U.S. EPA will not impose new rule to curb plastic pollution
WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency will not propose new regulations to limit the plastic pollution that contaminates our waterways, a senior EPA official said Thursday.
The rulemaking was set to be released Thursday in the House of Representatives, and the administration had said it would be released soon.
It was widely expected that the agency would move forward with new rules to protect waterways and fish habitat, including by requiring companies to install filters to remove certain plastic materials, and to monitor the water quality in certain parts of the country.
The new rules would be the EPA’s first to address plastic pollution, the EPA official told reporters Thursday afternoon.
It’s the first time the agency has put out a proposal that would specifically address plastic contamination.
The rulemaking is being spearheaded by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who was nominated by President Donald Trump.
The EPA has been grappling with the plastic problem for more than a decade, after years of declining plastic consumption and a shift to natural materials.
Plastic pollution is one of the main reasons why the number of fish species in the U.N.’s World Marine Week, which takes place every two years, is shrinking.
A new U.K. government report showed that plastic pollution in the Great Lakes has fallen by 70 percent since 1980, and that pollution is now decreasing at a rate of about 10 percent a year.
But that report has been under fire by environmental groups, who say the report underestimates the plastic that is floating in the lakes.
Environmental groups are pushing the EPA to use new science and data to better understand the plastic in the oceans and lakes and to make regulations to protect fish and other marine life.
The EPA has also been reviewing its own data to see if it is up to date.