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.
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.”
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
|Cases in which information other than the specific chemical identity is subject to CBI review
|Cases in which both the specific chemical identity and information other than the specific chemical identity is subject to CBI review
|Total cases subject to CBI review
|Cases resulting in final CBI determinations
|Cases with all CBI claims subject to review, approved
|Cases with all CBI claims subject to review, denied
|Cases with CBI claims subject to review, approved-in-part/denied-in-part
|Cases with all CBI claims subject to review, denial - appeal period pending*
|Total cases resulting in final CBI determinations
* “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
|Cases with all CBI claims withdrawn by submitter
|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)
|Total cases reviewed/screened with no final CBI determination necessary
|Cases currently undergoing CBI review
|Cases currently undergoing CBI review
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.
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:
- Verify the asserted CBI claims are correct and consistent; and
- 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.
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, 2019. See the full memorandum for more information on the proposed rule.
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Carla N. Hutton, and Margaret R. Graham
On February 19, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it was releasing an update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory listing the chemicals that are actively being manufactured, processed and imported in the United States, which is required under amended TSCA. Some of the highlights from EPA’s announcement are:
- A key result of the update is that less than half of the total number of chemicals on the current TSCA Inventory (47 percent or 40,655 of the 86,228 chemicals) are currently in commerce; EPA states that this information will help it focus risk evaluation efforts on chemicals that are still on the market.
- As recently as 2018, the TSCA Inventory showed over 86,000 chemicals available for commercial production and use in the U.S. Until this update, EPA states that it was not known which of these chemicals on the TSCA Inventory were actually in commerce.
- More than 80 percent (32,898) of the chemicals in commerce have identities that are not Confidential Business Information (CBI), increasing public access to additional information about them.
- For the less than 20 percent of the chemicals in commerce that have confidential identities, EPA states that it is developing a rule outlining how it will review and substantiate all CBI claims seeking to protect the specific chemical identities of substances on the confidential portion of the TSCA Inventory.
- From August 11, 2017, through October 5, 2018, chemical manufacturers and processors provided information on which chemicals were manufactured, imported or processed in the U.S. over the past ten years, the period ending June 21, 2016. EPA received more than 90,000 responses, a significant reporting effort by manufacturers, importers and processors.
Look for our memorandum on this important development tomorrow; it will be posted to our Regulatory Developments webpage.
On March 13, 2019, EPA will host a webinar to assist manufacturers (including importers) and processors with future reporting requirements. Under the final TSCA Inventory notification (active-inactive) rule, a substance is not designated as an “inactive substance” until 90 days after EPA publishes the initial version of the Inventory with all listings identified as active or inactive. EPA states that manufacturers and processors should be aware that if there is a substance that is listed as “inactive” that is currently being manufactured or processed, they have 90 days to file a Notice of Activity (NOA) Form B so that they can continue their current activity. Manufacturers and processors that intend to manufacture or process an “inactive” substance in the future must submit an NOA Form B before they start their activity.
The webinar is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. (EDT) on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. The webinar will include an overview of filing a NOA Form B, a demonstration of the electronic reporting application, and time for questions and answers. Registration for the webinar is not required.
More information about the TSCA Inventory update and the webinar is available on EPA’s TSCA Chemical Substance Inventory webpage.
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Carla N. Hutton, and Margaret R. Graham
On December 21, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) Nancy B. Beck, Ph.D., signed a Federal Register document denying a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 21 petition requesting that EPA amend the Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule to increase asbestos reporting, exclude asbestos from certain exemptions, and lift Confidential Business Information (CBI) claims on asbestos information reported under the CDR rule. Due to the government shutdown, the notice has not yet been published in the Federal Register, but EPA has posted a prepublication version. EPA’s carefully reasoned response to the request is set forth in the notice.
The petition was filed on September 27, 2018, by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, American Public Health Association, Center for Environmental Health, Environmental Working Group, Environmental Health Strategy Center, and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (Petitioners). According to EPA, Petitioners requested the following specific amendments to the existing CDR rule to collect information for the ongoing asbestos risk evaluation being conducted under TSCA Section 6(b) (required to be completed by December 22, 2019), and, if necessary, any subsequent risk management decisions under TSCA Section 6(a):
- Amend the CDR rule to require immediate submission, “from January 1, 2019, to April , 2019,” of reports on asbestos for the 2016 reporting cycle.
- Amend the naturally occurring chemical substance exemption at 40 C.F.R. § 711.6(a)(3) to make the exemption inapplicable to asbestos;
- Amend the articles exemption at 40 C.F.R. § 711.10(b) to require reporting pursuant to the CDR rule for all imported articles in which asbestos is present at detectable levels;
- Amend the CDR rule to exclude asbestos from the exemption at 40 C.F.R. § 711.10(c) to require the reporting of asbestos as a byproduct or impurity;
- Amend the reporting threshold for CDR at 40 C.F.R. § 711.8(b) to set a reporting threshold of ten pounds for asbestos; and
- Amend 40 C.F.R. § 711.8 to add processors of asbestos and asbestos-containing articles as persons required to report under the CDR rule.
