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Halloween Edition of Regrind.

This week we bring you a special Halloween edition of the Regrind.  All Hallows Eve is the favored holiday of several Regrind team writers, for it can be a celebration to some, and a scary time to others… perfectly befitting of the environment facing the industry right now.

Did you Hear that?  International announcements SPELL out the challenges ahead…

If you feel like there are lots of ghostly voices whispering about concerns with plastics, you are not alone.  The next couple of weeks could spell out the challenges ahead for the industry.  Scheduled next week is another international “Our Oceans” conference in Bali, Indonesia.  The Our Oceans conferences themselves are serious diplomatic meetings focused on the real issues related to sustainable fisheries, marine pollution and other environmental impacts on the Oceans. 

But as with many of these global policy forums, they bring an increasing number of advocacy groups at ancillary events using scare tactics to gain attention, like this Greenpeace “study” of brands released Wednesday.  (Greenpeace Study can be found here, and their press release is here)  

Be prepared for more spooky news of pronouncements, studies and pledges, including, but not limited to expansion of the commitments by companies and countries to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation “new plastics economy” pledge to a more circular economy, and more of the international NGOs behind “plastic straw bans” talking about things like global caps on plastic production along the lines of the Kyoto Protocol on climate. 

For more info about international NGOs and Industry response, contact Scott DeFife at sdefife@plasticsindustry,org

Crystal Ball Gazing into Politics…

This the is the last Regrind before the 2018 Midterm elections and pulled out the Tarot Cards and Crystal Balls to see into the future of what could be a divided Haunted Capitol Hill.  (disclaimer: the Regrind Team is just reporting a summary of the prognostications here, not making our own calls).   The Regrind team will summarize the state of play from three major independent political fortune tellers with solid track records. What follows is a summary of Nate Silver’s 538 forecast, Charlie Cook of National Journal and Bloomberg Gov’s most recent updates.  Regrind will also have a post-election summary in our Nov 8 edition.

Senate

A reminder, the current situation going into the election is that Republicans hold a 51/49 (2 of the 49 are independents Angus King of ME and Bernie Sanders of VT) majority over Democrats in the United States Senate with 35 Seats up for election.  Democrats are defending twice as many seats this cycle.  Most prognosticators suggest that Senate control will rest on the outcome of 6 seats that are rated “toss-up” or leaning R or D.  As of 10/24, Nate Silver’s 538 Analysis gives the GOP a 5 in 6 (82%) chance of keeping control in the Senate.

House

The current breakdown of the House of Representatives is 240 Republicans to 195 Democrats. A 23 seat change is required to flip the House with a majority of 218 votes.  Due to retirements and attempts by GOP House members for higher office, there are many more vacancies in GOP districts.  Nate Silver’s forecast as of 10/24 predicts a most likely range of 19 to 61 seats changing, to produce a 6 in 7 (85%) chance of Democrats winning control of the House.

Governors

2018 is also a busy year for Gubernatorial elections, with 36 State races in this cycle, and the Republicans defending many more seats.  The current breakdown is 33 GOP seats to 16 Democrats and one independent.  Of the 14 states not holding Gubernatorial elections this year, those seats are split evenly at seven each.  The 538 models predict the likelihood of several states flipping and a post-election breakdown closer to 26/24.

Summary charts from Charlie Cook and Bloomberg Government follow.

National Journal and the BGOV

Tricks or Treat Trade Deals

Trade Negotiations with EU, Japan and UK to Begin in 2019

On October 16, the Trump Administration officially notified Congress of its intention to begin trade negotiations with the European Union (EU), Japan and the United Kingdom (UK). The negotiations will follow the requirements of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or “fast track” granted to the president by Congress requiring notification and consultation by the administration during trade negotiations in exchange for expedited consideration and, ultimately, congressional approval. Read the press release from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative with letters to Congress here. In his letters regarding trade agreements with the EU and Japan, respectively, USTR Robert Lighthizer tells Congress that negotiations will begin no earlier than 90 days (around January 14) from the date of the letters. In his letter regarding an agreement with the UK, Lighthizer says that negotiations will begin with the UK “as soon as it is ready” after March 29, 2019, the date when the UK officially exits the EU.

