Archive for May, 2021

New York Shuts Down Indian Point Nuclear Plant, As New Jersey Provides Billions In Nuclear Subsidies

May 19th, 2021 No comments

A Tale Of Four States

California, Ohio, And New York Nuclear Controversies Ignored By NJ Press


Photo Caption: Indian Point nuclear power plant (Bill Wolfe)

You probably could not find a stronger or more geographically proximate contrast than how New York State and New Jersey are managing aging, costly, and unsafe nuclear power plants – and how that set of issues is reported by the media.

NJ media has reported extensively on the Murphy Administration’s multi-billion nuclear bailout.

But there’s virtually a news blackout of our New York neighbor’s recent shutdown of the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

Slightly off topic, but curiously, there was a similar NJ news blackout of NY Gov. Cuomo’s denial of permits for major gas pipelines. Out of the media and off the policy and activists’ agenda. Control the media and the activists and you control the policy agenda.  So, we’ll take this opportunity to repeat a question we posed long ago:

But let’s get back to the nukes.

The NJ news blackout on New York’s nuclear shutdown follows the same news blackout on the California shutdown of nuclear power. There has been no reporting by NJ Spotlight, despite their focus on energy policy and extensive coverage of NJ’s nuclear bailout.

This is no unintentional oversight by NJ Spotlight. The California nuclear shutdown story intentionally was driven from NJ Spotlight coverage by PSE&G news management. As I wrote: 

PSE&G pulled exactly the same propaganda stunt back when PG&E announced closing of Diablo Canyon nuke plant and California regulators announced that they were phasing out nuclear power.

The California regulatory phase out decision was made just at the time that PSE&G was seeking a bailout – not a phase out – of its nuke plants.

While PG&E Diablo Canyon closure and California were phasing out nukes, NJ DEP was subsidizing and deregulating them: DEP Says Salem Nuclear Good to Go Without Cooling Towers. (I testified in opposition to that permit – another example of how PSE&G money talks to conservation groups and regulators – and wrote about it here).

Instead of reporting on California’s phase out – a policy option never even on the table in NJ– the discussion in NJ was limited to assuring the economic viability of nukes as a “zero carbon” emission source, see: Will NJ Consumers Be Hit with Zero-Emissions Surcharge for Nuclear?

And later, at precisely the time while California regulators were phasing out nukes – a major policy of national significance that NJ Spotlight never reported on –NJ Spotlight provided a platform forPSE&G sponsored content, provided former Gov. Florio a platform to support PSE&G, provided the business community a platform to support PSE&G, gave PSE&G another platform.

In addition to keeping the New York and California nuclear shutdown stories out of the NJ media – and a the alternative for a similar NJ nuke shutdown off the policy table – PSE&G has succeeded in avoiding the Ohio nuclear bailout criminal scandal from spurring a similar criminal investigation of the PDSE&G nuclear bailout. For a perfect example of this news management, see NJ Spotlight’s story:

Say What?

Why would JCP&L role in the Ohio bribery scandal trigger a NJ investigation, when the PSE&G NJ nuclear bailout is not targeted for investigation? The Ohio bribery was about a nuclear bailout. The same nuclear bailout happened in NJ and this the same potential bribery corruption should be investigated.

I predicted exactly this kind of diversion when I wrote:

NJ utility giant PSE&G is desperately seeking to avoid that Ohio scandal story getting attention and investigation in NJ, because if it did, not only would PSE&G face possible criminal sanctions, the public outrage that would ensue very likely would derail renewal of PSE&G’s nuke bailout, which is currently pending before the NJ Board of Public Utilities.

NJ legislators who supported and rammed the NJ nuke bailout through the legislature and Gov. Murphy who signed it into law face the same criminal and political vulnerability.

NJ environmental groups who supported the deal also face embarrassing disclosures of how PSE&G “money talked” in influencing their support.

So, how did NJ’s premier media outlet, who focuses on energy policy, report the Ohio story?

Did NJ Spotlight explain in detail what happened in Ohio and raise potential similarities with NJ’s nuke bailout?

