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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published on August 11, 2020, its quarterly update of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) confidential business information (CBI) review statistics.  These data summarize the number of CBI cases under review and results of completed reviews through June 15, 2020:

CBI Review Statistics (cases received between June 22, 2016 and June 15, 2020)
Cases in which the specific chemical identity is subject to CBI review 3,326
Cases in which information other than the specific chemical identity is subject to CBI review 2,523
Cases in which both the specific chemical identity and information other than the specific chemical identity is subject to CBI review 734
Total cases subject to CBI review 6,583

 

Cases resulting in final CBI determinations
Cases with all CBI claims subject to review, approved 882
Cases with all CBI claims subject to review, denied 602
Cases with CBI claims subject to review, approved-in-part/denied-in-part 97
Total cases resulting in final CBI determinations 1,581

 

Cases reviewed with no final CBI determination necessary
Cases with all CBI claims screened and found to be exempt from review 1,078
Cases with all CBI claims withdrawn by submitter 430
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) 1,500
Total cases reviewed/screened with no final CBI determination necessary 3,008

 

Cases currently undergoing CBI review
Cases currently undergoing CBI review 1,994

 
In August 2020, EPA published an updated list of cases with completed CBI reviews under TSCA Section 14.  The spreadsheet includes the results of completed CBI determinations and cases with approved claims for specific chemical identity for which unique identifiers have been assigned.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On August 12, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of the final risk evaluation for 1-bromopropane (1-BP).  85 Fed. Reg. 48687.  After evaluating 25 conditions of use, EPA determined that 16 present an unreasonable risk to workers, occupational non-users (ONU), consumers, and bystanders.  For those conditions of use for which EPA has found an unreasonable risk, EPA states that it must take regulatory action to address that unreasonable risk through risk management measures enumerated in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  EPA has also determined that specific conditions of use do not present unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.  EPA notes that for those conditions of use for which EPA has found no unreasonable risk to health or the environment, its determination is a final agency action and is issued via order in the risk evaluation.  A detailed analysis and commentary is available in our August 11, 2020, memorandum, “EPA Publishes Final Risk Evaluation for 1-BP.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On July 31, 2020, the plaintiffs and EPA filed a joint case management statement in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California case seeking a rulemaking under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to prohibit the addition of fluoridation chemicals to drinking water supplies.  Food & Water Watch, Inc. v. EPA, Case No. 3:17-cv-02162-EMC.  As reported in our June 12 and June 22, 2020, blog items, the court held a bench trial that concluded on June 17, 2020.  After hearing closing arguments, Judge Chen asked plaintiffs and EPA to consider how to reach an agreement.  According to the joint case management statement, the parties have met and conferred to discuss the potential of EPA considering a new or amended petition so that EPA, inter alia, “could consider the new science that has been published subsequent to the initial petition.”  Plaintiffs offered to submit a new petition to EPA that contains all of the evidence presented at trial, including the expert declarations, expert testimony, and exhibits.  EPA contends that plaintiffs’ proposal to “package” the evidence presented at trial as a new petition under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) “would be insufficient to reach a finding of unreasonable risk.”  EPA maintains that “meaningful review of a new petition based on the specific evidence-base available for evaluating potential neurotoxic effects from exposure to fluoride from community water fluoridation programs” should include:  (1) a systematic review; (2) raw data for the key studies upon which plaintiffs rely; and (3) the data underlying plaintiffs’ risk calculations, including their benchmark dose (BMD) analysis.  Plaintiffs are willing to provide the data underlying Dr. Grandjean’s risk calculations, but “cannot agree to the other two requirements.”  The joint statement states that first, plaintiffs maintain that they have already presented sufficient evidence to demonstrate an unreasonable risk under TSCA and are unwilling to do a new systematic review above and beyond what their experts have already done.  Second, plaintiffs maintain that they do not have the ability to provide the “raw data” for the key studies upon which they rely because the data are not theirs, and that EPA is thus asking for something that plaintiffs cannot provide.  Finally, plaintiffs do not believe that the raw data are necessary for EPA to evaluate the published peer-reviewed studies, and, indeed, requiring these data is “contrary to the health protective goals of TSCA.”
 
