Monday, June 18, 2018

EPA keeps ban on minors from handling pesticides and rule for more training; still intends to block chemical disaster rule

The Environmental Protection Agency decided last week not to suspend an Obama administration rule aimed at educating farm workers about the safe handling of pesticides. The move was apparently spurred by a lawsuit filed at the end of May by the attorneys general of California, Maryland and New York that argued that suspension would hurt farm workers, Miranda Green reports for The Hill. The EPA has announced an intent to publish the new pesticide safety training materials in the Federal Register, Green reports.

The 2015 update to the rules was the first in 25 years. It included provisions such as requiring pesticide handlers to be at least 18, and educating farm workers about pesticide residue that could cling to their clothes and harm children who came into contact with the clothing, Chris Clayton reports for DTN/The Progressive Farmer.

Meanwhile, EPA faces criticism on another front after announcing that it intends to block most implementation of Obama-era rules that would require companies to "routinely disclose which hazardous chemicals they use, share information with emergency planners, submit to outside audits and publish reports on the root causes of explosions and leaks," Rebecca Hersher reports for NPR. Hersher notes that not implementing the rule "effectively shield[s] companies from scrutiny about how they prevent and respond to chemical disasters."

The new rules were supposed to take effect in March 2017 but the EPA delayed them after heavy lobbying from the chemical and petroleum industries. Last month, the agency announced it intends to block most of the rules; EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the move would "reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens, address the concerns of stakeholders and emergency responders on the ground, and save Americans roughly $88 million a year," Hersher reports.

But EPA must take public comments before making a final decision, and dozens of people who live and work near chemical facilities showed up to do just that at a hearing last week. "Grandmothers, teachers, firefighters and community activists traveled to Washington, D.C., to urge the agency to block the proposal," Hersher reports. "Representatives from industry groups countered that they're already doing enough to keep people safe and that companies don't need more oversight." EPA is taking public comments on the chemical disaster regulations until July 30.

No comments: