Judge orders EPA to update oil spill chemical rules


A federal judge ruled Aug. 9 that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must update nearly three-decade-old regulations about the chemicals that can be used to disperse offshore oil spills, reports the Associated Press.

The issue was spurred by the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010. Environmental groups have contended that people, including children and first responders exposed to the dispersion chemicals, suffered sometimes serious health problems. William H. Orrick, a judge in the U.S. district court for the Northern District of California, says the agency “delayed unreasonably” by waiting at least six years to finalize draft regulations updating the 1994 rules. The EPA now has a deadline of May 31, 2023, to take final action on listing and authorizing the chemicals.

A lawsuit filed last year on behalf of environmental groups, a health aide in Alaska and a commercial fisher on the Gulf Coast argued that the EPA was unreasonably dragging its feet in updating portions of a required national contingency plan on oil spills to reflect new science and updated testing procedures. See the entire story.