EPA announced a cross-agency effort to address per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS, which includes PFOA, PFOS and GenX, are a diverse group of compounds resistant to heat, water, and oil that are persistent in the environment and resist degradation.
“Protecting public health is EPA’s highest priority and through these efforts we are taking the lead to ensure that communities across the country have the tools they need to address these chemicals,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “The work we are doing shows our commitment to clean air, land, and water and to working side-by-side with our state, local, and tribal partners.”
As part of the agency’s work, EPA will:
- Identify a set of near-term actions that EPA will take to help support local communities.
- Enhance coordination with states, tribes and federal partners to provide communities with critical information and tools to address PFAS.
- Increase ongoing research efforts to identify new methods for measuring PFAS and filling data gaps.
- Expand proactive communications efforts with states, tribes, partners and the American public about PFAS and their health effects.
EPA's efforts will build on the work that the Agency has done to establish non-regulatory drinking water health advisories for PFOA and PFOS. The Agency’s water and research offices will lead these efforts and they will bring together expertise from across the Agency including top scientists from EPA’s air, chemicals, land, research, and water offices. In addition to a cross-program effort, EPA is also tapping its regional offices to enhance cooperation with partners at the state and local levels and to provide on-the-ground knowledge about specific issues—and address PFAS nationwide.
TSCA Standards for Composite Wood Products to be Withdrawn
The EPA plans to publish in the Federal Register a notice that it is withdrawing its direct final rule issued on October 25, 2017, to update the voluntary consensus standards that were originally published in the TSCA Title VI formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products final rule on December 12, 2016. EPA issued both a direct final rule and a proposed rule on October 25, 2017. EPA states that, due to its receipt of adverse comment on the rule, it must withdraw the direct final rule and proceed with issuing a final rule only after it has considered all of the comments received during the comment period which ended on November 9, 2017.
The proposed updates apply to emissions testing methods and regulated composite wood product construction characteristics. EPA states that several of those voluntary consensus standards (i.e., technical specifications for products or processes developed by standard-setting bodies) were updated, withdrawn, and/or superseded through the normal course of business by these bodies to take into account new information, technology, and methodologies.
As a reminder, EPA has extended the compliance dates for the formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products final rule that was issued on December 12, 2016. The extensions for compliance are:
- Emission standards, recordkeeping, and labeling provisions -- from December 12, 2017, to December 12, 2018;
- Import certification provisions -- from December 12, 2018, to March 22, 2019;
- Laminated product producer provisions -- from December 12, 2023, to March 22, 2024; and
- The conclusion of the transition period for California Air Resources Board (CARB) Third-Party Certifiers (TPC) -- from December 12, 2018, to March 22, 2019.
EPA Sued by States for Failing to Release Smog Data
Fourteen states and the District of Columbia announced Thursday that they are suing the Trump administration over what they say is a failure to enforce smog standards. The EPA has not designated any areas of the country as having unhealthy air, missing an Oct. 1 deadline, according to the lawsuit. Such areas must take steps to improve their air quality.
Poor air quality particularly affects the health of children, people with asthma and those who work outside, said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who led and announced the filing. The lawsuit says smog can cause or aggravate diseases including heart disease, bronchitis and emphysema. “Lives can be saved if the EPA implements these standards,” he said in a statement.
Becerra was joined by the attorneys general in Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington state. Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency also joined the suit.
The EPA said the agency’s policy is not to comment on litigation. The suit is the latest allegation by Democratic officials in California and other states that the Trump administration is illegally delaying environmental actions as it attempts to unwind rules set under former President Barack Obama.
Becerra, for instance, noted that he previously sued Trump officials for what he calls an illegal delay of a rule encouraging automakers to create vehicle fleets that meet or exceed federal fuel efficiency standards.
Clean Air Act standards require that smog-producing ground-level ozone be kept below levels the federal government decides won’t affect public health. The lawsuit says the EPA missed its deadline to say which regions are not meeting the most recent standards set by the Obama administration in 2015. The EPA determined, in setting the ozone standards, that the required reductions would produce billions of dollars’ worth of health benefits annually despite the costs of complying.
Failing to designate regions who are not complying deprives state and local regulators of crucial regulatory tools not otherwise available, according to the lawsuit. States were required under the law to recommend which areas they believe are not meeting the standards.
Nationwide, the tighter restrictions were projected to save between 316 and 660 lives each year, prevent nearly 900 hospital visits and keep children from missing 160,000 school days, bringing $4.5 billion in health benefits. That includes up to 218 saved lives and $1.3 billion in savings in California alone from a reduction in health care costs, lost workdays and school absences, according to the lawsuit.
The EPA tried in June to extend its deadline to Oct. 1, 2018, but then withdrew the proposed extension in the face of lawsuits from states and advocacy groups. Last month, it designated some areas as meeting standards but said it was postponing any decisions on regions that weren’t complying, including densely populated and high-risk urban areas, until “a separate future action,” the suit says. The agency didn’t say when it would act.
Efforts by states and regional air districts to reduce emissions from motor vehicles and other sources will be more difficult as the climate warms, California Air Resources Board Executive Officer Richard Corey said. He said the EPA has had the information it needs to make the required designations for months without acting. The lawsuit asks a judge to order the EPA to act promptly.
Improved Electrical Grid Positive Step Towards Climate Change
Making smart investments to upgrade our outdated electric grid is foundational for climate change progress, according to a new report released today by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). The report shows how a modern grid can help the U.S. mitigate and adapt to climate change and accelerate the clean energy future.
“Upgrading our electricity system is critical to fighting climate change and keeping the lights on for more people during future storms,” said Ronny Sandoval, EDF grid modernization director and author of the report. “Many utilities across the country are now investing in grid upgrades. In addition to improving resiliency, these investments should make how our country produces, moves and uses electricity cleaner, cheaper and more efficient.”
The electric grid Americans rely on each day to power their lives and economy is in need of an upgrade. After record-breaking hurricane and wildfire seasons, that need – and the urgency to meet it – has never been clearer. EDF’s new report, Grid Modernization: The foundation for climate change progress, highlights six ways a modern grid that relies on cleaner energy and harnesses new technologies can cut pollution, save customers money and boost our economy:
- Sensing and monitoring for enhanced system awareness
- Intelligent integration of diverse distributed resources
- Maximizing the role of renewable energy
- Electrification of transportation systems
- Access to actionable energy data
- Efficient transmission and distribution management