Coverage on the Demand for better EPA Pollution Standards for Plastic Manufacturers

Recently, several environmental groups, including UPHE, delivered a petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) demanding that they stop approving petrochemical projects that produce millions of tons of plastic and plastic air pollution. Read coverage from different new outlets bellow.

tps://www.sfchronicle.com/environment/article/Environmental-groups-ban-together-to-demand-14879522.php#

Environmental groups band together to demand action on plastics, air polluion from EPA

By Peter Fimrite 

A coalition of conservation groups delivered a petition Tuesday in San Francisco demanding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stop approving petrochemical projects that produce millions of tons of plastic and waft greenhouse gases into the air.

The petition, signed by 364 community and environmental groups from across the country, urged the government’s top environmental watchdog agency to adopt strict new air pollution standards for industrial plants that produce plastic.

More than two dozen protesters, some dressed in hazardous materials suits and gas masks, waved signs railing against plastic pollution before presenting their demands to the EPA’s Region 9 office at 75 Hawthorne St.

“Plastic plants are poisoning our air and fueling the climate crisis,” said Lauren Packard, a lawyer for the Center for Biological Diversity, who wrote the petition on behalf of the various groups. “The EPA has to act now.”

Margot Perez-Sullivan, the EPA spokeswoman for Region 9, said the agency accepted the petition and met with the groups to discuss their concerns.

“We value input from all stakeholders,” Perez-Sullivan said. “The petition calls for national rule-making actions and has therefore been shared with the agency’s national leadership. EPA will review the petition and continue to work with stakeholders to address environmental and public health concerns.”

The EPA’s regional office in San Francisco has jurisdiction over California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, the Pacific Islands and 148 tribal nations.

Petrochemical production is one of the nation’s fastest-growing fossil fuel industries and emits almost as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as vehicles do. The petitioners say it is natural-gas fracking that is driving the boom in plastic production.

The pollution, which primarily impacts low-income communities, includes methane and gas leaks during extraction as well as the calamitous amounts of plastic floating around in the oceans and landfills, the petitioners said.“Using fracked gas to make yet more plastic manages to combine many of our environmental sins into one diabolical bundle,” said Bill McKibben, founder of the environmental organization 350.org. “And the first victims — of both the climate change and the air pollution — are the most vulnerable people on our planet and in our nation.”Petrochemical plants are primarily located along the Gulf Coast and in Appalachia, but there is one plant called Ineos, in Carson (Los Angeles County). Fracking also occurs in California, but it is for oil, not gas.Packard said the petrochemical plants emit hundreds of tons of toxic, carcinogenic pollutants, including butadiene, acetaldehyde, benzene and formaldehyde. She said 300 new petrochemical projects have been proposed in the country and are now waiting approval.“The EPA is still handing out these permits willy-nilly,” Packard said. “If the Trump administration is not going to act, hopefully whoever is voted in in 2020 will.”Among the requests outlined by the environmental groups are that the EPA update decades-old air-pollution monitoring and control standards under the Clean Air Act and require all new petrochemical plants to be powered by renewable energy. Another petition was presented in July demanding an end to plastic pollution under the Clean Water Act.It would appear, given recent Trump administration actions, that a crackdown on petrochemicals and plastic is not a likely outcome of the petition. California has been battling the federal government over everything from tailpipe-emissions rules to oil drilling off the coast.Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last month that state agencies will stop purchasing vehicles from automakers who comply with President Trump’s proposed relaxation of greenhouse gas emissions standards. State Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined prosecutors from 22 other states in filing a lawsuit last month blocking EPA efforts to strip parts of the federal waiver allowing California to create its own tailpipe rules.https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Petition-Filed-With-EPA-Over-Pollution-Standards-for-Plastic-Manufacturers-565772582.html


https://www.sfgate.com/news/bayarea/article/Conservation-Activists-File-Petition-With-Epa-14880122.php#

Petition Filed With EPA Over Pollution Standards for Plastic Manufacturers

By Bay City News

Members of several community and environmental organizations announced Tuesday they’re calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adopt stricter air pollution standards for industrial plants that create plastic.

As part of the action, about a dozen people rallied outside the EPA’s San Francisco office, located at 75 Hawthorne St., demanding that the agency update its decades-old air pollution monitoring and control standards, and that all new petrochemical plants be fully powered with renewable energy.

“Some of these (requirements) haven’t been updated for decades and they’re quite lax,” Lauren Packard, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “For instance, we’re calling for fence line monitoring, for continuous emissions monitoring and monitoring using optical gas imaging to protect communities living near these facilities and bearing the brunt of these toxic emissions.”

Packard said the updates are desperately needed, as plastic production soars thanks to a recent oversupply of gas obtained from fracking.

“An oversupply of cheap fracked gas is instigating a massive build out of petrochemical facilities. In advance of this build out, we need to make sure the EPA is protecting communities and the planet,” she said.

“Plastic production is a part of the climate crisis. Every step of the way, from fracking to the feedstock, from transporting to processing to manufacturing plastic to the ultimate disposal in landfills, in incinerators, or our oceans is exacerbating our climate crisis and putting us all at risk,” she said.

