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 Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a public meeting on December 10, 2019, to engage with interested stakeholders on the implementation of EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) New Chemicals program.  At the meeting, EPA will:

  • Provide an overview of EPA’s updated “Working Approach” document that builds upon EPA’s November 2017 “New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework:  Working Approach to Making Determinations under Section 5 of TSCA”;
  • Demonstrate how EPA has used concepts in the “Working Approach” document to reach conclusions and make determinations under TSCA Section 5(a)(3) using specific case examples;
  • Provide an update on confidential business information (CBI) process improvements and clarifications; and
  • Discuss its progress on transparency in the TSCA New Chemicals program.

By the end of 2019, EPA intends to announce the availability of the updated “Working Approach” document and provide an opportunity for written public comment.  EPA states that feedback from the public meeting and comments received will help inform its ongoing efforts to improve the way EPA reviews new chemicals under TSCA.  Details regarding the meeting are available in the prepublication version of the Federal Register notice announcing the meeting.

Background

EPA states in the prepublication version of the Federal Register notice that after considering comments received on the 2017 version of the “Working Approach” document and based on additional implementation experience, EPA is updating the “Working Approach” document.  Later in December 2019, EPA will announce the availability of the updated document after the public meeting and will hold a public comment period.  According to the notice, EPA expects the updated document to provide further clarity and detail on EPA’s approach and practices, including:  (1) EPA’s general guiding principles and concepts for making determinations on new chemical notices submitted to EPA under TSCA Section 5; (2) the decision-making logic and the key questions that EPA must address; and (3) a discussion of how EPA might apply the working approach to reach one of the five new chemical determinations allowable under the statute.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On November 8, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking regarding revisions to the confidential business information (CBI) substantiation requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  84 Fed. Reg. 60363.  EPA states that in response to a recent federal circuit court decision, it is proposing revisions to existing and proposed substantiation requirements for certain CBI claims.  Specifically, EPA is proposing two additional questions that manufacturers and processors would be required to answer to substantiate certain CBI claims for specific chemical identities and is proposing procedures for manufacturers and processors to use in amending certain previously submitted substantiations to include responses to the additional questions.  Comments on the supplemental notice are due December 9, 2019.

EPA notes that these proposed revisions supplement the proposed rule issued in the April 23, 2019, Federal Register and would amend the TSCA Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Requirements rule promulgated on August 11, 2017.  More information on the proposed rule is available in our April 11, 2019, memorandum, “EPA Announces Proposed Procedures for Review of CBI Claims for the Identity of Chemicals on the TSCA Inventory,” and more information on the final rule is available in our June 26, 2017, memorandum, “EPA Issues Final TSCA Framework Rules.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On October 30, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that in response to an April 2019 court decision on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Requirements Final Rule, EPA will publish a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking that includes two additional questions about “reverse engineering” that manufacturers and processors would be required to answer when making confidential business information (CBI) claims.  According to EPA, these questions would help provide additional information on CBI claims for specific chemical identities and would ensure that chemical companies are fully supporting their CBI claims.  EPA is also proposing a process for manufacturers and processors to use to amend and update certain previously submitted claims to include responses to these additional questions, as required to be addressed by federal circuit court decision.
 
EPA notes that the supplemental notice is limited in scope and that “[‌i]t impacts only the universe of CBI claims made for specific chemical identities for chemicals reported as ‘active’ in response to the Active-Inactive Rule.”  Publication of the supplemental notice in the Federal Register will begin a 30-day comment period.

Tags: CBI, Inventory,

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on September 19, 2019, that it posted the first public Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory to include unique identifier (UID) information.  EPA states that the UID is a numerical identifier assigned to a chemical substance when EPA approves a confidential business information (CBI) claim for specific chemical identity.  When EPA approves such a claim, it assigns a UID to that chemical identity; applies the UID to other information or submissions concerning the same substance; and ensures that any non-confidential information received by EPA identifies the chemical substance using the UID while the specific chemical identity of the chemical substance is protected from disclosure.
 
EPA notes that this is the first time that the public version of the TSCA Inventory includes both a field containing a UID for those chemical substances with approved confidentiality claims for specific chemical identity and a field containing the ten-year expiration date from the assertion of such approved claims.  EPA states that the UIDs provide the public with a way to connect the specific chemical identity previously listed on the confidential portion of the TSCA Inventory with other relevant information in EPA’s holdings. 

Commentary

EPA’s goal is to publish an up-to-date version of the TSCA Inventory about every six months.  With the version published on September 19, 2019, EPA has taken another positive step in implementing its obligations under TSCA.  The Inventory now includes two new fields: UI (for the unique identifier or UID) and EX (indicating the expiration date of the CBI claim).  EPA continues to work through CBI identities, so only a few of the CBI substances have a UID.  We expect that EPA will begin to assign UIDs to CBI substances that are newly added to the Inventory (e.g., through a Notice of Commencement submitted going forward).  We also expect that EPA will assign UIDs to substances that were claimed as CBI on a Form A as EPA works through reviewing the almost 8,000 substances listed as active on the confidential portion of the Inventory.  A more detailed commentary is available in our September 20, 2019, memorandum, “EPA Includes Unique Identifier Information on Updated TSCA Inventory.”

