By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On May 25, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would host a half-day preparatory meeting for experts selected to serve as letter peer reviewers for EPA’s Exposure and Use Assessment and Human Health and Environmental Hazard Summary for Five Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic (PBT) chemicals. Section 6(h) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) directs EPA to issue regulations under Section 6(a) for certain PBT chemical substances that were identified in EPA’s TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments: 2014 update. The selected chemicals are:
- Decabromodiphenyl ethers (DECA);
- Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD);
- Pentachlorothiophenol (PCTP);
- Phenol, isopropylated, phosphate (3:1) (PIP3/ITPP); and
- 2,4,6-Tris(tert-butyl) phenol (2, 4, 6 TRIS).
EPA prepared an Exposure and Use Assessment and a Human Health and Environmental Hazard Summary in response to the requirements under TSCA Section 6(h) to summarize conclusions of toxicity and whether there is likely exposure to these PBT chemicals and EPA organized letter peer reviews for the Exposure and Use Assessment and the Human Health and Environmental Hazard Summary. The Federal Register notice announcing the meeting states that during the preparatory meeting, “the individual letter peer reviewers will have the opportunity to comment on and ask questions regarding the scope and clarity of the draft charge questions.” EPA’s background papers, related supporting materials, and charge/questions for these letter peer reviews are now available in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2018-0314 on www.regulations.gov.
The meeting is scheduled for June 25, 2018, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EDT) and will be held via teleconference and webcast only. Registration is available online. Those requesting to provide oral comments (approximately five minutes) are asked to register by June 21, 2018. Though the peer reviewers may not be able to consider fully written comments submitted after July 23, 2018, EPA will consider all comments submitted on or before August 17, 2018.
More information, including the list of experts, is available on EPA’s TSCA Peer Review website.
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Carla N. Hutton, and Jessie Nguyen
On May 9, 2018, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) posted the Spring 2018 Unified Agenda and Regulatory Plan. OIRA states that the semi-annual Unified Agenda and Regulatory Plan “provide uniform reporting of data on regulatory and deregulatory actions under development throughout the Federal government, covering over 60 departments, agencies, and commissions.” Below are highlights of rulemakings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) that are related to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA):
- Microorganisms: General Exemptions From Reporting Requirements; Revisions of Recipient Organisms Eligible for Tier I and Tier II Exemptions (RIN 2070-AJ65): EPA promulgated a final rule under TSCA Section 5 to establish notification procedures for review of certain new microorganisms before they are introduced into commerce. EPA received petitions to add Trichoderma reesei and Bacillus amyloliquefaciens to the list of microorganisms that may be used as recipient microorganisms to qualify for the exemption from full notification and reporting. Based on EPA’s evaluation of these petitions, EPA states that it made a preliminary determination that certain strains of both microorganisms will not present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment when used as a recipient microorganism, provided that certain criteria for the introduced genetic material and the physical containment conditions are met, and issued a proposed rule. EPA is developing a revised proposal that will address concerns raised by commenters, and is considering expanding the earlier proposal to prohibit the inclusion of antibiotic resistance genes in the introduced genetic material in microorganisms qualifying for the TSCA Section 5(h)(4) exemption. EPA intended to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in May 2018;
