By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On November 21, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has improved public access to certain reports submitted by chemical companies in ChemView, EPA’s web application for public access to non-confidential business information (non-CBI) on chemicals regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), including new chemical notices and notices of substantial risk. EPA has published previously unpublished new chemical notices received under TSCA Section 5 and notices of substantial risk provided by companies under TSCA Section 8(e). EPA states that going forward, it will continue to identify older, previously submitted unpublished information to make available in ChemView and will publish newly received TSCA Section 5 notices and TSCA Section 8(e) reports on a “near real-time basis.” EPA has also published in ChemView chemical health and safety studies received under TSCA Section 8(d).
New Chemical Submissions
TSCA Section 5 requires EPA to publish a list of new chemical submissions it has received, including premanufacture notices (PMN), significant new use notices (SNUN), microbial commercial activity notices (MCAN), test market exemption (TME) applications, notices of commencement of manufacture or import (NOC), and test information submitted under Section 5. According to EPA, in 2022 it made available in ChemView more than 25,000 new chemical notice records received under TSCA Section 5, including notices received between 2014 and 2019 that had not been published previously. In 2019, EPA began publishing non-CBI notices on an ongoing basis, and “new records are now generally published within five days of receipt.” EPA states that it will also continue to identify and make public older, previously unpublished new chemicals notices.
Notices of Substantial Risk
TSCA Section 8(e) requires chemical companies to inform EPA of information that reasonably supports the conclusion that a chemical may present a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment. EPA uses these notices to inform new and existing chemical risk assessment activities. According to EPA, in 2022 it has published 3,900 notices of substantial risk records received under TSCA Section 8(e) in ChemView, including more than 3,300 non-CBI notices submitted between January 1, 2019, and December 20, 2021, that were not previously published due to resource limitations. EPA states that over the next several months, it will publish all non-CBI versions of Section 8(e) notices received from December 20, 2021, to the present. Going forward, “EPA will strive to publish 8(e) notices deemed complete within a week of receiving them from companies.” Additionally, EPA will work to identify and publish Section 8(e) notices received before 2019 as resources allow.
Health and Safety Data Reporting
Regulations promulgated under TSCA Section 8(d) require chemical companies to submit lists and copies of health and safety studies relating to the health and/or environmental effects of specified chemical substances and mixtures. According to EPA, in 2022 it published more than 1,700 health and safety study records received since September 2021 under TSCA Section 8(d) in ChemView. EPA notes that many of these records were in response to EPA’s 2021 Section 8(d) rulemaking, Health and Safety Data Reporting; Addition of 20 High-Priority Substances and 30 Organohalogen Flame Retardants. EPA states that it expects to publish additional Section 8(d) records “in the future.”
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
DOE EERE announced on March 22, 2021, awards totaling $27.5 million for 16 water infrastructure and treatment projects. Spanning 13 states, each project will focus on bringing new water and wastewater-treatment technologies from the applied R&D stage into the market. According to DOE, increasing numbers of utilities responsible for clean water have shifted from strict wastewater treatment models to a broader model of water-resource management. This new model involves collecting and treating wastewater to produce water suitable for industry and agriculture along with drinkable water for households and energy recovery. Wastewater treated by these utilities serves as a potential source of thermal, chemical and hydraulic energy. With the right technology, therefore, it is possible to convert wastewater into renewable power, chemicals, fertilizers, and reusable water.
The 16 selected projects aim to provide sustainable water sources and affordable treatment options to industry, municipalities, agriculture, utilities, and the oil and gas sector by tackling several objectives, including:
- Developing widely applicable treatment processes to produce renewable power, extract chemicals and fertilizers, and reuse water locally, while simultaneously minimizing energy consumption and waste generation;
- Evaluating flexible grid service for opportunities to generate biopower from wastewater;
- Deploying artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive process controls to improve resilience and efficiency;
- Addressing environmental justice and social inequities produced by lack of access to clean water among rural and Native communities; and
- Improving wastewater-treatment options for agriculture and livestock.
A complete list of the 16 projects is available here.
On June 18, 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $55 million in funding for projects to accelerate biomass development and develop generator technologies under the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The funding will be divided between two of ARPA-E's programs, GENerators for Small Electrical and Thermal Systems (GENSETS) and Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA). GENSETS will receive $25 million to support 12 projects to improve generator technologies that will provide more affordable and efficient residential Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems. CHP takes otherwise wasted head and uses it for water and home heating, reducing energy costs. The GENSETS program intends to use the 12 projects to focus on internal combustion engines, Stirling engines, microturbines, and solidstate devices to develop one-kilowatt CHP systems that are energy efficient and affordable for residential homes. TERRA will receive $30 million to support six projects with the goal of improving sorghum varieties for biofuel production by developing improved plant remote sensing, analysis, and breeding methods. The six project teams will identify limitations with the physical and genetic characteristics of the plant, and will create advanced algorithms to analyze data and predict plant growth based on recorded characteristics of the plant. A large public database will also be created with sorghum genotypes and field phenotypes, allowing a greater community of scientists to improve sorghum and bioenergy crops.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services passed versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 that included starkly different provisions on biofuels. The House version would severely limit U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) authority to promote the procurement of biofuels. For instance, it included a provision that would allow DOD to procure biofuels only if their costs were "equivalent to" conventional fuels. In addition, it included provisions preventing DOD from supporting the planning and construction of a biorefinery and exempting DOD from complying with Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Section 526). Section 526 prohibits federal agencies from procuring synfuel unless its lifecycle GHG emissions are less than those for conventional petroleum sources.
The version of the FY 2015 NDAA passed by the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services does not include an exemption from Section 526. In addition, it includes several provisions to allow DOD to further its goals to increase its purchase and use of biofuels. For instance, it would allow DOD to utilize its authority under the Defense Production Act to fulfill its part of a 2011 joint initiative among the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, and the Navy to facilitate the production of U.S. "drop-in" biofuels for military and commercial use.