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In The Works

In the Works

Volume 20, Issue 12, December 2019

NATIONAL

EPA, USDA, and FDA Launch Joint Website to Streamline Information about Agricultural Biotechnology Products

WASHINGTON — Recently, in recognition of National Biotechnology Month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a unified website that provides a one-stop-shop for information about the actions the federal government is taking to oversee the development of agricultural biotechnology products. This new website is a key accomplishment under President Trump’s Executive Order on Modernizing the Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products.

“EPA is pleased to be working with our partners at USDA, FDA, and across the federal government to implement President Trump’s Executive Order and launch this new, coordinated website,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This new website will help provide regulatory certainty and clarity to our nations farmers and producers by bringing together information on the full suite of actions the Trump Administration is taking to safely reduce unnecessary regulations and break down barriers for these biotechnology products in the marketplace.”

“Agricultural biotechnology has been and will continue to be an essential tool in helping America’s farmers and ranchers feed, fuel, and clothe the world,” said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. “From producers to consumers, all Americans deserve a government that delivers science-based, common-sense regulations that foster innovation, conserve resources, and protect public health—especially when it comes to the food supply. The launch of this unified Biotechnology Regulation website is proof of President Trump’s commitment to provide the American people with sensible regulations in a clear and transparent manner.”

“This is a time of unprecedented scientific innovation. Agricultural biotechnology promises to bring dynamic new products to the marketplace,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, M.D. “At the FDA, we are committed to fostering flexible, risk-based approaches in this field while upholding our mission of protecting and promoting both human and animal health and animal well-being, for example by reducing their susceptibility to diseases like novel influenzas and resistance to zoonotic or foreign animal diseases. Our approach balances our internationally respected, science-based review standards with our ongoing risk-based regulatory approaches to ensure the safety of our food supply.”

The Unified Website for Biotechnology Regulation describes the federal review process for certain biotechnology products and allows users to submit questions to the three agencies. The goals of the website are to provide enhanced customer service to innovators and developers, while ensuring Americans continue to enjoy the safest and most affordable food supply in the world and can learn more about the safe use of biotechnology products.

Background

EPA regulates the sale, distribution, use and testing of pesticides to protect public health and the environment. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, EPA regulates pesticides. Under section 408 of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, EPA establishes the amount of pesticide chemical residues that may be present in food. Under the Toxic Substances Control Act and regulations implementing that statute, EPA currently regulates biotechnology products that are new microorganisms not specifically excluded by the statute (generally those regulated by other statutes). EPA is also actively working through the regulatory process to use its existing statutory authority, as appropriate, to exempt low-risk products of agricultural biotechnology from undue regulation to the extent consistent with the law, as directed under President Trump’s Executive Order.

For more information, visit:  https://www.epa.gov/regulation-biotechnology-under-tsca-and-fifra

CONNECTICUT

Connecticut DEEP Announces Selection of 804 MW of Offshore Wind Power from Park City Wind Project

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Katie Dykes announced recently that a bid from developer Vineyard Wind has been selected to advance to contract negotiations with the state’s electric distribution companies to provide 804 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind through the development of the Park City Wind Project.  The bid was selected through a competitive request for proposals (RFP) that DEEP conducted pursuant to Public Act 19-71, An Act Concerning the Procurement of Energy Derived from Offshore Wind, signed by Governor Ned Lamont on June 7, 2019 after receiving overwhelming bipartisan support in the Connecticut General Assembly. The resulting contracts will be subject to review and approval by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA).

The selection of this project, which will provide the equivalent of 14% of the state’s electricity supply, represents the largest purchase of renewable energy in Connecticut’s history.  It will more than double the amount of new zero-carbon renewable energy procured by DEEP to date.  It also represents a major step toward Governor Lamont’s goal of a 100% zero-carbon electricity supply by 2040. The Park City Wind project is offered at a price lower than any other publicly announced offshore wind project in North America. When it comes online in 2025, the project will enable Connecticut to avoid emitting more than 25 million short tons of carbon dioxide while improving electric grid reliability in cold winter periods, a critical feature that will speed Connecticut’s transition away from reliance on natural gas power plants.

The project also includes an estimated $890 million in direct economic development in Connecticut, including Bridgeport Harbor and the local supply chain. The project includes a commitment to pay no less than the prevailing wage and to negotiate in good faith for a mutually agreeable project labor agreement. Vineyard Wind estimates 2,800 direct full-time employment years will be created in Connecticut through the project.

“Connecticut is diversifying its offshore wind portfolio with this latest procurement selection, which sets up Connecticut as a regional leader in the creation of a thriving industry that will bring tangible benefits for our state and the entire region,” said Governor Ned Lamont.

