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The Week Ahead

EPA To Hold Hearing On ‘Once In Always In’ Repeal; Toxicologists Plan PFAS Assessment

Stakeholders are slated to weigh in at a public hearing this week on EPA’s plan to repeal the long-standing “once in, always in” Clean Air Act policy that prevents “major” air toxics emitters from shedding that designation. And a scientific society is holding a meeting to study the health risks of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), with involvement from EPA and other agencies.

Once In, Always In

EPA will hold the sole scheduled public hearing on its proposal to repeal the “once in, always in” air policy on Aug. 15 in Washington, D.C. Once finalized, the rule will reverse a long-standing mandate that facilities with high enough air toxics emissions to qualify as major sources always be subject to strict controls, even if their emissions drop below the legal threshold. But the agency’s legal strategy of arguing that the Clean Air Act unambiguously forbids the policy is seen as a risk in court if the agency finalizes the proposal as planned and environmentalists sue over it.


The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry will meet Aug. 12-15 in Durham, NC, for an environmental risk assessment of PFAS, with EPA scientists and other government officials participating as speakers and session chairs. While the proceeding is not a formal EPA risk assessment, it could aid the government’s work to address thorny questions of how to address PFAS and what the legal thresholds for contamination should be.

Meanwhile, the free-market American Legislative Exchange Council, made up of state legislators, will be addressing PFAS as part of its annual meeting Aug. 14-16 in Austin, TX. Also on the agenda are policies for recycling batteries and solar panels, and a draft resolution opposing the Green New Deal introduced by Democrats in Congress.

Power Plants

A National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel studying “The Future of Electric Power in the U.S.” will meet Aug. 14-15 in Chicago, IL. Much of the meeting will be behind closed doors, but Tom Wilson, an energy and environmental analyst with the Electric Power Research Institute, will present publicly on “Project 2X,” a cross-industry project aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and even further by 2050.

Environmental Justice

EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee will hold a public teleconference on Aug. 14 to discuss EPA’s research funding and risk communication efforts, and to advance final letters over equity concerns raised at the panel’s April meeting in Bethesda, MD.

Ecology Science

The Ecological Society of America and United States Society for Ecological Economics will hold their joint annual meeting Aug. 11-16 in Louisville, KY. The agenda focuses on scientific issues alongside “economics, human impact, sustainable development and more” from the economics perspective.

Offshore Air

The NAS panel reviewing a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management report on air quality modeling in the Gulf of Mexico will hold an information-gathering webinar on Aug. 13.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation will hold its fifth annual Sustainability and Circular Economy Summit Aug. 15-16 in Washington, D.C. The agenda focuses on “innovative cross-industry collaborations,” strategies for firms to fulfill their sustainability goals and predictions for “the next frontier of sustainability issues.”

Food Waste

An NAS panel slated to study “A Systems Approach to Reducing Consumer Food Waste” will hold its first meeting Aug. 15-16 in Washington, D.C. The Government Accountability Office has called on federal agencies to collaborate more effectively on cutting food waste, and environmentalists warn that doing so will be necessary to address food scarcity linked to climate change.