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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a public meeting on December 10, 2019, to engage with interested stakeholders on the implementation of EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) New Chemicals program.  At the meeting, EPA will:

  • Provide an overview of EPA’s updated “Working Approach” document that builds upon EPA’s November 2017 “New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework:  Working Approach to Making Determinations under Section 5 of TSCA”;
  • Demonstrate how EPA has used concepts in the “Working Approach” document to reach conclusions and make determinations under TSCA Section 5(a)(3) using specific case examples;
  • Provide an update on confidential business information (CBI) process improvements and clarifications; and
  • Discuss its progress on transparency in the TSCA New Chemicals program.

By the end of 2019, EPA intends to announce the availability of the updated “Working Approach” document and provide an opportunity for written public comment.  EPA states that feedback from the public meeting and comments received will help inform its ongoing efforts to improve the way EPA reviews new chemicals under TSCA.  Details regarding the meeting are available in the prepublication version of the Federal Register notice announcing the meeting.

Background

EPA states in the prepublication version of the Federal Register notice that after considering comments received on the 2017 version of the “Working Approach” document and based on additional implementation experience, EPA is updating the “Working Approach” document.  Later in December 2019, EPA will announce the availability of the updated document after the public meeting and will hold a public comment period.  According to the notice, EPA expects the updated document to provide further clarity and detail on EPA’s approach and practices, including:  (1) EPA’s general guiding principles and concepts for making determinations on new chemical notices submitted to EPA under TSCA Section 5; (2) the decision-making logic and the key questions that EPA must address; and (3) a discussion of how EPA might apply the working approach to reach one of the five new chemical determinations allowable under the statute.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on November 13, 2019, that it published “new, easily-searchable” web pages displaying information on:

EPA notes that it is required to publish information pertaining to new chemical submissions under TSCA Section 5.  EPA states that historically, these data have been, and will continue to be, made available monthly in the Federal Register via www.regulations.gov.  According to EPA, the new web pages “are a much easier way for the public to access information about new chemical submissions.”  The web pages provide information, such as the date the notice was received by EPA, the case number, and the chemical substance identity (to the extent that such information is not subject to a confidential business information (CBI) claim).  EPA states that it will update the web pages monthly.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Federal Register notice on November 12, 2019, announcing the availability of its response to a petition it received under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  84 Fed. Reg. 60986.  As reported in our August 23, 2019, blog item, PEER petitioned EPA under TSCA Section 21 to prohibit the use of hydrofluoric acid in manufacturing processes at oil refineries under TSCA Section 6(a) and under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) to take the same action pursuant to Section 112 of the Clean Air Act (CAA).  PEER petitioned EPA to prohibit the use of hydrofluoric acid in manufacturing processes at oil refineries and require a phase-out of use at such facilities within two years.  EPA states that after “careful consideration,” it has denied the Section 21 petition.  EPA notes that the Federal Register notice specifically addresses only the TSCA Section 21 petition, not the petition submitted under the APA.  EPA is denying the petition “based on the petition’s lack of sufficient facts establishing that it is necessary for the Agency to issue a rule under TSCA section 6(a).”  According to EPA, to grant a petition for a TSCA Section 6(a) rulemaking, a petition must provide facts establishing that the requested rulemaking is necessary.  Those facts need to be “sufficiently clear and robust for EPA to be able to conclude, within 90 days of filing the petition, that the chemical presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment and that issuance of a TSCA section 6(a) rule is the appropriate response to the petition.”  To make the threshold finding, EPA needs hazard and exposure data and other information to enable it to assess risk and conclude whether the risk is unreasonable.  In this case, EPA states that PEER’s petition “refers to hazard databases and makes conclusory statements of toxicity but provides little further information that would support granting a TSCA section 6(a) rulemaking request.”  According to EPA, the petition lacks the analysis that would be expected in a TSCA risk evaluation preceding a Section 6(a) rulemaking, such as “discussion of the appropriate hazard threshold, exposure estimates, assessment of risks, or how the facts presented allow EPA to comply with its duties under section 26 or other statutory requirements in making an unreasonable risk determination.”  Absent such information, EPA “cannot make the threshold determinations necessary to substantively assess and grant a petition for a TSCA section 6(a) rulemaking.”  EPA denies PEER’s petition request as facially incomplete.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On Wednesday, November 13, 2019, at 3:00 p.m. (EST), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a webinar on the Green Chemistry Challenge Awards Program.  Participants will learn more about applying for the 2020 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards.  The webinar presentation will cover award eligibility, the application process, and evaluation criteria.  There will also be time for questions from the webinar participants.
 