- Long-Chain Perfluoroalkyl Carboxylate (LCPFAC) and Perfluoroalkyl Sulfonate (PFAS) Chemical Substances; Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) (RIN 2070-AJ99): EPA is developing a SNUR under TSCA Section 5(a)(2) for LCPFAC chemical substances, and for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or its salts. On January 21, 2015, EPA proposed to amend a SNUR for LCPFAC chemical substances by designating as a significant new use manufacturing (including importing) or processing of an identified subset of LCPFAC chemical substances for any use that will not be ongoing after December 31, 2015, and all other LCPFAC chemical substances for which there are currently no ongoing uses. EPA also proposed to make inapplicable the exemption for persons who import LCPFAC chemical substances as part of articles. In addition, EPA proposed to amend a SNUR for PFAS chemical substances that would make inapplicable the exemption for persons who import PFAS chemical substances as part of carpets. EPA intended to issue a supplemental NPRM in May 2018 following changes to TSCA brought about by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. EPA plans to issue a final rule in July 2019;
- Procedural Rule: Review of Confidential Business Information (CBI) Claims for the Identity of Chemicals on the TSCA Inventory -- Amended TSCA Section 8(b)(4)(C) (RIN 2070-AK21): EPA is developing a proposed rule to implement TSCA Section 8(b)(4)(C), which requires EPA to establish a plan to review all claims to protect the specific chemical identities of chemical substances on the confidential portion of the active TSCA Inventory. EPA intends to publish an NPRM in January 2019 and a final rule in December 2019;
- TSCA Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) Revisions (RIN 2070-AK33): EPA will revise the reporting requirements to align better with new TSCA requirements. EPA intends to issue an NPRM in September 2018 and a final rule in September 2019;
- Significant New Uses of Chemical Substances; Updates to the Hazard Communication Program and Regulatory Framework; Minor Amendments to Reporting Requirements for Premanufacture Notices (RIN 2070-AJ94): On July 28, 2016, EPA issued a rule proposing changes to the applicable Significant New Uses of Chemical Substances regulations to align EPA’s regulations, where possible, with the final revisions to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communications Standards. EPA intends to issue a final rule in September 2018;
- Certain Nonylphenols (NP) and Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPE); SNUR (RIN 2070-AJ96): On October 1, 2014, EPA issued a proposed SNUR under TSCA Section 5(a)(2) for certain NPs and NPEs. EPA intends to issue a final SNUR in December 2018;
- Mercury; Reporting Requirements for the TSCA Mercury Inventory (RIN 2070-AK22): On October 26, 2017, EPA issued a rule proposing reporting requirements under TSCA Section 8(b)(10)(D) for applicable persons to provide information to assist in the preparation of an “inventory of mercury supply, use, and trade in the United States,” where mercury is defined as “elemental mercury” and “a mercury compound.” EPA intends to issue a final rule in June 2018; and
- Service Fees for the Administration of TSCA (RIN 2070-AK27): On February 26, 2018, EPA issued a rule proposing to implement TSCA Section 26(b)(1), which authorizes EPA to issue a rule to establish fees to defray the cost of administering Sections 4, 5, and 6, and collecting, processing, reviewing, and providing access to and protecting from disclosure as appropriate under Section 14 information on chemical substances. EPA intends to issue a final rule in August 2018.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On June 1, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the much anticipated first ten problem formulation documents; its systematic review approach document; and a significant new use rule (SNUR) proposal enabling it to prevent new uses of asbestos for public comment. Links and short summaries are provided below.
EPA states that the problem formulation documents refine the conditions of use, exposures, and hazards presented in the scope of the risk evaluations for the first ten chemicals to be evaluated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and present refined conceptual models and analysis plans that describe how EPA expects to evaluate the risks and that they are an important interim step prior to completing and publishing the final risk evaluations by December 2019. Comments on the problem formulation documents will be due 45 days after these documents are published in the Federal Register. The problem formulation documents are:
- 1-Bromopropane (1-BP);
- Carbon Tetrachloride;
- Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (HBCD Cluster);
- Methylene Chloride;
- N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP);
- Pigment Violet 29; and
- Trichloroethylene (TCE).
EPA states the systematic review approach document will guide its selection and review of studies in addition to providing the public with continued transparency regarding how the Agency plans to evaluate scientific information. Comments will be due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register. Also included on the systematic review web page is EPA’s Response to Public Comments Related to the Supplemental Files Supporting the TSCA Scope Documents for the First Ten Risk Evaluations.
