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, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Margaret R. Graham, M.S.
On February 20, 2019, during a cold, snow-filled winter day, the rugged staff of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) as well as several hearty senior U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials got together over some steaming cups of coffee and discussed the upcoming fate of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) during a Bloomberg-hosted, B&C-developed webinar: Chemical Policy Summit Series Part V: Chemical Regulation After the Mid-Terms: What We Can Expect to See in 2019.
In attendance were: The Honorable Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, the newly appointed Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP); Jeffery T. Morris, Ph.D., Director, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT); Rick P. Keigwin, Jr., Director of the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP); Beau Greenwood, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs, CropLife America; Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner of B&C; and James V. Aidala, Senior Government Affairs Consultant, B&C. Ms. Dunn, Dr. Morris, and Mr. Keigwin described their priorities in the webinar. Ms. Dunn stated 2019 “is going to be one of those buckle-your-seat-belt kind of years” in relation to getting everything done as required under TSCA. Some of the takeaways from that webinar are listed below.
TSCA Milestones: 2019 and Beyond
- EPA must complete the first ten risk evaluations by December 2019, with a possible extension up to June 2020; EPA may need to take advantage of the extension;
- By April 2019, EPA will need to release the “20 high- and 20 low-” priority candidate chemicals;
- EPA released its first draft chemical risk evaluation -- Colour Index (C.I.) Pigment Violet 29 -- on which many comments were submitted. EPA realized that this selection was challenging given certain data ownership issues and restrictions on those data occasioned by European Union’s (EU) Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation issues; therefore, this initial evaluation was not the best representation of how the other evaluations will be conducted (more information on the risk evaluation is available in our memo EPA Publishes First Draft TSCA Chemical Risk Evaluation);
- EPA is using a new risk assessment program process called “Systematic Review” that has been used in non-risk assessment fields; EPA is the first agency to use this process. EPA welcomes input on the process and stated that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) will be reviewing this process as well;
- In March 2019, EPA will release a proposed rule outlining how it will review and substantiate all Confidential Business Information (CBI) claims seeking to protect the specific chemical identities of substances on the confidential portion of the TSCA Inventory; and
- EPA will be proposing its rule to regulate five persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals by June 2019; EPA will be using a different approach than what is typically used for risk assessments.
Approving New Chemicals:
- EPA intends to explore its process for new chemical review to be more predictable and to make reviews final within 90 days;
- EPA will post “frequently asked questions” documents to help chemical manufacturers submit clearer applications online;
- EPA is urging pre-submission meetings between premanufacture notice (PMN) submitters and EPA staff prior to submitting a PMN for a new product to reduce agency time spent clarifying omissions; and
- EPA has pledged to make all PMNs, all health and safety studies, attachments, amendments and other associated information available in public dockets.
B&C’s other upcoming seminars and webinars are available here. Some other resources of interest are B&C’s newly minted TSCA Tutor™ Modular Training Program which provides live in-person training at a company’s site, live online training, and pre-recorded webinar training modules -- all designed to offer expert, efficient, and essential TSCA training; as well as B&C’s All Things Chemical™ Podcasts, which provide intelligent, insightful conversation about everything related to industrial, pesticidal, and specialty chemicals and the law and business issues surrounding chemicals.
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.
Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is pleased to announce an exciting and important new component to our suite of Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) offerings. Our TSCA Tutor™ training platform provides live in-person training at a company’s site, live online training, and pre-recorded webinar training modules -- all designed to offer expert, efficient, and essential TSCA training. Companies can mix and match training modules and training approaches to provide the most suitable combination for their work needs.
B&C developed TSCA Tutor in recognition that TSCA awareness is a critically important element in the 21st century work environment for any business that involves industrial chemicals. The new normal requires awareness of TSCA’s application to a company’s operations to ensure consistent compliance with TSCA regulations and, importantly, to understand and anticipate how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ongoing implementation of new TSCA will impact a company’s industrial chemical selection and use processes.
B&C is now scheduling its TSCA Tutor sessions. The full TSCA Tutor program includes 18 hours of training. More information on the sessions is available on the B&C website.
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.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Christopher R. Bryant
On January 16, 2019, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to serve as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Mr. Wheeler currently serves as the Acting Administrator, having taken the reins of EPA after former Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned in July 2018. An archived webcast of the hearing is available online. In introducing Mr. Wheeler, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Chair of the EPW Committee, stated: “under Acting Administrator Wheeler’s leadership, the agency has taken a number of significant actions to protect our nation’s environment, while also supporting economic growth. Acting Administrator Wheeler has led efforts to: issue common-sense regulatory proposals, like the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, and the revised definition of ‘Waters of the United States’; implement this Committee’s 2016 bipartisan reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act [(TSCA)] in an effective and efficient manner; reduce lead exposure, including through the Federal Lead Action Plan; provide greater regulatory certainty to states, to Tribes, localities, and to the regulated community; and improve enforcement and compliance assistance. Acting Administrator Wheeler is very well qualified to run the [EPA].” Republicans on the EPW Committee were supportive of his nomination and actions while serving as the EPA Acting Administrator. They noted with praise his deregulatory efforts, the repeal and replacement of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, the proposed replacement of the Waters of the United States rule and the proposed repeal of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.
Democrats on the EPW Committee, however, expressed their disapproval of Mr. Wheeler, as he faced sharp questions from them. EPW Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE) expressed his concern that Mr. Wheeler failed “to moderate some of Scott Pruitt’s most environmentally destructive policies,” adding that “upon examination, Mr. Wheeler’s environmental policies appear to be almost as extreme as his predecessor’s.” When questioned on his views on climate change by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mr. Wheeler admitted that he believed it was a “huge issue” that should be addressed internationally, but he stopped short of agreeing with it being “one of the greatest crises facing our planet.” Despite the seeming Democratic opposition to his nomination, Mr. Wheeler is expected to be approved by the EPW Committee and, eventually, the Senate, and likely soon.