policies have consequences. If members of Congress gut lead programs, their constituents will have a clear metric by which to judge the impact of their votes.

    Read more »
  • EDF Tracks Air Quality in Areas Removed from the Texas Air Pollutant Watch List

    By Elena Craft, PhD

    EDF’s Maia Draper co-wrote this post

    We’ve written before about the Air Pollutant Watch List, a Texas program for addressing harmful air pollutants that pose a particularly high risk to public health.

    The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) adds areas to the Air Pollution Watch List where monitoring data show persistently high concentrations of air toxics above the state’s health-based guidelines for these substances.

    Listing an area on the Air Pollution Watch List enables TCEQ to dedicate additional time and resources to reducing air toxic emissions in these areas. A listing can serve as an important tool for reducing dangerous air pollution and protecting public health.

    However, since 2007, TCEQ has removed 14 monitored pollutants in 10 areas from the Air Pollution Watch List. TCEQ says that average concentration levels of air toxics in these areas no longer exceed state guidelines, and therefore that additional scrutiny and resources to encourage air quality improvements are no longer necessary.

    TCEQ’s Air Pollution Watch List delisting decisions can be controversial, in part due to questions about whether air monitoring data are sufficient to support the delisting decision, and to what extent the Air Pollution Watch List label is still needed as a tool to deter high long-term emissions of harmful pollutants or short-term emissions spikes that can pose an immediate danger to public health.

    To find out whether air quality improvements have persisted in areas that have been removed from the Air Pollution Watch List, EDF conducted a comprehensive analysis of air monitoring data for all Air Pollution Watch List areas delisted since the program’s inception.

    Our analysis reveals several shortcomings in the way that TCEQ currently collects and reports these data, and recommends several crucial steps that TCEQ should take to better monitor emissions and protect public health in areas that have been removed from the Air Pollution Watch List.

    Areas among 16 TCEQ regions that have been removed from the APWL. Source: TCEQ Air Monitoring Site Data. Map created using ArcGIS.

    Among them:

    • Address short-term emissions spikes in delisted areas

    For some areas that have been delisted, we found continuing exceedances of TCEQ’s recommended concentration levels for air toxics, suggesting that these areas have not adequately maintained the air quality improvements that led to their removal from the Air Pollution Watch List. In particular, while average annual concentration levels of air toxics for most areas are below TCEQ’s health-based threshold, there is wide variability in these levels throughout the year, indicating that short-term spikes in concentrations of harmful air pollutants continue to be a problem in these delisted areas, posing a potential threat to public health. TCEQ should take steps to address these short-term spikes.

    • Improve transparency of the Air Pollution Watch List program 

    Our analysis also revealed problems with data transparency – air monitoring data for nine monitors located in the delisted Air Pollution Watch List areas analyzed in this report are not currently available to the public. We also recommend that TCEQ improve transparency about the investigative and enforcement actions it takes in response to violation of health-based pollution levels. Improving the transparency of all aspects of the Air Pollution Watch List program, including areas that have been removed from the list but still require ongoing monitoring, is a fundamental step needed to improve its effectiveness.

    • Improve accuracy of data collection and presentation to the public 

    Our analysis also finds inconsistencies in TCEQ’s data collection and presentation protocols for hazardous air pollutants that undermine the accuracy of its air quality monitoring and data analysis. We propose ways for TCEQ to improve the precision and usefulness of its air quality monitoring data, in order to provide the public with a more accurate and complete assessment of air quality levels. In order to better protect public health, TCEQ should improve the precision and granularity of the data it uses as the basis for Air Pollution Watch List listing and delisting decisions.

    Reducing emissions of air toxics is an important public health goal. Both short-term and long-term exposure to these emissions can cause severe adverse health effects, including respiratory distress, problems with the central nervous system, and cancer. At high levels, exposure to these toxics can even result in death.

