< Back to News & Articles

Environmental Regulatory Update – January 2017

Download the full report for January 4, 2017 (pdf)

Recent Developments (Updated January 4, 2017)

EPA Adopts Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted a rule implementing the 2010 Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, which established formaldehyde emissions standards for hardwood plywood, particleboard, and medium-density fiberboard (known collectively as composite wood products) and required EPA to develop regulations to implement the standards. The rule, which was adopted under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA): identifies the wood products subject to regulation; establishes formaldehyde emission standards, testing and quality assurance/quality control requirements; requires certification by an EPA-accredited third party that composite wood products meet the emission standards; requires producers to sell their remaining stocks of noncompliant wood products within a year and label products as TSCA compliant going forward. The rule can be found in the December 12, 2016 Federal Register at: www.gpo.gov/fdsys.

OSHA Issues Recommended Safety Practices for Construction Job Sites

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new guidance document—Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs in Construction—to help employers establish a methodical approach for finding and fixing hazards before they cause injury or illness on the construction job site. The document identifies seven core program elements followed by action items, which are broken down into specific tasks. The seven core program elements are: management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification and assessment, hazard prevention and control, education and training, program evaluation and improvement, and communication and coordination for employers on multiemployer work sites. The document updates OSHA’s recommended practices guidelines to reflect changes in the workplace, including new construction techniques, materials and equipment, greater workforce diversity, and increased temporary and contract employment. The guidelines can be found on OSHA’s website at: www.osha.gov/shpguidelines/index.html.

EPA Takes Steps to Implement New TSCA Law

EPA proposed its first major rules following Congress’ 2016 law reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act calls for significant changes to TSCA, the decades-old program requiring EPA to evaluate and respond to the risks posed by toxic chemicals. Among other things, the new law: establishes a risk-based process for prioritizing chemicals for risk assessment and sets goals and schedules for completing reviews; establishes a schedule for taking action when EPA identifies unreasonable risks relating to a specific chemical; and requires EPA to make a safety finding before allowing new chemicals/significant new uses into the marketplace. In fulfillment of a statutory mandate, EPA recently identified the first 10 chemicals slated for risk evaluations under the revised TSCA statute: 1,4-dioxane, 1-bromopropane, asbestos, carbon tetrachloride, cyclic aliphatic bromide cluster, methylene chloride, n-methylpyrrolidone, pigment violet 29, tetrachloroethylene (i.e., perchloroethylene), and trichloroethylene (TCE). In a related development, EPA proposed to prohibit the manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce and use of TCE in aerosol degreasing and in spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities after concluding that these activities present an unreasonable risk to human health. Information about the TSCA reform statute can be found at: www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-toxic-substances-control-act.

Other Recent Developments

Federal                                                                

  • AIR: EPA proposed revisions to three National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants following mandatory residual risk/periodic technology reviews: nutritional yeast manufacturing, publicly owned treatment works, and chemical recovery combustion sources at kraft, soda, sulfite and stand-alone semichemical pulp mills.
  • CLIMATE CHANGE: EPA revised the greenhouse gas reporting rule to streamline and improve implementation and clarify and update certain provisions, including removing reporting requirements for facilities that report little or no emissions.
  • CLIMATE CHANGE: EPA adopted renewable fuel standards for gasoline and diesel transportation fuel produced or imported for 2017 at levels below those mandated by the Clean Air Act statute but higher than those in previous years.
  • WATER: EPA revised the regulations governing small municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s), establishing new procedures for adopting and implementing the MS4 general permit to ensure adequate public notice.
  • WATER: EPA issued a report containing the results of its study of the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water at five stages in the fracturing process: water acquisition, mixing of water with chemicals, fluid injection, collection of return water and wastewater management and disposal.

New York State

  • WATER: The New York State Department of Health issued a second emergency rule continuing lead testing requirements for school drinking water pending proposal and adoption of a permanent rule.
  • WATER: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is accepting comment on new guidance for handling direct disposal of snow to surface waters, which includes best management practices for upland snow disposal and guidance on direct disposal into surface waters.
  • OTHER: DEC adopted regulations establishing standards and procedures for modifying or extinguishing conservation easements—real property interests owned by the State that limit or restrict development, management or use of property to protect environmental interests.