Did NJ Spotlight report on how PSE&G’s money talks in NJ? (even at their own publication).

No, they didn’t.

After the July 28 superficial coverage, today NJ Spotlight printed PSE&G propaganda, which was designed to create a bright shiny object to divert the attention from the Ohio scandal and put PSE&G in a positive light and influence the BPU’s upcoming nuke bailout renewal decision.

So, after the C California nuclear shutdown and now the New York nuclear shutdown, I’m guessing that there will soon be another propaganda stunt by PSE&G to be sure to keep the NY Indian Point shutdown story out of NJ Spotlight and NJ media.

As I wrote just after the California nuclear shutdown announcement:

at precisely the time while California regulators were phasing out nukes – a major policy of national significance that NJ Spotlight never reported on –NJ Spotlight provided a platform for PSE&G sponsored content, provided former Gov. Florio a platform to support PSE&G, provided the business community a platform to support PSE&G, gave PSE&G another platform.

So, there it is: from California, to Ohio, to New York, a consistent pattern of obfuscation that benefits PSE&G (who just happens to be a major donor to NJ Spotlight).

We’ve been cheering the final nails in the nuke coffin for over a decade.

And the next targets for shutdown need to be the garbage incinerators.

Just look how the Indian Point nuke plant sits just down the Hudson River from Wheelabrator’s Peekskill plant:


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NJ Senate Committee Approves Confirmation Of Former Corporate Lawyer, Gov. Murphy’s DEP Acting Commissioner LaTourette – Full Senate Vote Pending

May 16th, 2021 No comments

Former Corporate Lawyer Not Only Escapes Scrutiny – Democrats Praise His Revolving Door “Experience”

Embarrassing Climate Denial Questions Posed By Senator Dougherty

LaTourette Either Is Ignorant Of Science & Regulation Or Misled The Committee On Unregulated Pharmaceutical Chemicals

Last Thursday (May 13, 2021) the NJ Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony and voted to approve Gov. Murphy’s nomination of Acting DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette (you can listen to the hearing here, starting at time 1:03 thought 1:51)

Don’t expect to read about it at NJ Spotlight, so I must report that it was pathetic – absolutely pathetic. Both the Senate Committee members and Mr. LaTourette were an embarrassment. I can’t recall any worse performance, going back to 1985.

There was NO TESTIMONY BY NJ ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS. What fucking incompetent and corrupt cowards they are, and driven by identity politics. Just one individual submitted comments opposing the nomination. When enviro’s are silent on this, they legitimize the corporate revolving door and blow an opportunity to extract concessions or commitments. As I said, pathetic.

So, is it now OK for former corporate lawyers to head DEP?

No one wanted to talk about how a DEP Commissioner who previously represented a LNG fossil fuel corporation could crack down on regulations of carbon emissions – that elephant don’t hunt.

Seriously, the conversation was – at its best – below the level of a high school science and civics course.

LaTourette openly and arrogantly mocked the few questions he faced, at one point implying that Senator Dougherty evoked his 4th grade education. Meanwhile, other obviously blatantly high school level homophobic slurs went unaddressed (double entendres from declining testosterone levels to husbands and wives).

In his “I’m just a poor boy from a working class family” and gay man father schtick, LaTourette posed as a racial and environmental justice champion. His dripping praise of Gov. Murphy defined “sycophant”.

Not only was Mr. LaTourette’s corporate lawyer background – based on his own ethics recusal documents – completely ignored and misrepresented, the Democratic members of the Committee went out of their way to praise his “experience”.

There was absolutely no concern expressed about revolving door or ethical issues, for what could be the first ever former corporate lawyer serving as DEP Commissioner. There was no concern whatsoever with this corruption:

Similarly, LaTourette repeatedly spouted all kinds of gibberish about “balance” and “promoting economic development”, “enriching communities” and seeking “pro-growth progress”.

As a lawyer, he should be ashamed of those comments and disbarred as incompetent, because  – as we’ve written –  DEP is not authorized by legislation to promote economic development  and “balance” economic concerns.

