The US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) delivered an unwelcome Christmas gift to the chemical industry over the holiday period, making two decisions that were welcomed by environmentalists but which have angered industry groups. The watchdog announced tough new measures to regulate the use of four chemical groups, and also listed the chemicals industry as one of three sectors that will face more demanding environmental clean-up regulations.

The four chemicals for which the EPA released action plans on December 30, are phthalates, short grain chlorinated paraffins, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and perfluorinated chemicals. It said that it is also developing action plans for Benzidine dyes and pigments, and Bisphenol A. The move will place pressure on manufacturers that use the substances to limit their use and find alternatives where possible.

The American Chemistry Council reacted angrily to the introduction of the four action plans, suggesting that it was based more on the chemicals’ high profile in the media, rather than on scientific analysis.

The EPA’s other significant move, announced on the same day, saw it begin to develop regulations to guarantee that the owners of chemical plants can afford to pay for their own environmental clean-up. The move comes at a critical time politically for the EPA, as emissions reporting standards introduced by the Agency in September come into effect for the first time. From January 1, around 10,000 facilities were required to begin gathering greenhouse gas emissions information, which they will have to report to the EPA next year.

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