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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Chemical Safety, EMD Millipore Fine, GOP Tries to Slow Executive

The House this morning approved the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, 232-183, largely along party lines, hours before the chamber was due to adjourn for recess. The bill requires both chambers of Congress to sign off on any federal rules costing more than $100 million a year, the Hill reports.

President Obama yesterday ordered federal agencies to review safety rules for chemical facilities across the country, and called for federal, state and local agencies to better coordinate their regulation, USA Today reports. The order comes three and a half months after a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, that killed 15 people.

The House yesterday approved HR 1582, the Energy Consumers Relief Act, by a vote 232 to 181. The legislation requires that before EPA finalizes any new energy-related rules estimated to cost more than $1 billion, the agency must submit a report to Congress detailing certain cost, benefit, energy price, and job impacts; and the secretary of energy, in consultation with other agencies, must make a determination regarding the rule’s impacts.

The House also approved an amendment to prevent the EPA from factoring the social cost of carbon into its regulations, unless a federal law is enacted that specifically allows that cost to be considered. Congressmen voted 234-178 for the rule, with fifteen Democrats voting for and just three Republicans against, the Hill reports.

Exxon Mobil’s Pegasus pipeline leak, which spilled about 5,000 barrels of crude in Mayflower, Arkansas in March, appears to have been caused by a decades-old manufacturing defect, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said yesterday. The regulator said the pipeline will stay shut until it can be safely restarted, Reuters reported.

France’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat, overturned a government ban on growing Monsanto’s MON810 genetically modified corn. This was the second time in two years that the council revoked the French government’s ban on the crop, and was expected following a preliminary hearing earlier this month, Reuters reports.

EMD Millipore, a division of Merck, has agreed to pay $2,681,500 in civil penalties to settle EPA allegations that it violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) on numerous occasions since 2008 by producing, importing, distributing and selling pesticidal devices in violation of federal requirements. The devices were used in laboratories for research, development and manufacturing purposes, the agency says. It is the second-largest civil penalty ever paid in an EPA enforcement case under FIFRA.

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