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By Lynn L. Bergeson, Christopher R. Bryant, and Margaret R. Graham

In the last hours of the 115th Congress, the Senate on January 2, 2019, approved the nominations of three individuals to serve in key environmental posts: 

  1. Alexandra Dapolito Dunn -- EPA Toxics Office:  The Senate approved the nomination of Alexandra Dunn to serve as the Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP).  Ms. Dunn had been serving as the administrator for EPA Region 1.  She previously was executive director and general counsel for the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS).  Prior to joining ECOS, Ms. Dunn served as executive director and general counsel for the Association of Clean Water Administrators.  Ms. Dunn also has extensive experience in environmental education, having served as dean of Environmental Law Programs at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University.  In addition, she has taught at the Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America, and, most recently, as an adjunct associate professor of law at the American University’s Washington College of Law.  Ms. Dunn received a B.A. in political science from James Madison University and a J.D. from the Columbus School of Law.  More information on Ms. Dunn’s confirmation hearing is available in our blog item Senate EPW Committee Holds Hearing on Nomination of Alexandra Dunn to Lead OCSPP.
  2. Mary Neumayr -- CEQ: The Senate also approved the nomination of Mary Neumayr to head the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).  Ms. Neumayr currently serves as chief of staff for the CEQ.  Prior to joining CEQ in March of 2017, she served in a variety of positions with the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the U.S. House of Representatives, including Deputy Chief Counsel, energy and environment in 2017; Senior Energy Counsel from 2011 to 2017; and Counsel from 2009 to 2010.  Ms. Neumayr also served as Deputy Counsel for environment and nuclear programs at the U.S. Department of Energy from 2006 to 2009, and Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the environment and natural resources division at the U.S. Department of Justice from 2003 to 2006.  Prior to her government service, Ms. Neumayr was in private legal practice from 1989 to 2003.  She received her B.A. from Thomas Aquinas College and her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
  3. Kelvin Droegemeier -- OSTP:  Finally, the Senate also approved Kelvin Droegemeier to serve as the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  A meteorologist from the University of Oklahoma, Mr. Droegemeier previously served as Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin’s secretary of science and technology.  He was also previously on the National Science Board for 12 years during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

 

By Richard E. Engler, Ph.D. and Margaret R. Graham

As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently closed due to the lapse in appropriations, EPA has ceased all work reviewing new and existing chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Regarding new chemicals, although the Central Data Exchange (CDX) may still accept submissions, EPA will not process any information submitted via CDX until EPA reopens and it is not clear how EPA will set “Day 1” for TSCA Section 5 notices submitted during the shutdown.  

We are unaware of EPA publishing a formal notice that it is suspending the review period of new chemical notices, but EPA will not be making any determinations on such notices during the shutdown.  Submitters should continue to submit any required information (e.g., Notices of Commencement) even though EPA will not process or review such submissions. 

EPA actions on existing chemicals (including risk evaluations and publication of the updated TSCA Inventory with active/inactive status) will be delayed.  As previously reported, the first preparatory meeting on the Colour Index (C.I.) Pigment Violet 29 risk evaluation (scheduled for January 8, 2019) will be cancelled if the shutdown continues through January 4, 2019, at 5:00 p.m., which appears probable.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On December 31, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), even though they had already shut down due to funding issues, announced that if the government shutdown continues through 5:00 p.m. (EST) January 4, 2019, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals’ (SACC) January 8, 2019, Preparatory Virtual Meeting for the January 29 through February 1, 2019, meeting on Colour Index (C.I.) Pigment Violet 29 will be cancelled, and discussion of charge questions will be folded into the face-to-face meeting scheduled for January 29 through February 1, 2019.  Further, if the shutdown continues through 5:00 p.m. (EST) January 11, 2019, the TSCA SACC’s January 29 through February 1, 2019, Peer Review of the draft risk evaluation for C.I. Pigment Violet 29 will be postponed.  More information on the draft risk evaluation of C.I. Pigment Violet 29 is available in our memorandum EPA Publishes First Draft TSCA Chemical Risk Evaluation.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On December 18, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Ninth Circuit) issued an order granting in part respondent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) motion for partial voluntary remand of certain provisions of its final rule on Procedures for Chemicals Risk Evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Specifically, EPA’s motion for partial voluntary remand, filed August 6, 2018, sought remand with vacatur of 40 C.F.R. Section 702.31(d) (Penalty Provision) and remand without vacatur of 40 C.F.R. Sections 702.37(b)(4) (Relevancy Provision) and 702.37(b)(6) (Consistency Provision).  The Ninth Circuit granted EPA’s motion to remand and to vacate the Penalty Provision, but referred EPA’s motion to remand without vacatur for the Relevancy and Consistency Provisions.  The Penalty Provision states that “[s]ubmission to EPA of inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading information pursuant to a risk evaluation … is a prohibited act … subject to penalties.”

