Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is a Washington, D.C. law firm providing chemical and chemical product stakeholders unparalleled experience, judgment, and excellence in matters relating to TSCA, and other global chemical management programs.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 11, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would be taking expedited action on reducing exposures to the following persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals (PBT).  As stated in our blog item Deadline for Requesting Risk Evaluation for PBT Chemicals Fast Approaching, Section 6(h) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 20th Century Act, outlines a procedure requiring “expedited” regulatory action that is intended to reduce exposures to these chemicals to the “extent practicable.”  Instead of conducting a standard risk evaluation, EPA immediately will proceed to assess and identify appropriate risk management actions for these chemicals:

  • Decabromodiphenyl ethers (DecaBDE), used as a flame retardant in textiles, plastics and polyurethane foam;
  • Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD), used in the manufacture of rubber compounds and lubricants and as a solvent;
  • Pentachlorothio-phenol (PCTP), used as an agent to make rubber more pliable in industrial uses;
  • Tris (4-isopropylphenyl) phosphate, used as a flame retardant in consumer products and other industrial uses; and
  • 2,4,6-Tris(tert-butyl)phenol, used as a fuel, oil, gasoline or lubricant additive.

Manufacturers were given until September 19, 2016, to request that EPA conduct a risk evaluation prior to risk management decisions on any of the PBT chemicals listed on EPA’s 2014 Work Plan; EPA states that requests for risk evaluations were made for two chemicals that can be used in fragrance mixtures, but for the remaining PBT chemicals, “it must move ahead to take expedited action to reduce exposure those chemicals.”  The two requests were made for:

  • Ethanone, 1-(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8-octahydro-2,3,5,5-tetramethyl-2-naphthalenyl); and
  • Ethanone, 1-(1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8-octahydro-2,3,8,8-tetramethyl-2-naphthalenyl.

As a result of the requests, EPA has excluded these two chemicals from the expedited action requirements under Section 6(h).  The statutory deadline for EPA to propose action is June 22, 2019More information on these PBTs and EPA’s implementation of the amended TSCA can be found on our blog under keyword:  PBTs.


 

By Zameer Qureshi

On October 4, 2016, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) hosted its fourth and final webinar in its series of webinars on the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in collaboration with Chemical Watch.  The webinar addressed numerous important issues for a wide array of stakeholders.  The webinar was moderated by Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner at B&C, and the expert panel included Charles M. Auer, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Lisa R. Burchi, and Sheryl L. Dolan.

Mr. Auer, Senior Regulatory and Policy Advisor at B&C, addressed “Administration of the Act” and described important changes between old and new TSCA.  Mr. Auer’s presentation consisted of three segments:  (1) “Section 26 Science Requirements”; (2) “Section 26 Information and Guidance”; and (3) “Section 26 ‘Savings’ Provision.”  

Mr. Auer addressed the “Scientific Standards” requirements of new TSCA Section 26(h), the “Weight of Scientific Evidence” requirements of Section 26(i), and the Section 26(o) provisions of new TSCA relating to Consultation with the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC).  Mr. Auer addressed a number of additional rules and requirements in Section 26, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) obligation to submit a report to Congress and issue an Annual Plan under Sections 26(m)-(n).

Ms. Burchi, Of Counsel at B&C, discussed “Preemption” under Section 18 of new TSCA. Ms. Burchi described preemption as “one of the most debated subjects in [the TSCA reform] debate” and stated that she had heard it referred to as a “linchpin” in terms of reaching agreement on provisions for TSCA reform to occur.  Ms. Burchi stated “Everything in the new Section 18 is new or very significantly changed from what we were used to with regard to preemption … The final provisions are fairly complicated … It will remain to be seen whether states continue to act with regard to chemical substances in the way that they have been.”

Ms. Burchi addressed the three “main” provisions related to preemption under new TSCA Sections 18(a)(1)(A)-(C), and analyzed more specific issues (e.g., pause preemption) and the related exceptions.  Ms. Burchi described the TSCA Section 18(d)-(e) provisions relating to “Exceptions” and “Preservation of Certain Laws.”  Ms. Burchi also addressed new TSCA’s Section 18(f) “Waivers” provisions and concluded her segment of the presentation with the following statement:  “It remains to be seen whether states are going to be jumping in to [take action] when EPA has already identified a chemical for prioritization and review … [There will be some interesting provisions and interplay] to be seen as we move forward under new TSCA.” 