Instead, just as we predicted, identity (gay) politics was used to divert attention from all that.

In terms of what went on at the hearing, I won’t even dignify Senator Dougherty (R -Warren) climate denial questions with a response – but ironically he asked the only legitimate science and public policy questions. (see photo of the Senator here).

After correctly admonishing LaTourette for his inappropriate comments about his role of advocating “progressive policy” and reminding him of the Constitutional  role of the legislature as the policymaking body, Dougherty wanted to know why DEP failed to regulate or even monitor the effects of pharmaceuticals on drinking water and the ecological health of NJ waters, despite science that documented major adverse impacts and risks. (For the human health implications, I remind readers that the Toms River childhood cancel cluster was caused by unregulated chemicals).

(LaTourette’s legal defense of his authority under current law and the legitimacy of the exercise agency regulatory discretion was weak, at best. And in a rambling reply to Dougherty’s separation of powers arguments, LaTourette amazingly mumbled something about Richard Nixon! I think he was referring to the fact that Nixon created EPA. Hey. Shawn, hit the books! Here’s the text I learned the Constitutional framework and fundamentals of administrative law from: Gellhorn and Byse’s Administrative Law: Cases and Comments. Rutgers Law School should be embarrassed!)

In response, Mr. LaTourette touted the role of – and deferred to – the NJ Drinking Water Quality Institute.

Amazingly, LaTourette also bragged about the chemical specific approach to regulating toxic pollutants, an unworkable approach that has been discredited by the DWQI itself!

There are over 100,000 chemicals discharged to the environment, with very little data on their health and environmental effects. It is impossible to regulate each one on an individual basis, based on the current approach which relies on flawed individual chemical risk assessment and resource intensive regulatory process. That’s why the DWQI LaTourette touted recommended a “treatment based approach”.

In addition, there are cumulative, synergistic, and ecological effects that can not be considered by the current individual chemical specific regulatory framework. For a real world illustration, see:

LaTourette has no clue what he is talking about (and much of his climate replies were gibberish as well).

So, I fired off this email to Chairman Scutari and urged NJ Senators to oppose his upcoming Senate confirmation vote. (the only political question now seems to be whether Senate President Sweeney, before posting the vote for confirmation, will squeeze his friend LaTourette for similar concessions like he did Catherine McCabe?:

Dear Chairman Scutari:

I was deeply disappointed by the deliberations of your committee and vote to approve Gov. Murphy’s nomination of Acting DEP Commissioner Shawn Latourette.

Mr. Latourette is the only nominee for DEP Commissioner that I am aware of – and I’ve been involved since 1985 – that served as a corporate lawyer for so many major corporate polluting NJ industries (see Mr. laTourette’s own ethics recusal documents).

Instead, your committee legitimized the false narrative that Mr. Latourette is some kind of public interest advocate. George Orwell – and the Trumpers – would be proud.

The only substantive policy questions were asked by a climate denier – who even Mr. LaTourette implied had an elementary school grasp of the climate science.

Ironically, this climate denier asked very relevant questions about the lack of DEP regulatory oversight of pharmaceutical chemicals that are now adversely impacting NJ’s drinking water and water quality.

In response to these valid questions – to which you asked followup questions – Acting Commissioner LaTourette either actively misled the Committee or he is ignorant of the science and regulatory issues.

For your information, the Nj Drinking Water Quality Institute – who Mr. LaTourette highly touted as the “best in the world” – issued a report on so called on how to develop a protective regulatory framework for “emergent contaminants” that are unregulated, see this DWQI/DEP Report:

Investigations Related to a “Treatment-Based” Regulatory Approach to Address Unregulated Contaminants in Drinking Wate

In fact, the DWQI, in November 2020, issued a public notice seeking public comment on how to address these “emergent” chemicals, see

There is a long standing large body of scientific literature on the adverse public health and ecological impacts of unregulated pharmaceuticals on water resources, including the class of compounds known as endocrine disruptors.

I was astonished by Mr. Latourette’s ignorance of this science. That alone – in light of highly misleading statements on DWQI regulation – should disqualify him from Senate confirmation.

