February 27, 2020

Washington Wire: EPA Designates Nonattainment Areas within U.S. that Exceed Ground Level Ozone Limit


EPA Designates Nonattainment Areas within U.S. that Exceed Ground Level Ozone Limit  

At the beginning of this month, EPA finally published nonattainment classifications for areas within the United States that exceed National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) of 70 parts per billion (ppb) for ground level ozone. The designations range from “Marginal” to “Extreme” for the 55 areas in 22 states not in attainment, and most areas contain several counties. Any state with an area designation higher than Marginal must submit a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to EPA on how the area will reach the 70 ppb requirement. Otherwise, EPA will draft its own plan to bring the area within attainment. Of importance to One Voice members, any industrial facility within a nonattainment area must apply for a New Source permit for any new or modified source of pollution emanating from the facility and verify this new source will not impede the area from reaching 70 ppb for ground level ozone.
An area’s designation determines how long a state has to reach the 70 ppb standard:
  • Marginal – 3 years from effective date of designation;
  • Moderate – 6 years from effective date of designation;
  • Serious – 9 years from effective date of designation;
  • Severe – 15 years (or 17 years) from effective date of designations; and
  • Extreme – 20 years from the effective date of designation.
Several areas in the Midwest having counties where One Voice members are operating, like Bucks County in Pennsylvania and Cuyahoga County in Ohio, have been classified as Marginal. While counties in Southern California areas have either Severe or Extreme designations. For complete list of counties and corresponding nonattainment designations click here.



OSHA Opens Injury Tracking Portal; July 1, 2018, Deadline for Form 300A Reporting
Employers have until July 1, 2018, to submit Form 300A injury reports for calendar year 2017 to OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA) online portal. However, the agency will not collect 300 Log and 301 Forms. OSHA has even advised employers residing in states with OSHA-approved State Plans to log these injury reports and file through the federal system, although the agency already conceded it did not have the regulatory authority to issue fines within these states for any failures to report. Maryland, Wyoming, and Washington have already announced they will not compel employers to comply with OSHA’s request. While they have not addressed this topic, the other states OSHA-approved State Plans are California, Minnesota, South Carolina, and Utah. OSHA is slated to release a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in July 2018 to reconsider, revise, or remove provisions in the Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses rule. Sources indicate OSHA may only require filing of 300A electronically for businesses with more than 250 employees but is considering also asking for EIN numbers on submissions. However, a rule change will not happen in time to effect this recent deadline and One Voice members should submit their Form 300A injury reports for calendar year 2017 by the July 1 deadline. Please click here to access OSHA’s injury reporting webpage and ITA portal.



States Sue EPA Over Decision to Ease Fuel Efficiency Standards for Cars and Light Trucks
Last week, the California along with 16 other states and the District of Columbia sued over the Trump administration’s decision to rollback greenhouse gas emission standards for auto model years 2022 – 2025. At the beginning of April, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the standards set by the Obama administration were too aggressive and that his agency along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would start a new rule-making process to set more appropriate standards.
In their filing, the states argue EPA presented no evidence in its decision to revise the emission standards. California has an agreement with the federal government to impose its own air pollution rules. Recently, the Trump administration began signaling an interest in challenging this authority. A dozen other states follow California’s air pollution rules, representing one-third of the U.S. auto market. Fearing the possibility of a fractured U.S. auto market, executives of large automakers plan to meet with President Trump this Friday at the White House.
At this date, sources indicate a draft of the new proposed regulations have been sent to White House and are now under review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Besides providing several different options to revise the emission standards, the proposal also contests California’s authority to set its own standards. Once OMB finishes its review, the government will publish the new proposed regulations in the federal register and undergo a public comment period.



New Beryllium Requirements Come into Effect May 11
On May 11, OSHA will begin enforcing its beryllium rule for general-industry. Under the rule, OSHA will limit beryllium exposure of 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter in an eight-hour period. Also, the short-term (15 minutes) exposure limit will now be 2 micrograms per cubic meter. OSHA will, however, delay certain requirements of the rule to future dates. Requirements for changing rooms and showers will not be enforced until March 11, 2019, and engineering controls will become effective on March 10, 2020.



EPA Proposes to Increase Transparency of Data used to Support Regulations
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt recently acknowledged the agency’s tendency to not adequately review scientific studies used to validate its regulations. In an effort to enhance transparency, on April 30, EPA published notice in the federal register seeking comment for its proposed rule: Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science. EPA is seeking public comments by May 30 on ways to end the practice of using “secret science” by ensuring data underlying any new regulations are publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent validation. Previously, EPA regulators would convene panelists to review proposed rules without disclosing the scientists advising on the action nor the “science” provided to support the rulemaking itself.