As reported in our September 20, 2019, blog item, EPA is now accepting nominations for the 2020 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards for companies or institutions that have developed a new process or product that helps protect public health and the environment.  EPA defines green chemistry as the design of chemical products and processes that reduce both the generation and use of chemicals that are hazardous to the environment and people’s health.  Nominations for innovative technologies featuring the design of greener chemicals and products, greener chemical syntheses and reactions, or greener chemical processes are due to EPA by December 31, 2019.  EPA anticipates giving awards to outstanding green chemistry technologies in five categories in June 2020


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On November 8, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the Federal Register a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking regarding revisions to the confidential business information (CBI) substantiation requirements under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  84 Fed. Reg. 60363.  EPA states that in response to a recent federal circuit court decision, it is proposing revisions to existing and proposed substantiation requirements for certain CBI claims.  Specifically, EPA is proposing two additional questions that manufacturers and processors would be required to answer to substantiate certain CBI claims for specific chemical identities and is proposing procedures for manufacturers and processors to use in amending certain previously submitted substantiations to include responses to the additional questions.  Comments on the supplemental notice are due December 9, 2019.

EPA notes that these proposed revisions supplement the proposed rule issued in the April 23, 2019, Federal Register and would amend the TSCA Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Requirements rule promulgated on August 11, 2017.  More information on the proposed rule is available in our April 11, 2019, memorandum, “EPA Announces Proposed Procedures for Review of CBI Claims for the Identity of Chemicals on the TSCA Inventory,” and more information on the final rule is available in our June 26, 2017, memorandum, “EPA Issues Final TSCA Framework Rules.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Federal Register notice on November 7, 2019, announcing the availability of the draft risk evaluation for N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) and soliciting public comment.  84 Fed. Reg. 60087.  EPA’s draft risk evaluation findings include:

  • EPA did not find risk to the environment, bystanders, or occupational non-users.  For all the conditions of use included in the draft risk evaluation, EPA has preliminarily found no unreasonable risks to the environment, bystanders, or occupational non-users from NMP.
     
  • EPA’s draft risk evaluation preliminarily found unreasonable risks associated with acute and chronic inhalation and dermal exposure to NMP under a variety of conditions of use.  EPA found that workers and consumers could be adversely affected by NMP under certain conditions of use.

The draft risk evaluation will be peer reviewed by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) on December 5-6, 2019.  EPA will hold a preparatory virtual meeting on November 12, 2019.  Stakeholders must register online on or before November 12, 2019, to receive the webcast meeting link and audio teleconference information.  Written comments for the preparatory virtual meeting and requests for time to present oral comments are due on or before 10:00 a.m. (EST) on November 12, 2019.  EPA requests comments on the draft risk evaluation by November 26, 2019, to allow SACC time to review and consider them before the peer review meeting.  EPA states that it will use feedback received from the public comment and peer review processes to inform the final risk determinations.  Comments on the draft risk evaluation are due January 6, 2020.  More information is available in our November 5, 2019, memorandum, “EPA Releases Draft Risk Evaluation for NMP, Schedules SACC Review for December.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On November 13, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. (EST), the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology will hold a hearing on “Strengthening Transparency or Silencing Science?  The Future of Science in EPA Rulemaking.”  The Committee will hear from the following witnesses:
 
Panel 1

  • Dr. Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Research and Development (ORD); EPA Science Advisor.

Panel 2

  • Dr. Linda S. Birnbaum, Scientist Emeritus, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS); Director of NIEHS, 2009-2019;
     
  • Dr. Mary B. Rice, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Pulmonary and Critical Care Physician, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center;
     
  • Dr. David Allison, Dean, School of Public Health, Indiana University-Bloomington; Member, “Reproducibility and Replicability in Science” Committee, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; and
     
  • Dr. Todd Sherer, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On November 4, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of the draft risk evaluation for N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP), which includes more than 30 uses of NMP in adhesives, sealants, paints and arts and craft paints, paint and coating removers, adhesive removers, and degreasers.  EPA’s draft risk evaluation findings include:

  • EPA did not find risk to the environment, bystanders, or occupational non-users.  For all the conditions of use included in the draft risk evaluation, EPA has preliminarily found no unreasonable risks to the environment, bystanders, or occupational non-users from NMP.
     
