By Lynn L. Bergeson
A coalition will be launched on June 1, 2018, that intends to ensure that Safer Choice will continue to exist as a federal program within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to improve the program so that it operates in the most effective way possible for all stakeholders. The Coalition will comprise companies throughout the chemical value chain -- chemical manufacturers, consumer product companies, and retailers -- as well as non-governmental organizations (NGO). Benjamin E. Dunham, a Senior Policy Advisor at Holland & Knight LLP, and former Hill staffer, announced the new coalition at EPA’s May 14, 2018, Safer Choice Partner & Stakeholder Summit. During the summit, industry representatives called for expanding Safer Choice to additional sectors. EPA staff did not address this suggestion, however, stating instead that they will continue core efforts and urging industry to help with outreach. Clive Davies, Chief of EPA’s Design for the Environment, stated that there are “activities that we’re going to have to cut back on and activities we’re going to have to maintain at full strength,” noting declining resources. Davies requested industry input on aspects of Safer Choice that are most important to retain.
On January 25, 2017, the Urban Air Initiative (UAI), along with the Energy Future Coalition and the states of Kansas and Nebraska, filed a request for correction of information petitioning EPA to correct its models on motor vehicle fuel emissions that limit the use of higher blends of ethanol. In the petition, UAI claims that EPA continues to publish inaccurate data regarding ethanol emissions that originated with its fuel effects study and vehicular emissions computer model, MOVES2014, and describes the fundamental flaws in the design of the study. UAI relied on peer reviewed scientific studies to refute EPA’s ethanol emissions estimates, and called on EPA to respond to the request within 90 days.
On April 28, 2016, Neste Renewable, a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, announced that its renewable isoalkane would be used in Avantherm's renewable Heat Transfer Media products. Avantherm will be using the isoalkane to produce new sustainable and high-performance renewable products, including a coolant that can replace glycol. Neste Renewable Isoalkane is chemically comparable to traditional isoalkane, but preforms better and has a lower environmental impact than the traditional product. Neste is able to produce Neste Renewable Isoalkane utilizing the company's proprietary NEXBTL technology at its refineries in Singapore, The Netherlands, and Finland.
On March 11, 2016, a consortium made up of Ecofys, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), and E4tech announced that the final report on the Land Use Change (LUC) study is now available online. The study was commissioned and funded by the European Commission (EC) and was focused on using the GLOBIOM model to determine ILUC associated with the ten percent renewable energy use target for transportation mandated by the European Union's (EU) 2020 goals. The report, The land use change impact of biofuels consumed in the EU, determined LUC emissions results as well as total LUC caused by the EU 2020 biofuel mandate. Total LUC was determined to be 8.8 million hectares (Mha), with 8 Mha consisting of new cropland, and 0.8 Mha made up of short rotation plantations on existing cropland. LUC emissions were tested by scenario and divided by biomass and biofuel type. Conventional biodiesel feedstocks were found to have high LUC effects, with conventional ethanol feedstocks having lower LUC emissions, and advanced biofuels produced from short rotation crops or perennials having negative LUC emissions.
On October 29, 2013, hundreds of parents and children participated in a "stroller brigade" on Capitol Hill during which they lobbied Senate offices to provide greater protections against harmful chemicals during reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The stroller brigade also joined actress Jennifer Beals at a press conference on TSCA reform sponsored by the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition.
Following the July 31, 2013, Senate Environment and Public Works hearing on TSCA reform, Committee Members reportedly continue negotiations on S. 1009, the bi-partisan TSCA reform bill sponsored by Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group's (BRAG™) previous report on the bill and hearing is available online.
Also on October 29, 2013, the Center for Progressive Reform released a report critical of TSCA and the two current Senate bills designed to reform it, S. 1009 and S. 696, which is sponsored by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). The report, "TSCA Reform: Preserving Tort and Regulatory Approaches," makes several specific recommendations for reform, including making it easier for EPA to obtain toxicity data from chemical manufacturers. A copy of the report is available online.
On August 28, 2013, California's Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) Safer Consumer Products Regulations (Regulations). The Regulations took effect on October 1, 2013.
The Regulations are the much anticipated regulatory implementation of California's Green Chemistry Initiative. DTSC's implementing regulations have gone through several iterations, including an initial draft released on June 23, 2010, a revised draft released on November 16, 2010, an "informal draft" released on October 31, 2011, proposed regulations released on July 27, 2012, revised proposed regulations released on January 29, 2013, another revised proposed regulations released on April, 10, 2013, and revisions proposed on August 23, 2013 (the 15-day comment period for these last comments was open until September 9, 2013, despite the issuance of final Regulations). Memoranda providing background information on past iterations are available online. The Regulations and Final Statement of Reasons are available online.