Ms. Dolan, Senior Regulatory Consultant at B&C, analyzed “Fees” under new TSCA and addressed EPA’s obligations to:  (1) set lower fees for small business concerns; (2) consider balance between manufacturers and processors; and (3) consult with the regulated community.  Ms. Dolan stated “new TSCA directs EPA to review its fee program on a three-year cycle and revise it as needed to raise the target fees … While new TSCA did not set a deadline for developing the fees program, it really didn’t have to -- EPA, of course, has every incentive to knock this rulemaking out quickly.” 

Ms. Dolan indicated that a final rule is expected on fees under new TSCA by June 2017, and provided an overview of comments received on the proposed rule.  Ms. Dolan stated that “overarching themes” in the comments included that:  (1) fees should be tied to the level of required effort; (2) fees should encourage innovation; and (3) fees should not be overly complex or difficult to administer.  In relation to (3), Ms. Dolan quoted a commenter that stated “don’t give us the [Internal Revenue Service (IRS)] Code.” 

Ms. Dolan stated “everyone seems to want to know how much will a [pre-manufacture notice (PMN)] cost in the future … I think the answer to that [will come with a big red bow] in December.  Specifically, EPA states that it will send a proposal to [the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)] in mid-October … EPA may well set a comment period of at least 60 days for this proposed rule.”

Dr. Engler, Senior Chemist at B&C, discussed Sustainable Chemistry (i.e., Green Chemistry) under new TSCA.  Dr. Engler stated “new TSCA is largely silent on sustainability” and indicated that the “primary benefit” to Sustainable Chemistry under new TSCA is the abbreviated review period when EPA determines that a new chemical is “not likely to present” an unreasonable risk (i.e., 90-day period waived and manufacturers can commence manufacturing immediately).  Dr. Engler addressed chemicals that EPA considers to present low hazard for health and ecotoxicity (“low/low” chemicals) and stated that new TSCA could be “more of a driver for Sustainable Chemistry,” if only low/low chemicals escape regulation.

Dr. Engler addressed “Relative Risk under New TSCA” and EPA’s “Safer Choice Program” (SCP).  Dr. Engler discussed the Senate Report on S. 697, which suggested that EPA should consider “private sector voluntary consensus standards as an alternative” to SCP.  Dr. Engler indicated that as the relevant section of the Senate report concerns Section 23, the Sustainable Chemistry Section that was not included in the enacted new TSCA, it is unclear how it applies to new TSCA as enacted.  Dr. Engler stated that EPA is proceeding with SCP and hosting a summit in November on this topic.

The webinar concluded with a Questions and Discussion (Q&D) session, and B&C’s expert panel provided useful answers and analyses in response to attendees’ questions.  Ms. Bergeson moderated the Q&D session, which was organized by topic. 

In the Q&D session, Ms. Bergeson stated and asked Ms. Dolan: “Fees are super important … [small businesses and startups] might have a hard time mustering any type of financial liquidity to get their notifications through the gauntlet of EPA -- so how would you expect EPA to be defining lower fees for purposes of small business provision?”

Ms. Dolan responded by stating “[currently, the ratio is $2,500 and $100 for small businesses.  I would imagine there will be some kind of comparable proportionality and currently there are other submissions (e.g., Low Volume Exemptions) that don’t require any fees.  EPA has got to raise the money somewhere -- the more they put it on something else or the more they try to avoid charging fees for things, the more it’s going to jack up the cost and other things.  I would imagine that they are going to charge something for everything.  Whether they maintain that proportionality of 100:2500 remains to be seen.  Another consideration is what constitutes a small business.  There is a lot of conversation about that and the fact that definition hasn’t been updated in quite a while … This might be something that is the focus of a lot of attention in the proposed rule.]”

Ms. Bergeson drew on Mr. Auer’s extensive experience with EPA on several occasions during the Q&D session, starting questions with “If you were back at EPA,” and Mr. Auer’s responses were comprehensive.   Dr. Engler responded to questions regarding Green Chemistry and discussed Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) substances under new TSCA, and Ms. Burchi answered questions on California’s Safer Consumer Products Regulation (SCPR) and preemption under new TSCA.

More information on TSCA reform and B&C’s “The New TSCA: What You Need to Know” webinar series is available online.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Richard E. Engler, Ph.D.

