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 and Margaret R. Graham

On May 9, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register a notice stating that it was reopening the comment period regarding whether revision to the current size standards for small manufacturers and processors, which are used in connection with reporting regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 8(a), is warranted.  82 Fed. Reg. 21542.  EPA is opening the comment period for another 15 days, until May 24, 2017, to provide adequate opportunity for the public to consider the results of EPA’s consultation with the Small Business Administration (SBA).  EPA’s initial request for comments was published on December 15, 2016, and comments on its initial notice were due by January 17, 2017. 

The reopening of the comment period allows for public review and comment on EPA’s December 7, 2016, consultation request to the SBA on the adequacy of the current standards, as well as the SBA Administrator’s April 5, 2017, feedback on EPA’s consultation request.  In the notice, EPA states that it had intended to add SBA’s response to the docket to give the public an opportunity to review the response to inform their comments on EPA’s preliminary determination; EPA is providing that opportunity now. 


 

Charles M. Auer and Oscar Hernandez, Ph.D. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) announced on its website on February 9, 2017, that it has established the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC).  EPA was required to form the SACC within one year after enactment of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act.  The timing is interesting given that the deadline for public comments on the nominees was January 9, 2017, and the EPA Administrator appointed the 18 experts a mere eight days later on January 17 (a full five months ahead of the Congressional deadline), yet the announcement was held until its posting, over three weeks later, on February 9.  It thus is the case that the Obama Administration took very prompt steps to ensure that formation was completed during its period in office, perhaps in an effort to select a membership more to its liking and preferences. 

Based on our quick review of the affiliations of the 18 experts selected for the SACC, this seems to be the case.  Of the members, nine are associated with academic institutions, four with industry (with two from the pharmaceutical industry, one from a trade association (Toy Industry Association), and one a former Dow Chemical Company employee currently with Underwriters Laboratories), two with non-governmental institutions (American Cancer Society and the Humane Society), and three with federal and state government.  While there are no members hailing from an environmental advocacy group, similarly there are no members currently affiliated with a chemical company.

Regarding backgrounds, there is an emphasis on expertise associated with exposure and response research on susceptible populations, with nine members having explicit or related expertise on this topic, six of which are experts from academia.  In contrast, the panel does not seem to include a breadth of experience in exposure or risk assessment.  There are two members who previously chaired EPA’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee, a group that in our view is better known for advocacy than rigorous science.    

As many readers will know, the chemical industry had offered critical comments on the slate of nominees that was announced by EPA in the December 9, 2016, Federal Register notice, but little consideration seems to have been given to those comments.  At a minimum, it seems self- evident that the current membership would not have been the selection made under the Trump Administration.  How all of this will play through under the new Trump Administration is yet to be seen but could get interesting.


 

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.