Thursday, August 25, 2011

EU Adds Five Pesticides to PIC, Japan Considers Three More Chemicals for Prior Informed Consent

The European Union (EU) voted last week to add five new pesticides to the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list under the Rotterdam Convention.  Meanwhile, Japan is considering the addition of three other pesticides to the PIC list.  The Rotterdam Convention stipulates that "severely hazardous pesticide formulations that present a hazard under conditions of use in developing countries or countries with economies in transition may also be nominated for inclusion in Annex III." Once listed a "decision guidance document" must be prepared that defines how the chemical will be banned or severely restricted.

The five pesticides added to the PIC list by the EU are guazatine, indolylactic acid, 1,3-dichloropropene, ethalfluralin, and thiobencarb.  Beginning on October 1st of this year these pesticides will be restricted for export to developing countries, i.e., the countries must be informed of the hazards prior to the sale and use in that country.  Meanwhile, last week also saw Japan propose to add alachlor (a herbicide) and aldicarb and endosulfan (both insecticides) to the PIC list.  Japan currently has restrictions on use and export of 36 chemicals under the Rotterdam Convention treaty.

The EU action followed on a decision not to include the five pesticides on the EU list of approved pesticides, which means they will be effectively banned from use in the EU.  This action was taken because no manufacturer successfully applied for continued authorization of these chemicals.

More information on the additions to the PIC list can be found in the Official Journal of the European Union or on the Rotterdam Convention home page.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

EPA Issues Final Plan to Review Regulations in an Effort to Remove Regulatory Burdens on Industry

The USEPA this week issued its final regulatory review plan in accordance with an Executive Order signed by President Obama earlier this year.  The goal of the review is to modify or eliminate regulations that are overly burdensome or costly.  EPA wants to develop a "21st century approach to environmental protection."

Under the plan, EPA will review a total of 35 separate regulations. About half (16) fit into the category of "early actions" and will be reviewed during 2011, with the rest scheduled for longer term actions in subsequent years.  For the early action list EPA "intends to propose or finalize an action to modify, streamline, expand, or repeal a regulation or related program."  The 16 regulatory topics to be reviewed in 2011 include:
  • Gasoline and diesel regulations
  • Equipment leak detection and repair
  • Regulatory certainty for farmers
  • Modern science and technology methods in chemical regulation
  • Electronic online reporting of health and safety data under TSCA, FIFRA, FFDCA
  • National Priorities List rules
  • Quick changes to some TSCA reporting requirements
  • National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
  • National primary drinking water regulations
  • Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) and integrated planning for wet weather infrastructure
  • Vehicle regulations, e.g., GHG and fuel economy standards and emissions standards
  • Multiple air pollutants, e.g., coordinating emission reduction regulations
  • NSPS reviews and revisions under the Clean Air Act
  • Clean Air Act Title V Permit program simplification
  • Innovative technology, i.e., seeking to encourage innovation
  • Costs of regulations, i.e., seeking to improve cost estimates
EPA notes that the actions it has taken just in the last few months have resulted in streamlined regulations and savings of up to $360 million per year.  Overall the EPA expects this regulatory review to result in $1.5 billion in savings over the next five years.  EPA further noted that it expects to conduct regulatory reviews on a "predictable, transparent, five-year cycle," including public requests for nominations of additional regulations for review.

The full EPA final regulatory review plan can be downloaded from the White House web site.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Melting Arctic Sea Ice Forces Walruses Onto Land

A US Geological Survey study suggests that the fast melting of Arctic sea ice is the reason why walruses are coming up onto land in exceptional numbers.  Normally walruses spend much of their time on sea ice, where they rest from their feeding dives, avoid predators, and even give birth.  But when the sea ice is scarce they hop up onto land.  Radio transmitters on tracking collars show researchers that walruses appear to be spreading out and spending substantial time looking for sea ice.

Last September saw 10,000 to 20,000 walruses haul up onto land, coinciding with the lowest ice extent of the year.  But this year the Arctic sea ice has been melting at near record pace, with July setting a new record for the lowest extent in that month.  Weather conditions in the Arctic suggest that August ice melt could be accelerated, which could mean the September minimum will be much lower than last year, and with less ice there could be more walruses up on land.  That puts them at greater risk, both from land predators, density-based aggression, and inability to find food. 

More information on this study, as well as other walrus research, can be found on the USGS site.