Currently, most petrochemical plants where plastics are made are located near the Gulf Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. The facilities are allowed to emit hundreds of tons of toxins and carcinogenic pollutants, which can lead to cancer and respiratory problems and other illnesses, according to the advocates.

“Plastic pollutes at every stage of its life cycle,” said Stiv Wilson, who has produced a film, “The Story of Plastic,” which covers how plastics are made and disposed of, and highlights the problems with plastic.

“The climate issue and the plastics issue are literally the same issues and plastic companies are fossil fuel companies,” he said. “We’re showing the world the new narrative on what we have to think about with regards to plastic pollution, so that we can base policy and we can base activism on the entire lifecycle of plastic, not just once it gets to the ocean.”

Following the action, the advocates filed a legal petition with the EPA, calling for the new updates to its standards under the Clean Air Act.Once the EPA reviews the petition, it could consider the changes.If no action is taken, the advocates said a lawsuit could come later down the road.https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2019/12/03/conservation-activists-file-petition-with-epa-over-plastic-plant-pollution-standards


Conservation Activists File Petition With EPA Over Plastic Plant Pollution Standards

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Members of several community and environmental organizations announced Tuesday they’re calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adopt stricter air pollution standards for industrial plants that create plastic.As part of the action, about a dozen people rallied outside the EPA’s San Francisco office, located at 75 Hawthorne St., demanding that the agency update its decades-old air pollution monitoring and control standards, and that all new petrochemical plants be fully powered with renewable energy.“Some of these (requirements) haven’t been updated for decades and they’re quite lax,” Lauren Packard, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said.“For instance, we’re calling for fence line monitoring, for continuous emissions monitoring and monitoring using optical gas imaging to protect communities living near these facilities and bearing the brunt of these toxic emissions.”Packard said the updates are desperately needed, as plastic production soars thanks to a recent oversupply of gas obtained from fracking.“An oversupply of cheap fracked gas is instigating a massive build out of petrochemical facilities. In advance of this build out, we need to make sure the EPA is protecting communities and the planet,” she said.“Plastic production is a part of the climate crisis. Every step of the way, from fracking to the feedstock, from transporting to processing to manufacturing plastic to the ultimate disposal in landfills, in incinerators, or our oceans is exacerbating our climate crisis and putting us all at risk,” she said.Currently, most petrochemical plants where plastics are made are located near the Gulf Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. The facilities are allowed to emit hundreds of tons of toxins and carcinogenic pollutants, which can lead to cancer and respiratory problems and other illnesses, according to the advocates.“Plastic pollutes at every stage of its life cycle,” said Stiv Wilson, who has produced a film, “The Story of Plastic,” which covers how plastics are made and disposed of, and highlights the problems with plastic.“The climate issue and the plastics issue are literally the same issues and plastic companies are fossil fuel companies,” he said. “We’re showing the world the new narrative on what we have to think about with regards to plastic pollution, so that we can base policy and we can base activism on the entire lifecycle of plastic, not just once it gets to the ocean.”Following the action, the advocates filed a legal petition with the EPA, calling for the new updates to its standards under the Clean Air Act.Once the EPA reviews the petition, it could consider the changes. If no action is taken, the advocates said a lawsuit could come later down the road. 

https://www.eenews.net/stories/1061715505


Greens ask EPA to curtail ‘damage’ from plastics plants

James Marshall, E&E News reporter

Over 360 conservation groups today filed a petition with EPA asking the agency to establish more stringent air pollution standards for plastic-producing industrial plants.

“Plastic plants are poisoning our air and fueling the climate crisis,” said Lauren Packard, the Center for Biological Diversity attorney who authored the petition. “This dirty industry spews greenhouse gases at every step, from leaky gas wells to the plastic pollution degrading in our oceans and landfills. That has to stop.”

The petition calls on EPA to “update the air pollution rules that apply to industrial facilities that create plastic to significantly curtail the damage these plants cause.”

It requests EPA take five steps including listing ethylene, propylene, polyethylene and polypropylene production facilities as a source category under the Clean Air Act. It also calls for requiring plastics plants to use renewable energy for all on-site power.

A smaller coalition of conservation groups filed a similar petition in July urging EPA to ban discharges of plastic pollution from industrial plants under the Clean Water Act (Greenwire, July 23).

Petitioners said fracked gas is helping fuel a rise in plastic production.

“Using fracked gas to make yet more plastic manages to combine many of our environmental sins into one diabolical bundle,” said Bill McKibben, founder of climate activism group and petition signatory 350.org.

The Administrative Procedure Act requires EPA to respond to the petition, but courts tend to be lenient in allowing agencies time to respond, said James Goodwin, senior policy analyst at the Center for Progressive Reform. He said petitions are part of a “fundamental asymmetry in environmental law” because they generally don’t force agencies to act.

“It’s very easy to use the law to block agencies from doing something, but it’s very hard to use the APA to compel action,” Goodwin said. “This petition process is meant to sort of alleviate that asymmetry. It doesn’t work in practice.”