    The Texas Air Pollution Watch List system plays an important role in limiting human exposure to these dangerous compounds, which is why it is important for TCEQ to use rigorous and transparent data analysis before it decides to delist an area, and for it to continue to monitor these areas after delisting to safeguard against continued emissions of hazardous air pollutants in these areas.

    You can read our full analysis here.

    Read more »
  • Take these first steps to lower your impact on climate change

    By Ilissa Ocko

    Happy Earth Day

    The average household in the United States emits almost 100,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. That is about the same weight as 10 adult African elephants.

    Earth Day is tomorrow, and at this time of the year, many of us are thinking about those kinds of facts. We wonder how we can personally help the climate by reducing our individual impacts.

    A simple internet search will yield a laundry list of actions that may be overwhelming, and often will be far less than satisfying. You may find suggestions that are not indicative of the actual size of your impact (turning off your lights versus not flying from east to west coast, for example – they are not equivalent). You may also find information that is irrelevant to your specific lifestyle (for example, the recommendation to cut out meat when you are already a vegetarian).

    Because each of our lives is unique (click here to see how carbon footprints vary by zip code), we really need to have a good understanding of our personal and professional impacts on the climate before we can determine good actions to take, and choices to make, to reduce those impacts.

    Here is a table with some great resources, to help you get started:


    Calculate your carbon footprint AND determine specific actions you can take to reduce your impactUse this calculator to:

    1. Determine your personal carbon footprint (broken down by travel, housing, food, goods, and services)

    2. Develop your unique action plan tailored to your personal impacts (includes emissions saved, dollars saved, and upfront costs)
    Use this calculator to:

    1. Determine your business carbon footprint (broken down by travel, facilities, and procurement)

    2. Develop your unique action plan tailored to your business impacts (includes emissions saved, dollars saved, and upfront costs)
    Make better choicesLearn how to save energy and money at home, on the move, at the store, in the yard, at the curb, and at work
    Learn how to be more energy efficient at home, in buildings, and in plants, and to buy more efficient products and new homes.
    Read more »
  • Congressional Tour Shows Staffers Why Louisiana’s Working Coast Matters to the Nation

    Last week, Restore or Retreat tested the notion of “seeing is believing” by hosting U.S. congressional staffers from both chambers – and sides of the aisle. After a whirlwind 32-hour educational field trip, we are confident our friends left believers in the importance of restoring Louisiana’s coast. Following a similar fly-in hosted by the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana last fall, Restore or Retreat began working with our partners, the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and Restore the ...

    The post Congressional Tour Shows Staffers Why Louisiana’s Working Coast Matters to the Nation appeared first on Restore the Mississippi River Delta.

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  • Four reasons to be optimistic this Earth Day

    By Jim Marston

    I’m going to stay positive this Earth Day. I know that’s not what you might expect from me this year, but really, when it comes to America’s shift to cleaner, smarter, advanced energy, there’s reason to be optimistic.

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    1. Business is booming…

    The advanced energy industry is booming. This includes everything from solar and wind power, to new energy innovations that are smarter and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, like energy storage, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, and demand response.

    The industry grew 29 percent in the last five years, and last year was worth $200 billion – about the same size as the pharmaceutical industry. Tesla – a sort of poster child for the advanced energy industry – just passed Ford Motor Company and General Motors in market cap. In fact, the company dropped “motors” from its name last year, a simple recognition that it’s far more than a car company.

    1. …and that means jobs

    There are now more than 3 million clean energy jobs in America, more than twice the number in fossil fuel extraction and electricity generation. Solar and wind industry jobs in particular have seen substantial growth in the past year, outpacing the rest of the U.S. economy 10 times over.

    4 Reasons to Be Optimistic This Earth Day
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    1. States are moving forward, with or without Washington

    There’s no doubt President Trump’s assault on American clean energy and water protections are dangerous. (I said I was going to be positive. But you can read about President Trump’s toxic agenda and EDF’s fight against it here, here, and here.)

    But around the country, there’s been significant progress in the states.

