Wall Street Journal: Why We’re Ending the EPA’s Reliance on Secret Science — EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler explains the agency’s decision to increase transparency, noting “when agencies defer to experts in private without review from citizens, distinctions get flattened and the testing and deliberation of science is precluded.” He continues: “Transparency is a defense of, not an attack on, the important work done by career scientists at the EPA, along with their colleagues at research institutions around the country. Increasing polarization around scientific questions stems in part from too many public policy debates setting science in a category apart from normal discussion or standards. By shining light on the science we use in decisions, we are helping to restore trust in government. We want the EPA to be able to say, “you can check our work.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Tyco Fire Products settles class action lawsuit with over 270 households in Peshtigo — Tyco Fire Products, a company known for mixing and testing firefighting foam containing PFAS in northeastern Wisconsin, settled with hundreds of homeowners Thursday over contamination found in private drinking wells. An attorney who brought the suit said this settlement, which is the first involving aqueous film-forming foam, is significant because it sets the stage for future cases. Future cases involving foam will likely have to follow suit with the settlement, because it’s unlikely that a jury would decide in favor of a company, based on the information he’s seen in cases like Peshtigo’s. Tyco denied any wrongdoing in the case, but a spokesperson said during a news conference that the company recognizes the burden that dealing with PFAS has put on the community.
Las Cruces Sun News: New Mexico sues Sterigenics over ethylene oxide emissions at Santa Teresa plant — In a complaint filed in the state’s Third Judicial District on Dec. 22, Attorney General Hector Balderas alleges the Sterigenics company, which has operated a plant in Santa Teresa since 1989, released “unreported, uncontrolled” amounts of ethylene oxide over its years of operation. As a result, the lawsuit contends that Santa Teresa residents and neighboring communities have been put at “significantly increased risk of developing cancer,” as measured in the 2018 EPA report. In response, the company has sought to remove the case to federal court, citing a number of federal laws and agency regulations involved in the state’s claims, as well as the limited number of facilities providing ethylene oxide sterilization nationwide and the potential impact of the facility’s closure. The COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified pressure on the need for its services, the company’s motion claims.
Bloomberg Law: 3M, Business Groups Can’t Halt New Jersey PFAS Limits — 3M Co. and a coalition of New Jersey businesses and utilities lost their bid to stop the state from implementing restrictions on PFAS chemicals in drinking water, after a state appeals court rejected their request to stay the rules pending full legal review. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection adopted the final PFAS rule in June. The rule declares PFOA and PFOS hazardous substances under state law, and sets enforceable limits of 14 parts per trillion for PFOA and 13 parts per trillion for PFOS in drinking water.
Wall Street Journal: EPA to Give Preference to Scientific Studies That Disclose Data — WSJ dives into the new rules that will give preference in future decisions about public health to scientific studies that disclose their underlying data. The rules apply to the EPA’s consideration of “dose-response studies,” used to figure out how much exposure to a chemical or pollutant increases the risk to a person’s health. In future decisions, the agency must now give greater consideration to studies in this area in which underlying dose-response data is available for independent validation. And when it proposes new regulations it must make available that science informing the rule to the public.