By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham, M.S.
On March 15, 2019, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a final rule prohibiting the manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution in commerce of methylene chloride for consumer paint and coating removal, including distribution to and by retailers; requiring manufacturers (including importers), processors, and distributors, except for retailers, of methylene chloride for any use to provide downstream notification of these prohibitions; and requiring recordkeeping. The rule states that EPA has determined that “the use of methylene chloride in consumer paint and coating removal presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health due to acute human lethality.” This final rule does not prohibit the use of methylene chloride in commercial paint and coating removal, however. EPA is instead soliciting comment, through an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) also signed by Administrator Wheeler on March 15, 2019, on questions related to a potential training, certification, and limited access program as an option for risk management for all of the commercial uses of methylene chloride in paint and coating removal. More information will be available on these issuances in a forthcoming memorandum to be available on our Regulatory Developments webpage.
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Charles M. Auer, and Carla N. Hutton
GAO released on March 6, 2019, a report entitled High-Risk Series: Substantial Efforts Needed to Achieve Greater Progress on High-Risk Areas. GAO’s high-risk program identifies government operations with vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or in need of transformation to address economy, efficiency, or effectiveness challenges. GAO’s report describes the status of high-risk areas and outlines actions necessary to assure further progress. GAO states that in the two years since its last high-risk report, three areas, including “Transforming EPA’s Process for Assessing and Controlling Toxic Chemicals,” have regressed in their ratings against GAO’s criteria for removal from the High-Risk List. GAO notes that since adding this area to its High-Risk List in 2009, it has made 12 recommendations to EPA related to the IRIS Program and TSCA. According to GAO, while EPA has taken steps to manage chemicals that pose risks to human health and the environment, leadership and implementation challenges remain. More information is available in B&C’s March 8, 2019, memorandum, “EPA’s Process for Assessing and Controlling Toxic Chemicals Remains on GAO’s High-Risk List.”
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change announced on March 6, 2019, that it will hold a hearing on March 13, 2019, on “Mismanaging Chemical Risks: EPA’s Failure to Protect Workers.” The Subcommittee will address how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “is systemically ignoring worker risks in its implementation of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act and other worker protections.” Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko (D-NY) stated that protecting vulnerable populations is an essential part of EPA’s mission, but under the Trump Administration, EPA “has systematically undervalued or completely overlooked the risks workers face from exposure to chemicals on the job. Workers should not have to choose between their health and their jobs.” Information for the hearing, including the Majority Memorandum, witness list and testimony, and a live webcast, will be posted on the hearing web page as they become available.
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Charles M. Auer, Oscar Hernandez, Ph.D., Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Carla N. Hutton
On March 4, 2019, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report titled Chemical Assessments: Status of EPA’s Efforts to Produce Assessments and Implement the Toxic Substances Control Act. The report describes the extent to which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program has addressed identified challenges and made progress toward producing chemical assessments; and assesses whether EPA has demonstrated progress implementing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). GAO reviewed documents from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and EPA and interviewed EPA officials and representatives from two environmental and two industry stakeholder organizations. GAO found that while EPA made improvements in the IRIS Program, between June and December 2018, EPA leadership directed the Program to stop the assessment process during discussions about program priorities. GAO states that while EPA has responded to initial statutory deadlines in TSCA, as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act), challenges remain. Read the full memorandum for more information on the report including why GAO did the study, GAO’s findings, and an insightful commentary.
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 and Margaret R. Graham
On February 8, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register its notice extending the review periods for all Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 5 Premanufacture Notices (PMN), Significant New Use Notices (SNUN), Microbial Commercial Activity Notices (MCAN), and exemption notices that were submitted to the Agency under TSCA Section 5 before December 29, 2018, and for which the review period had not expired as of December 29, 2018. 84 Fed. Reg. 2851. The notice states that EPA requires an extension of the review periods to complete its risk assessments, to examine its regulatory options, and to prepare the necessary documents associated with the relevant determination under TSCA Section 5(a)(3). The duration of the extension period is a total of 33 days, but the notice states that because the extension is less than 90 days, EPA reserves the right under TSCA Section 5(c) to issue, for good cause, future additional extensions for individual cases up to a total of 90 days.