Tags: Inventory, UID, CBI,

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Lisa R. Burchi
 
In a significant victory for industry, on August 27, 2019, the State of New York Supreme Court invalidated the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program (Disclosure Program).  Information related to NYDEC’s prior delay of its enforcement of its Disclosure Program is available here, and general information regarding the Program and its extensive requirements for manufacturers of certain consumer cleaning products to disclose information regarding the ingredients in those products is available here.
 
Two trade associations, the Household and Commercial Cleaning Products Association (HCPA) and the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) (Petitioners), filed the lawsuit last October.  Petitioners sought declaratory relief and a judgment invalidating the Disclosure Program on the basis that the Program was a “rule” for which NYDEC did not comply with its State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA) rulemaking procedures.  Petitioners also argued that the Program was established in violation of Article IV Section 8 of the New York State Constitution, was issued in excess of NYDEC’s statutory authority, and was arbitrary and irrational.
 
The court found that the Disclosure Program was established in violation of SAPA and the New York State Constitution.  In making this finding, the court held that the Program was a “rule” as argued by Petitioners and not “guidance” for which adherence to SAPA was not required, as argued by NYDEC.  The court also found that “since there is no opt out provision whereby petitioners may choose to deviate from the program, the Disclosure Program is not mere guidance.”  The Disclosure Program is thus “null and void and the matter is remitted back to DEC with the directive to comply with SAPA.” Since the decision was reached based on violations of SAPA, the court did not address the other bases upon which Petitioners sought to invalidate the Program.  A more detailed analysis and commentary are available in our August 30, 2019, memorandum, “NY Department of Environmental Conservation Household Cleansing Product Information Disclosure Program Ruled ‘Null and Void.’”


 

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

The cost of generating health and safety studies is considerable and data owners have every right to expect some protection from disclosure to preserve the value of their intellectual property.  This is no longer guaranteed as Lynn L. Bergeson, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Kathleen M. Roberts wrote in a two-part article in Bloomberg Environment Insights. The authors propose that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) practice of disclosing entire health and safety studies voluntarily submitted under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 6 is based upon a misinterpretation of TSCA Section 14(b)(2)(A)(i) and should be reconsidered in light of a recent judicial decision and the pressing need to acknowledge the global relevance of health and safety studies. 
 
Many of the studies that will be relevant to EPA’s risk evaluations under TSCA Section 6 have significant monetary and competitive value, and data owners have every right to expect some protection from the disclosure of the study reports to preserve their value. If EPA as a matter of practice routinely posts entire study reports publicly, the reports would be rendered valueless for data compensation purposes. Some organizations have considered approaches that include the selective claiming of certain information elements in the study report as confidential to protect the value of the research while providing relevant information on the general findings and health and safety effects observed in the study. It is unclear, however, if this practice provides other stakeholders with sufficient information or if this practice is entirely effective in preserving the monetary and competitive value of the study report. EPA’s insistence that those who send in study reports accept the fact that the entire submission will be posted publicly also ignores the reality that many of these reports are jointly owned. Multiple entities often have title to the study as joint owners and its disclosure is generally subject to data sharing agreements that expressly prohibit its publication unless required by law.
 
Despite these concerns with the interpretation of TSCA Section 14(b)(2)(A)(i), submitters need to up their game, as it were, in identifying confidential business information (CBI) and certifying that release of such information would pose “substantial commercial harm.” For more information on the greater burden being placed on submitters, and for possible options to protect CBI, read the full article “Protecting the Value of Health, Safety Studies—Emerging TSCA Issues” online.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published statistics concerning its review of confidential business information (CBI) cases received between June 22 2016, and June 25, 2019.  The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, enacted in 2016, amended the CBI provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Since then, EPA “has established numerous new processes, systems, and procedures to enable submitters to provide the information required when making confidentiality claims and to facilitate EPA's review, and where applicable, determinations on these claims.”  According to EPA, the statistics show EPA's progress toward meeting the requirements of TSCA Section 14(g).  EPA uses “case” to describe a submission made under a specific section of TSCA and all subsequent submissions and amendments by the same submitter that relate back to the first submission. 

