Tag Archives: regulation

PFOA/PFOS emerges as an election issue

In an election year political statements raising ‘hot button’ environmental issues like PFOA and PFOS are to be expected (e.g. click here). Ms. Dingell’s characterization of PFOA and PFOS are not based on science or even a proper understanding of environmental law.

The article below presents the only publicly available, independent peer-reviewed published paper examining the full implications of regulating of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water.

F.W. Pontius. Regulation of Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and
Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS) in Drinking
Water: A Comprehensive Review. Water 2019, 11, 2003; doi:10.3390/w11102003

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) are receiving global attention due to their persistence in the environment through wastewater effluent discharges and past improper industrial waste disposal. They are resistant to biological degradation and if present in wastewater are discharged into the environment. The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) issued drinking water Health Advisories for PFOA and PFOS at 70 ng/L each and for the sum of the two. The need for an enforceable primary drinking water regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is currently being assessed. The USEPA faces stringent legal constraints and technical barriers to develop a primary drinking water regulation for PFOA and PFOS. This review synthesizes current knowledge providing a publicly available, comprehensive point of reference for researchers, water utilities, industry, and regulatory agencies to better understand and address cross-cutting issues associated with regulation of PFOA and PFOS  contamination of drinking water.

Here’s why the Clean Air Act (CAA) needs a ‘best available science’ clause.

To avoid basing rules on marginal or flawed science (e.g. here) as described below a “best available science” clause is needed in the Clean Air Act (CAA) — and other environmental laws — as in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA”)”:

“To the degree that an Agency action is based on science, the Administrator shall use (1) the best available, peer-reviewed science and supporting studies conducted in accordance with sound and objective scientific practices; and (2) data collected by accepted methods or best available methods (if
the reliability of the method and the nature of the decision justifies use of the data”. Public Law 104-182. Section 1412(b)(4)(D).


Click here to read the full report.


Post from the past: “Justice Janice Rogers Brown gets it right on the GHG endangerment finding”

I posted this on December 12, 1012….the USEPA GHG endangerment finding was unwarranted (and incorrect).

“USEPA has embarked on issuing a variety of regulations to control emission of greenhouse gases using the Clean Air Act (CAA). This flurry of activity results from an earlier Supreme Court ruling that upheld USEPA’s GHG endangerment finding under the CAA.  The endangement finding was a clear stretch of the imagination by the court. A legal challenge to GHG rules was filed in the US District Court of Appeals, DC Circuit, and a panel of judges upheld their legality. A petition was filed requesting that the entire court rule on the appeal, which was recently denied. In her desent, Justice Janice Rogers Brown provides a good explanation of why the Supreme Court erred in their ruling on the GHG endangerment finding, which indeed they did. The broad expanse of the term “pollutant” in that ruling is well-beyond the original context and intent of the Clean Air Act statute.

I have provided the full written dissent of Justice Brown below. As during the 1990s in litigation involving the Safe Drinking Water Act, the prevailing opinion explained by Sentelle provides political cover for a lawless agency (USEPA), rather than recognizing and honoring the rule of law as intended by the CAA. If congress intended GHG emissions to be regulated, congress could have explicitly enacted legislation to do so. (Click here for the full ruling.)


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Regulatory actions effect “everyday Americans” and the national economy

“Coincident with the 2017 Presidential inauguration, real GDP growth changed from underperforming experts’ forecasts to outperforming them (Tankersley 2019). The CEA’sfindings on the aggregate effects of regulations and deregulations may help explain this state of affairs. Regulatory actions and their aggregate effects may be easily overlooked and underestimated because the actions are numerous and, if not seen through the lens of economic analysis, may appear cryptic to the general public. This report helps to narrow this information gap by showing the importance of the deregulatory agenda for everyday Americans as well as the national economy.” click here

USEPA proposes perchlorate MCLG and MCL at 56 u/L (0.056 mg/L); Comments due 08/26/2019

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a drinking water regulation for perchlorate and a health-based Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The EPA is proposing to set both the enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for the perchlorate regulation and the perchlorate MCLG at 0.056 mg/L (56 µg/L). The EPA is proposing requirements for water systems to conduct monitoring and reporting for perchlorate and to provide information about perchlorate to their consumers through public notification and consumer confidence reports. This proposal includes requirements for primacy agencies that implement the public water system supervision program under the SDWA. This proposal also includes a list of treatment technologies that would enable water systems to comply with the MCL, including affordable compliance technologies for small systems serving 10,000 persons or less.

Click here for proposed rule

Click here for proposed rule correction

When politics override the best available science when deciding a regulatory policy…

“… overpowering influence of low dose biostatistical modeling perspectives that swayed the quantitatively overwhelmed chemical toxicologists. This resulted in the LNT policy going forward, becoming broadly institutionalized across many governmental agencies and in multiple countries. The rest is history.”

Edward J. Calabresea, Robert J. Golden. Why toxicologists resisted and radiation geneticists supported EPA’S Tadoption of LNT for cancer risk assessment Chemico-Biological Interactions Volume 310, 1 September 2019, 108736

The linear non-threshold (LNT) dose response model for cancer risk assessment has been a controversial concept since its initial proposal during the 1930s. It was long advocated by the radiation genetics community in the 1950s, some two decades prior to being generally adopted within the chemical toxicology community. This paper explores possible reasons for such major differences in the acceptance of LNT for cancer risk assessment by these two key groups of scientists.

Renewable Portfolio Standards have not delivered

Michael Greenstone, Richard McDowell, Ishan Nath. Do Renewable Portfolio Standards Deliver? Working Paper. Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. April 21, 2019.

Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) are the largest and perhaps most popular climate policy in the US, having been enacted by 29 states and the District of Columbia. Using the most comprehensive panel data set ever compiled on program characteristics and key outcomes, we compare states that did and did not adopt RPS policies, exploiting the substantial differences in timing of adoption. The estimates indicate that 7 years after passage of an RPS program, the required renewable share of generation is 1.8 percentage points higher and average retail electricity prices are 1.3 cents per kWh, or 11% higher; the comparable figures for 12 years after adoption are a 4.2 percentage point increase in renewables’ share and a price increase of 2.0 cents per kWh or 17%. These cost estimates significantly exceed the marginal operational costs of renewables and likely reflect costs that renewables impose on the generation system, including those associated with their intermittency, higher transmission costs, and any stranded asset costs assigned to ratepayers. The estimated reduction in carbon emissions is imprecise, but, together with the price results, indicates that the cost per metric ton of CO2 abated exceeds $130 in all specifications and ranges up to $460, making it least several times larger than conventional estimates of the social cost of carbon. These results do not rule out the possibility that RPS policies could dynamically reduce the cost of abatement in the future by causing improvements in renewable technology.