Manufacturers breathed a sigh of at least temporary relief when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday withdrew its long-stalled Preliminary Remediation Goals (PRGs) for dioxin cleanup from review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
In yet another example of EPA overreach, the Agency lowered the cleanup levels from 1,000 parts-per-trillion (ppt) to 72 ppt. This new goal was near background levels, making it almost impossible to achieve these reductions. The EPA also used questionable science to set the PRGs; the Agency essentially “cherry picked” the data to support its plan regardless of methodological flaws.
The EPA’s proposal would have had severe economic consequences if finalized. The PRG would have forced many municipalities to dig up large tracts of land – even areas that have already been cleaned up to levels approved by the U.S.
government with enormous costs and serious implications for businesses, manufacturers, homeowners and farmers. It would have also stifled brownfield redevelopment at a time when we are trying to put people back to work.
Due to effective regulation and voluntary industry environmental stewardship, the levels of dioxins found in the air, water, soil and our food, have greatly declined. In fact, dioxin emissions from municipal incinerators have declined more than 99 percent from 1987, and according to the EPA’s own analysis, U.S. dioxin emissions from man-made sources have declined by more than 92 percent since 1987.
Manufacturers are still operating under a cloud of regulatory uncertainty as the EPA tries to get it right with its PRGs for dioxin cleanup. We urge the Agency to keep the current guidelines. Any new goals that are adopted, however, should be based on sound science and have undergone a thoughtful cost-benefit analysis.