CBI Review Statistics (cases received between June 22, 2016 and June 25, 2019)
Cases in which the specific chemical identity is subject to CBI review 2,177
Cases in which information other than the specific chemical identity is subject to CBI review 2,305
Cases in which both the specific chemical identity and information other than the specific chemical identity is subject to CBI review 587
Total cases subject to CBI review 5,069

 

Cases resulting in final CBI determinations
Cases with all CBI claims subject to review, approved 523
Cases with all CBI claims subject to review, denied 5
Cases with CBI claims subject to review, approved-in-part/denied-in-part 34
Cases with all CBI claims subject to review, denial - appeal period pending* 10
Total cases resulting in final CBI determinations 572

 * “Denial - appeal period pending” cases are those for which a CBI determination denying one or more CBI claims in a case has been issued to the submitter of the information, but for which the required 30-day notification period following receipt of the determination under TSCA Section 14(g)(2)(B) has not yet passed.

Cases reviewed with no final CBI determination necessary
Cases with all CBI claims screened and found to be exempt from review 1,068
Cases with all CBI claims withdrawn by submitter 415
Cases identified for CBI review, for which no determination required (e.g., in some instances, older EPA information systems do not specifically identify which information is claimed as CBI and upon review, it is determined that no claims require review) 1,012
Total cases reviewed/screened with no final CBI determination necessary 2,495

 

Cases currently undergoing CBI review
Cases currently undergoing CBI review 2,002

EPA states that later this year, it plans to publish a comprehensive list of cases subject to CBI review to be updated quarterly.  The table will include information showing the results of individual cases with completed reviews.

Tags: CBI, Section14

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on July 15, 2019, that it will cease sending notices of deficiency to businesses that submit procedurally flawed confidential business information (CBI) claims under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  This is a significant change from the interpretation EPA announced in January 2017, and a company’s failure to appreciate its consequences could prove damaging.  Effective August 15, 2019, EPA will provide written notice to affected business submitters that because they submitted procedurally flawed CBI claims, including unsubstantiated CBI claims, those CBI claims are invalid, and the underlying information is not protected from disclosure under TSCA Section 14.  EPA states in the Federal Register notice issued on July 16, 2019, that under its 2017 interpretation, it undertook a “non-statutorily required practice of sending a notice of deficiency to an affected business that submitted a non-exempt CBI claim without a substantiation, providing an opportunity to correct the deficiency.”  84 Fed. Reg. 33939.  Under the new policy, EPA will provide written notice to affected business submitters that because they submitted procedurally flawed CBI claims, including unsubstantiated CBI claims, those CBI claims are invalid, and the underlying information is not protected from disclosure under TSCA Section 14.  EPA notes that unlike the notice of deficiency, this written notice will not provide affected businesses 30 calendar days to remedy their deficient CBI claims.  Instead, the written notice will inform affected businesses that their “procedurally flawed” CBI claims may be disclosed to the public without further notice.  More information is available in our July 16, 2019, memorandum, “EPA Announces Important New Policy on TSCA CBI Claims of Deficiency.”


 

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

On May 20, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that on May 30, 2019, it will begin publishing Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 5 notices including premanufacture notices (PMN), microbial commercial activity notices (MCAN), and significant new use notices (SNUN), their attachments, including any health and safety studies, any modifications thereto, and all other associated information in ChemView -- in the form they are received by EPA, without review by EPA.  EPA states that it will not be reviewing confidential business information (CBI)-sanitized filings before publishing.  EPA states that this announcement will be the first of several reminders that EPA sends and, in addition, EPA has incorporated a reminder to check accompanying sanitized submissions as part of the Central Data Exchange (CDX) reporting module for TSCA Section 5 notices.

EPA’s announcement states the following as guidance for submitters to take heed of before submitting their TSCA Section 5 notices:

  1. Verify the asserted CBI claims are correct and consistent; and
  2. Verify the sanitized versions of the form, attachments, and file names are checked for proper and consistent CBI redactions and that watermarks or stamps indicating CBI are removed.  

Commentary

EPA does not specify how long after submission the documents may be posted, but submitters should expect a very short turn-around.  Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) has addressed the topic of CBI before, most recently on our podcast, All Things Chemical™.  When completing a PMN, a submitter must take care to ensure that all information that must be protected as CBI is marked as such.  A submitter cannot expect EPA to extrapolate a claim for CBI in one part of a form to the rest of the document and its attachments.  B&C strongly suggests that a submitter review the sanitized form of an entire document (e.g., a PMN and its attachments) to ensure that all sensitive information is redacted before submitting the document to EPA.

Do not wait until May 30.  Begin developing and practicing good CBI practices today.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson, Charles M. Auer, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Carla N. Hutton

On April 23, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule regarding its plan to review certain confidential business information (CBI) claims to protect the specific chemical identities of substances on the confidential portion of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory.  84 Fed. Reg. 16826.  The CBI claims that would be reviewed under this plan are those that were asserted on Notice of Activity (NOA) Form A’s filed in accordance with the requirements in the Active-Inactive rule.  Comments are due June 24, 2019See the full memorandum for more information on the proposed rule. 


 
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