EPA — National – An official for the EPA has ruled that two home renovation companies must pay civil penalties to resolve violations of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act. According to EPA, Superior Restoration and Construction LLC of Overland Park, Kansas, must pay $44,680; and Askins Development Group LLC of St. Louis, Missouri, must pay $42,003. In each case, EPA alleged that the renovators failed to comply with regulations intended to reduce the hazards of lead-based paint exposure resulting from renovations. Both companies also failed to respond to multiple attempts by EPA to engage in discussions to resolve the violations, including failure to answer administrative complaints issued by EPA. For the full text, click here.
Colorado Politics by Michael Karlik
Colorado Springs, CO – The federal appeals court based in Denver agreed that a Colorado Springs landlord must comply with an order to provide records to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is investigating whether he properly disclosed lead paint to tenants.
David H. Zook, who is the manager of the company that owns 806 E. Boulder St., has resisted the EPA’s request for documents. He characterized the investigation as an egregious abuse of authority based on a disgruntled tenant’s complaint, and argued, mistakenly, that chipped lead paint inside a home is not addressed under federal law.
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National – Laws and regulations restricting “forever chemicals” in more than a half dozen states are entering effect in 2023, including the start of a timeline for a first-in-the-nation ban on PFAS in all products in Maine. The newly effective measures range from labeling requirements to bans of the substance in products including food packaging, firefighting foam, and personal care products. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of chemicals that don’t naturally break down, and so they accumulate in water, soil, and in the human body. Studies have shown that high levels increase the risk of cancer and other adverse health effects. For the full text, click here.
Environmental justice (EJ) is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. Learn More
Chicago, IL – The top federal prosecutor in central Illinois says his office is ready to bolster enforcement as part of a national environmental justice initiative. U.S. Attorney Gregory Harris, whose central Illinois district include Peoria, Bloomington-Normal and Springfield, said the harmful effects of environmental crimes are “too often borne by our underserved communities.” The majority of the enforcement work will be on the civil side, such as complying with EPA regulations. “But we do have criminal statutes that are going to resorted to, to address environmental crimes. Including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and Asbestos Act, and various other federal statutes already on the books, like mail and wire fraud,” Harris said. For the full text, click here.
NPR by Sharon Lerner
National – Created in 1970 in response to mounting injuries, illnesses and deaths from workplace hazards, OSHA was supposed to issue regulations based on scientific research conducted by its sibling agency, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. At first, the pair got off to a somewhat promising start, with OSHA using NIOSH research to issue more protective standards for lead, arsenic, benzene, asbestos and several other carcinogens. But within a few years, asbestos, which was already well established as a carcinogen, presented a political challenge. “For asbestos, NIOSH said nothing other than a number approaching zero can be considered safe,” said David Rosner, a historian of public health at Columbia University. “But then they sent that science over to OSHA, and OSHA realized if you do that you’re going to have to shut plants everywhere.” For the full text, click here.
Department of Justice
Richmond, IN – Jeffrey Delucio, 54, of Richmond, Indiana, was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison for violating the Toxic Substance Control Act, specifically the provisions of the Act concerning lead paint renovations, and for obstructing justice by fabricating records to obstruct a federal grand jury. According to court documents, Delucio operated Aluminum Brothers Home Improvements in Richmond, Indiana, which received federal grant money from the HUD to mitigate lead paint hazards in older low-to-middle income homes. Delucio admitted in federal court that he and other Aluminum Brothers workers he supervised failed to follow these laws while conducting multiple the HUD-funded renovations in Richmond. For the full text, click here.
Task and Purpose by Max Hauptman
National – Despite the well-publicized prevalence of mold, lead paint, and other unsafe health conditions among private military housing units in recent years, the Defense Department appears to be experiencing issues when it comes to actually monitoring how widespread those problems have become. A recently published report from the DoD’s Inspector General’s office found that the Pentagon does not adequately track if the conditions of privatized housing adversely impact the health of U.S. service members and their families. For the full text, click here
National – From a powerful chemical industry that helped write the toxic substances law to an underfunded EPA lacking in resolve, the flaws in the American chemical regulatory apparatus run deep. The flaws of the American chemical regulatory apparatus run deeper than funding or the decisions of the last presidential administration. ProPublica spoke with environmental experts around the world and delved into a half century of legislation, lawsuits, EPA documents, oral histories, chemical databases and global regulatory records to construct a blueprint of a failed system. This is how the U.S. became a global laggard in chemical regulation. For the full text, click here.