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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed one good and one
bad "enhancement" to its Chemical Assessment and Management Program
(ChAMP) during a public meeting today, according to Environmental
Defense Fund (EDF). EDF welcomed EPA's proposal to require
pre-manufacture notification for any chemical removed from the nation's
list of chemicals in commerce if a company decides to reintroduce it
into the market. But EDF was
strongly critical of a second proposal to extend a poorly performing
voluntary program for obtaining critical chemical safety information to
inorganic chemicals produced in high volumes.
strongly opposed the latter proposal to initiate yet another "phased,
multi-year" voluntary program for high-production-volume (HPV)
know from the failure of both EPA's HPV Challenge and the industry's
half-hearted Extended HPV Program to deliver the quality data sets
needed to make sound decisions that a voluntary approach doesn't work,"
said Dr. Richard A. Denison, a senior scientist at EDF, who until recently
was a member of the National Pollution Prevention and Toxics Advisory Committee (NPPTAC) that advises EPA's toxics office. "To extend such a flawed model to inorganic chemicals is simply throwing good money after bad."
a decade of effort under the HPV Challenge, final data sets have yet to
be submitted for nearly half of the chemicals sponsored, and remaining
gaps have been identified in at least a third of those data sets that
have been submitted. Several hundred HPV chemicals were not sponsored
at all under the program. And since the launch of the Challenge, many
hundreds of additional chemicals have reached HPV production levels,
yet most of those have not been sponsored under the Extended HPV
program, and data sets have been submitted for fewer than two dozen.
of pursuing yet another voluntary program, EDF urged EPA to immediately
proceed to issue mandatory test rules using its TSCA Section 4
authority for as many inorganic HPV chemicals as possible. Only for
those chemicals for which it cannot make the requisite findings to
support a test rule should EPA consider other approaches, including
vigorously supporting an expansion of its data generation authorities
through legislative reform of TSCA.
contrast, EPA has offered a sound proposal setting forth the rules
under which it plans to remove from the Toxic Substances Control Act
(TSCA) Inventory chemicals that companies indicate they are no longer
producing or importing.
"EPA should be commended for thinking through the implications of 'resetting' the Inventory,"
"While a few aspects need strengthening, we strongly support the core
element of EPA's proposal: requiring pre-manufacture notification for
any chemical removed from the Inventory if a company decides to
reintroduce it into the market." [Below this release are additional
comments describing needed clarifications and improvements to EPA's
noted that EPA's rationale for taking this approach closely mirrors an argument EDF made in comments it filed in May 2008, when EPA first proposed an Inventory reset: it
would allow EPA to assess and, where needed, control potential risks
prior to allowing a chemical back into commerce. EDF also noted that
applying pre-manufacture notification (PMN) requirements to chemicals
removed from the Inventory would help to minimize incentives for companies
to seek removal of as many chemicals as possible to avoid reporting or
other requirements that apply to Inventory chemicals.
Additional comments and needed enhancements to EPA's proposal to reset the TSCA Inventory
* Any Inventory
resetting must be done using a reporting mechanism that tracks
production/import over a significant period. EPA's experience with
reporting of production and import data under its Inventory Update Rule
(IUR) - which entails the reporting of only one year's volume once
every five years (recently raised from every four years) - shows that
there is enormous fluctuation from one reporting cycle to the next that
must reflect underlying changes in chemical supply and demand dynamics
and production and use patterns.
These data demonstrate that infrequent and time-limited reporting
yields a highly inaccurate picture of which chemicals are in commerce,
as well as their actual manufacturing levels over time.
Given experience with IUR reporting, EDF is concerned that use of only
a 3-year window as suggested by EPA could significantly underestimate
the number of chemicals in commerce.
EPA needs to carefully consider the length of the reporting period it
uses to reset the Inventory, and should require reporting of any
production or import that has taken place at any time during the
While we are concerned that some companies might be able to "game the
system" if a too-short reporting window is employed, this concern will
be alleviated considerably as long as EPA requires (as it has proposed)
that any chemicals removed from the Inventory be subject to PMN
notification prior to their reintroduction.
We support EPA's proposal to conduct a reset on a periodic basis, a
measure that would also help to alleviate our concerns that a reset
with too short a window could miss many chemicals in commerce.
No lower threshold should apply to the reporting used to reset the
Inventory. Production or import of a chemical in any amount at any
time during the reporting window should trigger its retention on the
Inventory if its original purpose is to be retained.
