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Regulators Seek TCE Remedies At EPA's Risk Level, Heightening Concerns

Regulators and responsible parties are taking action at sites contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE) in indoor air at levels at or near EPA's risk values, heightening concerns from industry and other critics who say it is inappropriate because the risk values do not allow for consideration of site-specific factors that could attenuate chemical hazards.

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EPA Official Sees 'Unrelenting' Vapor Intrusion Risks, Undermining Screening

An EPA waste office official, in a recent paper expressing his personal opinion, says that underground contamination presents an “unrelenting risk” of toxic vapor intrusion in indoor air, a finding that undermines EPA and industry's current approach of screening out sites from further testing when sampling shows low levels of contamination.

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Despite DOJ Offer, Suit On U.S. Facilities' Stormwater Fees Headed To Court

A closely watched Georgia case seeking to force a federal entity to pay previously assessed local stormwater fees is set to go to argument this month despite the Department of Justice's (DOJ) offer to settle the case in August, paving the way for a continued battle over whether local governments can collect fees assessed prior to a 2011 Clean Water Act (CWA) amendment on the issue.

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Key GOP Senator Works With Industry To Craft Possible TSCA Reform Bill

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), who led GOP talks with Democrats over amending the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), is in the early stages of working with the chemical industry to draft a bill aimed at reforming the law that could be introduced early next year.

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EPA Staff Seek To Clarify Advisors' Call For Perchlorate Modeling Approach

EPA officials are planning to ask the agency's science advisors to clarify their recent call for the agency to expand its computer model for calculating a drinking water health goal for perchlorate, in part because of concern that a time-consuming revision of the model may prevent the agency from meeting its statutory deadline to propose the health goal.

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Bingaman Urged To Amend Nuclear Bill To Address EPA, Defense Issues

Retiring Senate energy committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) is being urged to revise his nuclear waste bill, which is expected to be a table setter for legislation in the next Congress, to strengthen EPA and state oversight roles and to deal with defense nuclear waste issues separately from civilian waste issues.

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EPA Stalls Lead Paint Rule

EPA and environmentalists have agreed to allow the agency to delay by three years its plan to propose a lead paint cleanup rule governing exterior renovation and repairs of public and commercial buildings, a controversial measure that industry groups and Senate Republicans have opposed.

Agency lawyers and environmentalists Sept. 7 proposed to revise a 2009 settlement in Sierra Club et al. v. EPA that set deadlines for officials to propose a renovation, repair and painting (LRRP) rule. According to an attorney representing environmental groups, the extension will give the agency additional time to review the science needed to support the regulation.

The 2009 settlement set December 2011 as the deadline for EPA to propose the rule, though the parties later extended that date through negotiations to June 15, 2012.

But in June, the agency approached environmentalists to further delay the proposal date, saying it needed more time to review the science to support the rule, the attorney says. After months of negotiations, the parties agreed to a new rule proposal deadline of June 1, 2015. They filed the new agreement with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Sept. 7, the source says. The attorney says activists agreed to extend the deadline because they support further scientific review to ensure an appropriate regulation.

The delay is drawing praise from Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who commended the decision in a Sept. 12 statement. Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, and nine other Republicans had sent a letter to EPA in April 2011 asking for a delay in the commercial buildings LRRP rule, arguing that a scarcity of data was available to evaluate health risks.

“I applaud EPA for responding to Congressional oversight and agreeing to seek more time and information in order to propose a Lead Based Paint rule for commercial buildings in a thoughtful, reasonable manner,” Inhofe, said. “I have always supported the intention of this rule, which is to protect children and expectant mothers from the potential hazards of lead paint dust, but this rule must be applied in a way in which people can actually comply so that the full health benefits can be realized.”

In the statement, Inhofe also says EPA intends to hold public information meetings this winter and to get input from a small business advocacy review panel.

Inhofe is the sponsor of legislation to restore a controversial "opt-out" provision for EPA's residential lead paint renovation rule that the Obama administration removed in 2010. The companion bill in the House was introduced by Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK).

The D.C. Circuit in June agreed that EPA acted within the law in removing the provision.

EPA announced May 6, 2010, that it planned to propose lead-safe work practices and other requirements for renovations on the exteriors of public and commercial buildings and to determine whether lead-based paint hazards are created by interior renovation, repair and painting projects in those buildings. “For those renovations in the interiors of public and commercial buildings that create lead-based paint hazards, EPA will propose regulations to address these hazards,” according to a summary of the planned rule in the Unified Agenda.

EPA says the rule's purpose will be to ensure that renovation activities in commercial buildings are conducted “in a way that safeguards the environment and protects the health of building occupants and nearby residents, especially children under 6 years old.” Lead can cause a range of harmful health effects including effects on heme biosynthesis and related functions, neurological development and function, reproduction and physical development, kidney function, cardiovascular function, and immune function. “EPA has conducted several studies and reviewed additional information that indicates that the renovation of buildings containing lead-based paint can create health hazards in the form of lead-based paint dust under typical industry work practices,” the Unified Agenda says.

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Sierra Club Calls For EPA To Address Cumulative Impacts Under NEPA

The Sierra Club is urging EPA to begin addressing the cumulative socioeconomic impacts, in addition to environmental issues, faced by environmental justice communities around the country when recommending mitigation measures under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), starting with a plan for the state of Michigan.

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Industry Consultant Warns Of Gaps In EPA Data For SAB Perchlorate Review

An industry consultant is warning the chair of EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB) that the agency is providing limited information to the panel for its review on the science of perchlorate intended to underpin EPA's decision to regulate the chemical in drinking water, saying the data omit "a significant portion" of science on perchlorate.

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DOJ Plans To Fight Ruling Allowing Retroactive Stormwater Fees For U.S.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is signaling it plans to fight a recent federal court ruling allowing municipalities to retroactively assess stormwater fees on federal facilities, setting the stage for continued litigation over whether a 2011 Clean Water Act (CWA) amendment requiring the facilities to pay local stormwater fees should not apply retroactively.

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