    Illinois just enacted the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), an economic development plan that puts clean energy jobs atop the state’s agenda. We estimate the FEJA will create thousands of new jobs and attract more than $12 billion in additional private investment.

    California is conducting pilots of residential time-of-use electricity pricing, a new way of rewarding people for conserving energy during periods of high demand. These rates have been available to commercial customers for years, and California will soon roll them out to residential customers across the state.

    Many states, including New York, Illinois, and Ohio, have embarked on aggressive reform of their energy policies that will modernize the electric grid and help make, move, and use energy more wisely, and with less pollution.

    1. Most Americans want cleaner, smarter energy

    That’s not an exaggeration. Across the country, conservative republicans and liberal democrats agree on renewable energy (if very little else):

    • 83% of conservative republicans and 97% of liberal democrats favor more solar energy.
    • 75% of conservative republicans and 93% of liberal democrats favor more wind energy.
    • Among all groups, 89% want more solar, and 83% want more wind. The next most preferred energy option is more offshore drilling, at 45%. More than half oppose it.
    • Nearly 60% oppose more coal mining.

    In other words, the only place where clean energy looks partisan is Washington, D.C.

    Stay positive and keep fighting

    When it comes to fighting for clean air and water, I like to quote Dutch Meyer, who coached the TCU football team long before I went to school there. Environmental Defense Fund will “fight 'em until hell freezes over. And then we’ll fight 'em on the ice!”

    But beyond defending our basic clean air and clean water protections, we have a long history of making progress even when progress seems impossible. The politics in Washington are discouraging, no doubt. But the world is moving toward a cleaner, smarter, advanced energy economy. And Donald Trump can’t stop it.

    Read more »
  • Seven Years After the Spill: Restoring the Louisiana Coast

    By Glenn Watkins, Water Resources Campaign Coordinator, National Wildlife Federation It’s been seven years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I remember visiting Grand Isle in the spring of 2011, one year after the spill, and being shocked that I could still see the sheen of oil on the surface of wetlands and tar balls washing onshore. Now, seven years later, the Gulf Coast and Mississippi River Delta are still in urgent need of restoration ...

    The post Seven Years After the Spill: Restoring the Louisiana Coast appeared first on Restore the Mississippi River Delta.

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  • Videos: Business owners share clean energy success stories

    By EDF Blogs

    Smuttynose Brewery in New Hampshire uses clean energy incentives to succeed.

    By Roger Stephenson, EDF’s senior adviser for New Hampshire affairs

    In New Hampshire, the clean energy economy is at a crossroads. On one hand, the legislature and governor remain ambivalent at best about clean energy and its role in our state moving forward. But local businesses are confident that renewable energy and energy efficiency choices already are making a positive impact. And many are calling for clean energy policies in the state to be strengthened.

    Several owners were kind enough to share their time and explain what clean energy means to them and their businesses.  Through a series of videos, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is now sharing those stories with lawmakers, fellow business community leaders, and the clean energy sector.

    Last fall, EDF sought out businesses that were growing, competing, and thriving in the Granite State with the help of existing clean energy policies. We worked closely with The Nature Conservancy, New Hampshire’s Community Development Finance Authority, and the NH Clean Tech Council.

    The search did not take long: Manufacturers; restaurants; construction companies and hotels; advanced manufacturing facilities; and Main Street mom and pops are investing in their competitive future with clean energy.

    Here are two samples of these enlightening clean energy videos.

    Cormack Construction

    In this video, Gordon Cormack explains how his Madison company – Cormack Construction, a medium-size general contracting and construction management company – is hedging against fossil fuel price volatility with electricity and heating powered by the sun.

    Smuttynose  Brewing Company

    Peter Egelston's sustainability journey began with energy efficiency incentives from his utility; his Smuttynose  Brewing Company facility is now LEED Gold certified, only the second brewery in the U.S. and the third industrial facility in New Hampshire to be recognized as such. Peter advises that more businesses need access to clean energy incentives and choice.