Exemptions available from reporting conducted under TSCA Section 8(a)
should not apply. Numerous classes of chemicals have been granted full
or partial exemptions from IUR reporting by EPA, some of which are
based on presumptions of low environmental or health concern. Because
the purpose of the Inventory is to list chemicals in commerce
independent of any sort of risk consideration, such exemptions are
Specifically, EPA should not provide Inventory
reset exemptions for:
* Polymers (exempted from IUR reporting under CFR 710.46(a)(1))
* Microorganisms (CFR 710.46(a)(2))
* Naturally occurring substances (CFR 710.46(a)(3))
* Certain forms of natural gas (CFR 710.46(a)(4))
* Petroleum process streams (CFR 710.46(b)(1))
* Specific exempted chemical substances (CFR 710.46(b)(2))
inconsistent with the Inventory's purpose would be providing exemptions
for small manufacturers; for this reason, EDF supports EPA's proposal
to conduct the Inventory reset using its Section 8(b) rather than
Section 8(a) authority.
A publicly available list of all chemicals removed from the Inventory
must be maintained. Many such chemicals, even if not in active
production, may nevertheless still be stockpiled, present in products
as ingredients, byproducts or residuals, or present as pollutants in
air, water, soil, sediment or waste sites. And of course, they may
return to active production in the future. Maintenance of a public
list of all chemicals removed from the Inventory would serve as a
compliance tool (see more on compliance below). It is critical,
therefore, that EPA retain -- and the public still have access to -- an
inventory of, and any and all information available on, any chemicals
removed from the Inventory.
Any chemicals removed from the Inventory must be subject to TSCA
Section 5 notification requirements. As discussed at length in our May
2008 comments and noted above, we strongly support EPA's proposal in
this regard. We support EPA's "clean" reset option, under which EPA
would set forth this requirement as unambiguous policy via a Federal
Register notice: As has been the case historically, any chemical not
on the Inventory is subject to Section 5 requirements.
do not support the alternative EPA discusses of seeking to issue a
Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) to cover such chemicals. This approach
would be more cumbersome and not offer any advantages over the more
direct proposed approach.
Processors should be included in the Inventory reset. The language of
Section 8(b) is unambiguous: EPA is required to "compile, keep
current, and publish a list of each chemical substance which is
manufactured or processed in the United States." We see no basis or rationale for excluding processors from certification under an Inventory reset.
should not allow companies to certify "future" manufacture or
production as a means to retain a chemical on the Inventory. Such an
approach would necessarily be based on speculative or uncertain
information that could easily change, leaving chemicals listed on the
Inventory that are not actually in commerce, thereby frustrating the
entire purpose of the reset. This approach could also create a
perverse incentive for companies to seek to retain listings for
chemicals not currently in production so as to avoid Section 5
notification and review requirements, thereby frustrating what we see
as a key advantage to the core element of EPA's proposed approach.
EPA needs to require, not merely invite, certification and take
additional steps to ensure compliance. We are troubled by EPA's
statement that it would merely "invite" companies to certify their
production or import (73 FR 70642; paragraph 3 of the Inventory reset
background document). Elsewhere EPA more appropriately refers to
"requiring certification" (paragraph 9(a) of the Inventory reset
background document). If the Inventory reset exercise is to be - and
be perceived as - credible, it must include all reasonable steps to
ensure compliance by all companies that produce, import or process
EPA must require companies to certify as to which chemicals they
produce, import or process. Such a certification should be signed by a
senior officer and be legally binding.
EPA should also require that a company certification indicate that the
chemicals it identifies are the only chemicals listed on the Inventory
that it produces, imports or processes.
EPA should commit to undertake additional steps to assess the extent of
compliance achieved under the reset, and to promptly initiate actions,
including robust enforcement, to address any non-compliance. EPA
should cross-check its reset Inventory chemical lists with other
sources of reported information (e.g., IUR and other Section 8
reporting; PMN submissions, etc.) as one means to identify
discrepancies. It should use its enforcement authorities (access to
company records, audits, inspections, etc.) on at least a spot basis to
ensure full compliance.
EPA should provide public access to up-to-date versions of both the
reset Inventory and the list of removed chemicals. As proposed by EPA,
these lists should also include entries for any chemicals with
identities claimed as confidential business information, providing as
much identifying information as possible consistent with allowed
protections for legitimate CBI.
USEPA, National Pollution Prevention and Toxics Advisory Committee
(NPPTAC), Broader Issues Work Group, "Initial Thought-Starter: How can
EPA more efficiently identify potential risks and facilitate risk
reduction decisions for non-HPV existing chemicals?" Draft dated
October 6, 2005, pp. 3-4, at www.epa.gov/oppt/npptac/pubs/finaldraftnonhpvpaper051006.pdf;
and Environmental Defense comments on Proposed Rule, TSCA Inventory
Update Reporting Revisions (70 Fed. Reg. 3658, 26 January 2005), Docket
ID No. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2004-0106, accessible at www.regulations.gov (search for docket number).
