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
 
On June 30, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report on its audit to determine whether the Safer Choice program effectively meets its goals and whether the program achieves quality standards through its product qualification, renewal, and required audit processes.  OIG states that EPA’s Safer Choice program does not have formal goals included in the fiscal year (FY) 2018-2022 EPA Strategic Plan, and the program has not reported results for FYs 2018-2019.  The program does have internal, non-outcome-oriented goals, however, which it is generally achieving.  The Safer Choice program’s goal is to add 200 Safer Choice products to the program and 25 chemicals to the Safer Chemical Ingredients List each year.  According to OIG, in FY 2019, EPA added 265 products and 24 chemicals.  OIG states that by not including formal goals for the Safer Choice program in EPA reports while continuing to receive Congressional funding and support, EPA limits not only accountability to Congress and the public, but also the extent that the program can use performance management information to make policy, budget, and management decisions.  OIG notes that the Safer Choice program has general controls in place for the required Safer Choice audit process, and EPA reviews audit summaries and corrective actions provided by third-party profilers (TPP).  EPA does not routinely review all supporting documentation, however, relying on TPPs to review and retain these documents.  Additionally, the Safer Choice program does not have procedures in place to conduct any formal performance reviews of TPPs or oversight reviews of TPP partner audits.  According to OIG, without periodic audit oversight, including full reviews of supporting documents and formal performance reviews of TPPs, EPA risks approving products that do not comply with the Safer Choice Standard.  OIG recommends that the Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention develop and publish adequate Safer Choice program goals and performance measures, establish and implement procedures for formal audit oversight of TPPs, amend its memorandums of understanding with TPPs to require performance reviews conducted by EPA, and collect and document TPP audit supporting information.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Federal Register notice on March 23, 2020, announcing that the EPA Safer Choice program is accepting submissions for its 2020 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards.  85 Fed. Reg. 16334.   EPA states that it developed the Partner of the Year Awards to recognize the leadership contributions of Safer Choice partners and stakeholders who, over the past year, have shown achievement in the design, manufacture, selection, and use of products with safer chemicals, furthering outstanding or innovative source reduction.  All Safer Choice stakeholders and program participants in good standing are eligible for recognition.  Interested parties who would like to be considered for this award should submit to EPA information about their accomplishments and contributions during 2019.  EPA notes that there is no form associated with this year’s application.  EPA will recognize award winners at a Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards ceremony that is being planned for fall 2020.  Submissions are due May 31, 2020.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On September 23, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced that it plans to begin fieldwork on EPA’s Safer Choice program.  According to OIG, its objectives are to identify and assess the controls that EPA has in place to verify that the Safer Choice program meets its goals and achieves quality standards through its product qualification, renewal, and required audit process.  OIG states that Safer Choice “is a voluntary labeling program that helps consumers and commercial buyers find chemical-based products that are safer for human health and the environment.”  OIG plans to conduct work at headquarters and at various third-party assessor and auditor locations.  It will use applicable generally accepted government auditing standards in conducting its audit.  The anticipated benefits of the audit “are reducing the use of chemicals of concern and empowering consumers to protect their health.”

Tags: Safer Choice,

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On September 25, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized 14 Safer Choice Partner of the Year award winners for outstanding achievement in 2018 for the design, manufacture, selection, and use of products with safer chemicals for use in households and facilities nationwide.  The Safer Choice program partners with businesses and others to help consumers and commercial buyers identify products with safer chemical ingredients, without sacrificing quality or performance.  According to EPA’s press release, the 2019 Partner of the Year award winners represent businesses -- including woman-owned and small- and medium-sized -- local government, and associations.  The following organizations from seven EPA regions are being awarded this year:


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Federal Register notice on June 28, 2019, announcing that the EPA Safer Choice Program is accepting submissions for its 2019 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards.  84 Fed. Reg. 31066.  The Safer Choice Program partners with businesses and others to help consumers and commercial buyers identify products with safer chemical ingredients, “without sacrificing quality or performance.”  Toward this end, according to EPA, the Safer Choice Program certifies products containing ingredients that have met the Program's “specific and rigorous human health and environmental toxicological criteria.”  The Safer Choice Program allows the use of its label on products that perform and contain safer ingredients, as determined by expert evaluation.  According to EPA, recognition by the Safer Choice Program represents a high level of achievement in formulating products that are safer for people and the environment.  EPA states that the purpose of the Partner of the Year Awards “is to recognize the leadership contributions of Safer Choice partners and stakeholders who, over the past year, have shown outstanding achievement in the design, manufacture, selection, and use of products with safer chemicals.”  All Safer Choice stakeholders and Program participants in good standing are eligible for recognition.  According to the notice, interested parties must inform the Program that they would like to be considered for an award and submit supporting information.  Submissions are due July 31, 2019.  EPA will recognize award winners at a Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards ceremony in fall 2019.

Tags: Safer Choice,