News Recap for 1-15-21
Real Clear Science: New EPA Rule Simply Follows the Scientific Method — The Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science rule limits the scientific studies the EPA can use to guide regulations, “restricting the use of research that can’t be reproduced or is based on underlying data that isn’t public.” It focuses on research that analyzes “the quantitative relationship between the amount of dose or exposure to a pollutant, contaminant, or substance and an effect.” President-Elect Biden has made it clear that his incoming administration is dedicated to following and listening to science—and indeed, as cabinet appointments are announced, it is clear that the 46th president is preparing to be quite active on environmental and scientific policy. While some critics may urge the president to reverse the transparency rule, my advice is to embrace it.
Fox News: McDonald’s to remove potentially harmful chemicals in food packaging by 2025 — The fast-food giant said it plans to eliminate all PFAS found in its food packaging after environmental advocacy groups had independent labs conduct tests on fast food packaging and reportedly found levels of PFAS in packaging McDonald’s uses for Big Macs, and food containers for fries and cookies. A number of fast-food restaurants have heightened sustainability efforts in recent months. Burger King in October announced it planned to test out reusable food containers this year in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint. And Panera introduced badges to show menu items with a low carbon footprint.
Politico: Trump’s EPA team overrules career scientists on toxic chemical — A final assessment of PFBS—a replacement for PFOS—sent to the White House for review Monday establishes a range of acceptable values to describe how toxic the chemical is to humans, replacing the single “reference dose” that had been used. The change was reportedly made by staffers in the agency’s pesticides office at the direction of political officials — not the career scientists at EPA who specialize in assessing the human health risks of chemicals.
Bloomberg Law: Companies Must Track More ‘Forever Chemicals’ This Year for EPA — The Environmental Protection Agency revised its list of PFAS that an estimated 500 industrial and federal facilities must report under the Toxics Release Inventory, commonly called the TRI. The list, updated Jan. 8, identifies three PFAS—silver(I) perfluorooctanoate, perfluorooctyl iodide, and potassium perfluorooctanoate—that will join the 172 PFAS already on the agency’s list for routine tracking. Industries and federal facilities that released 100 or more pounds of the previously listed 172 PFAS or other TRI-reportable chemicals to the air or water, dispose of them, or manage them through recycling, energy recovery or treatment in calendar year 2020 must report the quantities released by July 1.
National Law Review: PFAS Product Liability Cases – Are the Floodgates Now Open? — Thus far, the PFAS litigation has centered on lawsuits filed against PFAS manufacturers (primarily, Dupont and 3M) for environmental cleanup and remediation, with some lawsuits against these companies for personal injury claims. The settlements and damages awarded in these cases have been eye-opening to many, but few have considered that similar damages could ever be awarded to downstream companies that simply use PFAS in their products. This “next wave” of PFAS product liability cases would significantly impact business interests at an incredible financial magnitude and puts at risk corporate finances at levels that could cause significant business interruption.