EPA stated in its motion that its “request to remand the Penalty, Relevancy, and Consistency provisions is reasonable, timely, and will serve the interests of judicial economy,” but it has not yet decided on a specific course of action.  EPA sought remand to address the potential concerns that petitioners stated in their opening brief.  EPA stated that vacatur was only appropriate for the Penalty Provision, however, as “nothing in the proposed rule or rulemaking record gave any indication that EPA was contemplating extending the Penalty Provision beyond manufacturers, and EPA did not purport to make that change in response to public comments, the Penalty Provision is not a logical outgrowth of the proposed rule.” 

As for the Relevancy and Consistency Provisions, EPA stated that they should be remanded but not vacated for the following reasons:

  1. EPA believes that the concerns about these provisions can be addressed through modifications to the language of the regulations;
  2. The unintended consequences of the Relevancy and Consistency Provisions that Petitioners allege are not serious; even if a manufacturer were to rely on those provisions to withhold information, EPA has independent authority to collect that information or require development of new information as needed to conduct its risk evaluations; and
  3. The disruptive effects to EPA could be considerable if these regulations were vacated while EPA completes its remand process; if the provisions are vacated, manufacturers could (intentionally or unintentionally) submit junk science or irrelevant material, requiring EPA to consume limited resources and take time out of the statutorily-mandated schedule to review the information.  Further, vacatur of the Relevancy Provision would be particularly disruptive because it would eliminate altogether the affirmative requirement for manufacturers to submit lists of information when requesting risk evaluations; and could delay EPA’s information gathering if it had to request or order such information from the outset.

More information on the appeals to the TSCA framework rule on risk evaluation is available on our blog.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson, Susan M. Kirsch, and Margaret R. Graham

On November 29, 2018, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) held a hearing on the nomination of Alexandra Dapolito Dunn to be the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator (AA) for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP).  The hearing was webcast and is available on the EPW Committee website.

In a rare sharing of bipartisan support for a Trump Administration nominee, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced Ms. Dunn, stating “Ms. Dunn has a deep passion for working with communities, for environmental justice, and for leveraging the expertise of nongovernmental organizations.”  Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) stated he was encouraged by her plans for the office.  Ms. Dunn assured lawmakers that, if confirmed, she will “commit to implementing the law, following the law, and bringing all the provisions of the law to full effect.”  Dunn also emphasized her intention, if confirmed, to leverage the experience and expertise of EPA career staff, including establishing “open door” hours dedicated to connecting with career staff.  Dunn’s written testimony is available on the EPW Committee website.  Senators may submit additional questions for the record (QFR) through November 29, 2018, for Ms. Dunn’s response by December 3, 2018.  It is being reported that Ms. Dunn could be confirmed as early as next week assuming there are no objections.