On September 2, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released additional guidance on its implementation of the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in the form of additional questions and answers (Q&A).  EPA added a series of Q&As of particular relevance given the fast-approaching TSCA Section 6(h) deadline of September 19, 2016, for industry to request a risk evaluation for persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals listed in the 2014 TSCA Work Plan.  Section 6(h) outlines a procedure requiring “expedited” regulatory action that is intended to reduce exposures to these chemicals to the “extent practicable.”  As written, chemicals subject to Section 6(h) will not undergo a risk evaluation as with other high-priority chemicals.  Instead, EPA will proceed immediately to assess and identify appropriate risk management actions for these chemicals that EPA believes achieves the goal of reduced exposure to the “extent practicable.”  EPA is required under new TSCA to issue the proposed risk management rules by June 2019, three years from enactment of new TSCA, and issue the final rules six months thereafter.

As we noted in an earlier blog, this deadline poses ups and downs.  On the one hand, absent a risk evaluation, fast tracking the process necessarily invites worst-case assumptions and a high degree of probability that regulatory actions will be extensive.  On the other hand, in the absence of a defined risk evaluation process and a yet-to-be-defined fee assessment process or schedule, volunteers may be few and far between.  Understandably, a potential requester can be expected to want to know what the risk evaluation cost will be before making a commitment to pay that amount.  Even with these uncertainties, under some circumstances the election may be worth considering and stakeholders are urged to consider the risks and benefits quickly, as September 19 is only days away.

EPA’s new Q&As pertinent to PBTs relate to:

Interestingly, EPA’s Q&As address some, but not all, questions. Careful review of the questions and EPA’s answers is advised.  In short:

  • There are seven substances on the Work Plan list that are PBTs;
  • There is no formal request form; all that is required is the substance and company identity, along with the contact information of the requesting official; 
  • Entities requesting the assessment are disallowed from defining the scope and EPA intends to “evaluate the chemical substance in accordance with TSCA section 6(b)” regardless of a more narrowly defined set of uses of interest to the submitter;
  • The submitter will be expected to pay for the full assessment; and
  • The request is irrevocable and cannot be withdrawn.

While EPA’s interpretation comes as no surprise, reasonable people are likely to disagree as to whether the law must be read as EPA reads it.  EPA may find more willing sponsors if, for example, the fee is limited to cover the scope of nominated uses.  EPA could evaluate a broader scope, but the additional expense would not be entirely borne by the nominating company.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson, Kathleen M. Roberts, and Margaret R. Graham

Section 6(h) of new TSCA addresses persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemical substances listed in the 2014 TSCA Work Plan.  For such chemicals, Section 6(h) outlines a procedure requiring “expedited” regulatory action that is intended to reduce exposures to these chemicals to the “extent practicable.”  As written, chemicals subject to Section 6(h) will not undergo a risk evaluation as will other high-priority chemicals.  Instead, EPA will proceed immediately to assess and identify appropriate risk management actions for these chemicals that EPA believes achieves the goal of reduced exposure to the “extent practicable.”  EPA is required under new TSCA to issue the proposed risk management rules by June 2019, or three years from enactment of new TSCA, and issue the final rules six months thereafter.

Importantly, manufacturers or other stakeholders of potential Section 6(h) chemicals can request that EPA conduct a risk evaluation prior to risk management decisions.  Section 6(h)(5) expressly allows entities to request such risk evaluations, effectively blunting expedited action.  The cost of the risk evaluation is borne by the entity requesting the evaluation.  Such requests must be received prior to September 22, 2016, a fast-approaching deadline.

This deadline plainly poses ups and downs.  On the one hand, absent a risk evaluation, fast tracking the process necessarily invites worst-case assumptions and a high degree of probability regulation actions will be extensive.  On the other hand, in the absence of a defined risk evaluation process and a yet-to be-defined fee assessment process or schedule, volunteers may be few and far between.  Understandably, a potential requester can be expected to want to know what the risk evaluation cost will be before making a commitment to pay that amount.  Nonetheless, even with these uncertainties, under some circumstances the election may be worth considering and stakeholders are urged to consider the risks and benefits quickly as September 22 is less than a month away.  Reportedly, EPA is preparing interim guidance for companies that wish to nominate a PBT for risk evaluation, and expects to issue it soon.