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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on September 16, 2020, that it is inviting small businesses, governments, and not-for-profits to participate as Small Entity Representatives (SER) to provide advice and recommendations to two Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panels.  There will be one Panel for methylene chloride and one Panel for 1-bromopropane (1-BP).  According to EPA, each Panel will focus on EPA’s development of proposed rules to address unreasonable risks identified in EPA’s recently completed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) risk evaluations for these chemicals.  As reported in our June 25, 2020, memorandum, and August 11, 2020, memorandum, EPA’s final risk evaluations showed unreasonable risks to workers and consumers under certain conditions of use.  EPA is now moving to the risk management step in the TSCA process by working to draft regulations to protect public health from the unreasonable risks identified in the final risk evaluations.
 
According to EPA, the Regulatory Flexibility Act requires agencies to establish an SBAR Panel for rules that may have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.  The SBAR Panels will include federal representatives from the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and EPA.  The SBAR Panels will select SERs to provide comments on behalf of their company, community, or organization and advise the Panel on the potential impacts of the proposed rule on small entities.  EPA states that it is seeking self-nominations directly from the small entities that may be subject to the rule requirements.  EPA notes that other representatives, such as trade associations that exclusively or at least primarily represent potentially regulated small entities, may also serve as SERs.  Self-nominations may be submitted online for the methylene chloride and 1-BP SBAR Panels and must be received by September 30, 2020.
 
EPA states that in addition to engaging with small businesses, it “is executing a robust outreach effort on risk management that includes one-on-one meetings with stakeholders and formal consultations with state and local governments, tribes, and environmental justice communities.”  EPA notes that there will also be an open public comment period on any draft risk management regulations.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On September 14, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a pre-publication version of a final rule establishing the procedures and requirements for how EPA will manage the issuance of guidance documents consistent with Executive Order (EO) 13891, “Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents.”  The final regulation provides a definition of guidance document for the purposes of this rule, establishes general requirements and procedures for certain guidance documents issued by EPA, and incorporates additional requirements for guidance documents determined to be significant guidance.  EPA notes that the regulation, consistent with the EO, also provides procedures for the public to petition for the modification or withdrawal of active guidance documents as defined by the rule or to petition for the reinstatement of a rescinded guidance document.  EPA states that the regulation is intended to increase the transparency of its guidance practices and improve the process used to manage its guidance documents.  The final rule will be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.  More information will be available in a forthcoming memorandum that will be posted on our website.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted a September 2, 2020, blog item by Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, entitled “Advancing Chemical Safety by Listening to You.”  Dunn describes how EPA will move from risk evaluation to risk management.  As reported in our September 9, 2020, blog item, EPA will hold webinars on September 16 and September 30, 2020, on its final risk evaluations for methylene chloride and 1-bromopropane, as well as one-on-one meetings with stakeholders and formal consultations with state and local governments, tribes, environmental justice communities, and small businesses.  Dunn states that EPA will use these opportunities “to educate the public and our stakeholders on what we found in our final risk evaluations, the risk management process required by TSCA, which options are available to us for managing unreasonable risk, and what that means for all of you moving forward.”  EPA will also seek input on potential risk management approaches, their effectiveness, and any impacts those approaches might have on businesses.  According to Dunn, EPA will use this feedback to develop proposed regulations “that are both protective and practical.”  Dunn notes that there are several actions EPA can take to address the unreasonable risks it has found, “including banning or phasing out certain uses of a chemical, requiring warning labels and other special instructions on how a chemical can be used, recordkeeping/testing, and requiring manufacturers to notify distributors of any unreasonable risks.”  Dunn encourages stakeholders to take advantage of these engagement opportunities.  EPA is “relying on you to ask questions, raise concerns, bring things to our attention that we may not have considered, and to provide us with information we may not already have.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on September 8, 2020, a “broad public engagement and outreach effort” to discuss how EPA will approach the rulemaking process to address unreasonable risks found in final Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) chemical risk evaluations.  After issuing the first two final risk evaluations, methylene chloride and 1-bromopropane, EPA states that it “is moving into the risk management phase and is hosting a robust process to gain important feedback from stakeholders on the options for managing those risks.”  EPA will hold two public webinars to kick off this outreach effort:

  • The first webinar, scheduled for September 16, 2020, will feature a discussion of the findings from the final risk evaluation for methylene chloride.  More information on EPA’s final risk evaluation is available in our June 25, 2020, memorandum; and
  • The second webinar, scheduled for September 30, 2020, will include a discussion of the findings from the final risk evaluation for 1-bromopropane.  More information on EPA’s final risk evaluation is available in our August 11, 2020, memorandum.