Environmental Defense Fund's mission is to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends. Guided by science and economics, we find practical and lasting solutions to the most serious environmental problems. We work to solve the most critical environmental problems facing the planet. This has drawn us to areas that span the biosphere: climate, oceans, ecosystems and health. Since these topics are intertwined, our solutions take a multidisciplinary approach. We work in concert with other organizations -- as well as with business, government and communities -- and avoid duplicating work already being done effectively by others.
"Today and every day let's honor King as we end racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the denial of healthcare, militarism, and this false narrative of Christian nationalism," said Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis.
To mark Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, leaders of a modern iteration of the slain civil rights champion's final campaign called on U.S. politicians from both sides of the aisle—many of whose policies and actions are like those King condemned as the "evil triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism"—to step up and meet the needs of the country's poor and low-income people.
Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival released a video demanding the Biden administration and every member of Congress "meet with poor and low-wealth people, religious leaders, economists, lawyers, and public health specialists to address the systemic policy violence that threatens the soul of our nation."
"When prophets are killed or assassinated, our job is to pick up the baton and continue the work," campaign co-chair Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II said in the video. "Sadly, many will go to King events today and claim to honor the prophet. Elected officials on both sides of the aisle will go while even today, they are standing diametrically opposed to the things he fought for: addressing systemic poverty, addressing racism, ensuring voter protection, just immigration policy, just treatment of Indigenous people, healthcare for all, and dealing with the war economy and militarism."
As they do each year, officials—including Republican lawmakers who voted against an MLK Day holiday, the U.S. government King called "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today," and its agencies like the FBI that tried to destroy King—all took to Twitter to sing his praises.
Poor People's Campaign Petition Congress to Truly Honor MLK Legacy | Press Conferencewww.youtube.com
Rev. Liz Theoharis, also a co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign, said in the video that "this Martin Luther King Day, we must continue a campaign for social, political, and economic rights, not simply commemorate a man. Today and every day let's honor King as we end racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the denial of healthcare, militarism, and this false narrative of Christian nationalism. Let us fight poverty, not people."
The video also includes messages from low-income Americans and advocates calling for healthcare, living wages, "and more so everyone can thrive."
"I live in North Carolina. I work 60 hours a week and more and I still don't make enough money to live comfortably," Matthew Byars said in the video. "I'm chasing the American Dream, but I'm living the American nightmare. Raise the minimum wage. Impacted people matter too."
King, along with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, launched the original Poor People's Campaign in December 1967, months before he was assassinated in Memphis while supporting a strike by Black sanitation workers. King said the movement's demands were $30 billion for anti-poverty programs, full employment for all, a guaranteed universal income, and the annual construction of 500,000 affordable homes.
SCLC president Ralph Abernathy led the campaign after King's murder, and in May 1968—just weeks after King's murder—his widow, Coretta Scott King, led demonstrators in a two-week protest in Washington, D.C., where participants demanded an Economic Bill of Rights.
Camp life in Resurrection City 1968www.youtube.com
Thousands of poor people camped on the National Mall in a community called Resurrection City, which stood for six weeks—including on the day when Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.) was assassinated on June 5—until police violently destroyed it and evicted the protesters.
"At a time when online mobilizations were one of the few forms of protest available to the public, Twitter was seemingly asked to shield the powerful from criticism," said one campaigner. "That should worry all those who care about accountability."
Drugmaker BioNTech and the German government pushed Twitter to "hide" posts by activists calling on Big Pharma to temporarily lift patents on Covid-19 vaccines—a move which would have given people the Global South greater access to the lifesaving inoculations, a report published Monday by The Intercept revealed.
Twitter lobbyist Nina Morschhaeuser "flagged the corporate accounts of Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca for her colleagues to monitor and shield from activists," according to The Intercept's Lee Fang. An email from Morschhaeuser said the German Federal Office for Information Security also contacted Twitter on behalf of BioNTech, whose spokesperson, Jasmina Alatovic, asked the social media giant to "hide" activist tweets targeting her company's account for two days.
Morschhaeuser, meanwhile, requested that colleagues track the hashtags #PeoplesVaccine—a movement for the temporary lifting of patent protections—and #JoinCTAP, a reference to the World Health Organization's Covid-19 Technology Access Pool. Morschhaeuser further warned that the advocacy group Global Justice Now shared an online signup form for a December 2020 People's Vaccine Day of Action.
"The allegations in this article suggest that government and industry tried to silence legitimate criticism during a crisis," Maaza Seyoum, Global South convener at the People's Vaccine Alliance, said in a statement Monday. "At a time when online mobilizations were one of the few forms of protest available to the public, Twitter was seemingly asked to shield the powerful from criticism. That should worry all those who care about accountability."
