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EPA Waste Office Identifies 26 Priority Actions In Climate Adaptation Strategy

EPA's waste office has identified 26 priority actions to begin implementing across its programs over the next three years to address potential vulnerabilities to climate change, including reviewing Superfund remedies' effectiveness, evaluating if additional emergency planning resources are needed and encouraging states to incorporate climate considerations into waste corrective action programs.

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NAS Urges EPA To Amend Arsenic Risk Method But Backs Key Study Plans

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is urging EPA to step away from its default application of a strict linear method for assessing the human cancer risks of arsenic in its ongoing assessment of the substance, arguing that there is sufficient information about the ubiquitous metal to drop the traditional approach that results in very strict risk estimates.

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House Hearing Seen Boosting TSCA Bill's Momentum As Senate Talks Stall

Proponents of reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) are hoping a House energy committee panel hearing slated to be held next week will help provide momentum for legislation to reform the decades-old law given that a bipartisan Senate bill remains embroiled in ongoing negotiations over its provisions.

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Air Force Permit Tests EPA Power To Set Stormwater Retention Standards

The Air Force is challenging an EPA stormwater control permit in a case that could test the agency's high-profile policy that seeks to set strict stormwater retention requirements to control runoff and potentially extend to permits the reach of a landmark court ruling that barred officials from regulating "flow" in pollution control plans.

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Obama Climate Order Opens Door To Strict New Resiliency Requirements

President Obama's just-issued order requiring EPA and other agencies to ensure infrastructure is more resilient to the effects of climate change could open the door to strict new siting and construction requirements, such as infrastructure standards and possible limits on coastal development, while also providing a new rationale for regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) as well as other pollutants that may be exacerbated by climate change.

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Environmentalists Threaten Lawsuit Over California's Chromium 6 Standard

Environmentalists are arguing that California Department of Public Health's (DPH) recently released draft drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium (Cr6) violates state law because it is not health protective and puts too much emphasis on minimizing compliance costs.

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Western Governors Exploring Options For Mine Cleanup Liability Relief

Western governors are renewing a focus on providing relief for so-called Good Samaritans to conduct cleanups of abandoned hardrock mines, pursuing discussions with EPA Region VIII to explore administrative options, as well as continuing to press for legislative fixes, according to a source with a western states group.

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EPA Readies Draft Groundwater Cleanup Framework For Talks With States

EPA is drafting a framework that will provide regulators with a "systematic process" for evaluating progress made in operating costly groundwater cleanup remedies, a measure that states could use to replace ineffective technologies at waste sites or revise cleanup objectives at sites, an EPA source says.

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State Regulators Split On EPA Radiological Guide's Drinking Water Level

Members of a state waste regulators group are conflicted over EPA's suggestion to develop a short-term emergency drinking water level following a radiological emergency as part of a draft radiological protection guide, while industry is calling for less-stringent requirements in the guide and environmental groups are reiterating their opposition to EPA's proposal.

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Group Nears Completion Of 'Green' Remediation Standard

A private-sector standards-setting organization is expected to soon publish a voluntary standard that can be applied across a spectrum of contaminated waste sites to promote "greener" cleanups, following collaboration with EPA to develop the approach, sources say.

ASTM International Sept. 15 approved the standard through a consensus-based process, after overcoming a small number of objections to the standard earlier this year, sources say. The standard, which is expected to focus on "green" best management practices for site assessment and cleanup, is now under editorial review, an ASTM source says. Sources familiar with the effort would not comment on the substance of the objections, which appear to have delayed the document by a few months.

EPA requested the standard in 2008 as part of a larger effort on encouraging greener cleanups, including the development by EPA of principles for greener cleanups, which aim to consider all of the environmental effects of a cleanup, including the energy consumption and other impacts from remediation technologies. Greener cleanups attempt to use approaches that minimize the environmental footprint of a cleanup, EPA says in a 2009 fact sheet.

EPA defines the core elements of greener cleanups as: minimizing total energy use and maximizing use of renewable energy; minimizing air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions; minimizing water use and impacts to water resources; reducing, reusing and recycling material and waste; and protecting land and ecosystems, according to a June EPA fact sheet on the project.

Specifically, actions embracing these elements can include powering on-site cleanup equipment with on-site renewable energy, using machinery with advanced emission controls, employing best management practices for stormwater, segregating and reusing or recycling materials such as soil and construction-and-demolition debris, and minimizing soil and habitat disturbance, among other actions, according to slides presented by a state official at a state waste managers' meeting last April.

The June fact sheet says the agency anticipates the standard will increase the use of greener cleanup approaches by "[p]roviding clear definitions, methods, expectations, and goals for use by all stakeholders involved in a cleanup, making it easier for regulators and the regulated community to implement greener cleanups; [e]stablishing a framework to support new tools for evaluating impacts from cleanups; [and b]uilding upon state and local government incentives for greener cleanups."

According to an EPA website, the agency is identifying potential uses for the standard. One EPA regional source says the agency was involved in drafting the standard and is expected to make some type of statement on it, but does not know if EPA will adopt it.

The standard will be viewed as voluntary, and is expected to help a lot of cleanup programs with consistency, providing a larger list of best management practices, the source says. This could be applied at Superfund sites -- where it could be put into legal agreements -- at brownfields and Resource Conservation & Recovery Act sites, as well as applied at projects under the Great Lakes National Program Office, the source says.

In addition, states could adopt the standard in their voluntary cleanup programs, the source says.

At least one state -- Massachusetts -- plans to propose a green cleanup regulation in upcoming months, and the ASTM tool will fit well into that program, a state source says.

The slides presented at an Association of State & Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials' meeting last April list top barriers to conducting greener cleanups, including a lack of awareness of greener cleanup practices, the potential for higher upfront costs, the lack of authority or inclusion in existing regulations, and an inability to offer incentives.

The top incentives for conducting greener cleanups include the availability of loans and grants, publicity or recognition, and contract incentives, the slides say.

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