For asbestos, EPA is proposing an asbestos SNUR for certain uses of asbestos (including asbestos-containing goods) that would require manufacturers and importers to receive EPA approval before starting or resuming manufacturing, and importing or processing of asbestos. EPA states that this review process, the first such action on asbestos ever proposed, would provide EPA with the opportunity to evaluate the intended use of asbestos and, when necessary, take action to prohibit or limit the use. Comments will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
More information on the first ten chemical evaluations is available on our blog. A more detailed analysis will be available next week on our regulatory developments webpage.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On April 26, 2018, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt was grilled by Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Environment at a hearing titled The Fiscal Year 2019 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Budget. The budget was plainly not the primary topic as the House Committee Members covered a lot of ground. Pruitt fielded many questions and comments from House Democrats on his alleged ethical lapses regarding spending, security details, retaliation towards EPA employees who reportedly questioned his practices, and concerns about a hostile work environment. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle expressed concern over the installation of a secure phone booth in his office. His opening statement addressed these criticisms only vaguely, stating that they are merely a distraction and an attempt to “attack and derail the President’s agenda and these administration’s priorities.” There were also questions concerning the delay of the proposed rule banning the use of methylene chloride, and criticism regarding EPA’s recent proposed rule to strengthen transparency in regulatory science (the “secret” Science Rule).
No attempt is made here to summarize the lengthy hearing.
Pruitt’s testimony statement is available here. It does not contain information on the Science Rule, but it briefly references the implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in a section entitled “Ensuring the Safety of Chemicals in Commerce.”
More information on the many TSCA implementation initiatives is available on our TSCA Reform News & Information webpage, as well as the TSCAblogTM. A summary of Pruitt’s testimony before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is available in our blog item “Pruitt Addresses Legacy Issues, TSCA Implementation in Oversight Hearing.”
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On April 24, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would be presenting a webinar to assist processors with reporting under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Rule, published in the Federal Register on August 11, 2017. This webinar, scheduled for May 23, 2018, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (EDT) will “include an overview of reporting requirements for processors, a demonstration of the electronic reporting application (Central Data Exchange, or CDX), and will provide time for questions and answers.” Registration for the webinar is not required. The webinar will be available through the following link on May 23: http://epawebconferencing.acms.com/tsca_inventory/. A link to access the TSCA Inventory is available here. The upcoming deadline for voluntary submission of a Notice of Activity Form A by processors is October 5, 2018.
More information on TSCA Inventory issues is available on our blog under key phrase TSCA Inventory and in our memorandum “EPA Issues Final TSCA Framework Rules.”
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) April 2018 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Substance Inventory is now available. For the first time, the Inventory includes a field designating substances that are “active” in U.S. commerce based on the following:
- Reporting from the 2012 and 2016 Chemical Data Reporting cycles;
- Notices of Commencement received by EPA since June 21, 2006; and
- Notice of Activity Form A’s received by EPA through the February 7, 2018, deadline, per the TSCA Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Rule.
EPA states that it “carefully processed and conducted a quality check of the data to ensure duplicate entries and confidential business information were removed” from the large number of notices received under the Active-Inactive Rule. EPA also posted a list of substances reported in a Notice of Activity Form A from February 8 through March 30, 2018. According to EPA, this list should assist processors in determining which of their substances on the Inventory have not yet been designated as “active” to date. Based on our review, the Inventory lists approximately 38,303 total active substances, or about 44.5 percent. The deadline for voluntary submission of a Notice of Activity Form A by processors is October 5, 2018.
If your company is having trouble reporting through EPA’s Central Data Exchange (CDX), please contact Richard E. Engler, Ph.D. or Lynn L. Bergeson to obtain a copy of our comprehensive Guidance Materials for TSCA Inventory Notification Rulemaking. Our TSCA experts would be pleased to assist you with the reporting process!
More information on the TSCA Inventory rulemaking and TSCA Inventory issues is available on our blog under the key phrase TSCA Inventory and on our TSCA Reform News & Information web page. More information on EPA’s Final TSCA Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Rule is available in our memorandum, “EPA Issues Final TSCA Framework Rules.” Specific information on changes in the CDX system is available in our blog item, “EPA Updates eNOA Template in CDX System.”