    As we enter spring, New Hampshire lawmakers are divided on major clean energy policies like the Energy Efficiency Fund and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The public utilities commission is weighing the costs and benefits of large and small solar installations as it works to establish new net metering rules.  The Governor is re-directing priorities in his Office of Energy and Planning and will influence how the state’s 10-year energy strategy is updated and implemented.

    Yet amidst this policy and political ambivalence, leaders in businesses large and small are voicing their desires, and demands, for clean energy choice and access. We’re listening, and our work with those businesses continues. We hope to continue sharing their stories with our elected leaders on these urgent issues, as well.

    Check out our other clean energy videos on YouTube, including Renewable Solar Returns $$ to Throwback Brewery, New Hampshire Ski Slope & Resort Saves Big with Clean Energy, and New Hampshire Taxpayers Win with Renewable Energy.

    Read more »
  • Of foxes, henhouses and TSCA implementation: The chemical industry burrows into EPA’s toxics office

    By Richard Denison

    Richard Denison, a Lead Senior Scientist.

    The lead article in this past Sunday’s New York Times is titled “With Trump Appointees, a Raft of Potential Conflicts and ‘No Transparency’.”  It features several prominent examples of recent political appointments of industry representatives and industry lobbyists to key policy positions where they are now charged with or involved in reviewing or crafting the very same agency regulations and policies that were the focus of their paid private sector work just prior to their appointments.

    Add EPA’s implementation of the newly amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to the list.

    Dr. Nancy Beck has just been appointed Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and reportedly started in that position on Monday, April 17, 2017.  Dr. Beck is moving into her new position at EPA directly from her job as Senior Director, Regulatory Science Policy, Division of Regulatory & Technical Affairs at the American Chemistry Council (ACC), a position she has held since January, 2012.  ACC is the main trade association for the chemicals industry, with a membership of more than 150 chemical companies, including such behemoths as BASF, Dow, DuPont and ExxonMobil.

    In her new job, Dr. Beck is expected to play a key role in implementing the new reforms made to TSCA, including in critical decisions that EPA will be making literally any day now, many of them driven by firm statutory deadlines.  These decisions will directly affect the financial interests of the companies represented by ACC.  And they will involve deciding whether or not the agency should take positions for which Dr. Beck has advocated on behalf of her former employer, as recently as last month.  Any reasonable person would see a conflict here, one sufficient to seriously question whose interests Dr. Beck will be representing in playing such a role in TSCA implementation.  But as the Times article indicates, this Administration appears to have little concern about the fox guarding the henhouse.

    Nor does this situation bode well for the prospect of creating a credible federal system capable of restoring public and market confidence in the safety of chemicals – which was the key reason that such strong bipartisan and stakeholder support gelled behind the major reforms made to TSCA just last June.  Placing a key chemical industry player in a position where she will now have direct and major influence over the direction that reform will take raises serious new doubts about the industry’s claims that it supports providing EPA with stronger, independent authority and resources to vigorously establish the safety of chemicals in and entering commerce.  

    ACC’s and Dr. Beck’s deep involvement in TSCA reform and implementation

    Dr. Beck’s employer until last week, ACC, was deeply involved in the debate over and negotiations that led to last year’s reforms of TSCA, and it remains highly active in seeking to influence the pace and direction of its implementation.  In her capacity as a senior director at ACC, Dr. Beck was personally involved in these activities, representing ACC at numerous fora, testifying on behalf of ACC before Congress, and authoring comments submitted to EPA that provided ACC’s views on various TSCA implementation activities being undertaken by EPA, including the development of the rules that will govern how the law is implemented for years or decades to come.

    ACC’s advocacy is to be expected, given ACC’s purpose, as was Dr. Beck’s while at ACC.  However, the depth and breadth of both her and her very recent employer’s engagement and interest in influencing EPA’s actions in implementing TSCA raise clear and pressing concerns with respect to her new position at EPA.

