Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Chemical Rules Withdrawn, G20 on HFCs
World leaders agreed at the G20 summit on Friday to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), with specifics to be discussed at the next Montreal Protocol meeting in October. Separately, China and the US agreed on steps to follow up their June agreement to cooperate on HFC reduction. The two countries plan to set up a contact group to explore issues including financial and technological support for developing countries, Reuters reported.
The EPA is withdrawing a rule designed to create a federal “chemicals of concern” list, which would have included bisphenol A (BPA) and many others, as well as a rule restricting industry efforts to keep information about new chemicals confidential, the Hill reports. EPA officials deemed the rules “no longer necessary.” Instead, it has developed a work plan that includes risk assessments for more than 80 chemicals. It has so far issued five assessments for public comment.
Virginia Electric and Power Company, a subsidiary of Dominion Virginia Power, won the Department of the Interior’s lease auction to develop wind power offshore of Virginia, with a final bid of $1.6 million, Clean Technica reports. This was the country’s second competitive lease sale for offshore renewable energy, following a July auction for a site off of New England.
The EPA launched an interactive web-based mapping tool to provide the public with information on Environmental Impact Statements for major projects proposed on federal lands, and other proposed federal actions. When visiting the website, users can click on any state for a list of EISs, including information about the potential environmental, social and economic impacts of these projects.
A group of 73 organic and conventional family farmers, seed companies and public advocacy organizations appealed their patent case against Monsanto Co. to the Supreme Court. The group is trying to prohibit Monsanto from suing them if their fields become contaminated with the company’s patented genetic traits, Reuters reports.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is asking for public comment on petitions it has received, from the chemicals, energy and railroad industries, the National Transportation Safety Board and the town of Barrington, Ill., regarding safety measures for trains carrying hazardous materials. The administration is considering granting more authority to the Federal Railroad Administration, the Hill reports.
Former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, now vice president for environmental initiatives at Apple, will testify tomorrow before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing titled “Preventing Violations of Federal Transparency Laws,” the Hill reports. Republicans on the committee allege that Jackson hampered EPA transparency by using a secondary email address under the name “Richard Windsor.”
The top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, David Vitter (R-LA), has alleged that the “Richard Windsor” emails show collusion between Jackson and FERC chairman Jon Wellinghoff. Vitter says Wellinghoff supported regulations that could lead to power plants closing and reducing grid reliability.
The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s subpanel on environment and the economy will hold a hearing tomorrow on “Implementing the Nuclear Waste Policy Act – Next Steps.” The hearing follows an August 13 ruling by the US Court of Appeals finding that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must resume its consideration of a plan to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. Witnesses are scheduled to include NRC chair Allison Macfarlane and DOE assistant secretary for nuclear energy Peter Lyons.
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