  • EPA’s draft risk evaluation preliminarily found unreasonable risks associated with acute and chronic inhalation and dermal exposure to NMP under a variety of conditions of use.  EPA found that workers and consumers could be adversely affected by NMP under certain conditions of use.

EPA notes that these initial determinations are based on a draft risk evaluation of the reasonably available information and are not EPA’s final determinations on whether NMP presents unreasonable risks under the conditions of use.  EPA will publish a Federal Register notice announcing the availability of the draft risk evaluation and beginning a 60-day comment period.  The draft risk evaluation will be peer reviewed by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) on December 5-6, 2019.  EPA requests comments on the draft risk evaluation by November 26, 2019, to allow SACC time to review and consider them before the peer review meeting.  EPA states that it will use feedback received from the public comment and peer review processes to inform the final risk determinations.  More information will be available in our forthcoming memorandum.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On October 30, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that in response to an April 2019 court decision on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Requirements Final Rule, EPA will publish a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking that includes two additional questions about “reverse engineering” that manufacturers and processors would be required to answer when making confidential business information (CBI) claims.  According to EPA, these questions would help provide additional information on CBI claims for specific chemical identities and would ensure that chemical companies are fully supporting their CBI claims.  EPA is also proposing a process for manufacturers and processors to use to amend and update certain previously submitted claims to include responses to these additional questions, as required to be addressed by federal circuit court decision.
 
EPA notes that the supplemental notice is limited in scope and that “[‌i]t impacts only the universe of CBI claims made for specific chemical identities for chemicals reported as ‘active’ in response to the Active-Inactive Rule.”  Publication of the supplemental notice in the Federal Register will begin a 30-day comment period.

Tags: CBI, Inventory,

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On October 29, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a Federal Register notice announcing the availability of the draft Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) risk evaluation for methylene chloride (MC).  84 Fed. Reg. 57866.  As reported in our October 26, 2019, blog item, EPA is submitting the same document to the TSCA Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) for peer review.  SACC will convene an in-person public meeting to consider and review the draft risk evaluation on December 3-4, 2019.  Preceding the in-person meeting, there will be a preparatory virtual public meeting on November 12, 2019, for SACC to consider the scope and clarity of the draft charge questions for the peer review.  Registration for the preparatory virtual meeting must be completed on or before November 12, 2019, to receive the webcast meeting link and audio teleconference information.  Written comments for the preparatory virtual meeting and requests for time to present oral comments are due by 12:00 p.m. on November 8, 2019.  Written comments on the draft risk evaluation that are submitted to EPA on or before November 26, 2019, will be provided to SACC for review and consideration before the December 3-4, 2019, meeting.  Requests to present oral comments at the in-person meeting are due December 3, 2019.  Comments on the draft risk evaluation are due December 30, 2019.
 
The draft risk evaluation states that EPA’s initial determinations of unreasonable risk for the specific conditions of use of MC listed below are based on health risks to workers, occupational non-users (ONU), consumers, or bystanders from consumer use.  According to the draft risk evaluation, risks to the general population either were not relevant for these conditions of use or were evaluated and not found to be unreasonable.

  • Unreasonable Risk to Workers:  EPA determined that the conditions of use that presented unreasonable risks included processing MC into a formulation or mixture; all but two industrial and commercial uses; and disposal;
     
  • Unreasonable Risks to ONUs:  For ONUs, EPA determined that the conditions of use that presented unreasonable risks included import of MC, processing MC as a reactant in several industrial sectors, some industrial and commercial uses, and disposal.  EPA determined in some cases that a condition of use presented an unreasonable risk not only to workers but also to ONUs; in other cases, EPA determined that a condition of use presented an unreasonable risk only to one or the other.
     
  • Unreasonable Risk to Consumers:  EPA determined that all but two consumer conditions of use present unreasonable risks.
     
  • Unreasonable Risk to Bystanders (from Consumer Uses):  When EPA determined that a condition of use presented risks to consumers, unreasonable risks were often, but not always, identified for bystanders.

A more detailed summary of the draft risk evaluation and commentary will be available in our forthcoming memorandum.


 
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