Ms. Dunn has been serving as the Regional Administrator for EPA’s New England Region (Region 1) since January of this year.  Prior to joining EPA, Ms. Dunn served as Executive Director and General Counsel for the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to helping state agencies improve environment outcomes for Americans.  More information on Ms. Dunn’s experience and accolades is available in EPA’s press release announcing her nomination.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On November 29, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has scheduled the first public meetings of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC).  The first meeting, a preparatory virtual meeting, and will be held on January 8, 2019, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (EST).  The second meeting, a four-day in-person meeting, will be held on January 29, 2019, from 1:00 p.m. (EST) to 5:30 p.m. and on January 30, 31, and February 1, 2019, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (EST).  The official announcement is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on November 30, 2018.  Further information, including the location of the in-person meeting and how to register, will be posted on EPA’s TSCA Scientific Peer Review Committees website.

The topic for this first series of meetings is the peer review of the draft risk evaluation for Colour Index (C.I.) Pigment Violet 29 and associated documents developed under EPA’s existing chemical substance process under TSCA.  EPA states that the two-hour preparatory virtual meeting on January 8, 2019, will consider the scope and clarity of the draft charge questions for this peer review -- included with EPA’s Transmission of Background Materials and Charge to the Panel for the TSCA SACC Reviewing the Draft Risk Evaluation for C.I. Pigment Violet 29 (Attachment 23).  The 4-day, in-person, public meeting will be comprised of the peer review panel deliberations and a general TSCA orientation for the TSCA SACC.  A portion of the in-person meeting will be closed to the public, however, for the discussion of information claimed as confidential business information (CBI).

During these upcoming meetings, EPA states that the public is invited to provide oral comments for the peer review on the draft risk evaluation for C.I. Pigment Violet 29 and related documents; comments submitted by January 14, 2019, on the draft risk evaluation will be provided to the peer review panel members before the in-person meeting.  Comments on the draft charge questions will be accepted prior to and during the 2-hour preparatory virtual meeting (but preferably by January 7, 2019); the TSCA SACC peer review panel will consider these comments during their discussions. 

More information on the draft risk evaluation for C.I. Pigment Violet 29 is available in our memorandum EPA Publishes First Draft TSCA Chemical Risk Evaluation.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On November 26, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) announced that Lek Kadeli joined OCSPP’s Immediate Office as Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator (AA) (Management).  EPA states that Lek has extensive experience managing and supporting a wide range of environmental and human health related programs.  Lek has worked at EPA previously; for eight years he was the Principal Deputy AA in EPA’s Office of Research of Development (ORD), serving several periods during that time as ORD’s Acting AA.  Lek has also served as Director for ORD’s Office of Resource Management and Administration; Chief of ORD’s Resources Planning and Execution Staff; Office of International Activities Senior Budget Officer; and, as a budget analyst in the Office of Administration and Resource Management’s Office of Comptroller.

Most recently, Lek worked at the World Bank Group in Washington, D.C. as the co-program manager of the Pollution Management and Environmental Health Program, Environment and National Resources Global Practice.  Lek holds a B.A. in Political Science from George Mason University, and a M.A. in National Security Studies from Georgetown University.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson, Charles M. Auer, Oscar Hernandez, Ph.D., and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Federal Register notice on November 15, 2018, announcing the availability of and seeking public comment on the first draft chemical risk evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg).  The draft risk evaluation for Colour Index (C.I.) Pigment Violet 29 is intended to determine whether C.I. Pigment Violet 29 presents an unreasonable risk to health or the environment under the conditions of use, including an unreasonable risk to a relevant potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation.  According to the notice, EPA is also submitting these same documents to the TSCA Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) to peer review the draft risk evaluation.  EPA intends to publish a separate Federal Register notice containing the peer review meeting details.  Comments on the draft risk evaluation are due January 14, 2019.  EPA will provide all comments submitted on the draft risk evaluation to the TSCA SACC peer review panel, which will have the opportunity to consider the comments during its discussions.  More information is available in the full memorandum.


 
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