More information on why EPA has chosen to do this is in our blog item regarding the pre-publication version of this notice “EPA Extends Review Periods for TSCA Section 5 PMNs, SNUNs, MCANs and Exemption Notices Due to Lack of Authorized Funding and Shutdown.”
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On February 5, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) announced the launch of its Twitter account, @EPAChemSafety. EPA states that this account will post the latest news on chemicals and pesticides including updates on its chemical review initiatives under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and information on upcoming webinars and public meetings.
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Margaret R. Graham
On February 1, 2019, Lynn Vendinello, Acting Director, Chemical Control Division, of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) signed the pre-publication version of a notice announcing that, due to the recent lapse of appropriations and the Agency shutdown, EPA is extending the review periods for all Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 5 Premanufacture Notices (PMN), Significant New Use Notices (SNUN), Microbial Commercial Activity Notices (MCAN), and exemption notices that were submitted to the Agency under TSCA Section 5 before December 29, 2018, and for which the review period had not expired as of December 29, 2018.
Due to a lack of authorized funding, from December 29, 2018, until EPA operations for the TSCA New Chemicals operations fully resumed on January 31, 2019, certain EPA functions were suspended including the processing of submissions made through the Central Data Exchange (CDX), e-PMN, or other methods. Further, no review work was performed on the TSCA section 5 notifications received by EPA on or before December 29, 2018, and for which the review period had not yet expired as of December 29, 2018. Consequently, the review period for any TSCA Section 5 notice submitted during the shutdown did not begin until TSCA New Chemical operations fully resumed on January 31, 2019.
EPA states that the duration of the extension period will be a total of 33 days, which is equivalent to the duration of the time period from December 29, 2018 (the date on which certain EPA operations shutdown) and the date on which EPA operations for the TSCA New Chemicals Program fully resumed (January 31, 2019). The notice states that EPA requires an extension of the review periods to complete its risk assessments, to examine its regulatory options, and to prepare the necessary documents associated with the relevant determination under TSCA Section 5(a)(3).
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Margaret R. Graham
On January 31, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was petitioned by the Attorneys General of 14 states (Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 21(a) to issue an asbestos reporting rule to require reporting under TSCA Section 8(a) of information necessary for EPA to administer TSCA as to the manufacture (including importation), processing, distribution in commerce, use, and disposal of asbestos. Specifically, the petition states that the Attorneys General are petitioning EPA’s Administrator to:
- [I]nitiate a rulemaking and issue a new asbestos reporting rule to: (i) eliminate any applicability of the “naturally occurring substance” (NOCS) exemption in the [Chemical Data Reporting (CDR)] for asbestos reporting; (ii) apply the CDR reporting requirements to processors of asbestos, as well as manufacturers, including importers, of the chemical substance; (iii) ensure that the impurities exemption in the CDR does not apply to asbestos; and (iv) require reporting with respect to imported articles that contain asbestos.
In support of their requests in the petition, the Attorneys General state the following:
- NOCS Exemption: “The identified uses of imported raw asbestos represent pathways of exposure that present risks to health and the environment that EPA must consider in conducting its risk evaluation and regulating asbestos, and accordingly EPA should promulgate an asbestos reporting rule to require reporting of such information. Moreover, the required asbestos reporting must capture information with respect to the quantities imported, and these potential exposure pathways so this information can be made available to inform the states’ and the public’s knowledge regarding asbestos exposure risks.”
- Reporting from Processors: “[T]o enable EPA to carry out its responsibility to impose requirements on processors to eliminate unreasonable risks of injury to health or the environment arising from exposures to asbestos, EPA must promulgate new regulations to apply the reporting requirements of the CDR to processors of asbestos notwithstanding that the current CDR does not expressly require such reporting. Should EPA fail to do so, EPA would be violating TSCA, acting arbitrarily and capriciously, and abusing its discretion in implementing TSCA.”
