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NEWS OF THE WEEK
GOVERNMENT REFORM
January 14, 2002
Volume 80, Number 2
CENEAR 80 2 p.
ISSN 0009-2347
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White House Targets Eight EPA Regulations For Possible Revision

CHERYL HOGUE

White House officials have pegged eight EPA regulations, including five related to chemicals, for review and possible change. Industry groups nominated several of the rules under scrutiny.

The White House Office of Management & Budget last year solicited recommendations from the public about regulations that needed to be rescinded or changed to reduce costs or increase benefits. Based on the responses, OMB selected 23 rules for review and action, including eight at EPA.

The American Chemistry Council suggested reform of one EPA rule that OMB tagged for action. The regulation requires that low-risk materials resulting from the treatment of hazardous waste be handled as if they, too, are hazardous. ACC wants these materials exempted from costly hazardous waste handling procedures.

The American Petroleum Institute recommended that EPA update and consolidate its policies governing industry reports on chemicals found to pose a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment. Current guidance on what type of information should be reported to EPA is "haphazard and not easily accessible," OMB says.

Among other EPA rules slated for review and reform are a drinking water standard of 10 ppb for arsenic, water quality standards for lakes and streams, and requirements for old power plants to meet stringent new air emission benchmarks when they undergo modifications.

OMB's decision to review the arsenic rule is somewhat surprising. EPA sought and received three peer reviews of the rule's cost, benefits, and scientific basis, including one from the National Research Council. In October 2001, the agency announced it will set a new limit of 10 ppb as the standard in February, although NRC found that even concentrations as low as 3 ppb of arsenic in drinking water pose cancer risks.

OMB received suggestions to alter other EPA regulations but says it needs more information before it would consider such changes. Among those is a rule requiring manufacturers to file export notices for trace contaminants as well as for their commercial products.

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