'Industry Friendly' EPA Completes Review of 600 New Chemicals
"I am happy to report that the backlog of new chemical reviews is eliminated," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said. The goal of the agency "is to ensure a new chemicals program that is both protective of human health and the environment, while also being supportive of bringing new chemicals to market."
Richard Denison, a lead senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), said the move puts the industry's demands for ready market access above public health protection.
Denison said the EPA sidestepped the Frank Lautenberg Act, a critical environmental law signed by President Obama in 2016 that overhauled the "badly broken" Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976.
The Lautenberg Act resulted in a temporary backlog of hundreds of new chemical notices. But in recent months, EPA staff have faced "relentless pressure from the chemical industry—and internally from new industry-friendly senior management—not only to speed up reviews, but to return the program to its pre-Lautenberg practices," Denison said.
"While many details of the shifts EPA is making remain murky, EDF is concerned that EPA is moving away from the law's clear requirements that: EPA rigorously review both intended and reasonably foreseen uses of new chemicals and, where EPA identifies potential risks or lacks sufficient information, it issue an order imposing conditions on the manufacturer of the new chemical sufficient to mitigate the potential risk," Denison said.
The chemical industry cheered the EPA's announcement.
"EPA deserves our congratulations and thanks," Martha Marrapese, an attorney with the Washington office of Wiley Rein LLP, told Bloomberg BNA. "Reaching this milestone reflects a lot of hard work on the part of EPA staff and industry as we all learn how to navigate the new TSCA landscape."
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By Governor Jay Inslee
Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.
In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.
Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.