Thursday, March 10, 2011

European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) Meets Deadline for Chemical Dossier Completeness Checks

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has reported that it has met its statutory obligation to finish "completeness checks" on chemical dossiers submitted for REACH registration.  REACH required ECHA to complete these reviews within three months following the deadline, which for the first group was November 30, 2010.  The completeness check requirement applies only to registrations for phase-in substances submitted in the last two months before the first registration deadline.  A total of 15,366 dossiers were submitted during that two month period.  According to ECHA:
Registration numbers have been granted for 20 175 of the 20 723 dossiers that were submitted by the first registration deadline, resulting in a total of 3 483 phase-in substances being registered under REACH. Dissemination of information from these dossiers has been accelerated.
The completeness check is only to "check that all required elements have been provided," i.e., that some data are there.  Much of this check is done automatically and registrants can pre-check their dossiers using a Technical Completeness Check (TCC) tool made available to all via the ECHA web site.  ECHA then repeats the TCC upon receipt and also may check other business rules.  This completeness check is different from a compliance check, which involves ECHA staff actually reviewing the substance of the data submitted.

Information about the chemicals registered and access to dossiers once they have been disseminated can be found here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chemical Industry Calls for Improvements to US Regulatory System

Representatives from the chemical industry called on Congress to improve the federal regulatory system," including a requirement for cumulative impact assessments of proposed rules, to protect U.S. innovation, investment and jobs."  Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight & Government Spending (yes, it's a long title), American Chemistry Council (ACC) Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Affairs Michael Walls noted:

"If manufacturing is to make a significant contribution to economic recovery, including the creation and maintenance of well-paying jobs, it is imperative that we have an accurate understanding of the impact of proposed regulations on industry.  The full regulatory burden for a particular sector can only be known if the cumulative impact of overlapping regulations is identified."
In particular, Walls indicated that industry felt “the lack of cumulative impact assessments is a fundamental shortcoming in the way government agencies develop and evaluate proposed rules.”  According to the ACC press release, Walls offered four recommendations to improve the economic analysis of proposed rules:
  1. Conduct cumulative impact assessments to identify the full regulatory burden being created by a proposed rule.
  2. Track the sectors affected by new regulations so the most heavily regulated sectors can be easily identified and regulations can be streamlined appropriately.
  3. Seek input from the businesses that will be affected before developing rules in order to better understand the effects that a potential rule may have.
  4. Conduct a more comprehensive analysis of the impact of a proposed rule on jobs that considers the type and quality of jobs being affected.  
More information, including Walls' testimony (PDF), can be found on the ACC web site.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

US House Hearing Today on Climate Science - With (Mostly) Actual Climate Scientists

Today, March 8, 2011, there will be a hearing of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power entitled "Climate Science and EPA's Greenhouse Gas Regulations."  The subcommittee is a part of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, now chaired by Republican Fred Upton.  Upton was responding to a request by former chair and now ranking member Democrat Henry Waxman requesting "a hearing on the science of climate change" prior to moving forward on Republican attempts to craft legislation restricting EPA's ability to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases.  Author and Blogger Chris Mooney points out that Democrats wanted even more scientists to testify, and that former subcommittee chair Bobby Rush had noted in the hearing Upton had called last month "Don't you find it strange that this hearing is being conducted with no scientists at all?" 

So unlike past hearings in which Republicans called as witnesses non-scientists like fiction writer Michael Crichton and professional speaker Lord Viscount Christopher Monckton, as well as industry scientists such as the Cato Institute's Pat Michaels, this hearing will have a full set of actual practicing climate scientists to testify.  While it is nice to see that the committee will rely on scientists for input on the science, the line up does tend to represent, as Joe Romm put it, "the usual suspects," presumably because the number of actual climate scientists who disagree with the scientific consensus is pretty limited.

The invited witnesses are:

Dr. John R. Christy
Director, Earth System Science Center
University of Alabama in Huntsville

Dr. Christopher Field
Director, Department of Global Ecology
Carnegie Institution of Washington
Stanford, CA

Dr. Knute Nadelhoffer
Director, University of Michigan Biological Station
University of Michigan

Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr.
Senior Research Scientist,
Cooperative Institute for Research in
Environmental Sciences
University of Colorado at Boulder

Dr. Donald Roberts
Professor Emeritus,
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Bethesda, MD

Dr. Richard Somerville
Distinguished Professor Emeritus,
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego

Dr. Francis W. Zwiers
Director, Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium
University of Victoria
Victoria, British Columbia

While most are climate scientists, the inclusion of Dr. Roberts is rather puzzling since he is a medical doctor and retired professor of health sciences who is most notable for his writings supporting the use of DDT.  For the rest who actually study climate, all agree that the planet is warming and that human activity is a major factor, though perhaps some equivocate on the degree of human influence.

For those in Washington DC, the hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m. in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.  A webcast will be posted on the Committee's web site.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Public Comment Period Open for Draft Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory

Last week in the February 28 edition of the Federal Register, EPA announced the availability of the draft 1990-2009 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory.  The public can now offer comments by March 25, 2011.
The document summarizes "the latest information on U.S. anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission trends from 1990 through 2009" and are "presented by source category and sector."  The inventory contains estimates of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), perfluorocarbons (PFC), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) emissions.

This emissions inventory is critical for understanding and developing policy options to address climate change.  According to the Executive Summary, the inventory adheres to both

1) a comprehensive and detailed set of methodologies for estimating sources and sinks of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, and

2) a common and consistent mechanism that enables Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to compare the relative contribution of different emission sources and greenhouse gases to climate change.

The full draft inventory report is available on EPA's dedicated web page, where it can be looked at by chapter online or downloaded as PDF documents.  The linked web page explains how to submit comments.

Comments will be accepted from the public up to March 25, 2011, though comments received after that date will be incorporated into the next edition.