Ethylene Oxide: The Coming Storm?

Ethylene oxide is a gas commonly used to make other chemicals utilized in a variety of consumer and industrial goods, including fabric, detergents, medicines, and adhesives. It’s even used to sterilize medical devices and spices and to kill microorganisms in grains. But ethylene oxide is acknowledged as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing compound or substance) in high-level concentrations and extended periods of exposure. Ethylene oxide has been linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma, and breast cancer, among many other cancers and physical ailments.

The …

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EPA Finalizes Cost-Benefit Rule for Clean Air Act Rulemaking

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its Clean Air Act (CAA) cost-benefit rule, which it proposed in June 2018 and held a public hearing on in July 2020. A procedural rule, it is meant to “improve the rulemaking process under the Clean Air Act by establishing requirements to ensure consistent, high-quality analyses of benefits and costs are provided to the public for significant rules,” according to the EPA’s press release. The final rule codifies “best practices” for benefit-cost analyses (BCA) in CAA rulemaking. …

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wetlands; Florida; Everglades

Does Florida’s Plan to Take Over the Federal Wetlands Permitting Process Hold Water?

On December 17, 2020, two years after the Florida legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill serving as an initial step to promote the transfer of permitting authority from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the state of Florida, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted the Sunshine State’s request and approved a plan transferring federal authority to the state to issue permits for projects affecting the state’s wetlands. Florida will be only the third state in the United States to be granted such broad permitting …

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EPA Final Rulemaking Will Not Require Additional Financial Assurance Requirements for Cleanups at Industrial Sites

On November 25, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it finalized rulemaking on financial assurance requirements for the Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution; Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing; and Chemical Manufacturing industries. The EPA determined the financial risks from facilities in these industries are addressed by existing state and federal regulations and modern industry practices, which mitigate risks inherent in these industries and cover the costs of cleaning up hazardous substance releases.

The final rulemaking relates to section 108(b) of the Comprehensive …

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NDMA―Hiding in Plain Sight

Last month, extended release (ER) Metformin―an oral diabetes medicine that helps control blood sugar levels―joined a small-but-expanding list of prescription drugs, including Valsartan (for blood pressure) and Zantac (for heartburn), that were recalled by manufacturers because it may contain amounts of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) above the acceptable intake limit.

NDMA is a semi-volatile, odorless yellow oil that can form naturally or unintentionally through industrial processes, and is also found naturally at low levels in many foods, such as roasted meats, cheese, and beer, because of cooking …

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U.S. EPA’s Supplemental Analysis of 1,4-Dioxane Finds No Unreasonable Consumer Risks for Six Separate Categories of Potential Exposure

On November 20, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a supplemental analysis to the draft risk evaluation of 1,4-dioxane under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The supplemental analysis was developed in response to public and peer review comments to the draft risk evaluation, which our blog previously reported on here.

The EPA’s risk evaluation states that 1,4-dioxane is a “likely human carcinogen” that is “highly mobile” and “does not readily biodegrade in the environment.” However, the draft risk evaluation notes “(n)o unreasonable …

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EPA Releases Compliance Advisory for UV Devices Designed to Kill Germs, Bacteria, and Viruses

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant shortage of traditional household disinfectant products such as wipes and sprays, numerous ultraviolet (UV) devices have been marketed to consumers with claims that they kill germs, bacteria, and viruses. What some may not know is that UV lights that are sold or distributed with these claims are subject to various federal regulation, including the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIRA), which governs the registration, distribution, sale, and use of pesticides in the United States. …

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Following Ninth Circuit’s Ban, EPA Approves Use of Dicamba Herbicide Until 2025

Over the last few years, the Environmental Law Monitor has monitored regulatory and litigation matters on dicamba herbicide used by farmers to combat broadleaf weeds that have developed resistance to other herbicides (see prior posts here.)

In June 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered a ban on certain dicamba products, which vacated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) prior approval and required it to conduct a new review. However, in late October, the EPA renewed its approval …

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Flint Water Crisis Ruling May Signal Expansion in EPA Liability

The now-infamous Flint water crisis arose when the city of Flint, Michigan, changed the source of its water supply from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River. The raw water drawn from the Flint River, processed through Flint’s outdated and previously mothballed water treatment plant, was highly corrosive and not properly treated by the city’s public works department. As a result, water with excessive lead and copper levels flowed through the city and into residents’ homes, causing them physical injury and damage …

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What the EPA’s Reclassification of Information Under Clean Air Act Means

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a prepublication version of a final rule under the Clean Air Act (CAA) that permits major sources of hazardous air pollutants (HAP) to reclassify as sources if the source reduces its potential to emit HAPs below the major source threshold (10 tons per year of any single HAP or 25 tons per year of any combination of HAPs). In addition, the rule is design to finalize amendments to clarify the compliance dates, notifications, and recordkeeping requirements …

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