In most respects, this adminstration's EPA is getting things done. They're regularly throwing out bad policies and implementing better ones. Here are four things the agency has announced recently that made us cheer and one that made us boo - loudly.
The TSCA was introduced in 1976 and hasn't been updated since. At the time, 60,000 chemicals were on the EPA inventory, since then, 24,000 have been added, but only 200 have been tested and only five banned. Even scarier is that about 20 percent of those chemicals are kept secret through a loop hole in the act that doesn't require companies to report chemicals used in manufacturing if they're considered "proprietary." The EPA is creating a list of chemicals of concern, including phtalates, short-chain chlorinated paraffins, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and perfluorinated chemicals, all of which have raised health and environmental concerns. The list will put pressure on chemical companies to either prove they're safe or cease production. It's likely that the new legislation will address the loop hole allowing chemicals ingredients to be kept from the public.
The agency is tightening the standards for ozone in the air from 75 parts per billion to 60-70 parts per billion. If the new rule is passed, states and cities will have implement tougher regulations of air pollution sources like cars and power plants. The change will cost $19 - $90 billion to implement, but will save an equal amount in health care costs for people with asthma and other lung conditions.
The EPA has released a Green Vehicle Guide that rates cars and trucks based on tailpipe emissions, CO2 emissions and fuel economy. As Green Car Reports says, this guide has the clearest ranking of which cars are clean without using questionable criteria. Hybrids get the best scores of course, but it also gives high marks to other fuel efficient options.
The agency has put together a map of all facilities that have been caught breaking environmental laws. The map marks each facility and reveals what crime they committed (air, water, land pollution, etc.), what action was taken against them, what fines or legal settlements they owe. This map serves two great purposes: (1) it publicly shames offenders for their actions and (2) it allows the public to know what kind of pollution is happening in their area and what's being done about it. The map contains 4,600 facilities and is searchable by offense and type of facility.
This week, the EPA cleared the path for a new MTR coal mine project in West Virginia called the Hobet 45 mine and extended the deadline for consideration of another project called the Spruce No. 1 mine. Last April, it looked like the agency would start taking a stand against MTR mining, so this announcement is more than disappointing.
written by Jess @ Openly Balanced, January 08, 2010
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