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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On October 1, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of the Draft FY 2022-2026 EPA Strategic Plan. 86 Fed. Reg. 54448. The draft Strategic Plan communicates EPA’s priorities and provides the roadmap for achieving its mission to protect human health and the environment. The draft Strategic Plan outlines objectives within the following strategic goals:

  • Goal 1: Tackle the Climate Crisis;
  • Goal 2: Take Decisive Action to Advance Environmental Justice and Civil Rights;
  • Goal 3: Enforce Environmental Laws and Ensure Compliance;
  • Goal 4: Ensure Clean and Healthy Air for All Communities;
  • Goal 5: Ensure Clean and Safe Water for All Communities;
  • Goal 6: Safeguard and Revitalize Communities; and
  • Goal 7: Ensure Safety of Chemicals for People and the Environment.

Goal 7 includes two objectives. Objective 7.1, “Ensure Chemical and Pesticide Safety,” is intended to protect the health of families, communities, and ecosystems from the risks posed by chemicals and pesticides. It includes the following long-term goals:

  • By September 30, 2026, complete at least eight High Priority Substance (HPS) Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) risk evaluations annually within statutory timelines compared with the fiscal year (FY) 2020 baseline of one;
  • By September 30, 2026, review 90 percent of risk mitigation requirements for TSCA new chemical substances compared to the FY 2021 baseline of none;
  • By September 30, 2026, renew 40 percent of expiring lead-based paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) firm certifications within 30 days compared to the FY 2021 baseline of 36 percent;
  • By September 30, 2026, complete 78 pesticide registration review cases;
  • By September 30, 2026, consider the effects determinations or protections of federally threatened and endangered species for new active ingredients in 90 percent of the risk assessments supporting pesticide registration decisions for new active ingredients compared to the FY 2020 baseline of 50 percent;
  • By September 30, 2026, consider the effects determinations or protections of federally threatened and endangered species in 50 percent of the risk assessments supporting pesticide registration review decisions compared to the FY 2020 baseline of 25 percent; and
  • By September 30, 2026, support Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) pesticide safety training for 20,000 farmworkers annually compared with the FY 2018-2020 annual average baseline of 11,000.

Objective 7.2, “Promote Pollution Prevention,” is intended to encourage the adoption of pollution prevention and other stewardship practices that conserve natural resources, mitigate climate change, and promote environmental sustainability. It includes the following long-term goals:

  • By September 30, 2026, reduce a total of 1.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent released attributed to EPA pollution prevention grants; and
  • By September 30, 2026, EPA’s Safer Choice program will certify a total of 2,300 products compared to the FY 2021 baseline of 1,950 total certified products.

According to the notice, EPA is seeking comment from individual citizens, states, tribes, local governments, industry, the academic community, non-governmental organizations (NGO), and all other interested parties. Comments are due November 12, 2021. EPA states that it “anticipates the final Strategic Plan will be submitted to Congress in February 2022.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On October 7, 2021, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced that the Green Ribbon Science Panel (GRSP) will hold a meeting from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EDT) on November 5, 2021. The meeting will focus on microplastic research and policy.
 
GRSP was established to act as a resource for the implementation of California’s Green Chemistry Law. GRSP provides technical advice to the DTSC Director and the California Environmental Policy Council (CEPC) on scientific matters related to the development of policy recommendations and implementation strategies on green chemistry and chemicals through DTSC’s Safer Consumer Products (SCP) program. Additional topics covered by GRSP as the SCP program continues to expand include:


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) posted a WatchBlog item entitled “Can Chemical Recycling Reduce Plastic Pollution?” on October 5, 2021. The item looks at GAO’s September 2021 Science & Tech Spotlight: Advanced Plastic Recycling. According to GAO, chemical recycling could reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills, potentially reducing the release of chemicals into the environment. Chemical recycling can produce high-quality raw materials, decreasing the demand for fossil fuels and other natural resources. GAO states that the obstacles to using chemical recycling include process and technology challenges, high startup and operating costs, and limited incentives for recycling innovation and investment. GAO notes that new plastics produced from fossil fuels are typically cheaper to produce than recycled plastics, in part due to transportation costs and limited recycling infrastructure, making recycled plastics less marketable. Key questions for policymakers include:

What steps could the federal government, states, and other stakeholders take to further incentivize chemical recycling rather than disposal? What are the potential benefits and challenges of these approaches?

What steps could policymakers take to support a transition toward a circular economy -- one in which products are not disposed of but are recycled for reuse including innovation -- and investment in manufacturing and recycling capacity?

What might policymakers do to promote advanced recycling technologies while also reducing the hazards associated with existing plastic production and recycling methods?

One issue that GAO fails to consider is the regulatory status of depolymerized plastic. Furthermore, making a polymer by depolymerizing plastic is, according to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) nomenclature rules, different than the virgin polymer. These nomenclature complications will likely be a barrier to the commercialization of the closed-loop chemical recycling of plastics.