- Exemptions for “Impurities” and “Articles”: “[W]hile the CDR exempts reporting with respect to ‘impurities’ and for chemical substances imported as ‘part of an article,’ neither of these exceptions should be applied to reporting with respect to the presence of asbestos if EPA is to satisfy TSCA’s mandate to prevent unreasonable risks associated with exposures to this highly toxic chemical.”
- Reporting for Asbestos: “EPA must account for the many tons of asbestos that are imported into the U.S., whether as a raw material or processed, to evaluate adequately the current and likely future risks of exposure to asbestos, and must also account for asbestos in consumer products, whether or not the asbestos is intentionally included in those products. These data … are needed for EPA to be able to make informed technically complex decisions regarding the regulation of asbestos. Without these data to rely on, the agency will be unable to meet its obligations under TSCA to make its decisions based on the weight of the scientific evidence and using the best available science …. Accordingly, EPA must issue an asbestos reporting rule to ensure that the NOCS, the impurities, and the articles exemptions do not apply to asbestos, and that processors of asbestos are required to report.”
The petition cites EPA’s denial of a petition submitted by a group of non-governmental organizations (NGO) seeking similar action that the Attorneys General are requesting, but does not address the many reasons that EPA denied the first petition. Why the Attorneys General would follow up EPA’s well-reasoned denial with a petition of their own with very similar requests and only marginal additional facts, is unclear. More information on the NGO petition is available in our blog item "EPA Denies Section 21 Petition Seeking Increased Asbestos Reporting."
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On January 28, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its Year in Review: 2018 (YIR). The YIR lists the following accomplishments:
- Issued major proposals, including the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule, and the new waters of the U.S. definition;
- Provided greater regulatory certainty to states, tribes, localities, and the regulated community;
- Streamlined the effectiveness and efficiency of EPA;
- Launched cross-agency initiatives to improve risk communication on emerging contaminants and vulnerable populations;
- Initiated multiple actions to reduce lead exposure, including releasing the Federal Lead Action Plan;
- Improved enforcement compliance and assistance;
- Held EPA’s first-ever Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) National Leadership Summit and Inaugural Recycling Day Summit;
- Led international environmental efforts, including first-ever articles to prevent and reduce marine litter; and
- Ensured comprehensive and coordinated responses to multiple natural disasters.
The YIR provides the following “by the numbers” summary:
- Regulatory Reform: EPA issued 13 final deregulatory actions in 2018. To date, under President Trump, EPA has issued 33 final major deregulatory actions, “saving Americans almost $2 billion”;
- Air: EPA reported that, during President Trump’s first year in office, greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial sources decreased by 2.7 percent;
- Water: By the end of 2018, EPA closed seven Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans totaling nearly $2 billion to help finance over $4 billion for water infrastructure projects and create up to 6,000 jobs;
- Land: EPA deleted all or part of 22 sites from Superfund’s National Priorities List in fiscal year (FY) 2018 -- “the largest number of deletions in one year since FY 2005”;
- Chemicals: After inheriting a “backlog” of 672 new chemical submissions pending review in January 2017, under President Trump, EPA “aggressively worked to improve the review of new chemical submissions and, as a result, eliminated the initial backlog and reduced the number of cases pending review to 475 submissions by August 2018.” EPA completed 99.7 percent of the 2,199 pesticide registration actions on-time, and registered 23 new active ingredients and 147 new uses of existing pesticides, “providing new tools to growers to meet their pest management needs”;
- Enforcement: In FY 2018, EPA enforcement actions required the treatment, disposal, or elimination of 809 million pounds of pollutants and waste -- almost twice as much as FY 2017. EPA also entered into the largest settlement in the history of its enforcement of the Risk Management Program with the responsible party spending $150 million on major safety improvements; and
- Grants: EPA awarded $4,451,520,905 in grants in FY 2018, including more than $63 million under the General Assistance Program, benefiting nearly all federally recognized tribes through awards to 500 tribal governments and approximately 25 intertribal consortia, $4.344 million in State and Tribal Assistance Grants, and 37 environmental education grants totaling $3,306,760 in 32 states to 13 colleges and universities, 23 stakeholder organizations, and one tribal community.
Further information on the YIR and our commentary is available in the full Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) memorandum.