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The Week Ahead

Comments are due this week on EPA’s proposal to set stricter limits on lead-dust cleanups, amid litigation over an earlier lead rule. Meanwhile, a top agency official will discuss the Trump administration’s efforts to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination.

Lead Dust

Public input is due by Aug. 24 on EPA’s proposed lead-dust rule that would tighten the limit on the amount of lead remaining on a surface after work to abate a hazard from the neurotoxin. Under the rule, the limit, known as the clearance level, would lower from 40 micrograms of lead in dust per square foot (ug/ft2) for floor dust and 250 ug/ft2 for windowsill dust down to 10 ug/ft2 and 100 ug/ft2, respectively. That matches EPA’s dust-lead hazard standards that the agency finalized last June, but those standards are being challenged by environmental groups as not stringent enough in part because they did not include a stronger clearance level.

PFAS

Andy Gillespie, EPA’s executive lead for research into PFAS at the Office of Research and Development, will speak at an Aug. 26 webinar co-hosted by EPA and the National Environmental Health Association.

The presentation is designed to highlight EPA’s role in the broad federal effort to address PFAS contamination -- although Democrats and environmental groups say the research effort should be more aggressive to adequately address risks from the chemicals.

Environmental Justice

The House Natural Resources Committee will hold an Aug. 27 online forum scrutinizing “environmental justice and public health in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley region,” as part of Democrats’ push for the “Environmental Justice for All Act.” The bill is co-sponsored in the Senate by Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris (CA) and among other provisions would amend the Civil Rights Act by prohibiting discrimination based on disparate impacts; overturn a key 2001 Supreme Court decision, Alexander v. Sandoval, that required aggrieved parties to demonstrate intentional discrimination -- an almost impossibly high legal bar; and require the consideration of cumulative impacts in permitting decisions under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

Air Rule Reviews

Aug. 24 is the deadline for comments on a proposed consent decree that would set a series of deadlines from November 2021 to November 2023 for EPA to review its existing air emissions and toxics rules for a suite of industries, including several national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP) and new source performance standards (NSPS). The decree would resolve Our Children’s Earth Foundation v. Andrew Wheeler, and marks the latest step in EPA’s long-running struggle to review all of its NSPS and NESHAP rules eight years after issuance to determine whether there is a basis to tighten them.

Toxicology

EPA’s Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel (FIFRA SAP) will meet Aug. 25 to prepare for its upcoming meeting where it will discuss the agency’s plans to craft human health risk assessments for 16 organophosphate pesticides using in vitro data rather than live testing, as part of a broader push to reduce animal testing in the risk assessment process.

EPA’s Computational Toxicology Communities of Practice will hold an Aug. 27 meeting on experimental variability and uncertainty in “new approach methodologies” for using computational data rather than direct animal testing in chemical assessments.

Climate Change

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) committee developing a list of “key goals and innovations” necessary for the construction of a fusion power plant will meet for the first time on Aug. 26 to develop its work plan.

The Colorado Energy Research Collaboratory will host an Aug. 25 webinar on electrification of the heavy-duty trucking sector.

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) will host an Aug. 27 webinar on the use of agricultural soil to sequester carbon dioxide. BPC is pushing for an array of new policies that would give farmers and forest managers incentives to use their properties for carbon sequestration and other greenhouse gas reductions.

TSCA

The NAS panel reviewing EPA’s “systematic review” framework for Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) risk assessments will meet Aug. 24 to hear from EPA on its “innovations in the TSCA data evaluation and evidence integration process.” However, the panel in recent meetings has voiced skepticism of the policy, questioning both whether it was needed and why the agency has diverged from it in some risk assessments.

CWA Permits

The American Bar Association will host an Aug. 27 webinar on recent developments in Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting, focused on EPA’s rule limiting state review of federal permits under section 401 of the law, and litigation involving the section 404 dredge-and-fill permit program.

COVID-19

EPA’s homeland security office will host an Aug. 27 webinar on its research into long-lasting disinfectants that can neutralize the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Rulemaking Comments

The American Law Institute-Continuing Legal Education program will host an Aug. 26 webcast discussion on “successful commenting in the rulemaking process,” including how comments can either push agencies to change course on planned rules or support future litigation.

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