I would be glad to provide the Committee with this science at your request.

For now, see this (very old) USGS Report:

In conclusion ( I saved the worst for last) of course, as you must be aware, in your own Legislative District, Mr. Latourette has engaged in totally unacceptable and unprofessional practices at the Rahway incinerator, see

Murphy DEP Secretly Approved A Trump EPA Chemical Experiment In an EJ Community, Then They Attacked The Public For Objecting

I urge your reconsideration of support for his confirmation.


Bill Wolfe

(retired DEP policy planner)

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Awesome Utah Canyon

May 16th, 2021 No comments


I realize that I have been wonking out way too much lately and been remiss in posting photos of our annual migration from our wintering spot in the Arizona Sonoran desert to our current location this year, somewhere in the east.

Our last road photo posts were from Nevada and Warm Springs Georgia.

So, for the next few days, we’ll post photos – not necessarily in sequence of geographical order – of our ongoing adventure.

This is of an awesome canyon we had to ourselves in southern Utah. Our hike into the canyon was blocked by a ledge my buddy Boie could not climb (and I could not lift him over), but still, the portion of the canyon we could see was incredibly beautiful. We would have stayed for awhile, but had to move on after running out of water (and beer!). Enjoy!






8H1A0596 8H1A0602





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EPA Evades Questions On How To Respond To IG Report That Found EPA Failed To Regulate Toxic Air Pollution & Protect Public Health

May 14th, 2021 No comments

EPA Statement Fails To Commit To Ratchet Down On Regulations Or Better Protect EJ Communities


A brief note to followup on the EPA Inspector General’s Report that found major flaws in US EPA’s regulatory programs of industrial toxic air polluters and failure to protect public health, particularly in environmental justice communities.

Among the many negative findings, the EPA IG Report identified Ashland Specialty Ingredients, a chemical manufacturer in Parlin NJ (EPA Region 2) as one of the worst facilities in the country (see Appendix C, which EPA actually tried to suppress – Ashland just one of 29 facilities):

Screen Shot 2021-05-14 at 9.31.01 AM

Because the Ashland facility is located in EPA Region 2, I contacted EPA Region 2 officials to ask how they planned to respond to the IG report.

My email questions to EPA (*)  followed up on a previous set of 4 questions I posed to EPA – posed before I was aware of the EPA IG Report – regarding what I viewed as a highly spun May 3 EPA press release another toxic polluter: “EPA Notifies Limetree Bay of Clean Air Act Violations”. I asked the EPA Region 2 press office the following questions: (I combined the 2 individual emails’ questions below – the first 4 are about Limetree refinery and the (*) is about the IG Report)

Hi Elias – a few questions:

1) does EPA have plans to ratchet down on the refinery’s permitted VOC emissions, which look like they are at least 60 tons per year? Does EPA quantify total permitted VOC and HAP annual emissions? Can you cite that document?

2) does EPA have estimates of the greenhouse gas emissions from the refinery? I could not find them in the linked permit and enforcement documents.

3) Is the refinery subject to EPA clean air act regulation of greenhouse gas emissions? If so, what are the permit conditions?

4) did EPA apply any environmental justice related vulnerability or susceptibility analysis during the recent enforcement oversight of this refinery? If so, please explain and provide links to the methods and regulatory basis.

(*) And, I’d like your comment on the recent EPA IG Report, which documented unacceptable risks and targeted a facility in Parlin, NJ, Ashland Specialty Ingredients.


Bill Wolfe

Amazingly, the issues I raised in my questions about Limetree Bay and the Clean Air Act were very similar to the EPA IG Report findings (and gee whiz: EPA knew the IG Report was coming. Could EPA have issued the “favorable” Limetree press release to divert from the harshly critical IG Report? Ha! I’ve personally seen that many times while at DEP, and even worked on press statements. That’s News Management 101!)

Despite the fact that my questions were specific to a Region 2 facility, EPA Region 2 referred my questions to EPA Headquarters – which told me that this was a hot political, policy, and regulatory topic taken out of the hands of the Regions. 