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Charles M. Auer, and Margaret R. Graham
On March 13, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released three draft guidance documents for public comment clarifying the circumstances under which EPA may disclose Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) confidential business information (CBI) with an expanded set of people. Amended TSCA Section 14(d) expanded the categories of people to whom EPA may disclose TSCA CBI by specifically authorizing EPA to disclose TSCA CBI to state, tribal, and local governments; environmental, health, and medical professionals; and emergency responders, under certain conditions, including consistency with guidance that EPA is required to develop. The draft guidance documents are:
EPA’s prepublication version of the notice of availability of the draft guidance states the conditions for access vary under each of the new provisions, but generally include the following: requesters must show that they have a need for the information related to their employment, professional, or legal duties; recipients of TSCA CBI are prohibited from disclosing or permitting further disclosure of the information to individuals not authorized to receive it (physicians/nurses may disclose the information to their patient); and, except in emergency situations, EPA must notify the entity that made the CBI claim at least 15 days prior to disclosing the CBI. In addition, under these new provisions, requesters (except in some emergency situations) are required to sign an agreement and may be required to submit a statement of need to EPA. In accordance with the requirements of TSCA section 14(c)(4)(B), each guidance document covers the content and form of the agreements and statements required under each provision and include information on where and how to submit requests to EPA. A 30-day comment period for the draft guidance documents will open upon the notice’s publication in the Federal Register; comments can be submitted to docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0652 via www.regulations.gov.
On March 12, 2018, EPA also announced that it collecting comments on burden and other information required by the Paperwork Reduction Act related to these documents in the form of an Information Collection Request (ICR), as detailed in a separate notice. 83 Fed. Reg. 10719. Comments on the ICR are due May 11, 2018. EPA states that it anticipates using comments received in response to the guidance document notice and the ICR notice to inform the development of final guidance documents, which it anticipates to be released in June 2018.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On March 9, 2018, as a first step in developing a proposed rule regulating certain persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is seeking nominations for individuals who represent small businesses, small governments, and small non-for-profit organizations to serve as Small Entity Representatives (SER) to provide input on potential impacts of PBT regulation. EPA states the role of a SER is “to provide advice and recommendations to ensure that the Panel carefully considers small entity concerns regarding the impact of the potential rule on their organizations and to communicate with other small entities within their sector who do not serve as SERs,” and will ask the SERs to provide comments on behalf of their company, community, or organization and advise a soon to be created Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panel regarding potential impacts to small businesses that could result from the regulation of certain identified PBTs. The SBAR panel will include federal representatives from EPA, the Small Business Administration, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). After collecting input from the small entities, the panel will make recommendations to the Agency on the development of a proposed rule to regulate these PBT chemicals.
Under Section 6(h) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA is required, not later than three years after the date of enactment (June 22, 2019), to propose rules regarding the regulation of certain PBTs selected from the 2014 update of the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments that: (1) EPA has a reasonable basis to conclude are toxic and that with respect to persistence and bioaccumulation score high for one and either high or moderate for the other have been identified; and (2) exposure to which under the conditions of use is likely to the general population or to a potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation identified by the Administrator, or the environment, on the basis of an exposure and use assessment conducted by the Administrator. The PBT chemicals that EPA has selected are:
- Decabromodiphenyl ethers (DecaBDE), used as a flame retardant in textiles, plastics, wiring insulation, and building and construction materials;
- Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD), used as a solvent in the manufacture of rubber compounds and as hydraulic, heat transfer or transformer fluid;
- Pentachlorothiophenol (PCTP), used as a mercaptan (sulfur) cross-linking agent to make rubber more pliable in industrial uses;
- Phenol, isopropylated, phosphate (3:1), used as a flame retardant in consumer products and as lubricant, hydraulic fluid, and other industrial uses; and
- 2,4,6-Tris(tert-butyl) phenol, an antioxidant that can be used as a fuel, oil, gasoline or lubricant additive.
The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires agencies to establish a SBAR panel for rules that may have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. EPA states that the panel process will offer “an opportunity for small businesses, small governments and small not-for-profit organizations … to provide advice and recommendations to ensure that the EPA carefully considers small entity concerns regarding the impact of the potential rule on their organizations.”
