Congress, the media, and the public have given significant attention to remarks this week by a commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) indicating that the agency would be considering a federal ban on gas stoves due to their health effects.  The suggestion of a ban on gas stoves has drawn comments from bipartisan policymakers in both chambers, and even the White House has weighed in against the prospect of a potential ban.

The CPSC is unlikely to ban gas stoves in the near future, although it has the authority to ban unreasonably dangerous products that cannot be made safe, and has done so with toxic substances in children’s products and other product categories in the past.   A CPSC rulemaking on mandatory safety standards for gas stoves, however, is a possibility, and that process may drive the establishment of voluntary industry standards by a standards-setting body.  Additionally, other federal and state regulators have recently sharpened their focus on indoor air quality and gas-powered appliances, for both health and environmental reasons.  The Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), for instance, is undertaking several activities related to indoor air quality.  And the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) recently adopted a plan that would effectively prohibit the sale of gas-powered space and water heaters in California by 2030.

Particularly with regard to federal regulatory activity on gas stoves and other gas-powered appliances, potentially affected parties will have ample opportunities to help shape the outcome of any mandatory or voluntary product standards put in place or accepted by the CPSC, and to engage with other regulators.  This alert provides an overview of recent and emerging legislative and regulatory activity related to indoor air pollution, focusing particularly on activity by the CPSC and EPA.  Companies—both those with interests in gas stoves and those concerned with indoor air quality issues more broadly—should carefully follow indoor air quality developments, including in their interactions with regulators, given the increased focus on this area.

Continue Reading A Growing Focus on Indoor Air Quality by Regulators and Policymakers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) recently made two announcements regarding antimicrobial pesticides.  First, EPA released guidance regarding residual efficacy claims for antimicrobials applied to surfaces.  Second, EPA announced that it has registered the first product approved to make claims to kill viruses in the air.  EPA has also sought comment on strategies for improving indoor air quality to reduce disease transmission, which could involve the use of air sanitization products or pesticidal devices.  This blog has previously highlighted these issues, including noting steps EPA could take to improve pesticide policy in the wake of the pandemic and the emerging focus on indoor air quality and its regulatory implications.

Taken together, EPA’s recent actions are significant and provide opportunities for companies to develop novel products that could have significant public health benefits.  But they also highlight that significant uncertainty remains in this area, which presents risks that companies must carefully navigate to ensure regulatory compliance.

Continue Reading EPA Provides Guidance Regarding Novel Antimicrobial Pesticides and Seeks Comment on Indoor Air Quality Issues

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued three requests for information regarding recycling issues, a first step towards distributing funds and carrying out mandates contained in the last year’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, commonly known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The programs for which EPA is requesting information are primarily directed toward improving recycling of

            On May 24, 2022, the National Academies of Sciences released a report, sponsored by EPA, CDC, and others, on indoor chemistry and air quality issues.  The report stresses the importance of these issues given that “people spend, on average, more than 80 percent of their time” in indoor environments, “often in close proximity to sources and processes that emit chemicals” and biological pollutants.  A main theme of the report is that there remain many outstanding questions in this area, and that “the management of indoor chemistry is at a nascent stage,” but rapidly evolving.

            Several aspects of the report are likely to be of particular interest to companies that market products for indoor use, particularly air cleaning and air sensor products.

Continue Reading National Academies of Sciences Report Highlights Indoor Air Quality Issues and Regulatory Considerations

The Biden Administration has signaled its willingness to resume the practice of including supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) in settlements by swiftly revoking Trump Administration memoranda which formally eliminated their use.  This is an important development that regulated entities can benefit from when they face investigations and enforcement proceedings.  Although further clarification from the Department of Justice is expected in this area, targets in potential enforcement actions can begin to prepare now.
Continue Reading New Environmental Enforcement Flexibilities in the Biden Administration: What you Can Do Now To Benefit from a Powerful Tool for Resolving Controversies

EPA recently released a compliance advisory addressing UV lights that make claims to mitigate the novel coronavirus (or other viruses or bacteria), which the agency regulates as pesticidal devices under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).  While the advisory largely reiterates past guidance relating to pesticidal devices, which this blog previously discussed, it does underscore that EPA is particularly focused on UV lights, and contains three important cautions for companies making claims that their UV light products kill the coronavirus or other microbes.
Continue Reading EPA Warns UV Light Companies About Coronavirus Claims

The California Air Resources Board unanimously adopted the Advanced Clean Trucks rule, which is designed to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission medium and heavy duty vehicles (“ZEV”).  By 2045, 100% of new trucks sold in the state will be ZEVs, consistent with the state’s broader goal of becoming carbon neutral by that year.
Continue Reading CARB Adopts Advanced Clean Trucks Rule to Speed Zero Emission Vehicle Deployment

EPA recently released a compliance advisory addressing pesticidal products that make claims to mitigate the novel coronavirus.  While the advisory largely reiterates past guidance relating to pesticides, EPA has increased its emphasis on pesticidal devices, such as UV lights and ozone generators, which are subject to their own distinct set of regulations.
Continue Reading EPA Provides Limited Guidance Relating to Pesticidal Devices and the Coronavirus

Landowners seeking restoration damages in state courts, at sites where there is a cleanup remedy previously selected by EPA, may pursue such claims only if they first obtain EPA approval for the proposed restoration work.  Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian (No. 17–1498, April 20, 2020).
Continue Reading EPA Is The CERCLA Gatekeeper: Plaintiffs Need EPA Approval To Seek State Court Damages For Restoration

EPA on May 19 released a proposed rule that would put in place a set of regulations governing EPA’s issuance, modification, and withdrawal of guidance documents.  This proposal implements portions of Executive Order 13891, and builds on EPA’s previous efforts to create a comprehensive portal of guidance documents earlier this year.  Generally speaking, the stated purpose of the rule is to allow for increased transparency and public involvement in EPA’s guidance-formulation process, but the proposal also contains several key limitations.
Continue Reading Six Highlights of EPA’s Proposal to Expand Reform of Guidance Documents