After a few days of delay and two followups requesting replies, here is EPA HQ complete response, for attribution “according to an EPA spokesperson”:

EPA is committed to addressing ethylene oxide and chloroprene emissions from industrial sources of these potent chemicals. The Agency has set deadlines for completing a thorough review of its regulations that apply to industries that emit ethylene oxide or chloroprene, as required under the Clean Air Act. For each of these complex rules, the Agency will work to develop up-to-date, accurate information about emissions from the industries, share information with surrounding communities and seek public input during the rulemaking process. More broadly, as EPA noted to the Office of the Inspector General, the Agency is establishing a process as part of its Air Toxics Strategy to identify and effectively address emerging air toxics issues such as changes in health benchmarks, to help us determine whether changes to air toxics regulations are needed.

Notice that EPA’s statement does not state how they will respond or make any specific commitments – it’s all about process.

So, I sent the following comments to EPA, requesting clarification. Because EPA has not responded, I assume that my criticisms are valid:

Thank you – I will interpret that as follows:

1) no specific commitment to revise regulations, per IG recommendations

2) IG recommendation #3 remains “unresolved”.

3) no comment on environmental justice findings or targeted concrete conrrrective actions

4) no consideration of cumulative impacts

5) IG Report was narrow in scope, but science and regulatory findings are systemic and nationwide in scope – while IG was reluctant to discuss issues beyond the scope, clearly EPA understands the broader issues. But no apparent plan of action to go beyond IG narrow scope.

Please let me know if I got anything wrong or if you would like to clarify my interpretation of your statement.


This evasion and lack of commitment is coming from a Biden EPA Administrator who was described by media as a champion of environmental justice.

Will Big Green, the EJ activists, and media hold  EPA Adminstrator Regan accountable?

[End Note: Because the Ashland Specialty Ingredients facility is also regulated by NJ DEP, I just submitted the following OPRA request to DEP:

I request the air pollution control, hazardous waste management, right to know (if applicable), TCPA (if applicable), and NJPDES permits for Ashland Specialty Ingredients facility in Parlin (Old Bridge) NJ.

We’ll let you know what we find – my guess is that it will validate my prior criticisms of DEP’s various regulatory and permit programs.

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Inspector General Investigation Finds That EPA Failing To Protect Millions Of Americans From Cancer Causing Toxic Air Pollution

May 10th, 2021 No comments

EPA Fails To Regulate Emissions From Industrial Sources, Particularly In Black Communities

Parlin NJ Facility, Ashland Specialty Ingredients, Is Among The Worst In the Country

Biden EPA Rejects Inspector General’s Recommendations That EPA Ratchet Down On Regulations

Screen Shot 2021-05-10 at 11.10.18 AM

If the Trump EPA were to do the same thing, it would be denounced by environmental groups and be scandalous headline news in the NY Times and Washington Post.

Last week, the US EPA Inspector General issued a scathingly critical Report on EPA’s poor performance in regulating toxic air pollution, particularly in poor and minority “environmental justice communities”. The IG severely criticized EPA for long-standing failure to strengthen regulations, despite science showing unacceptable cancer risks.

This latest IG Report follows three prior similar IG Reports that found major flaws in EPA’s air toxics program and recommended urgent corrective actions to protect public health, see:

  • Improvements in Air Toxics Emissions Data Needed to Conduct Residual Risk Assessments, EPA OIG Report No. 08-P-0020
  • Management Alert: Prompt Action Needed to Inform Residents Living Near Ethylene Oxide-Emitting Facilities About Health Concerns and Actions to Address Those Concerns,  EPA OIG Report No. 20-N-0128
  • EPA Delayed Risk Communication and Issued Instructions Hindering Region 5’s Ability to Address Ethylene Oxide Emissions, EPA OIG Report No. 21-P-0123

The most recent IG Report  – EPA Should Conduct New Residual Risk and Technology Reviews for Chloroprene-and Ethylene Oxide-Emitting Source Categories to Protect Human Health – focused on EPA regulation: (emphasis mine)

Hazardous air pollutants, known as HAPs, are those air pollutants known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects—such as reproductive effects or birth defects—or adverse environmental effects. HAPs are also known as toxic air pollutants or air toxics. The Clean Air Act, known as the CAA, Amendments of 1990 established a list of 189 air toxics that the EPA is required to regulate. Since 1990, the EPA has revised the list slightly to regulate 187 air toxics.