 

Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®), will present during the “Moving Towards ‘Cradle-to-Cradle’: Regulatory Drivers and Barriers in Reducing Waste and Achieving Sustainable Lifecycle Management and a Circular Economy” session on October 14, 2021, at 1:45 p.m. (EDT), at the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (SEER) 29th Fall Conference.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
 
On August 26, 2021, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED) announced the launch of the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize. The new prize will provide cash prizes of up to $250,000 each -- totaling $2.5 million -- to groups and organizations in support of entrepreneurship and innovation in communities historically underrepresented and underserved in the energy sector. Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman said that this new prize is part of EERE’s effort to address the urgent need for diversity in the funding applications EERE receives. Ms. Speakes-Backman added, “We know climate change disproportionally affects underserved communities, so it is also critical that we change that -- by partnering with these communities when developing climate solutions together.” This new prize aligns with President Biden Administration’s Justice40 Initiative that aims to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments in climate and clean energy to underserved communities.
 
In hopes of attracting and supporting innovators and entrepreneurs from all backgrounds, the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize aims to:

  • “Support organizations to create or identify activities that provide incubation, acceleration, and community-based entrepreneurship and innovation services in climate and clean energy technologies.
  • Identify and fund activities that will help traditionally underrepresented groups apply for and receive DOE funding in support of DOE’s Justice40 goals.
  • Build trust and strengthen relationships and partnerships with underrepresented, underserved, and frontline communities or community-serving organizations to understand and lower barriers to entry to DOE funding opportunities.
  • Foster grassroots innovation in policy and process related to just and equitable clean energy deployment.
  • Support colleges, universities, and other educational institutions that serve large populations of students traditionally underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), including Minority Serving Institutions, tribal colleges, community colleges, and predominantly undergraduate institutions.”

The Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize will open to submissions later in September 2021, welcoming applications from community-centric organizations and educational institutions with experience engaging with and promoting underrepresented communities. These organizations will support environmental, climate, and energy justice by using their experience and institutional knowledge to serve as a bridge between DOE and innovators.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now accepting nominations for the 2022 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards from companies or institutions that have developed a new green chemistry process or product that helps protect human health and the environment. EPA states that in support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to tackle the climate crisis, it is adding a new award category to recognize technology that reduces or eliminates greenhouse gas emissions. EPA will hold a webinar during Pollution Prevention (P2) Week, on Wednesday, September 22, 2021, from 2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. (EDT), to educate stakeholders on the Green Chemistry Challenge Awards and the nomination process. Nominations are due to EPA by December 10, 2021. According to EPA, an independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute will formally judge the 2022 nominations and make recommendations to EPA for the 2022 winners. EPA anticipates giving awards to outstanding green chemistry technologies in six categories in June 2022.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
 
On July 14, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new goal under the Energy Earthshot Initiative’s (Energy Earthshots): “Long Duration Storage Shot.” The Energy Earthshots program focuses on scientific breakthroughs that can lead to more abundant, affordable, and reliable clean energy solutions within this decade as the United States aims to achieve net-zero carbon goals by 2050. The second target within Energy Earthshots aims to accelerate innovation in long-term storage of clean electricity. Long duration energy storage, defined by DOE as systems that can store more than ten hours of energy at once, would facilitate the capture and storage of energy for later use when energy generation is unavailable or lower than demand. Scenarios provided by DOE include solar-generated power that could be used at night or nuclear energy generated during times of low demand to be used when demand increases. The Long Duration Storage Shot will consider all types of technology, including electrochemical, mechanical, thermal, chemical carriers, or combinations of these technologies.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 29, 2021, at 1:00 p.m. (EDT), Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm will host a virtual roundtable on the future of manufacturing. Roundtable discussions will focus on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) efforts to:

  • Decarbonize the manufacturing sector in the United States;
  • Manufacture clean-energy technologies; and
  • Pave the way to a resilient, carbon-neutral economy by 2050.

During the roundtable’s panel discussion, Secretary Granholm will announce several new DOE initiatives pertaining to manufacturing. The panel discussion will feature a diverse range of stakeholders, including government and academia representatives, and DOE private-sector partners.
 
Registration is required.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson
 
On June 15, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced and recognized the winners of the 2021 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. According to EPA’s announcement, this year’s winners have developed new and innovative green chemistry technologies that provide solutions to significant environmental challenges and spur innovation. The announcement was made during the American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. Co-sponsored by EPA and ACS, the Green Chemistry Challenge Awards celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. Further details are available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson
 
On June 15, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced that it will host a webinar with EERE’s Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) for Renewable Power, Alejandro Moreno, on June 17, 2021, at 4:00 p.m. (EDT). The one-hour webinar will cover activities, programs, and initiatives proposed in EERE’s budget request. EERE requested $4.7 billion in an effort to lead the transition of the national economy into a 100 percent clean energy economy. The webinar is titled “EERE FY 22 Budget Request: Renewable Power.” DAS Moreno will be joined by several directors from EERE’s Renewable Power Technology pillar:

  • Becca Jones-Albertus, Director, Solar Energy Technologies Office;
  • Jennifer Garson, Acting Director, Water Power Technologies Office;
  • Susan Hamm, Director, Geothermal Technologies Office; and
  • Robert Marlay, Director, Wind Energy Technologies Office.

The final 15 minutes will be reserved for questions. Registration is require via this link. EERE will host two additional webinars on the FY22 budget request for the Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Transportation pillars.


 
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