EHS News in the Biden Administration

By April 23, 2021 No Comments

Biden EPA urged to set climate pollution cap

The Center for Biological Diversity and has urged the Environmental Protection Agency to set a nationwide greenhouse gas pollution cap under the Clean Air Act.

A nationwide greenhouse gas pollution cap under the Clean Air Act is a central premise of the progressive Climate President action plan and model executive order, spearheaded by the Center and supported by nearly 750 climate and environmental justice groups.

The plan urges President Biden to confront the climate emergency with the full powers that Congress has granted the executive branch under existing laws. It also includes measures to advance environmental and racial justice, including directing all federal agencies to pro-actively “mitigate” — instead of only “identify and address” — disproportionate health and environmental impacts of their programs on communities of color and communities of low wealth.

Californian picked to lead Fed-OSHA

Doug Parker’s 1-1/2-year tenure as chief of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health ends as President Joe Biden intends to nominate Parker as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health – the top job at Fed-OSHA.  Parker recently served on Biden’s transition team, focusing on employee safety and health issues.

Biden aims to boost DOL funding for enforcement, virus response

President Joe Biden has proposed spending $14.2 billion on the U.S. Labor Department for the 2022 fiscal year, a 14% increase in the agency’s current annual budget.

The administration’s opening bid for higher DOL funding was aimed at several areas of pandemic workforce recovery. The request represents $1.7 billion above the prior-year level.

The White House is expected to later release a more detailed budget request featuring specific funding requests for individual subagencies, such as the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The White House is calling for $2.1 billion for DOL worker protection agencies, which would amount to a 17% surge, or $304 million more, from what Congress enacted for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

These agencies, which include WHD and OSHA, have lost about “14 percent of their staff, limiting DOL’s ability to perform inspections and conduct investigations,” the White House Office of Management and Budget said.

The Biden administration launches a $500,000 contest to improve face mask designs

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched the $500,000 “Mask Innovation Challenge” to find new and effective masks people will find more comfortable to wear.

HHS is hosting the contest in collaboration with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the agency responsible for leading the charge on the production and purchase of vaccines.

Up to 10 winners will be chosen in the first phase of the challenge and will split a $100,000 prize, with each person taking home up to $10,000.

The masks will be judged by their filtration efficiency, inhalation airflow resistance, fit and other test methods depending on the design.

No mask designs are permitted to use sprays or drugs that can be inhaled or absorbed in the skin, nose or mouth, according to HHS. You may not accessorize or modify NIOSH-approved respirators or FDA-approved surgical masks with anything like filters or additional head straps or ear loops.

During the second phase of the contest, participants can submit prototypes “that leverage research on the filtration efficiency of materials and meet the criteria including filtration, fit, comfort, and how easily the design can be manufactured on a large scale,” the HHS release said.

The prototypes will be tested to see if they meet filtration and airflow resistance criteria. And five winners will be chosen to split a $400,000 prize.

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