Here are the most explosive and controversial findings (emphasis mine):

Environmental Justice May Not Be Achieved Without New RTRs or Emission Standards

Minority and low-income populations are disproportionately impacted by chloroprene and ethylene oxide emissions. According to the EPA’s environmental justice screening tool, EJSCREEN, 100 percent of the people living in the same census block group where Denka is located are minorities and 49 percent of them are low income. The LaPlace Louisiana community is impacted by not only chloroprene emissions from Denka but also ethylene oxide emissions from two nearby chemical plants. The burden from exposure to these two toxic chemicals resulted in the 2014 NATA estimating that these residents have an individual lifetime cancer risk of 2,000 in one million at the census tract level, which is the highest in the country.

According to EJSCREEN, 50 percent or more of the people living in the same census block group as 14 of the 22 ethylene oxide-emitting facilities contributing to cancer risks of 100 in one million or greater at the census tract level are minorities or part of low-income households. Further, the same is true of 18 of the 29 ethylene oxide-emitting facilities contributing to cancer risks of 100 in one million or greater at the census block level. Unless the EPA conducts new RTRs using the new UREs for chloroprene and ethylene oxide for source categories that have not had RTRs using the new UREs or develops emission standards for area source chemical plants that emit ethylene oxide, the Agency may not meet its commitment and responsibility under Executive Order 12898 to achieve environmental justice.

Here are the EPA IG conclusions:


Information generated by the EPA indicates elevated cancer risks from chloroprene and ethylene oxide emissions. The Agency has not incorporated new risk values for these pollutants into residual risk reviews for most source categories. Therefore, the EPA cannot assure that current emission standards are protective of human health. The EPA should exercise its discretionary authority to conduct new residual risk reviews under the CAA whenever new data or information suggests an air pollutant is more toxic than previously determined, which is consistent with the Agency’s position in its April 2006 commercial sterilizer RTR rule. If the results of new residual risk reviews show that people are exposed to unacceptable risk levels, the EPA should revise the respective NESHAPs for source categories emitting ethylene oxide or chloroprene without cost considerations to reduce risks to acceptable levels. The EPA has missed deadlines for four technology reviews for four source categories, and one is due in 2022. For efficiency purposes, the EPA could combine the residual risk reviews with the technology reviews to conduct new RTRs for the five source categories. Without new RTRs or emission standards, the EPA may not be able to achieve environmental justice to protect the health of overburdened minority and low-income communities.

The IG found that EPA has failed to update regulations to reflect science and “the best available information” as required by law:

EPA Lacks a Process to Assure Timely Reviews of Existing NESHAPs and Uncontrolled Emission Sources When Pollutant Risk Increases

The EPA does not have a process to assure timely reviews of existing NESHAPs and uncontrolled emission sources when new or updated risk information becomes available that demonstrates that a pollutant is more toxic than previously known.

I have written many times about very similar failures in the NJ DEP’s air toxics regulatory program and explained why the recent NJ environmental justice law will not fix them, see:

Screen Shot 2021-05-11 at 7.36.58 AMThis body of work has been ignored by NJ environmental groups, environmental justice groups, and the media.

Perhaps the EPA IG Report can prompt media inquiry, particularly because a NJ facility in Parlin, Ashland Specialty Ingredients, was listed in Appendix C as one of the worst in the country. The IG Report is especially relevant because DEP is soon to propose regulations to implement the EJ law.

Getting back to the EPA IG Report.

Remarkably, the EPA Inspector General’s recommendations that EPA ratchet down on regulations to control these emissions – of known cancer causing chemicals that disproportionately adversely impact poor and black communities – were rejected by the Biden EPA under the leadership of Administrator Regan (who happens to be a black man who has been touted by environmental groups and the media as a champion of environmental justice).

