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The Week Ahead

Panel Poised To Review EPA's EDSP; DC Auto Show Expected To Weigh EPA Vehicle Rules

Posted: January 28, 2013

Years after Congress required EPA to assess whether chemicals disrupt the human endocrine system, the agency's Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program is slated for its first review before a Science Advisory Panel. EPA is taking comment on a portion of its controversial nutrient standard for Florida's waters.

Policy panels associated with the the annual Washington Auto Show are likely to prompt a new round of discussions about EPA's fuel and vehicle rules.

At EPA

An EPA Science Advisory Panel (SAP) is slated to begin reviewing agency plans for advancing its long-delayed Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP), which is intended to assess chemicals to determine whether they harm human development systems.

The task of the SAP, which is meeting Jan. 29 -- Feb. 1, is to weigh “scientific issues associated with EPA's plan for prioritizing the universe of EDSP chemicals using computational toxicology tools.” But according to a recent EPA white paper, the agency is also hoping the panel will assess whether the agency's current focus on possible effects on estrogen systems could also serve as a template for prioritizing effects on other developmental systems.

The SAP is one of the first of several EPA is holding in 2013 as it works to advance the program from its initial test-method development and data generation phases to its data review and test-method implementation phases -- efforts that come more than 15 years after Congress first required the agency to assess possible endocrine effects.

EPA is slated Feb. 1 to close its comment period on portions of its landmark regulatory package setting numeric nutrient criteria for Florida's waters, even though the agency is asking a federal court to allow it to drop the rule entirely.

A federal court largely upheld an initial set of criteria that EPA issued in 2010 for inland waters, including provisions setting downstream protective values (DPVs), which are used to ensure that upstream releases do not harm downstream waters. But the court remanded portions of the rule addressing the numeric criteria for streams and the default DPVs for unimpaired lakes, saying the agency did not appropriately justify how changes in nutrient levels would result in adverse impacts on aquatic life.

While EPA is taking comment on the remanded portions, the agency has indicated that it is hoping that Florida will eventually craft its own rules to supplant EPA's. But environmentalists are strongly resisting that approach, and recently urged a federal judge to block the agency's attempt to drop its proposed rule setting new default DPVs.

Inside The Beltway

The annual Washington Auto Show officially kicks off Feb. 1, creating new opportunities for public discussion about EPA's fuels and vehicles policy. In advance of the show's official start, officials are holding two days of public policy discussions Jan. 30-31, which are intended to unite “industry leaders with public policy makers to drive a smarter, greener, cleaner and safer automotive future.”

As part of the show's policy discussions, National Journal is hosting a Jan. 30 forum entitled “Affordable Mobility: A Roadmap to Energy Efficiency.” Featured speakers include EPA air chief Gina McCarthy and top officials from Honda, Chrysler, Toyota and other automotive companies.

Issues that are likely to come up include:

-- the future of the renewable fuel standard (RFS) now that a federal appellate court has rejected EPA's cellulosic biofuel production targets for the 2012;

-- whether EPA will revise its vehicle greenhouse gas rule to make its credit system more equitable for the natural gas sector;

-- how California's recently approved “clean car” rules will change the industry;

-- whether EPA will limit enforcement against the oil industry prior to crafting a rule creating a quality assurance system designed to prevent credit fraud in the RFS; and,

-- whether the oil industry succeeds in repealing the RFS

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