COMMENTARY | Countdown for PEER’s Regulatory Petitions

Peter Jenkins

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Countdown for PEER’s Regulatory Petitions

With about six months until a crucial national election, now is an appropriate time for an update on the regulatory petitions that PEER worked on this year. These petitions request that a federal agency propose and adopt rules to address issues important to PEER such as protecting civil servants, public health, wildlife, and our drinking water.

The list below summarizes the status of eleven of these petitions. Most of the petitions were done in partnership with other organizations and are still active, meaning that the federal agency receiving our petition has yet to decide whether to grant or deny the petition. With an election just around the corner, now is the time to ramp up action to get our requests granted, especially in case there is a new administration in 2025.

It is important to note that this list of petitions does not include our legislative work or all the other advocacy we do on a variety of topics with policy or regulatory aspects to them.

Partial Victory


  • Set Standards for Toxic PFAS Waste Disposal – PEER has petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to list waste containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as “hazardous waste” under the Resource Conservation Recovery Act. The absence of federal standards for tracking and managing PFAS wastes is a gaping loophole. Cradle-to-grave management of contaminated waste is vital, otherwise the hazards associated with these toxic chemicals will grow exponentially over time. As a result of PEER’s work, the EPA has proposed regulating some PFAS as hazardous constituents, which will allow for the cleanup of some hazardous sites. Read more»

Petition Denied


  • End Federal Support for State Programs that Allow Excessive Killing of Predators – In late 2023, the Department of the Interior denied our petition to disqualify state wildlife/game agencies from receiving grants under the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act if they allow hunting or trapping at levels that jeopardize healthy populations of wildlife, including the slaughtering of predators and other inhumane abuses. Our rulemaking petition, supported by the Global Indigenous Council, Center for Biological Diversity, and 25 other Native American, conservation, and animal welfare organizations would deny funding to states that excessively target wolves, cougars, grizzly bears, and other species. Read more»

Decision Coming Soon


  • Stop Abuses in Administrative and Investigative Leave – In 2017, Congress required the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the chief human resource agency for the federal government, to reform the often-abused federal agency involuntary leave policies. Since OPM has yet to finalize the implementing regulations, PEER submitted a rulemaking petition to OPM to spur the agency to do so. Several of PEER’s clients have been subjected to improper administrative leave, sometimes far exceeding one year. We will sue OPM on June 1 if it continues to refuse to promulgate the regulation despite a letter to PEER promising to do so. Read more»



  • Protect the Environment from Toxic Fracking Fluid – PEER has a pending rulemaking petition to EPA to amend the exception for “produced water,” which allows fracking fluid to be discharged into the environment without meeting standards for agricultural and wildlife use. This water contains numerous toxic chemicals used in drilling and extraction. PEER has waited many years with no EPA action, so the petition is ripe for litigation to compel a decision. Read more»
  • Require Waste Incinerators to Report Toxic Emissions – PEER and the Energy Justice Network have filed a petition with EPA to require incinerators that burn waste to create electricity to report their toxic emissions to EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). Waste incinerators, which many states subsidize as clean or renewable energy, are worse for the environment than landfilling and more polluting than burning coal. The TRI tracks industries’ management of over 650 toxic chemicals released into the environment that pose a threat to human health and the environment. Read more»
  • Ban Lead Ammunition in National Parks – Partnering with the American Bird Conservancy and the Union of Concerned Scientists, we’ve petitioned the Department of the Interior to ban the use of harmful and unnecessary lead ammunition and fishing tackle in national parks to protect native wildlife. Lead ammo poses a serious threat to birdlife such as bald eagles, hawks, other raptors, and other species from loons to condors. Lost lead tackle can harm fish populations, as well as some amphibians. Read more»
  • Protect Insects and Birds from Neonicotinoids and other Systemic Insecticides – We are pushing EPA to discard its 1984 regulatory waiver that allowed companies to register pesticide products without first submitting “efficacy” data showing that the product actually performs as claimed and provides greater benefits than costs. PEER and American Bird Conservancy spearheaded a rulemaking petition to EPA, endorsed by 63 other non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to require performance data from companies before registering or re-registering these dangerous and over-used “bee-killing” insecticides. Read more»
  • Get Toxic PFAS out of Plastic Containers – In 2020, testing by PEER uncovered a previously unknown threat: PFAS leaching from plastic containers into their contents. Roughly 200 million such containers are produced annually, potentially contaminating a vast variety of products including cosmetics, food products, pesticides, and others with harmful levels of PFAS. Hard-fought federal litigation to stop the threat has been stymied in the courts, but now PEER has co-authored a new petition to EPA with the Center for Environmental Health, endorsed by many NGOs, to forbid the process that creates PFAS in plastic containers. It should finally pave the way to success. Read more»
  • Reduce Plastics in National Parks – In conjunction with GreenLatinos and Beyond Plastics, PEER has petitioned the National Park Service (NPS) to eliminate single-use plastics to reduce plastic pollution in park lands and waters, reduce jeopardy to wildlife, and reduce costs to taxpayers to haul them away. Single-use disposable plastic bottles are the single biggest component of the parks’ overall waste streams. The Secretary of the Interior directed a ban on them by 2032, but that is not nearly soon enough. PEER is currently reviewing the activities of the NPS to speed up the ten-year time frame. Read more»
  • Protect Critically Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales – With only about 350 individuals left and less than 100 breeding females, the future of North Atlantic right whales is bleak because of repeated deadly entanglements in fishing trap lines, unless the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) acts quickly. PEER has a rulemaking petition pending before NOAA to protect this iconic North American species, which is severely jeopardized with extinction, by requiring lobster and other trap fisheries to convert to new ropeless or other low-harm gear. Read more»
  • Set Speed Limits to Reduce Whale Ship Strikes – PEER and The Ocean Foundation petitioned NOAA to help whales avoid ship strikes by establishing Whale Safety Zones in U.S. waters. Increasing cargo traffic is being carried by bigger ships traveling at faster speeds through coastal waters that are primary whale habitats. Collisions with ships are devastating whale populations, yet the U.S. lacks a coherent or comprehensive strategy. This must change. Read more»

Peter Jenkins is PEER’s senior counsel.

Phone: 202-265-7337

962 Wayne Avenue, Suite 610
Silver Spring, MD 20910-4453

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