Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Around the horn: industry alliance visits White House over EPA toxic information collection plan, and more

A few quick items as much of the nation wheezes under heat and pollution alerts.

Risky Business: You’d think business groups might be happy at the prospect that the US EPA wants to streamline information gathering about industrial toxic pollution. Then why did a collection of industry groups – including chemical, oil and pharmaceutical – visit the White House the other day to raise holy heck? Based on the materials they left behind (the information is all at ), they still think EPA wants too much information.

And they think EPA ought to be permitting the companies themselves to vet EPA information before moving ahead with tougher toxic pollution standards. That is, unless EPA is using information supplied by the companies in the first place.

This all involves an EPA effort to improve methods for assessing "residual risk" from toxic air pollutants emitted by 22 industrial sectors, and streamlining data collection and analysis to help determine whether certain industries should be more tightly regulated. EPA has a lackluster record when it comes to setting these toxic pollution standards.

The agency has said it wants to merge data collection efforts for two Clean Air Act requirements -- residual risk assessment and technology reviews -- for the affected industry groups, which include oil and gas producers, refineries, natural gas distributors, polymer and resin manufacturers and pharmaceutical makers.

The industry visit came as EPA moves forward with such a toxic review for various polymer and resin makers. See at

Enforcement Encore? We noted last week that, despite a lot of high-level White House meddling, EPA career enforcers are still diligently trying to do their best.

And what do you know? -- They brought a big case this week against six coal-fired power plants that spew out dirty air in the Chicago area. Yes, EPA is charging that these facilities are so flagrantly violating the law that they can’t even meet the Dick Cheney test! Perhaps more such cases will be brought in the future. No matter where you draw the line, some companies will cross it.

Coal Calamity? There’s been a fair amount of press in recent weeks about the demise of planned coal-burning power plants. And another one bit the proverbial dust yesterday – at least for now. A Kentucky judge ruled that state regulators need to do more work on a planned Peabody Energy coal burner.

This is a big victory for our friends at Sierra Club and Valley Watch.

In a related note, the Ceres coalition has put together an interesting new presentation which notes that energy efficiency is likely to become a key path for meeting energy and greenhouse gas goals.


California Still Dreaming: Catching up on some old business: Late last week, U.S. Senate Republicans blocked an attempt by Democrats seeking quick passage of legislation to force the EPA to speed up its decision on California’s greenhouse gas motor vehicle standards. Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) asked for unanimous consent for passage of the bill (S 1785) which cleared the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee July 31. It would demand that EPA issue a judgment by Sept. 30 on California’s request to enforce the vehicle standards. Sen. John-I’ll-do-anything-to-promote-ethanol Thune (R-SD) objected. Not exactly an auspicious sign for California.

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