Toxic Substances

The Ninth Circuit Takes EPA to Task (Twice)

Monsanto pesticide to be sprayed on food crops.

EPA's pesticide registration efforts trigger forceful response

Judge McKeown of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently wrote of the EPA, “Although filibustering may be a venerable tradition in the United States Senate, it is frowned upon in administrative agencies tasked with protecting human health.”  Yikes.  What did the EPA do to elicit such a reaction from a federal judge? The short […]

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DuPont Found Liable In First of 3,500 Lawsuits


Chemical Used in Teflon Linked to Numerous Health Problems, but its Use is Still Legal Under TSCA

Yesterday, a jury in the Southern District of Ohio found DuPont liable for a woman’s kidney cancer in the first of 3,500 suits the company faces. The cases all stem from DuPont’s use and disposal of perflourooctanoic acid (PFOA) or C8. The chemical is used to make Teflon, among other things, and the most recent […]

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Interpreting Michigan v. EPA

Four Corners Coal Plant

The opinion seems likely to have very limited repercussions.

In bringing the mercury rule to the Supreme Court, industry was hoping for a ruling that EPA had to balance costs and benefits (and could only include benefits relating to mercury).  What they got was far less than that.  Here, I’d like to address some key questions about the opinion. 1.  When does EPA have […]

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Mercury Rising: The Court Reverses EPA’s Regulation


This was not a great decision for EPA, but it could have been much worse.

The Court has just now decided the Michigan case, involving EPA’s mercury regulation.  As Ann Carlson explained in an earlier post, a lot was at stake in the case.  The Court ruled 5-4 against EPA.  This passage seems to be key to the Court’s reasoning: One would not say that it is even rational, never mind […]

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Flame Retardants, Furniture, and Polar Bears

couch on fire

One woman’s search for a toxics-free couch in California

A year and a half ago, I found myself in a position that has caused so many people to rethink the world around them: impending parenthood. One of the many changes I decided to make in advance of welcoming our little bundle of joy was to procure a couch without flame retardants. Flame retardants have […]

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The Unreasonable Risk of TSCA Reform

Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act is no doubt generating significant conflict, including claims of undue industry influence, competing bills from prominent members of the same party, consternation among states, and divisions among health and environmental groups.  And it may also be the closest we have gotten to TSCA reform—ever.  […]

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TSCA Reform: That’s A Good Thing, Right?

Reform of the federal chemicals statute, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), is in the news again.  It got me wondering, are we are better off with the devil we know? In a legislative era characterized by harsh partisanship and excruciating deadlocks, there are signs that TSCA reform could be a rare example of cooperation […]

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EPA Waters Down Final Rule for Coal Ash

coal ash

EPA will improve new disposal sites for coal ash, but will have limited effect on old ones.

Exactly six years ago today, a dike ruptured near Kingston, Tennessee, dumping into the Clinch River some 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash slurry — or to use the more technical term, coal combustion residue. Last Friday, EPA issued a new regulation to deal with the issue.  The rule is intended to protect groundwater from leaching from the ponds, […]

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The Death of Deference?


Yesterday, the Supreme Court granted cert. in several cases to hear the following question: “Whether the Environmental Protection Agency unreasonably refused to consider costs in determining whether it is appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities.” The fundamental issue is whether it was unreasonable for EPA to interpret section 112 to preclude consideration […]

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Mick Jagger on Chemical Reform

Vermont's new chemical program looks to be a mixed bag

Vermont just joined the posse of states taking chemical regulation reform into their own hands in the face of inaction in Congress.  Last week the Green Mountain State enacted a new law covering chemicals in children’s products.  (A children’s product is defined as “any consumer product, marketed for use by, marketed to, sold, offered for […]

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