On August 3, 2020, plaintiffs filed a further statement on EPA’s position regarding a new petition.  Plaintiffs state that they “feel compelled to bring to the Court’s attention the broader policy shift that EPA’s raw data demand represents, and the overwhelming criticism this policy has received from virtually all sectors of the public health and scientific communities.”  According to the plaintiffs, EPA articulated this policy shift in its March 18, 2020, supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) regarding “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” in which “EPA proposed limiting, or excluding altogether, its reliance on any peer reviewed study -- no matter how relevant or well regarded -- if the underlying raw data [are] not made publicly available.”  Plaintiffs cite a “detailed analysis signed by dozens of Harvard scientists,” which states that “EPA’s new policy ‘is based on a profoundly misguided view of how the scientific process works’ and ‘unnecessarily impedes EPA’s ability to base its internal analyses and regulatory decisions on the best available science.’  Further, the rule ‘adopts a partial and biased approach to transparency that systematically favors industry science over academic science.’”
 
EPA filed a response on August 4, 2020, describing plaintiffs’ further statement as “procedurally inappropriate and substantively untrue.”  According to EPA, by releasing the raw data and a detailed explanation of their statistical methods, the authors of the studies “could satisfy incongruities and ensure the scientific record is clear.”  EPA states that it “takes the position that a meaningful substantive review, as contemplated by the Court, of the evolving scientific evidence published since Plaintiffs submitted their 2016 petition should include raw data for the key studies upon which Plaintiffs rely and, according to Dr. Grandjean’s trial testimony, is forthcoming.”  EPA reiterates that its position “is based on the specific evidence-base available for evaluating potential neurotoxic effects from exposure to fluoride from community water fluoridation programs as necessary to support a potential TSCA section 6(a) rulemaking” and not, as alleged by plaintiffs, “a broader policy shift.”
 
The court held a status conference on August 6, 2020, via Zoom.  The judge suggested that plaintiffs file a new petition and that he is holding the case open to allow them to do so.  The next status hearing will be held November 5, 2020.


 

This week's All Things Chemical™ Podcast will be of interest to readers of the TSCAblog™. A brief description of the episode written by Lynn L. Bergeson is below.

This week I sat down with Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., B&C’s Director of Chemistry, and all-around TSCA savant. Rich is an organic chemist and a 17-year veteran with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, where Rich managed the Green Chemistry Program and reviewed some 10,000 new chemical notifications.

Given all that is going on at EPA with implementing the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which extensively amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Rich and I discussed a wide range of ongoing and planned EPA initiatives.  These include EPA’s risk evaluations under TSCA Section 6, progress EPA has made in reviewing new chemicals and work that remains to be done, how EPA has responded to staff and resources challenges, key ongoing litigations challenging various aspects of TSCA implementation, and what to look for as we approach the end of the calendar year and the impact of the pending National election.  Rich’s insights are always fascinating and enlightening, and our conversation is sparkling and entertaining.

ALL MATERIALS IN THIS PODCAST ARE PROVIDED SOLELY FOR INFORMATIONAL  AND ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES. THE MATERIALS ARE NOT INTENDED TO CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR THE PROVISION OF LEGAL SERVICES. ALL LEGAL QUESTIONS SHOULD BE ANSWERED DIRECTLY BY A LICENSED ATTORNEY PRACTICING IN THE APPLICABLE AREA OF LAW.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 

As reported in our May 29, 2020, blog item, on May 28, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report entitled EPA Toxic Substances Control Act Consent Orders Need Better Coordination.  OIG conducted the evaluation to determine what actions EPA took to verify compliance with the requirements of a 2009 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Premanufacture Notice Consent Order.  OIG’s recommendations included that EPA implement a process for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) to review and approve the terms and conditions of TSCA Section 5(e) Consent Orders that it is responsible for verifying during compliance monitoring and enforcement activities.  On August 5, 2020, OIG announced that EPA has provided an update to its response to the OIG report.  EPA states that the Office of Civil Enforcement/Waste and Chemical Enforcement Division (OECA/WCED) and the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics/Chemical Control Division (OCSPP/CCD) have developed a TSCA Section 5(e) Order Boilerplate that “clarifies and strengthens the provisions of the Order for New Chemical Substances.”  According to EPA, in 2020, OCSPP/CCD and OECA/WCED established and implemented a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to ensure that WCED, the office responsible for compliance monitoring and enforcement activities, reviews and approves the terms and conditions of TSCA Section 5(e) Orders developed by CCD.  EPA notes that the establishment of the SOP is intended to meet OIG’s recommendation.  EPA states that the Review and Approval Protocol “provides sufficient assurance that compliance and enforcement requirements in TSCA 5(e) orders will be reviewed and approved by OCSPP and OECA.”  OIG commented on EPA’s updated response, stating that it now considers this recommendation complete.


