Federal/EPA Regulatory Policy

Lynn L. Bergeson, "Environmental Justice and Enforcement in America: what investors need to know," Financier Worldwide, July 2022.

By any standard, federal enforcement of environmental laws in the US has been uneven, to say the least. The prevailing perception is that democrats are ‘greener’ than are republicans when it comes to environmental enforcement. The data is quite scattered, however, and it would seem no party has cornered the environmental protection market. The Trump administration may be the exception that proves the rule.

Most would agree civil and criminal enforcement case numbers were significantly below those of other administrations, all by design. A raft of other actions taken by the Trump administration crystallised that environmental enforcement was definitely not top of mind. Priorities today are decidedly different, and investors need to know the implications of the Biden administration’s commitment to the twin goals of environmental protection and environmental justice. This article explores these topics.

Lynn L. Bergeson, "Isn’t It Ironic?," American College of Environmental Lawyers (ACOEL) Blog, January 25, 2022.

The Biden Administration’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is laser focused on achieving several “whole-of-government” priorities: addressing climate change, identifying and giving environmental justice greater consideration in decision-making, and following the science wherever it may lead. Knowing and respecting leadership in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) tasked with achieving these laudable yet daunting objectives, there is no question the commitment is genuine. It is ironic, however, that EPA is applying the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in ways that are counterproductive to achieving these goals.

Lynn L. Bergeson, "Environmental Protection: Infrastructure Law Benefits Chemical Industry," Chemical Processing, December 14, 2021.

On November 15, 2021, President Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684). The House passed the bill on November 5, 2021, by a vote of 228 to 206, and the Senate passed the bill on August 10, 2021, by a vote of 69 to 30. The bill provides a $1.2-trillion infusion of cash into the economy and contains many provisions important to the chemical processing sector. Highlighted below are some of the provisions in the 1,039-page bill that readers may find interesting.

Lynn L. Bergeson, "Straddling digital and environmental goals: tips for investors," Financier Worldwide, January 2022.

The environmental impacts of the digital economy are increasingly the focus of attention and concern. There is no question the demand for electricity, water and land have increased sharply in response to the growth in digital activity. Identifying, quantifying and mitigating environmental and ecological impacts are core to value creation, and investors must be mindful of how a company is positioned to create value while avoiding public rebuke for neglecting to account for the environmental impacts of greatly increased digital activity.

This article explores the digital economy, the growing set of metrics used to assess environmental sustainability in a digital economy, the tools companies are using to improve efficiency, lessen environmental impacts and increase supply chain transparency and traceability, and tips for investors in assessing a company’s environmental awareness of the impacts of greatly increased digital activity.

Lynn L. Bergeson, "The essential role of evolving technologies in securing a safe and sustainable food supply," The International Bar Association, June 1, 2021.

Emerging tools enabled by nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and other innovative technologies are today increasingly supplementing the ploughs and tractors so emblematic of the agricultural community of the past. These precision farming tools are ensuring a sustainable food supply otherwise threatened by climate change and population growth, among other global challenges, while diminishing worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Genetically modified E coli is being used to produce synthetically-derived pheromones, substances beneficially used in agricultural applications to attract, capture, and eliminate harmful pests. Agricultural stakeholders use nanopesticides and nanofertilisers in drought-stricken regions, minimising the need for more conventional and environmentally consequential agricultural chemicals. GPS-based auto-steering systems for tractors augment human labour, freeing up effort better spent on other tasks. These technologies enable global agricultural professionals to address the climate change imperatives which threaten an increasingly fragile global food supply.

Lynn L. Bergeson, "EPA Expands TRI Reporting Rules," Chemical Processing, May 17, 2021.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on April 29, 2021, that it will be “taking important steps under the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) to advance environmental justice, improve transparency, and increase access to environmental information.” The EPA plans to expand the scope of TRI reporting requirements to cover additional chemicals and facilities, including those not currently reporting ethylene oxide (EtO) releases. The agency also announced enhancements to its TRI reporting tools, but this article will focus on the chemical expansion effort and why it is significant.

Lynn L. Bergeson, "The TSCA under the Biden administration: what to expect," Environmental Law & Management, Volume 31, Issue 6, 2019.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) will be busy in 2021. Implementation of the 2016 amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) will continue to dominate the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT). In 2021, the EPA will need to complete outstanding risk evaluators of the 'first 10' chemicals and begin developing proposals for the section 6 risk management rules necessitated by the risk evaluations' conclusions. Given the tight statutory deadline for issuing proposed risk management rules, the complexity of the issues and the novelty of applying the new regulatory authorities, risk management decisions will likely present daunting challenges to the EPA as it sorts through the many legal and evolving policy issues at play. The EPA also now has four manufacture-requested risk evaluations that will parallel the 'next 20' chemicals for review. The change in administration makes the next four years especially 'unpredictable', not a word the business community welcomes.

Lynn L. Bergeson, "EPA Eyes Stricter Phosphogypsum Rule," Chemical Processing, April 21, 2021.

In early April, a Florida pond that sits atop phosphogypsum tailings sprung a leak. State authorities scrambled to keep the pond from collapsing and flooding the surrounding area with millions of gallons of contaminated water. This situation likely wasn’t top of mind on February 8, 2021, when a group of environmental protection advocates prepared and submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a petition under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The petition seeks to reverse the EPA’s 1991 “Bevill” regulatory determination excluding phosphogypsum and process wastewater from phosphoric acid production (process wastewater) from hazardous waste regulation under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The timing of the Florida near-catastrophe could not be more ironic.

Lynn L. Bergeson, "The importance of regulatory diligence in funding," Financier Worldwide, April 2021.

Lawyers counselling companies in the biotechnology, biopesticide and related crop protection and industrial biotechnology areas appreciate the critically important role federal agencies play in ensuring the success of start-up businesses.

Federal agencies, including the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), among others, wield enormous power over businesses that require premarket product approval. While we product approval practitioners know this, it comes as a bit of a surprise when investors, poised to make multimillion-dollar investments in start-up businesses, neglect to focus on the regulatory integrity of the start-up. This lack of focus invites costly mistakes. This article explains why, and how to avoid making these mistakes.

Lynn L. Bergeson, "What Might EHS Expect from the Biden EPA?," EHS Daily Advisor, March 10, 2021.

As a new administration arrives in Washington, D.C., few things are certain except that 2021 is sure to be an eventful year.‚Äč

While underlying partisan jockeying and prospects for bipartisan cooperation will greatly affect what may happen in the more limited context of chemical regulation, the Biden administration has already laid out priorities on the environment that will surely influence the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) positions on climate change, the role of science, and regulation in general.

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