Here is a key IG recommendation to update regulations based on science and ratchet down on current regulations – a recommendation that the IG describes as “unresolved”:

Revise National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for chemical manufacturing area sources to regulate ethylene oxide and conduct a residual risk review to ensure that the public is not exposed to unacceptable risks.

It is “unresolved” because the Biden EPA rejected the regulatory recommendations:

We recommend that OIG change the recommendation to: Develop and implement an internal control process to review source categories that emit pollutants where new information shows that the pollutants are more toxic than previously understood in order to determine if regulatory changes are needed.

This change is suggested because, as written, the OIG appears to be directing EPA to use a specific statutory authority for rulemaking; however, there are other authorities that could be equally effective at addressing the problem. […]

Given that no final decision has yet been made on the appropriate statutory authority to utilize for each of the rules identified above, the draft schedules below for issuing a final rulemaking are based on the assumption that we will conduct the statutorily required technology review as part of any rulemaking action for these rules. EPA will consider risk as part of the rulemakings for these source categories and we will determine whether the Agency should conduct a discretionary residual risk review during the rulemaking. The schedules for these actions are consistent with the amount of time that it takes to conduct the many steps associated with a NESHAP review.

The Biden EPA also tried to suppress the identification of specific major corporate polluting facilities who were emitting these chemicals. EPA tried to suppress Appendix C, which provided a list of specific corporate facilities, by name and location. EPA wrote:

In addition, we believe that the inclusion of the information in Appendix C is not necessary and reflects an invalid use of the National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) results. […]

The identification of specific facilities in Appendix C likely reflects many false positives, while the omission of others may indicate significant false negatives. Our commitments above to consider risk as part of the review of the various source sector rules noted above will result in the proper identification of areas with elevated risks and produce the necessary accurate information to support responsible risk communication. We, therefore, request that the OIG remove Appendix C from the final report.

If the Trump EPA were to do the same thing, it would be denounced by environmental groups and be scandalous headline news in the NY Times and Washington Post.

But, those groups are silent and the legacy media has given the Biden EPA a pass.

Even the so called alternative press, like The Intercept, ran a puff piece that not only failed to properly highlight the EPA IG findings, it also failed to even mention that the IG recommendations to ratchet down on regulations were rejected by the Biden EPA and that EPA sought to suppress the identity of corporate polluters.

So. let me bullet the IG’s major negative findings and recommendations (I highly recommend that you read the whole thing):

The EPA periodically conducts the National Air Toxics Assessment, known as NATA, to assess the public health risk from exposure to air toxics. NATA is not required by regulation. The results of the NATA are not used to set regulatory standards for sources of air toxics emissions, as would the results of assessments conducted in the RTR program. NATA is a screening tool that can assist the EPA and state, local, and tribal air agencies in identifying geographic areas, pollutants, or emission sources for further examination.

The EPA’s latest NATA—that is, the 2014 NATA, which was based on 2014 emissions data and was published on August 22, 2018—estimated that more than 472,000 people lived in 106 census tracts where the individual lifetime cancer risk was elevated or equal to or greater than 100 in one million.

Based on the 2014 NATA results, the EPA identified Denka and 22 ethylene oxide-emitting facilities that contribute to individual lifetime cancer risks equal to or greater than 100 in one million at the census tract level. The 22 ethylene oxide-emitting facilities are listed in the OIG’s March 31, 2020 management alert report, along with three census block facilities that the EPA prioritized as contributing to elevated estimated cancer risks.

Monitoring Data Indicated Elevated Cancer Risks in LaPlace, Louisiana, and Willowbrook, Illinois

Monitoring data indicate that existing NESHAPs for the synthetic organic chemical manufacturing industry, which covers chloroprene production; Group I polymers and resins, which covers neoprene production; and commercial sterilizers may not be protective of human health.

