The government shutdown halted the EPA’s evaluations of potential health impacts of new industrial chemicals and stopped non-emergency inspections at about 1,200 chemical facilities, hazardous waste facilities and drinking water systems, the White House Office of Management and Budget said yesterday.
In a report outlining the shutdown’s effects, the OMB also said the EPA had to suspend environmental and health reviews for pesticides. Most of the reviews and inspections will be rescheduled but will probably not be completed this fiscal year, the agency said, according to The Hill.
The shutdown also delayed energy development on federal lands, as the Interior Department couldn’t process about 200 oil and gas drilling permit applications; and it may result in the Department of Energy missing milestones for nuclear site cleanup.
As the shutdown continued, more and more evidence emerged of its wide-ranging effects, from blocking access to the EPA’s Portfolio Manager for energy use tracking; stopping cleanup at over 500 Superfund sites; and delaying planned EPA “listening sessions” on the agency’s forthcoming carbon rules for existing power plants.
When the shutdown began, worries had surfaced that it would cause delays to proposed carbon rules for new power plants as well as proposals for 2014 biofuel targets. No word yet on whether those rules will indeed be delayed, but at least one closely-watched regulation is: the final cooling water intake rule for power plants and industrial facilities, pushed back 16 days. This is the third extension the EPA has asked for since reaching the legal agreement requiring the rule, back in 2010.
No doubt we’ll continue to see evidence that this pointless farce created headaches for government and business alike.
Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.
Picture credit: Marina Noordegraaf