Category Archives: Federal Policy/Programs

EPA Released its Proposed Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals Rule

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Today, EPA released its proposed Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals Rule.  A pre-publication copy is available here. The proposed rule, if finalized, will add a subpart P under 40 CFR part 266, which applies to the management of hazardous waste (HW) pharmaceuticals at healthcare facilities and pharmaceutical reverse distributors.  All pharmaceutical reverse distributors will be required to manage HW pharmaceuticals under this subpart, not 40 CFR part 262.  Subpart P creates a new category of hazardous waste entities, pharmaceutical reverse distributors – such entities [...]Read more

Bipartisan TSCA Reform Bill Sails Through House

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Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the TSCA Modernization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2576) with a near-unanimous vote of 398-1. The bipartisan bill now heads to the Senate, where a competing bill (S. 697) advanced last month. Lawmakers will have to resolve key differences between the bills before sending to President Obama. H.R. 2576 would update the 40-year old Toxic Substances Control Act for the first time. The bill’s key provisions remove cost as a factor in EPA’s chemical safety assessments, afford EPA more power to order new chemical safety data, and aim to create a more uniform [...]Read more

The Floodgates Are Open for EPR Laws

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Last week, the United States Supreme Court denied industry’s petition for certiorari in Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), et al. v. County of Alameda. The petitioners contended that Alameda’s Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance violated the dormant commerce clause by requiring pharmaceutical companies to finance a drug take-back program. The impact of the Court’s denial—which lets stand a Ninth Circuit ruling upholding the ordinance—will be widespread, both for the pharmaceutical industry, and more broadly, for extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws and ordinances [...]Read more

Significant Expansion of Judicial Review Under the Clean Water Act

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Today, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a precedent-setting decision in Hawkes v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, holding that jurisdictional determinations issued under the Clean Water Act are subject to immediate judicial review. Under the Clean Water Act, the discharge of dredged or fill material into navigable waters requires a permit from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (other types of discharges require a permit from the United States Environmental Protection Agency or its state-agency designates). Although on its face seemingly straightforward, the question [...]Read more

RCRA Regulation of Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals –Proposed Rule Forthcoming this Summer

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On March 19, 2015, EPA sent its proposed rule, “Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals,” to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for pre-publication review.  This review may take up to 90 days (barring a one-time 30-day extension).  Unless OMB returns the rule to EPA for reconsideration, we expect the proposed rule to be released this summer.  This rule will have major implications for the pharmaceutical reverse distribution industry and the management of non-dispensable pharmaceuticals at health care facilities. The fall 2014 Unified Agenda states that [...]Read more

White House Set to Release Carbon Rules for Existing Power Plants

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President Barack Obama is expected to release rules that will put a cap on carbon emissions from existing power plants on June 2. The rules will likely provide many contentious issues. One to keep an eye on is how states handle the rules as they will likely be tasked with developing and implementing programs that comply with EPA guidelines. Another potential issue is how far the rules actually go to cap the greenhouse gas emissions. Will the owners of the power plants keep them open, retrofit them or close them based on how far the emissions limits go. Legal and congressional challenges will [...]Read more

Longtime Congressman Henry Waxman to Retire

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Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) will retire after four decades of serving the country as a member of Congress. Waxman served as a leader for the Democratic party on many health and environmental issues over the four decades, including: universal health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid coverage, cost of generic drugs, tobacco regulation, air and water quality standards, pesticide regulation, and climate change efforts. His leadership efforts earned him the spot of Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee from January 2009 – January 2011. If you asked Republicans, they would say Rep. Waxman [...]Read more

As Conservatives Win Australian Election, What Impact Will It Have on Carbon Markets

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Tony Abbott, the head of the Liberal National Party Coalition, has won the election in Australia to become the country’s new Prime Minister. Abbott has long vowed to scrap the carbon tax that the government implemented in 2012, going as far as declaring the election a “referendum on the carbon tax.” His plans to get rid of the carbon tax may have to wait until the new senators take their seats next July, as current Labor and Green party members plan to try and prevent the process while they can. Abbott hopes to introduce an incentive plan for taxpayers in an effort to make polluters operate [...]Read more

House Committee Schedules Climate Hearing

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The House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, September 18 at 10:00am. The hearing will examine the Obama administration’s climate change policies and activities. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), chairman of the subcommittee, sent a letter to members of the EPA, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, the State Department and other agencies asking officials to testify at the hearing. Issues that will likely be covered include: EPA’s greenhouse gas limits for newly constructed power plants, the Keystone XL pipeline, renewable [...]Read more

Next EPA Administrator Nominated

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Gina McCarthy, the current head of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, has been nominated by President Obama to become the next EPA Administrator. McCarthy’s main background is in air enforcement and climate change issues. President Obama said she would help promote renewable energy programs, which she has experience doing from her days as an environmental official in Massachusetts. She helped develop recent mercury and soot emission power plant rules. One of the more important aspects of her nomination is her relationship with industry, which will likely help her during the nomination [...]Read more