Dec 23, 2023

Wisconsin DNR Halts Efforts to Set PFAS Groundwater Standards, Concedes Legislative Action Will Be Required for Adoption of Proposed Standards

Michael Best - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and Gov. Tony Evers halted rulemaking to establish Chapter NR 140 groundwater standards for four per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) after determining state law requires legislative action to adopt the standards as proposed.

In 2017, the Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker adopted the Wisconsin Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act, more commonly known by its acronym (the REINS Act). Among other things, the REINS Act requires agencies to stop work on any rule if an economic impact analysis (EIA) indicates that compliance and implementation costs of a rule are reasonably expected to be $10 million or more in any two-year period. Rulemaking may not proceed until legislation authorizing the agency to promulgate the rule is enacted or the agency modifies the rule to reduce compliance costs of the rule below the $10 million threshold.

In its final EIA for the proposed PFAS groundwater standards rule, WDNR concludes that implementation and compliance costs "reasonably expected to be incurred by or passed along to businesses, local governmental units, and individuals" as a result of the standards will exceed $33 million in the first two years after the rule takes effect. As a result, WDNR has determined that it must stop rulemaking.

"As required by state statutes, the DNR has stopped work on this proposed rule and has notified the state legislature," WDNR said in a news release. "The state legislature will need to grant the DNR authority to continue the rulemaking process for setting PFAS standards..."

WDNR has also canceled a virtual public hearing on the draft rule scheduled for January 3, 2024.

Chapter NR 140 groundwater standards are Wisconsin's ambient groundwater quality standards. After adoption, NR 140 enforcement standards and preventive action limits are utilized in a number of regulatory programs, including the Remediation and Redevelopment Program (as related to environmental remediation of sites impacted by hazardous substance releases) and the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit program (as related to discharges to groundwater regulated under state law).

Based on recommendations from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, WDNR had proposed the following NR 140 groundwater standards:

  • For PFOA and PFOS (individually or combined), an Enforcement Standard (ES) of 20 parts per trillion (ng/L) and a Preventive Action Limit (PAL) of 2 parts per trillion.
  • For PFBS, an ES of 450 parts per billion (µg/L) and a PAL of 90 parts per billion.
  • For HFPO-DA ("GenX"), an ES of 300 parts per trillion and a PAL of 30 parts per trillion.

In a letter released by the Governor's Office, Gov. Evers asked two legislative Republicans to introduce legislation enabling the PFAS groundwater standards to move forward.

"As required under law, the DNR will pause rulemaking efforts on this proposed permanent rule until the Wisconsin State Legislature passes legislation explicitly allowing the DNR to continue this rulemaking," Gov. Evers wrote. "To expedite resuming this important rulemaking process, and consistent with the commitment you made to me to pursue legislation to that effect, my office has drafted legislation in partnership with the DNR for the Wisconsin State Legislature to take up expeditiously. I urge you to do so without delay."

Read full at: Michael Best

Dec 3, 2023

​Boeing 787 flys from London to New York powered solely by animal waste; approach could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation industry by 70% (More)

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The U.S. Government Accountability Office said that while domestic production of the fuel had jumped from about 2 million gallons in 2016 to 15.8 million gallons in 2022, it accounted for less than 0.1% of the jet fuel used by major U.S. airlines. It was also a drop in the bucket compared to the goal of producing 1 billion gallons a year set in 2018 by the Federal Aviation Administration.

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To protect kids, EPA wants total removal of lead pipes for the first time

(The Washington Post) The proposed rule, aimed at reducing exposure to a potent neurotoxin, would require water systems nationwide to replace lead pipes that carry tap water to homes, schools and offices

The EPA has said it could cost $45 billion.
But the costs of lead exposure are also high. Lead can cause irreversible cognitive damage and other health problems, even at low levels, and particularly in small children. Despite the significant health threat, cities have struggled to get rid of the estimated 9 million lead pipes that remain. And the federal government has never required their total replacement.

"This is a public health concern that has unfortunately spanned generations and an issue that has disproportionately affected low-income communities," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said during a call with reporters Wednesday. "Our proposed improvements are a major advancement."

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Bacteria that consumes greenhouse gases

(The Guardian) Typically, this group of bacteria thrive in environments with high levels of methane (between 5,000 and 10,000 parts per million (ppm)). The normal concentrations in our atmosphere have much lower levels of only about 1.9 ppm of methane. But certain areas such as landfills, rice fields and oilwells emit higher concentrations of about 500 ppm.

"Bacteria that rapidly eat methane at the higher concentrations found around cattle herds, etc could make a huge contribution to cutting methane emissions, especially from tropical agriculture," said Euan Nisbet, professor of Earth sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London, commenting on the findings of the study.

The strain's high methane consumption rate is probably due to a low energy requirement and greater attraction for methane – more than five times more than that of other bacteria, according to the study.

"The bacteria oxidise the methane to CO2 (a much less powerful greenhouse gas) and so you can even use the exhaust to pump into greenhouses and grow tomatoes," said Nisbet.

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Music can reduce pain.

According to a 2023 study by scientists at McGill University in Montreal, listening to your favorite music reduces pain by one point on a 10-point scale. Scientists asked a series of questions after participants experienced pain while listening to either their favorite songs, relaxing songs picked for them, scrambled music, or silence. Once each seven-minute round was over, subjects rated the music's pleasantness and how many "chills" — that goosebump feeling you get when listening to moving music — they experienced. Listening to preferred music, especially moving music, far outranked other scenarios, and participants ranked the pain as less intense and less unpleasant.