In addition to the above requests, Petitioners also requested that EPA use its authority under TSCA Sections 14(d)(3) and 14(d)(7) to lift CBI claims on asbestos information reported under the CDR rule. EPA responds in detail as to why it is denying each of these requests. A short summary is below.
- 2016 Reporting Cycle: EPA states that based on the extensive research and data gathering already conducted during the asbestos risk evaluation process, EPA believes that “the requested amendments to the CDR rule would not lead to the reporting of new information that would contribute to EPA’s ongoing asbestos risk evaluation or, if needed, subsequent risk management decision(s)” and Petitioners have “failed to set forth sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to require immediate past reporting of the manufacturing and use of asbestos under the CDR rule for the 2016 reporting cycle.”
- Naturally Occurring Substances Exemption: EPA states that removing the exemption for reporting on naturally occurring substances for asbestos would not provide any additional data to EPA “given that the purpose of domestic manufacturing or importing of raw asbestos is to make asbestos diaphragms, for which EPA already has use and exposure information” and Petitioners have “failed to set forth sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to lift the naturally occurring chemical substances exemption for asbestos under the CDR rule.”
- Articles Exemption: EPA states that it believes that lifting the articles exemption for the reporting of asbestos under the CDR rule “would not provide any new use information that would inform the ongoing risk evaluation or any subsequent risk management decisions, if needed” and that Petitioners “have failed to set forth sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to lift the articles exemption for asbestos under the CDR rule.”
- Reporting as a Byproduct or Impurity: EPA states that it does not believe that making the requested amendment to the CDR rule would result in “reporting of asbestos as an impurity or a byproduct, for uses that are known or reasonably ascertainable,” that Petitioners “have not provided evidence that there are such known uses that are ongoing but remain outside the scope of the asbestos risk evaluation,” and “have failed to set forth sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to lift the byproducts and impurities exemptions for asbestos under the CDR rule.”
- Reporting Threshold of Ten Pounds: EPA states that Petitioners “fail to show that lowering the reporting threshold would provide any new information to EPA” and, therefore, finds that the Petitioners “have failed to set sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to lower the CDR reporting threshold for asbestos.”
- Adding Processors to CDR: EPA states that it does not believe that “requiring processors of asbestos under the CDR rule will provide useful information not already in its possession,” Petitioners “have failed to indicate what additional information EPA would collect by requiring asbestos processors to report under the CDR rule” and, therefore, EPA finds that the Petitioners “have failed to set forth sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to require processors of asbestos to report under the CDR rule.”
- Lifting CBI Claims: EPA states that Petitioners’ request to lift CBI claims on asbestos information reported under the CDR rule is "not appropriate for a TSCA Section 21 petition, as a TSCA Section 21 only pertains to the “issuance, amendment, or repeal of a rule under TSCA sections 4, 6, or 8, or an order under TSCA sections 4 or 5(e) or (f),” therefore, a TSCA Section 21 petition “is not a vehicle to petition EPA to initiate an action under TSCA section 14.” Further, EPA states that it believes that “disclosure of CBI would have no practical relevance to the risk evaluation or risk determination as the CBI claims are limited and EPA retains the ability to characterize the information without revealing the actual protected data.”
Please look for the full analysis in our upcoming memorandum that will be posted on our Regulatory Developments page.
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Molly R. Blessing
Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) will present a webinar regarding confidential business information (CBI) as related to chemical regulation on September 18, 2018. Register for “TSCA Confidential Business Information and Generic Naming: Analyzing the New Rules” online. This webinar is part of the 2018 Chemical Policy Summit Series presented by B&C and Bloomberg Next.
On June 21, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued guidance intended to “assist companies in creating structurally descriptive chemical names for chemical substances whose specific chemical identities are claimed confidential, for purposes of protecting the specific chemical identities from disclosure while describing the chemical substances as specifically as practicable, and for listing substances on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Substance Inventory.” EPA states that the guidance, Guidance for Creating Generic Names for Confidential Chemical Substance Identity Reporting under the Toxic Substances Control Act, was developed in response to the requirement under new TSCA Section 14(c)(4) that EPA “develop guidance regarding – (A) the determination of structurally descriptive generic names, in the case of claims for protection from disclosure of specific chemical identity…” and the requirement under new TSCA Section 14(c)(1)(C) that submitters who assert a confidentiality claim for a specific chemical identity must include a structurally descriptive generic name developed consistent with EPA guidance. The guidance updates and replaces the 1985 guidance published in the TSCA Inventory, 1985 Edition (Appendix B: “Generic names for Confidential Chemical Substance Identities”). EPA states that, also consistent with Sections 14(c)(4) and 14(c)(1)(C), EPA will be reviewing generic names upon receipt in TSCA filings where chemical identity is claimed as confidential for consistency with the guidance. EPA encourages companies to consult the Agency’s Office of Pollution, Prevention, and Toxics (OPPT) if they feel that it will be necessary to mask more than one structural element of a specific chemical name to mask a confidential chemical identity. More information on this guidance is available in our full memorandum.