Environmentalists Demand Stricter Pollution Standards For Plastics Industry

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Seeking stricter accountability for the plastics industry, more than 350 public interest groups filed a petition with the Environmental Protect Agency Tuesday demanding higher standards and lower emissions for plastics manufacturers.

“Plastics production is poisoning our communities, choking our oceans and exacerbating the climate crisis,” said Lauren Packard, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Packard spoke outside the EPA’s regional office in downtown San Francisco before the group walked inside to deliver a petition signed by 364 conservation and community organizations.

The petition asks the EPA to list facilities that produce chemicals used in plastics manufacturing – such as ethylene, propylene, polypropylene – as sources of emissions subject to regulation. That would open the door for the EPA to create new emissions standards for those plants.

It also demands such facilities be powered by 100% renewable energy and that new air pollution and technology standards be adopted to reduce the emission of planet-warming gases and air toxins.

The EPA has three years to respond to the petition.

According to Packard and other advocates, “cheap fracked gas” is driving the push to build more plastic production facilities in the U.S. Oil and natural gas can be refined to create chemicals that serve as the building blocks and ingredients in plastic products. The plastics industry has invested more than $200 billion for 333 new or expanded facilities since 2010, according to the American Chemistry Council, which represents plastics manufacturers.

“The glut of fracked gas is fueling a plastics boom at a time when the climate crisis demands that we put an end to fracking and stop overproducing polluting plastics,” said Mark Schlosberg, political director with Food & Water Action. “The EPA needs to step up and do its job by regulating these toxic chemicals that pollute the air and contribute to the climate crisis.”

Critics say emissions from petrochemical plants and plastic production facilities are most harmful to low-income communities where such facilities are typically located.

Filmmaker and plastics expert Stiv Wilson, who joined Packard and others in front of the EPA’s San Francisco office Tuesday, noted that residents of a Houston neighborhood surrounded by chemical plants suffer from higher rates of cancer, asthma and other health problems. The Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental nonprofit, found in 2016 that residents of the Harrisburg-Manchester neighborhood were at least 24 times as likely to develop cancer compared to residents in “the wealthier and predominantly white west Houston communities.”

Stiv made the film, “The Story of Plastic,” featuring scenes from across the globe of fields of plastic garbage, “mountains of trash,” rivers clogged with plastic debris and skies “choked with” air toxins from plastic production facilities and recycling plants.

Global production of plastic is expected to increase by 33% to 36% by 2025, according to a 2017 study by the Center for International Environmental Law.

Packard said most new plastic being produced is for one-time use, or “throwaway plastic,” which often ends up in waterways, buried underground or is burned and releases harmful pollutants into the air.

“There is no safe way to dispose of plastic,” she said.

Beyond the infamous “garbage patch” of coagulated plastic waste floating in the Pacific ocean, plastic rubbish has also washed up on coastal beaches and remote islands and has been found in the bellies of sea turtles and marine birds.

On Saturday, the Scottish Marine Animal Standings Scheme, which investigates stranded animals, found a dead sperm whale on a Scottish island with 220 pounds of trash lodged in its stomach. Fishing nets, bundles of rope, plastic cups, plastic bags and other garbage were found inside the whale.

A 2016 study by the World Economic Forum concluded there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by the year 2050.

Aside from asking the EPA to set higher standards for petrochemical plants, environmentalists are pursuing other strategies to help curb plastic pollution in the U.S.

In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment that would block a $1.9 billion loan guarantee for the Appalachian Storage Hub, a key part of a massive petrochemical project in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, which critics say will increase fracking and plastics production in the region. Schlosberg said his group pushed for that legislation, which still requires approval by the U.S. Senate.

Fellow conservationist Jennifer Krill of the Berkeley-based nonprofit EarthWorks said her group is also supporting the “Last Chance Alliance” campaign, which is asking Governor Gavin Newsom to end fracking in California and require oil and gas wells and petrochemical plants to not be operated within 2,500 feet of places where people live, work or go to school.

“It’s to get people out of harm’s way,” Krill said.

A spokesperson for the American Chemistry Council, which represents the plastic industry, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. The group’s vice president of plastics, Steve Russell, said in a 2018 statement that the industry is “committed to being part of the solution” in combating plastic pollution.

He said the industry group’s members set aggressive goals of making 100% of plastics packaging recyclable or recoverable by 2030 and ensuring all plastic packaging is re-used, recycled or recovered by 2040.

“We know ocean pollution is a large and complex problem. But this problem is solvable if we work together and stay focused on capturing and transforming municipal solid waste at its source,” Russell said.


Center for Biological Diversity on KCBS-AM (Radio) – San Francisco, CA

12/3/2019 2:07:31 PM

so report breathing and plastic pollution more lauren packard staff attorney for the center for biological diversity which delivered a petition to e.p.a. officials in san francisco asking that the agency tightened air pollution standards for plastics producers for its part the agency welcomed the petitions signed by over 350 groups spokesperson margo perez sullivan were looking forward to learning more about these classicLauren Packard(she/her/hers)Staff AttorneyCenter for Biological Diversity1212 Broadway, Ste 800Oakland, CA 94621Ph: (510) 844-7103Fax: (510) 844-7150lpackard@biologicaldiversity.org