\u201c\ud83d\udce2 REACTION: German government and @BioNTech_Group asked Twitter to censor vaccine equity critics.\n\nNew #TwitterFiles piece by @lhfang shows how they worked to silence activists demanding a #PeoplesVaccine\n\nRead our reaction: https://t.co/VyaSBIbWnS\n\n1/\u201d— The People's Vaccine (@The People's Vaccine) 1673889107
Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden also noted the troubling timing of BioNTech's censorship request during a period of global pandemic lockdowns.
"To try and stifle digital dissent during a pandemic, when tweets and emails are some of the only forms of protest available to those locked in their homes, is deeply sinister," he told The Intercept.
It is not clear to what extent Twitter took any action on BioNTech's request. In response to Morschhaeuser's inquiry, several Twitter officials chimed in, debating what action could or could not be taken. Su Fern Teo, a member of the company's safety team, noted that a quick scan of the activist campaign showed nothing that violated the company's terms of service, and asked for more examples to "get a better sense of the content that may violate our policies."
But it shows the extent to which pharmaceutical giants engaged in a global lobbying blitz to ensure corporate dominance over the medical products that became central to combating the pandemic. Ultimately, the campaign to share Covid vaccine recipes around the world failed.
While U.S. President Joe Biden in 2021 heeded activists' calls and joined most of the Global South in backing a Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver at the World Trade Organization, most rich nations—including Germany—oppose the policy and have, along with Big Pharma, fought to thwart it.
"If the German government wants to show that it is now willing to side with public health over private profit, it must change its approach to pandemic response," Seyoum asserted. "That means backing efforts at the World Trade Organization to improve access to generic Covid-19 medicines and treatments, supporting the World Health Organization's mRNA Hub in South Africa, and standing up to corporate interests in negotiations over a Pandemic Treaty."
Critics rebuke U.S. climate envoy for calling Sultan al-Jaber a "terrific choice."
Progressives on Monday reacted with outrage and disbelief after U.S. climate envoy John Kerry backed the appointment of Sultan al-Jaber to lead the the United Nations' annual conference on the climate emergency, saying the CEO of the United Arab Emirates' state-run oil company was not only qualified to preside over the summit, but that his background strengthened the case for his presidency.
As Common Dreamsreported last week, the UAE named al-Jaber as president of the 28th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), scheduled to begin in November—a decision that was met with scorn from campaigners as al-Jaber is heads the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and a renewable energy firm in which ADNOC holds a 24% stake.
"I think that Dr. Sultan al-Jaber is a terrific choice because he is the head of the company. That company knows it needs to transition," Kerry told the Associated Press Sunday, despite the fact that scientists and advocates across the globe have also known for decades that policymakers must lead a rapid transition away from oil and gas-generated energy. "He knows—and the leadership of the UAE is committed to transitioning."
Advocates have warned that the UAE has not made clear how it plans to reach its stated goal of being carbon neutral by 2050, especially as it plans to increase production of crude oil by a million barrels per day.
The UAE is expected to become "the third largest expander of oil and gas production" between 2023 and 2025 as ADNOC embarks on the second-largest expansion of oil production of any company in the world, locking in more than 2.7 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions.
But when asked by Sky News Arabia about whether al-Jaber would have a conflict of interest at the conference, where leaders are expected to be pushed to take significant emissions-reduction steps, Kerry dismissed the concern.
"That's a first blush, very simplistic way to look at this," Kerry said, adding that "the only way we will meet this crisis and protect our citizens and build an economy for the future, is by reducing emissions."
Putting the ADNOC executive—who is also the UAE's climate enjoy and minister of industry and technology—in charge of COP28 drew comparisons from Progressive International leader Yanis Varoufaki to naming "a jihadist to oversee religious tolerance" or "a Nazi to oversee racial harmony."
"What could go wrong?" labor historian Erik Loomis asked sardonically.
\u201cJeffrey Dahmer placed to oversee anti-cannibalism commission. \n\nhttps://t.co/D7Yyz2MMAw\u201d— Erik Loomis (@Erik Loomis) 1673888060
COP28 will follow the two most recent international climate conferences, held in Glasgow, Scotland and Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where hundreds of fossil fuel lobbyists were in attendance and policymakers failed to hammer out a final agreement requiring countries to phase out oil, coal, and gas extraction.
Kerry toldSky News Arabia that the UAE was not "involved in changing" the outcome of the COP26 and COP27 talks.
The former secretary of state acknowledged that there would be "a level of scrutiny" aimed at al-Jaber's appointment.
"And I think that's going to be very constructive," he told the AP. "It's going to help people, you know, stay on the line here. I think this is a time, a new time of accountability."
Acknowledging Kerry's negotiating of the Paris climate agreement in 2015—which despite its many flaws and shortcomings represents the strongest global pact ever reached on the issue—Leo Roberts of the climate think tank E3G said on social media that the U.S. politician's endorsement of el-Jaber represents "a really rather spectacular fall from grace."