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21 June 20247 minute read

Industrials Regulatory News and Trends - June 21, 2024

Chrysler announces recall of vehicles due to a software malfunction. On June 8, the National Highway Traffic Safety Board announced that Chrysler is recalling more than 211,000 vehicles in the US due to a software malfunction that could disable the electronic stability control system. Because of this malfunction, the anti-lock brake system (ABS) control module could operate improperly and thus disable the electronic stability control system, the agency said. The recall would affect certain 2022 Dodge Durango and Ram 2500 and 3500 vehicles made by Stellantis-owned Chrysler, and dealers will be tasked with updating the control module software free of charge.

New measure would restore federal anti-terrorism protection to chemical plants. On June 5, Representative Laurel Lee (R-FL) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2025 that would restore the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS). The American Chemistry Council joined with several trade and union groups to urge that House leadership support the amendment. “Restoring the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) is essential to protecting our industry and defending the nation from terrorism,” stated Ryan Jackson, the American Chemical Council’s vice president. “Nearly a year has passed since Congress allowed CFATS to expire and as a result companies have not been able to vet almost 80,000 people accessing chemical facilities against the FBI’s terrorist screening database.”

GSA declines to ban single-use plastic packaging in federal procurement. On June 6, the General Services Administration, which oversees federal procurement, announced its final rule on reducing single-use plastic (SUP) packaging in purchasing by the US government, the world’s largest purchaser of goods and services. The goal of the final rule, the GSA stated, is to “identify single-use plastic free packaging availability for products under the Federal Supply Schedules with the goal of reducing single-use plastic waste.” The GSA declined to phase out or eliminate such packaging in federal procurement in the final rule. Instead, to incentivize the move away from SUP packaging, the final rule “clarifies that an icon will be utilized in GSA's acquisition platforms to identify SUP free packaging,” to ease the process of identifying such products. Attempting at present to ban SUP packaging, the agency said, is outside the scope of the rulemaking. Oceana, an environmental group, called the rulemaking a “missed opportunity” for the Biden Administration.

Economy EVs are coming to the US market, says Bloomberg. A June 17 feature from Bloomberg looks into the coming pivot by US vehicle manufacturers from luxury electric vehicles to more affordable models. Elsewhere in the world, Bloomberg notes, modestly priced EVs, like China’s $10,000 Seagull and Europe’s $20,000 Dacia Spring, are widely available. America’s economy EVs, Bloomberg reports, are on the way. Several US carmakers have set a target of manufacturing an economy EV that will “hit the road” at $25,000. Among them: the updated Chevy Bolt, scheduled for release in 2025; an EV Jeep under the Renegade band that is scheduled to go to market in 2027; and an as yet unnamed model from Ford, slated to roll out in 2026 as the first of three new affordable EVs.

EPA litigation in the news.

On June 6, the National Pork Producers Council, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the US Poultry & Egg Association, and the United Egg Producers filed a brief in support of the EPA’s position in a lawsuit in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In the case, Food & Water Watch and 12 other organizations are seeking to expand and strengthen the regulation of factory farm pollution under the Clean Water Act. The industry groups’ brief supports the EPA’s decision not to make changes in its factory farm water pollution program. Oral arguments in the case are expected to be scheduled for Fall 2024.

On June 11, the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Chemistry Council filed a petition challenging the EPA’s first-ever national drinking water standard that aims to limit the presence in drinking water of six types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. The trade groups are seeking to overturn the final rule, issued in April by the EPA, in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, on the grounds that it exceeds the agency’s authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 and “is arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion,” in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. The rule limits PFAS in municipal water systems to near-zero levels.

Several lawsuits have been brought against the EPA challenging its tailpipe emissions standards. On June 13, three separate suits were filed in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, by the American Petroleum Institute, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, and a coalition of biofuel producers. Another case regarding the standards was brought on June 17 by the National Corn Growers Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and six prominent car dealers that own numerous dealerships across the US representing 16 automotive brands. Generally, these lawsuits assert that the EPA’s move to establish light-duty and medium-duty vehicle emissions standards for model years 2027-2032 exceeds the powers granted to the agency by Congress, and that the final standards unduly prioritize EVs over other viable climate solutions. These are simply the latest cases brought against the agency regarding the tailpipe emissions standards. In April, Republican attorneys general from 25 states, led by Kentucky and West Virginia, sued to block the standards. In May, two Nebraska-led multistate lawsuits were filed against the EPA, regarding the tailpipe emissions standards, and California’s California Air Resources Board, regarding that state’s Advanced Clean Fleets regulation.

New York state fails to pass producer responsibility law for packaging. On June 8, the New York state legislature adjourned without approving a bill that would require extended producer responsibility (EPR) for packaging in the state. The bill was passed by the state senate on June 7, but the state assembly did not vote on it before the end of the session. Sponsored by state Senator Pete Harckham, the Packaging Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act would require companies to reduce their overall packaging use, improve the recyclability of their products, fund recycling and reuse infrastructure, financially support municipal recycling programs, and reduce toxins in packaging. Similar measures have failed to pass in the legislature in recent years. Minnesota is the most recent state to pass an EPR bill.

Will this federal initiative help the plastic packaging industry? A June 13 editorial in Plastics News by its managing editor, Rhoda Miel, argues that a new proposal by the Biden Administration to cut food waste in the United States could also benefit the plastic packaging industry. Miel notes that the Biden Administration recently announced the launch of an initiative to reduce the amount of edible food going to landfills through a series of projects, including finding ways to donate more food to those in need, encouraging composting programs, and investing in packaging that can improve shelf life. She points out that the Administration’s announcement seems to acknowledge the importance of packaging in food preservation, since it states that it would fund “research and development and new food loss and waste innovations, such as innovative new packaging technology and cultivars to extend the shelf life of food and prevent loss.” Find out more about the Federal Interagency Collaboration to Reduce Food Loss and Waste in this issue of our bulletin Food and Beverage News and Trends.