    Dr. Beck’s engagement in TSCA implementation while at ACC was so important to her that it was the main feature of an August 2016 profile of her that appeared on her alma mater’s web page:

    A key part of Beck’s current role at the American Chemistry Council (ACC) is to actively engage with agencies on proposed policies, procedures, and guidance related to chemical risk assessment.  She will focus in the coming year on the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act for the 21st Century, signed into law by President Obama on June 22, 2016. The legislation updates the Toxic Substances Control Act passed in 1976.

    Here are a few examples of recent materials and comments from Dr. Beck that advocate for ACC’s positions on issues directly relevant to TSCA implementation and illustrate the currency and extent of her efforts on behalf of ACC to influence the very decisions she will now be in a position to help make at EPA:


    ACC’s interest in key decisions in which Dr. Beck will be involved

    Dr. Beck’s role will likely encompass decisions related to multiple rules EPA has recently proposed that are mandated or authorized under the new law.  The proposed rules include several that will establish the framework under which the new law will operate for years to come and which the law requires to be finalized by June of this year.  The proposed rules also include several that would ban or otherwise restrict high-risk uses of three highly toxic chemicals.  Another proposed rule under development in which she can be expected to have a role will establish an industry fee system authorized by the new law under which EPA can collect fees from chemical manufacturers and processors to cover the agency’s costs of administering various aspects of the new law’s chemical review and regulatory program.

    Other near-term actions mandated or authorized under the law in which Dr. Beck can be expected to play a significant role include:  defining the scopes of the first 10 risk evaluations EPA will undertake under the new law, including which uses, hazards and exposures of each chemical, and which potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations, will be included; guidance that will prescribe the form and content of draft chemical risk evaluations that the chemical industry or other persons can submit to the agency for its consideration; a strategic plan promoting the development and use of non-vertebrate testing methods and strategies; various agency practices and procedures and policy decisions and guidance documents affecting the agency’s identification, prioritization, risk evaluation and regulation of both existing chemicals (those already in commerce) and new chemicals (those companies intend to produce or import); and myriad chemical-specific decisions mandated or authorized under TSCA.

    ACC member companies make or process all of the specific chemicals for which EPA has proposed restrictions, and most or all of the chemicals for which EPA has initiated risk evaluations and is now determining their scopes.  ACC member companies also routinely notify EPA of their intent to manufacture new chemicals, including many that are now under active review by EPA’s new chemicals program.  These companies will also be directly impacted by the policies, procedures and guidance being developed for use by EPA in carrying out its mandates and authorities under TSCA.

    In all of these activities, ACC and Dr. Beck on its behalf have taken and strongly advocated for positions intended to further the financial interests of their members.  For example, ACC’s positions call for inclusion or modification of provisions in EPA’s rules to limit requirements or burdens on ACC member companies.  It also seeks to incorporate and prescribe in detail specific scientific policies and procedures and testing and assessment methods that are favored by ACC and its members and for which ACC and Dr. Beck have advocated for many years in many different fora.

    More questions

    All this leaves us with more questions than answers in Dr. Beck’s case.  For example:

    • On what specific issues will she be working in her new position at EPA?
    • What aspects of her work at EPA would constitute a conflict of interest or an appearance of a lack of impartiality?
    • Will she recuse herself from any deliberations or decisions at EPA? If so, which ones?



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  • Leading Businesses Call on Louisiana Legislature to Pass the Coastal Master Plan

    Following today’s approval by the CPRA Board, plan now moves to state legislature for passage (Baton Rouge, LA—April 19, 2017) Today, the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Board unanimously approved the 2017 Coastal Master Plan, the state’s blueprint for coastal restoration and protection efforts. The plan, which is updated every five years with the best-available science, now moves to the state legislature for passage. More than 40 Louisiana businesses, associations and chambers of commerce expressed their support for ...

    The post Leading Businesses Call on Louisiana Legislature to Pass the Coastal Master Plan appeared first on Restore the Mississippi River Delta.

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