 
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On August 3, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $3,980,782 in funding to five academic research teams to develop New Approach Methods (NAM) for evaluating chemical toxicokinetics.  According to EPA, compared to traditional animal testing, NAMs allow researchers better to predict potential hazards for risk assessment purposes without the use of traditional methods that rely on animal testing.  EPA is providing a grant of up to $800,000 to each research team through its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program.  EPA states that the projects will address gaps in ways to obtain data for informing chemical toxicokinetics and exposure-related factors not currently considered.  The five recipients include:
  • Purdue University to create an integrated blood brain barrier computer model to help determine if a chemical may cause neurotoxicity;
     
  • Texas A&M University to help integrate different types of chemical safety testing for more robust results;
     
  • University of Nevada to develop better estimations of the bioavailability of chemicals to assess the significance of public exposure;
     
  • Vanderbilt University to work on methods to refine organ-on-chip devices for chemical testing; and
     
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to determine how zebrafish metabolism can be better correlated to the human metabolism to improve models for chemical toxicity testing.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
As reported in our March 23, 2020, memorandum, on March 18, 2020, a coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGO) filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), claiming that EPA fails to disclose information about new chemical substances under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Environmental Defense Fund v. Wheeler, No. 1:20-cv-762.  On July 27, 2020, the parties submitted a joint case management statement.  According to the statement, the parties agree that the case can be resolved by motions for summary judgment and that there is no need for a trial.  The parties state that they disagree about whether administrative records exist and the availability and scope of discovery, however.  Resolving these questions will implicate the timing for any discovery, the appropriate deadline for final amended pleadings, and the appropriate schedule for summary judgment briefing.  The parties note that they are currently discussing options to resolve as many of these questions as possible and that they believe successfully resolving them could reduce the number and complexity of procedural issues before the court.  In particular, according to the statement, the parties are discussing options to narrow the scope of factual and legal issues presented, which may minimize the potential for future disputes over the availability and scope of discovery.  The parties propose to submit an updated case management statement no later than August 31, 2020.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 

On July 27, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgated a final significant use rule (SNUR) for long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate (LCPFAC) and perfluoroalkyl sulfonate chemical substances.  85 Fed. Reg. 45109.  The final SNUR requires persons to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing the manufacture (including import) or processing of these chemical substances for the significant new uses described in the notice.  The required significant new use notification initiates EPA’s evaluation of the conditions of use associated with the significant new use.  Manufacturing (including import) or processing for the significant new use are prohibited from commencing until EPA has conducted a review of the notice, made an appropriate determination on the notice, and taken such actions as are required in association with that determination.  EPA notes that as with any SNUR, the final rule excludes ongoing uses as ongoing uses cannot be subject to a SNUR.  The final rule will be effective September 25, 2020.  More information on the final SNUR is available in our July 27, 2020, memorandum.

Tags: SNUR, LCPFAC

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) are now assembling an ad hoc committee to identify emerging scientific and technological advances from across a broad range of disciplines that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development (ORD) should consider in its research planning to support EPA’s mission for protecting human health and the environment.  In addition, according to NASEM, the committee will recommend how ORD could best take advantage of those advances to meet current and future challenges during the next 10 - 20 years.  NASEM states that the committee will consider EPA’s mission, strategic planning documents, and current initiatives, as well as other broader topics, including, but not limited to, biotechnology, big data, climate impacts, environmental monitoring and sensors, impacts of stressors on ecological and human health, and artificial intelligence and machine learning.  The committee also will consider advances that help EPA better incorporate systems thinking into multimedia, multidisciplinary approaches.

The study will be carried out by a committee of approximately 16 volunteer experts from a wide range of disciplines that can be applied to current and emerging environmental challenges facing society, including:

  • Physical, chemical, biological, environmental, and social sciences;
  • Exposure science;
  • Public health;
  • Aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems;
  • Engineering;
  • Informatics/information technology;
  • Risk assessment;
  • Risk management;
  • Environmental policy decision-making;
  • Communication and application of scientific information in environmental decision-making; and
  • Emerging science and technology.

Nominations for committee members and reviewers are due August 5, 2020.

Tags: NASEM, ORD

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting public comments on the experts under consideration for membership on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC).  Biographies of the candidates are available in Docket ID EPA-HQ-OPPT-2020-0135.  Comments are due August 21, 2020.  EPA states that it will use public comments to assist it in selecting multiple members of SACC over the next year.  EPA expects to appoint approximately 15 members to SACC by March 2021.

Tags: SAAC, Comments

 
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