Reghoulatory Agenda in Review

While the actual timing of agency actions always seems a bit cryptic, those anxiously awaiting the Fall 2018 Federal Regulatory Unified Agenda can now breathe a cider relief.  Howllights include:

OSHA
  • A final rule for OSHA’s Standards Improvement Project (SIP) IV is now planned for December 2018.  PLASTICS objected to OSHA’s proposed removal of the word “unexpected” from the LOTO general industry standard requirement to protect against "unexpected energization or startup" of machinery or equipment during servicing.
  • A request for information (RFI) is to be issued soon (target: October 2018) to help inform an update of OSHA’s Powered Industrial Trucks standard, which incorporates an out-of-date consensus standard and does not account for an additional eight types of trucks that have come into use.
  • OSHA intends to initiate a SBREFA panel soon (target: October 2018) to obtain input from small businesses as the agency considers possible revisions to its standards pertaining to emergency response and preparedness.  Areas to address include current: hazards or concerns facing emergency responders, performance specifications for protective clothing and equipment, and accepted practices already incorporated into industry consensus standards.
  • With the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) now on its seventh revised edition and OSHA’s revised Hazard Communication Standard (HCS; March 2012) based on the third edition, OSHA plans to initiate rulemaking (target: March 2019) to update the HCS and codify a number of related enforcement policies.
  • OSHA does not expect to finalize before June 2019 a final rule to settle amendments to its recordkeeping regulation.  The agency issued a proposed rule in July that sought to remove provisions of the Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses final rule from May 2016.  At issue are whether submitters in general would need to include the Employer Identification Number (EIN) and a requirement for establishments with 250 or more employees to electronically submit information from the OSHA Forms 300 and 301.
EPA
  • Soon to be published is a final rule for EPA’s reconsideration of the prevention of significant deterioration and nonattainment New Source Review (NSR) project aggregation provisions; Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review concluded on October 5.
  • EPA is now targeting January 2019 for a proposed rule following a May 2014 petition from the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) to subject an additional 25 chemicals to Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reporting, providing they meet the listing criteria.  Include for evaluation are flame retardants, plasticizers, blowing or foaming agents, solvents and intermediates that have been cited as used in the plastics industry.  EPA is also targeting February 2019 for a proposed rule on codifying a definition of “parent company” to clarify TRI reporting requirements.
  • Following the amendment of TSCA, EPA will propose (target: December 2018) to revise reporting requirements under the Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule, to include amendments to the size standards for small manufacturers and may include reporting requirements for inorganic byproducts.
  • It’s time for EPA to conduct residual risk and technology reviews (RTRs) and propose rules for numerous National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs), including: Manufacture of Amino/Phenolic Resins (reconsideration; October 2018 target), Paper and Other Web Coatings (target: March 2019), Miscellaneous Organic Chemical Manufacturing (MON; March 2019 target), and Reinforced Plastics Composites and Boat Manufacturing (target: February 2019).  On a related note, a proposed rule for the PVC and copolymers NESHAP, in response to industry and other stakeholder petitions, is planned for April 2019.
  • EPA plans to issue a second proposed rule (target: February 2019) regarding the classification of when a major source can become an area source under section 112 of the Clean Air Act and the “once in, always in” policy withdrawn by a January 2018 agency memo. 
Creeping it Real with EPA and OSHA

It was all treats and no tricks for PLASTICS’ EHS+ Committee and the Flexible Packaging Association’s (FPA’s) EHS Committee, which met October 16-17 for their joint event on environmental, worker health and safety, and product regulatory issues.  More than 30 members took part in person and by web meeting, scare-ing their experiences , diff-occult-ies and “beast” practices in the spirit of colla-boo-ration.  Seven representatives from EPA, two representatives from OSHA, a consultant, a member, two attorneys and staff delivered fang-tastic presentations and held informal conversations with participants.  If you have an un-candy feeling you missed out, please contact Marie Gargas.