According to EPA, each webinar will provide an overview of the TSCA risk management process and the tools available to manage the unreasonable risks.
 
EPA intends to schedule additional public webinars as it begins the risk management process for chemicals with unreasonable risks.  EPA states that it will also begin one-on-one meetings with stakeholders and formal consultations with state and local governments, tribes, environmental justice communities, and small businesses.  EPA notes that there will be an open public comment period on any draft risk management regulation.
 
According to EPA, there are several actions it can take under TSCA to address unreasonable risks, including banning a chemical; restricting the manufacturing, processing, distribution, or use; requiring warning labels/testing; and requiring manufacturers to notify distributors of any unreasonable risks. EPA has up to one year after issuing a final risk evaluation to propose and take public comments on any risk management actions.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) recently released Environment 2021:  What Comes Next?, a report that looks at the Trump Administration’s impact on environmental law and policy and what lies ahead.  ELI states that the report is “a response to growing demand for analysis of how deregulatory initiatives by the Trump Administration will affect environmental protection, governance, and the rule of law with a focus on what might happen in a second Trump administration or a new administration.”  According to ELI, the report:

  • Assesses the Trump Administration’s steps to remake federal environmental regulation and redefine the relationships among state and federal environmental decisions;
     
  • Identifies key categories of action affecting environmental regulation and examines some possible future outcomes; and
     
  • Helps environmental practitioners, policymakers, and the public at large think about what lies ahead, looking particularly at the nation’s ability to address new problems and confront as yet unsolved challenges, such as environmental justice.
Tags: Trump, ELI, 2021

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On August 26, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an interim final list of businesses subject to fees for the 20 chemicals designated as high priority for risk evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  EPA notes that the interim list is an updated version of the preliminary list released in January 2020.  According to EPA, making the interim final list available now gives businesses and other stakeholders an opportunity to review the list for accuracy and provides time for businesses to engage in initial outreach regarding the formation of consortia to share in fee payments.  As reported in our January 29, 2020, blog item, EPA published a Federal Register notice on January 27, 2020, identifying the preliminary lists of manufacturers (including importers) of the 20 chemical substances that EPA designated as high-priority substances for risk evaluation and for which fees will be charged.  85 Fed. Reg. 4661.  During the comment period, manufacturers (including importers) were required to self-identify as manufacturers of a high-priority substance irrespective of whether they are included on the preliminary lists identified by EPA.  EPA used this information, along with feedback received during the public comment period, to develop the interim final list.
 
EPA states that it will publish the final list of businesses subject to fees for the 20 high-priority chemicals concurrently with the release of the final scope documents for these chemicals.  Companies on the final list are subject to a portion of the TSCA fee for these risk evaluations and have 60 days to notify EPA of the formation of consortia.  According to EPA, it plans to begin invoicing for the fees after those 60 days have passed.  Due to the public health emergency, EPA states that it is exploring options for payment flexibilities.  Information on forming a consortium is available in our March 2, 2020, memorandum, “The Essential Value of Forming TSCA Consortia.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