EPA states eligible SERs are small entities that manufacture, process, distribute in commerce, use, or dispose any of the five selected PBT chemicals. EPA is seeking self-nominations directly from entities that may be subject to the rule requirements. Other representatives, such as trade associations that exclusively or at least primarily represent potentially regulated small entities, may also serve as SERs. Self-nominations may be submitted through the instructions outlined on EPA’s Potential SBAR Panel website and must be received by March 22, 2018. More information about the SBAR process is available online.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On March 6, 2018, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) filed its Principal Brief in the litigation case that petitions for review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Requirements final rule (EDF v. EPA, No. 1701 (D.C. Cir.)).
EDF’s brief includes, among other required statements, a statement of the issues, a statement of the case, a summary of their argument, and their argument. EDF’s arguments are as follows:
- The Inventory Rule withholds information on chemical substances manufactured or processed in the U.S. from the public; this information is required to be disclosed under amended TSCA; EDF has been harmed by EPA’s failure to disclose this information and to disclose unique identifiers for confidential chemicals; and the court can redress this harm.
- The final rule illegally allows manufacturers and processors to assert certain new claims for nondisclosure of specific chemical identities based on other persons having asserted earlier claims, which is contrary to TSCA’s plain text and the relevant precedent governing confidentiality claims; and EPA’s rationale for its interpretation is arbitrary and capricious.
- The final rule violates both the substantive and procedural requirements of TSCA Section 14, Confidential Information, specifically that: EPA refused to accept that TSCA Section 8, Reporting and Retention of Information, repeatedly incorporates Section 14 requirements for confidentiality claims; the final rule fails to implement one of the substantive requirements for confidentiality claims under Section 14; and the final rule fails to implement one of the substantive requirements for confidentiality claims under Section 14.
- The final rule fails to implement the unique identifier and other public information requirements in TSCA Section 8(b)(7)(B).
- The final rule exempts chemicals manufactured and processed solely for export from the reporting requirements, even though such chemicals are specifically not exempted from TSCA Section 8.
- Finally, EDF requests the court to set aside the rule in part, stating that vacatur, along with remand, is the appropriate remedy for EPA’s violations of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). EDF does not seek a complete vacatur, however, stating that “a complete vacatur would postpone the release of some of the very information that EDF seeks, since it would allow EPA to postpone publishing the Inventory based on the information it has already collected. In addition, it would impose costs on the regulated community beyond those necessary to remedy EDF’s harms [and] those manufacturers and processors who have already filed notices without claims of confidentiality should not need to refile the notices.” The portions of the final rule that EDF requests the court to vacate are as follows: the exclusion for export-only manufacturers (40 C.F.R. Section 710.27(a)(4)); Confidentiality Claims (40 C.F.R. Section 710.37); and certain portions of the preamble. EDF states specific instructions on how it would like the court to order EPA to promulgate the regulation on remand that include revisions to regulations on confidentiality claims, public information requirements, and notifications of activities during the lookback period.
EDF has done its usual thorough job and the brief is definitely a must read for TSCA stakeholders. More information on this proceeding and the other challenges to the TSCA framework final rules is available on our blog under key words framework rules.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On February 26, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its proposed fees rule entitled User Fees for the Administration of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as permissible under TSCA Section 26(b). 83 Fed. Reg. 8212. The rule as proposed will set user fees applicable to any person required to submit information to EPA under TSCA Section 4 or a notice, including an exemption or other information, to be reviewed by the Administrator under TSCA Section 5, or who manufactures (including imports) a chemical substance that is the subject of a risk evaluation under TSCA Section 6(b). The notice of proposed rulemaking provides a description of proposed TSCA fees and fee categories for fiscal years 2019, 2020, and 2021, and explains the methodology by which the proposed TSCA user fees were determined and would be determined for subsequent fiscal years. In proposing these new TSCA user fees, EPA also proposes amending long standing user fee regulations governing the review of premanufacture notices, exemption applications and notices, and significant new use notices. Comments on the proposed rule are due April 27, 2018.
An in-depth analysis prepared by Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is available in our memorandum “Administrator Pruitt Signs TSCA User Fee Proposal.”