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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham, M.S.

On April 26, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (D.C. Circuit) issued its order on petition for review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Requirements (82 Fed. Reg. 37520 (Aug. 11, 2017)), which denied the petition for review on all but one claim.  Petitioner Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) challenged five distinct features of the Inventory final rule:  (i) EPA’s exclusion of substantiation questions regarding reverse engineering; (ii) the final rule’s criteria for “maintaining” a confidentiality claim; (iii) EPA’s choice not to incorporate certain regulatory requirements into the final rule; (iv) EPA’s failure to implement the Act’s “unique identifier” requirements in this rulemaking; and (v) the final rule’s exemption of exported chemicals from its notification requirements. 

The D.C. Circuit’s order states that only the first claim succeeds past the standard of review required under both the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and TSCA, however; specifically, EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously via its “omission of any inquiry into a chemical identity’s susceptibility to reverse engineering [which] effectively excised a statutorily required criterion from the substantiation process.”  Even though EPA included several substantiation questions to address reverse engineering in the proposed rule, EPA did not include any “substantiation questions related to the requirement that a substance’s chemical identity not be susceptible to reverse engineering” and declined altogether to “‘secure answers’ substantiating a company’s ‘assertion’ that its chemical product cannot be reverse engineered” in the final rule.  The court states that this error was “fatal” and remands this issue back to EPA for EPA to “address its arbitrary elimination of substantiation questions regarding reverse engineering.”

Regarding the other four claims that it denied, EPA made the following statements:

  1. “EPA acted well within its discretion in concluding that, as part of the Inventory update, any manufacturer or processor of a chemical substance can file a claim to maintain the chemical substance’s confidentiality”;
  2. “There is nothing facially troubling about the failure to copy every relevant statutory obligation into the regulation”;
  3. “Agencies need not address all regulatory obligations ‘in one fell swoop’ … nothing in [TSCA] requires the EPA to develop and implement the unique identifier system alongside its Inventory review process”; and
  4. “EPA’s decision [to exclude export-only chemicals from the final rule’s requirement that chemical companies notify EPA of chemical substances being manufactured or processed] reflected a reasonable interpretation of [TSCA].”

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On September 1, 2017, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) filed a petition for review in the U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (No. 17-1201) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) framework rule TSCA Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Requirements, published on August 11, 2017 (82 Fed. Reg. 37520). 

This is the third and final challenge by EDF to the framework rules implementing amended TSCA (there are only three framework rules), but the seventh total challenge, as other parties have also petitioned for review.  On August 11, 2017, EDF petitioned for review of the TSCA framework rules Procedures for Chemical Risk Evaluation under TSCA and the final rule Procedures for Prioritization of Chemicals for Risk Evaluation, filed on August 11 (Second Cir. Case Nos. 17-2464 and 17-2403, respectively).  Per the Consolidation Orders of the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, both of EDF’s August 11 petitions have now been consolidated with other petitions for review of the same orders.  Case No. 17-2464 was moved to the Fourth Circuit, and Case No. 2403 was moved to the Ninth Circuit. 

In the Fourth Circuit, the opening brief, record from agency, and the appendix are due September 20, 2017, and the response brief is due October 20, 2017.  In the Ninth Circuit, the Petitioners’ briefs are due October 30, 2017, and Respondent EPA’s briefs are due November 28, 2017.