Jeff Morris, former Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT), wrote a column published on August 18, 2020, by Chemical Watch.  In the column, “Expert Focus:  Community-based exposures and susceptibilities -- a social justice challenge for TSCA implementation,” Morris discusses how risk evaluations conducted under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) provide an opportunity to address community exposures and susceptibilities that are not otherwise covered in assumptions made about exposures in the general population.  Morris proposes ways that TSCA stakeholders can take “leadership roles in discussion, and action, on understanding potential exposures and susceptibilities of communities near chemical facilities and, where they exist, how they can be incorporated into TSCA risk evaluations.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on August 17, 2020, that it is accepting nominations for the 2021 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards.  EPA intends these awards to recognize innovation by American businesses and researchers that redesign chemical products and processes to reduce or eliminate the use and manufacture of hazardous substances.  The 2021 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards nomination package is now available, and nominations are due December 4, 2020.  EPA states that it anticipates giving awards to “outstanding green chemistry technologies” in five categories in June 2021.  EPA will host a webinar on September 23, 2020, for those interested in applying.  During the webinar, EPA will provide an overview of the requirements, criteria, and tips for submitting a nomination package.
 
According to EPA, since the inception of the program, EPA and the American Chemical Society, which co-sponsor the awards, have received more than 1,600 nominations and presented awards to more than 120 technologies.  EPA notes that “by leveraging these technologies, the use or generation of hundreds of millions of pounds of hazardous chemicals have been avoided, and billions of gallons of water and trillions of BTUs in energy have been saved annually.”  An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute will formally judge the 2021 submissions and make recommendations to EPA for the winners.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On August 17, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) published a report entitled Lack of Planning Risks EPA’s Ability to Meet Toxic Substances Control Act Deadlines.  OIG conducted the audit to determine whether EPA met the deadlines already imposed by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act) in 2016, which amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and has the staff, resources, and management controls in place to meet future statutory deadlines.  The Lautenberg Act required EPA to develop new rules for chemical prioritization for risk evaluation and risk evaluation for existing chemicals and to review all new chemical submissions and make a regulatory determination.  OIG found that while EPA met several of its TSCA deadlines, it did not complete all ten required existing chemical risk evaluations by the June 19, 2020, deadline.  OIG notes that because of statutory requirements, the number of required existing chemical risk evaluations doubled at the end of 2019, “risking the EPA’s ability to meet TSCA deadlines.”
 
OIG states that EPA’s ability to assess its TSCA workload -- and subsequently estimate the workforce levels necessary to achieve that workload -- “is critically important.”  OIG notes that the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) has not publicly identified the additional staff and resources it needs to accomplish all mandated TSCA requirements.  According to OIG, “OPPT’s resource planning is hindered by not complying with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management regulations, which requires developing a workforce plan to manage current and future workforce needs.”
 
OIG states that EPA’s program offices have not conducted a systematic workload analysis or identified workforce needs for budget justification purposes since 1987 and that this is also true for OPPT, which is responsible for implementing the TSCA amendments.  According to OIG, though OPPT expects to hire more staff members to implement the TSCA amendments in fiscal year (FY) 2020, OPPT “lacks a workforce-and-workload analysis to successfully implement and meet the 2016 TSCA deadlines.”  Additionally, OIG states, EPA’s annual plans for risk evaluations “were neither done in a timely manner nor met the statutory requirements to identify the resources needed to initiate or complete the risk evaluations for the year.”
 
OIG recommends that the assistant administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention:  (1) publish the annual existing chemical plan including the anticipated implementation efforts and required resources; (2) conduct a workforce analysis to assess OPPT’s capability to implement the TSCA amendments; and (3) specify what skill gaps must be filled in FY 2021 to meet the TSCA requirements.  According to OIG, EPA “provided acceptable corrective actions and estimated milestone dates for all recommendations.” OIG “consider[s] these recommendations resolved with corrective actions pending.”
 


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is extending the nomination and public comment periods for the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) to receive additional nominees and input on prospective candidates for membership.  EPA states that it will use public comments to assist it in selecting multiple members of SACC over the next year.  EPA anticipates appointing approximately 15 members to SACC by March 2021.  EPA notes that current members of SACC are eligible for reappointment during this period.  Therefore, the approximately 15 member appointments completed by March 2021 may include a mix of newly appointed and reappointed members.  Biographies of the candidates are available in Docket ID EPA-HQ-OPPT-2020-0135.  Comments are due September 1, 2020.

Tags: SACC

 
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