Despite indications of elevated cancer risks from chloroprene and ethylene oxide emissions, the EPA has not incorporated new or revised UREs for chloroprene and ethylene oxide into the RTR process for many source categories that emit these pollutants. In the absence of updated reviews for the applicable source categories, the Agency cannot provide assurance that its current NESHAPs are protective.

EPA Has Not Scheduled Any New Residual Risk Reviews to Be Conducted Despite Issuance of New or Revised Higher Risk Values for Chloroprene and Ethylene Oxide

The EPA’s IRIS program issued a new URE for chloroprene for the first time in September 2010 and a revised URE for ethylene oxide in December 2016 that demonstrated that these pollutants were more carcinogenic than previously understood. However, despite chloroprene being classified as a likely human carcinogen and ethylene oxide as a human carcinogen, the EPA has not issued a schedule to conduct new residual risk reviews for Group I polymers and resins, synthetic organic chemical manufacturing industry, polyether polyols production, and commercial sterilizers.

Here is one example of EPA’s rejection of an IG finding and defense of EPA foot dragging in updating EPA regulations:

We asked the Agency whether it was required to conduct new residual risk reviews for the chloroprene and ethylene oxide source categories. OAQPS asserted that, “while the CAA does require EPA to conduct a review of a NESHAP for advancements in technology, it does not require such a review for advancements related to risk.”

In addition, the Agency asserted that it is not obligated to conduct a residual risk review under any circumstances at issue in the case of Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future v. Andrew R. Wheeler, No. 19-CV-02004-VC (N.D. Cal. June 26, 2020).

Here are more major findings that show EPA is not protecting public health:

EPA Has Not Scheduled a Residual Risk Review of Hospital Sterilizers

The EPA is not required to conduct residual risk reviews of area sources with GACT standards, and the EPA has not scheduled one for hospital sterilizers. Given that ethylene oxide has been determined to be more toxic than previously known, the EPA should conduct a residual risk review for hospital sterilizers to ensure the protection of human health.

EPA Is Not Meeting Statutory Time Frames for Conducting Technology Reviews

The Agency has missed deadlines for four technology reviews for four source categories that emit chloroprene, ethylene oxide, or both, and one is due in 2022, as shown in Table 5. While the technology review for commercial sterilizers is being conducted, with an anticipated issuance of the final rule in late 2021 at the earliest, those for the other three source categories were not planned, as they were not in the regulatory agenda at the time of this report.

EPA Has Not Developed Standards for Chemical Plant Area Sources that Emit Ethylene Oxide

The EPA has not developed standards for chemical plant area sources that emit ethylene oxide. There is a NESHAP for chemical manufacturing area sources outlined in 40 C.F.R. Part 63, Subpart VVVVVV. This NESHAP, however, applies to each chemical manufacturing process unit that uses as feedstock, generates as byproducts, or produces as products any of 15 air toxics listed in the rule. Ethylene oxide is not one of the 15 listed air toxics in Subpart VVVVVV. Therefore, chemical plant area sources may emit ethylene oxide without any controls. An overdue technology review of Subpart VVVVVV is in the EPA’s long-term regulatory agenda, but the Agency has not affirmed to us that it will add ethylene oxide to the list of regulated air toxics under Subpart VVVVVV at the conclusion of the overdue technology review.

EPA Lacks a Process to Assure Timely Reviews of Existing NESHAPs and Uncontrolled Emission Sources When Pollutant Risk Increases

The EPA does not have a process to assure timely reviews of existing NESHAPs and uncontrolled emission sources when new or updated risk information becomes available that demonstrates that a pollutant is more toxic than previously known.

And these same flaws guarantee that NJ’s “landmark” environmental justice” law will fail.

NJ DEP implements the EPA’s federal Clean Air Act HAP program and the NJ specific risk assessment policies and science are similarly flawed.

Who will tell the people of NJ about this? Certainly not NJ Spotlight.

[End Note: The scope of the IG Report was narrow and the total identified impacted population was not that large, but the scientific and regulatory findings are systemic and apply to the entire EPA HAP air toxics program and therefore are national in scope and result in millions of people being adversely impacted.

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