|The Week That Was
March 29, 2003
1. New on the Web: WINNINGREEN (TOM AND GRETCHEN RANDALL) ANALYZE THE MCCAIN -LIEBERMAN BILL TO CAP AND TRADE CO2 (ALL BAD) AND THE WHITE HOUSE "CLEAR SKIES" INITIATIVE (BOTH GOOD AND BAD). Bottom line: No legislation is better than bad legislation.
2. EPA CONSIDERS SCREENING SCIENTIFIC PAPERS BECAUSE OF SECURITY CONCERNS
3. CHEMICAL INDUSTRY OPPOSES CHEMICAL SECURITY LEGISLATION OF SEN. CORZINE
4. CHEMICAL SECURITY ISSUE AFFECTS RIGHT TO KNOW
5. EPA DRINKING WATER POLICIES CONCERNED WITH SECURITY
6. TCE CLASS ACTION SUIT APPROVED BY CIRCUIT COURT: OPENS THE DOOR TO MORE LAWSUITS
7. LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT LIMITS TOXIC TORTS: REJECTS CLASS-ACTION SUIT ON ASBESTOS
8. NEW EPA SCIENCE ADVISER WILL TRY TO UPGRADE EPA SCIENCE: THERE IS HOPE
9. COURT ORDERS EPA TO HAND OVER CLIMATE CHANGE DOCUMENTS
2. EPA Considers Screening Scientific Papers Because Of Security Concerns:
3. Chemical Lobby Success Meets Criticism:
4. 2003 Predictions - Right-To-Know:
EPA is expected to focus on the following issues affecting the right-to-know
agenda: new security requirements for certain chemical facilities, broad
reviews of data gathering and release efforts under the Toxics Release
Inventory program, and maintaining the balance between the public's right
to know and the need to keep information away from terrorists. According
to BNA's Daily Environment Report, a spokesman for Senator Jon Corzine
(D-N.J.) has stated that the Senator plans to work closely with Homeland
Security Director Tom Ridge and EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman
to find a reasonable way to address chemical plant security. Senator James
Inhofe (R-Okla.), incoming chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee,
also plans to address that issue.
5. 2003 Predictions - EPA Drinking Water Policies:
Security, prioritizing new contaminants for regulation, and improving
infrastructure are among EPA's top drinking water priorities, according
to BNA's Daily Environment Report. EPA programs to improve drinking water
security are expected to center on the collection, storage and analysis
of utility vulnerability assessments required by the Bioterrorism Act.
Other actions for 2003 include developing new surface water treatment
and disinfectants/disinfection byproducts rules, establishing a process
to prioritize new contaminants for regulatory consideration, and closing
the water and wastewater infrastructure funding gap.
6. Illinois TCE Class Action Suit Allowed to Proceed:
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a class action lawsuit over
trichloroethylene (TCE)-contaminated groundwater to continue, increasing
prospects that industry may face an onslaught of future TCE contamination
claims. EPA is currently reevaluating TCE cleanups due to recent studies
that show a higher cancer risk associated with the chemical than originally
estimated. This could result in stricter cleanup levels and pave the way
for more lawsuits, reported Chemical Policy Alert. "There's an extremely
high number of communities in the same situation," one attorney was
quoted as saying. "Over the next couple of years, I would expect
a significant number of these cases."
7. Louisiana Supreme Court Limits Toxic Torts:
A recent ruling by the Louisiana Supreme Court has set new standards
for when courts may award damages for fear of cancer or increased risk
of disease after only slight exposures to a toxic material. As reported
in Chemical Policy Alert, the court overturned a lower-court ruling in
a class-action lawsuit on asbestos exposure, calling it "nonsensical
to allow a plaintiff to recover compensatory damages for an increased
risk of developing an asbestos-related disease upon less proof than that
required for recovery of medical monitoring expenses." "This
decision is of huge importance to the chemical industry," said ACC
Senior Counsel Don Evans. "The theory that exposure alone is enough
to justify a damage award has been thoroughly rejected."
8. 2003 Predictions - Science Policy:
BNA's Daily Environment Report predicts that EPA's first science adviser,
Paul Gilman, will concentrate on integrating sound science through all
Agency decisions, giving regional staff access to the Agency's scientific
resources, improving scientific reviews of tools and information that
influence agency decisions and enhancing assessments of public exposure
to environmental agents. A committee may be established to develop methods
to measure chemical and biological agents in the environment. Toxicity
tests for certain chemicals may also be revamped. Additionally, Gilman
will strive to assure the independence of all science advisory board members.
9. Court Orders EPA to Hand Over Climate Change Documents
The Environmental Protection Agency has been ordered by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to produce "climate change" documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), or to justify their withholding. CEI, a non-profit free market advocacy group, requested the documents to determine whether or not the agency was engaging in activities to implement the Kyoto Protocol "through the backdoor" in opposition to congressional prohibition.
"Now we can finally begin assessing how far the agency has gone toward backdoor implementation of the Kyoto Protocol," said Christopher C. Horner, CEI Counsel who filed the lawsuit. "We also remain fascinated by a point of which the Court took particular note: How does EPA explain their shift in alarmism from the global cooling scare of years past to the current emphasis on catastrophic global warming?"
The documents that the EPA has been ordered to hand over are expected to show that the agency has violated the "Knollenberg Provision," originally sponsored by Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI). The provision prohibits the federal government from spending money to implement the Kyoto Protocol, which has not been ratified by the U.S. Senate.
"By this Order, the D.C. District Court joins CEI's puzzlement over the Administration's refusal to turn over documents on the basis that their release 'may potentially harm U.S. interests in ongoing Kyoto negotiations'," said Horner. "And it adds to the mounting public embarrassments over the refusal by various officials to execute the President's rejection of Kyoto, instead continuing to try to cut a deal for a treaty the President assured the public he rejected in America's interest."
The court ruling, said Horner, will likely expose attempted backdoor implementation during the Clinton Administration. The EPA has until March 31 to either produce the documents or explain to the satisfaction of the court why they are withholding them.
Source: Cooler Heads Coalition Newsletter