Quantcast
Energy

EPA Neglects Hazardous Waste Recovery Rulemaking Petitions for 30 Years

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fully addressed less than five percent of the administrative rulemaking petitions submitted during the past 30 years to one of its branches, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Unlike other agencies, EPA does not display the status of the hundreds of petitions it receives each year from citizens, states, industry and environmental organizations.

The U.S. Administrative Procedures Act requires federal regulatory agencies to “give an interested person the right to petition for the issuance, amendment or repeal of a rule.” (5 U.S.C. § 553(e)) Agencies must respond to these petitions “within a reasonable time …” (5 U.S.C. § 555)

An internal analysis of rulemaking petitions submitted to EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation & Recovery, which handles solid and hazardous waste issues, concluded that the agency had fully addressed only two of 50 rulemaking petitions submitted since 1981. For most (34 of 50) of these petitions, EPA had “no record of any action formally taken”—a condition aggravated by the fact that EPA could not even locate them since “copies of the petitions are not available.”

The unanswered petitions cover an array of topics ranging from coal combustion wastes to dry-cleaning cartridge filters. The vast majority were submitted by industry groups with others submitted by state agencies and environmental groups. This backlog was first tallied in 2009 and updated in 2010.

“These documents suggest that the public—including those most affected by the rules—plays no meaningful role in EPA rulemaking,” stated PEER Senior Counsel Paula Dinerstein, who obtained the analyses in discovery produced by EPA in an unrelated case. “A delay of decades exceeds ‘a reasonable time’ to respond by any measure.”

These figures represent only the rulemaking petitions filed before just one of several EPA offices. However, unlike other federal regulatory agencies, such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Securities & Exchanges Commission and the Pipelines & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, EPA does not maintain a publicly available docket summarizing the status of rulemaking petitions filed with it. When U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, suggested in a November 2012 letter that EPA publicly post its petition docket, the agency responded noncommittally in an April 15 letter that it was still “considering requests to make petitions for rulemaking available in a publicly accessible location.”

“These documents afford us a small peek into a large but undefined regulatory void,” added Dinerstein. “What we have seen suggests that EPA sets an unenviable standard for official unresponsiveness.”

PEER has been waiting nearly two years for EPA to respond to a rulemaking petition seeking correction of its dust corrosivity standards. New standards are needed to prevent first responders from suffering chemical burns to their respiratory systems like those suffered by New York City police and firefighters when they waded into corrosive dust following the 9/11 World Trade Center conflagration.

Visit EcoWatch’s ENERGY pages for more related news on this topic.

——–

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Food
Indie Ecology / Instagram

Table-to-Farm-to-Table: Startup Grows Food for Restaurants With Kitchen Leftovers

Food, as we know, is a terrible thing to waste. Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption gets lost or wasted every year. But what if we could use food waste to create more food?

That's the elegantly full-circle idea behind Indie Ecology, a West Sussex food waste farm that collects leftovers from some of London's best restaurants and turns it into compost. The nutrient-rich matter is then used to grow high quality produce for the chefs to cook with. Call it table-to-farm-to-table—and again and again.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Pexels

China’s Global Infrastructure Initiative Could Bring Environmental Catastrophe

By Nexus Media, with William F. Laurance

Humans are ravaging tropical forests by hunting, logging and building roads and the threats are mounting by the day.

China is planning a series of massive infrastructure projects across four continents, an initiative that conservation biologist William Laurance described as "environmentally, the riskiest venture ever undertaken."

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Alaska's Kenai Fjords National Park, which was impacted by the Exxon Valdez oil spill, could be harmed again if expanded offshore drilling plans go through. National Park Service

Trump’s Offshore Drilling Plan Puts 68 National Parks at Risk

Sixty-eight National Parks along the coastal U.S. could be in danger from devastating oil spills if President Donald Trump's plan to open 90 percent of coastal waters to offshore oil drilling goes through, a report released Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the National Parks Conservation Association found.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
E. coli. The World Health Organizations says antibiotic resistance is "one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today." U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Climate Change Could Supercharge Threat of Antibiotic Resistance: Study

By Andrea Germano

The World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have previously sounded alarms about the growing issue of antibiotic resistance—a problem already linked to overprescribing of antibiotics and industrial farming practices. Now, new research shows a link between warmer temperatures and antibiotic resistance, suggesting it could be a greater threat than previously thought on our ever-warming planet.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Renewable Energy
Powerwall residential battery with solar panels. Tesla

Tesla's Massive Virtual Power Plant in South Australia Roars Back to Life

Tesla's plans to build the world's largest virtual power plant in South Australia will proceed after all.

The $800 million (US $634 million) project—struck in February by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and former South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill—involves installing solar panels and batteries on 50,000 homes to function as an interconnected power plant.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
A French lavender farmer is part of the group suing the EU for more ambitious emissions targets, saying climate change threatens his crop. Iamhao / CC BY-SA 3.0

10 Families Bring First Ever 'People’s Climate Case' Against the EU

Ten families from Fiji, Kenya and countries across Europe who are already suffering the effects of climate change filed a case against the EU Wednesday in a bid to force the body to increase its commitments under the Paris agreement, AFP reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Oceans

Swimmer Plans to Cross Pacific to Highlight Plastic Pollution

Ben Lecomte, the first man to swim across the Atlantic in 1998, will attempt another grueling, history-making ocean crossing.

On Tuesday, the 50-year-old Frenchman and his crew will set out from Tokyo for a 5,500-mile swim across the Pacific, Reuters reported. If all goes as planned, Lecomte will arrive in San Francisco six to eight months later.

Keep reading... Show less
Business
Tesco supermarket near Ashford Hospital in West Bedfont, England. Maxwell Hamilton / CC BY 2.0

UK's Largest Grocer Takes on Food and Plastic Waste

It's been a green week for Tesco, the UK's largest supermarket.

First, the chain said it would remove "Best before" labels from around 70 pre-packaged fruits and vegetables in an attempt to stop customers from discarding still-edible food, BBC News reported Tuesday.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!