Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Reporting EHS Releases – Responsibilities Continue Except For Some Farm Emissions

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jul 16, 2019

Among its many provisions, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act of 1986 (EPCRA, in this case Section 304) requires facilities to report releases of specified hazardous and extremely hazardous substances, if the release exceeds an applicable threshold reportable quantity (RQ). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers these requirements, and has just approved an exemption for emissions from animal wastes at farms (this exemption tracks one amended into the Superfund law (CERCLA) in 2018). Other types of facilities and activities are still subject to these reporting requirements, so it’s a good time to review them.

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Tags: Health & Safety, Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, EPA, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, Hazcom

EPA Takes Another Step To “Reform” Benefit Cost Analyses

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jul 09, 2019

Since President Trump took office, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken a number of steps to narrow benefit-cost analyses, reversing expansive approaches used during the Obama Administration and narrowing the scope of “justifiable” environmental and health regulations. The latest such step appears in a May 13 memorandum from EPA Administrator Wheeler to his Assistant Administrators.

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Tags: Business & Legal, Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, EPA

California Proposes Universal Wastes Rules For Photovoltaics

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Jun 11, 2019

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) assigns the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state hazardous waste agencies regulate “hazardous wastes,” including categories defined as “universal wastes” that are subject to reduced management requirements. EPA defines five categories, but also allows states to define additional categories (I wrote about this here). California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has just proposed to add a new category of state-regulated universal waste covering “photovoltaic [PV] modules” to its regulations under the state’s Hazardous Waste Control Law (HWCL). The remainder of today’s blog summarizes these proposed universal waste PV requirements.

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Tags: California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, EPA, Hazcom, RCRA

Trump Administration Further Tightens Controls Over Agency Rulemaking

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Apr 30, 2019

The Trump Administration has taken another step to centralize its control over federal agencies’ rulemakings and policy-setting. Rulemaking has always reflected tensions between the politicians who adopt laws, and the agency staff who interpret and apply them through formal rules and information guidance and procedures. Depending how entrenched career staff are in their agencies, there may also be tensions between the elected executive (President, governor, etc.) and his or her agencies, even after his or her appointees are nominally in charge.

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Tags: Business & Legal, EHS, EPA

Feds Formally Propose to Roll Back Future Auto Emission Standards

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Aug 21, 2018

TrafficThe Trump Administration has taken the next step toward rolling back automobile standards intended to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. On August 2, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a joint proposal to replace emission standards previously adopted to tighten emission standards during model years 2021-2026, captioned the “Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Years 2021-2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks.” The agencies present a formal proposal to extend existing emission standards through those years, but also seek comments on several variations on this proposal.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, EPA, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, CAA, Transportation

What’s In Your Janitor’s Closet? New York Seeks More Information

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, Aug 22, 2017

Even workplaces with very limited chemical use probably use cleaning supplies. If these supplies are bought in typical retail packaging intended for consumer use, the employer and employees may lack ready access to chemical content information beyond that on the labels. That’s because the Hazard Communication Standard (Hazcom) administered by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) exempts consumer products in their final form for consumer use, unless worker use is greater than that by typical consumers.

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Tags: Health & Safety, OSHA, California Legislation, Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, Hazcom

Circuit Court Strikes Down Bush-Era Reporting Exemptions

Posted by Jon Elliott on Tue, May 16, 2017

How long can a new President’s policy changes take? I’ve been writing about President Trump’s attempts to roll back environmental requirements, and cautioning that some changes can be fast (like immediate repeal of his predecessor’s executive orders regarding climate change) while others will require multi-year rulemakings to revise finalized regulations (like EPA’s review of the greenhouse gas emission limits under the Clean Air Act, both extremes appear in a recent Executive Order I discussed here). On April 11 the federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a reminder that regulatory changes can take a long time. The Court revoked several environmental reporting exemptions adopted by EPA in the last month of George W. Bush’s administration (December 2008, effective on the day of President Obama’s inauguration January 20, 2009) – culminating a year-long rulemaking and setting of 8 years of administrative and judicial appeals. So this regulation-reducing effort took 9 years to fail.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, climate change

EPA Revises Hazardous Waste Generator Requirements – Part 1

Posted by Jon Elliott on Thu, Feb 16, 2017

In November, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published substantial revisions to its hazardous waste regulations, which it entitles the “Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (HWGIR).” These include more than 60 changes to specific requirements, plus dozens of technical clarifications and corrections. Some requirements apply to nearly all generators, while others are targeted at one or more of three volume-based tiers. EPA has scheduled the revisions to take effect on May 30, 2017 – but it’s possible that some provisions will be reviewed and revised by the incoming Trump Administration before that date.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, EPA, Hazcom

The US Green Building Council’s New LEED v4 Rating System

Posted by Rebecca Luman on Thu, Dec 15, 2016

The US Green Building Council (USGBC), founded in 1993, is a consensus-based nonprofit organization with more than 12,000 national members representing the entire building industry. USGBC plays an important role in providing leadership and integration for the building industry in driving sustainable building.

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Tags: Health & Safety, Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, RCRA


Posted by Rebecca Luman on Thu, Oct 06, 2016

To improve the efficiency of RCRA Corrective Action, in 2014, EPA Regions 3 and 7 began a pilot to implement RCRA Corrective Action using Lean process analysis with the goal of clarifying goals and expectations early in the process. The Lean process is a collection of principles and methods that focus on the systematic identification and elimination of non-value-added activity involved in producing a product or delivering a service to customers. Within the RCRA Corrective Action program, the Lean process was used to remove various redundant steps and frontload goals and expectations through a corrective action framework (CAF), resulting in significant time savings.

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, EPA, Hazcom, RCRA