“The climate crisis is no longer a future problem, and the time for action is now,” Commissioner Dykes said. “The selection of this project—the largest renewable purchase in Connecticut history—demonstrates that a zero-carbon electric future is attainable in a relatively short period of time. By leveraging competition, DEEP is securing the best value for ratepayers as we advance climate solutions and grow clean energy jobs here in our state.”

This is the state’s third procurement with offshore wind as a competitive resource, and the first procurement specifically focused on offshore wind. In 2018, DEEP selected a total of 304 megawatts of offshore wind from Revolution Wind developed by Ørsted and Eversource. Revolution Wind includes economic development commitments to the state pier in New London.  With this most recent selection, Connecticut is leading New York (5%) and Massachusetts (13%), with the equivalent of 19% of its electric load under contract with offshore wind projects. Rhode Island currently has the equivalent of 25% of its electric load committed.

As prescribed in Public Act 19-71, economic development benefits were considered as a component of the bid evaluation, in consultation with Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).  The Park City Wind project will invest in the redevelopment of port facilities in Bridgeport Harbor to facilitate local outfitting and assembly of the turbines foundations and an operations and maintenance base needed to deploy the 804 MW project. The project will also establish America’s first Tier 1 offshore wind supplier in Connecticut through the Kerite cable manufacturing facility in Seymour. These investments in the local supply chain are expected to bring an estimated $890 million in economic development benefits directly related to the Park City Wind proposal, and are expected to attract additional economic development benefits as regional offshore wind purchases continue in the future.

“This significant procurement firmly places Connecticut as a leader in clean energy,” said DECD Commissioner David Lehman. “Vineyard Wind’s investment will help develop our supply chain and create good, high paying jobs.  Today marks an important step in advancing renewable energy as an economic driver for Connecticut.”

The Park City Wind project will now enter into contract negotiations with the state’s two electric utilities, The United Illuminating Company and Eversource Energy, for a contract with a 20-year term.

MASSACHUSETTS

Labor Leaders, Business Executives and Student Activists Discuss Transition To 100% Renewable Energy

Massachusetts- Among growing calls for a transition away from fossil fuels, a diverse group of stakeholders gathered at the State House in Boston recently to discuss how to power Massachusetts with 100% clean, renewable sources of energy.

“I was grateful to be joined by my colleague and partner Representative Sean Garballey, renewable energy advocates, public health experts, business leaders, and labor representatives, as we continue to highlight the need for strong, meaningful legislation to combat climate change and move towards a just transition to 100% renewable energy in Massachusetts,” said Representative Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. “Every day we continue to hear about the threat of climate change, but the reality is that we are already being impacted. Our public health, our public safety, and our economy are all suffering the effects of rising global temperatures, but we can help reverse some of these changes. This bill filed by Representative Garballey and myself ensures that environmental justice communities and labor are centered in a just transition towards a sustainable, renewable energy future.”

The 100% Renewable Energy Act (H.2836), filed by Representative Marjorie Decker and Representative Sean Garballey, would transition Massachusetts to 100% renewable electricity by 2035 and 100% renewable energy sources for heating and transportation by 2045.

Similar legislation was filed in the Senate by Senator Jamie Eldridge. In total, 113 legislators, including a majority of members of the House and Senate, have cosponsored the 100% Renewable Energy Act.

Support for a future powered by 100% renewable energy is growing. Recently, the mayors of Somerville, New Bedford, Easthampton, and Worcester announced the launch of Mayors for 100% Renewable Energy, a new coalition supporting a statewide commitment to 100% renewable energy.

More than 50 environmental, civic, and business organizations have endorsed a statewide commitment to 100% renewable energy. Mass Power Forward, a statewide coalition with 200 member organizations, has included the 100% Renewable Energy Act among its top priorities for the 2019–2020 legislative session.

Through the RE100 initiative, more than 200 global companies have committed to a goal of 100% renewable energy. Major institutions have also committed to 100% renewable energy targets, including Boston University and Partners HealthCare.

Youth activists organized the Boston Climate Strike last Friday, calling for the passage of the 100% Renewable Energy Act as well as legislation for environmental justice and equitable investment in green infrastructure. Earlier in the week, MASSPIRG Students held a lobby day in support of the 100% Renewable Energy Act with college students from across Massachusetts.

Six states (Hawaii, California, New York, New Mexico, Washington, and Maine), along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have committed to phase out the use of fossil fuel electricity by 2050 or sooner. Under existing state law, Massachusetts would not reach 100% renewable electricity until 2095.

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