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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On June 13, 2017, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) received a notice from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) submitting its draft Guidance to Assist Interested Persons in Developing and Submitting Draft Risk Evaluations Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) (RIN 2070-ZA18) for review and approval.  Under Section 26(l)(5), EPA is required, “[n]ot later than 1 year after the date of enactment … [to] develop guidance to assist interested persons in developing and submitting draft risk evaluations which shall be considered by the Administrator.”  While the “framework rules” have been the subject of considerable focus since last June, this guidance is as important, subject to the one year deadline, and likely to provide significant insights into EPA’s thinking on risk evaluations.  EPA must publish the final rule in the Federal Register by June 22, 2017.

More information on the final rule on Procedures for Evaluating Existing Chemical Risks under TSCA is available in our memorandum EPA Releases Proposed Chemical Risk Evaluation Process under New TSCA.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On June 1, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) submitted its final rulemaking on the Procedures for Evaluating Existing Chemical Risks under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval.  

EPA’s proposed rule describes a process for conducting risk evaluations to determine whether a chemical substance presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, including an unreasonable risk to a potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation, under the conditions of use; and identifies the steps of a risk evaluation process including scope, hazard assessment, exposure assessment, risk characterization, and finally a risk determination.  This process would be used for the first ten chemical substances to be evaluated from the 2014 update of the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments, chemical substances designated as High-Priority Substances during the prioritization process, and those chemical substances for which EPA has initiated a risk evaluation in response to manufacturer requests. Comments were due March 20, 2017; 87 comments were filed.  Pursuant to new TSCA, EPA must publish the final rule in the Federal Register by June 22, 2017

More information on the rule as proposed is available in our memorandum EPA Releases Proposed Chemical Risk Evaluation Process under New TSCA.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

In January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its initial report to Congress on its capacity to implement certain provisions of the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  The report, prepared by EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) for the Committees on Energy and Commerce, and appropriations of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Committees on Environment and Public Works, and Appropriations of the U.S. Senate, was directed to be provided within six months of enactment under Section 26(m)(1) of amended TSCA.  In the report, EPA states that it anticipates “ramping up from 10 risk evaluations in FY2017 to 15 in FY2018, reaching 20 by the end of FY2019,” which is necessary “to accomplish an ongoing pace of at least 20 EPA-initiated risk evaluations underway” by the end of calendar year (CY) 2019.  EPA also provides a table on page five, Table 1: TSCA Risk Evaluations, Numbers Underway and Resources Estimates, which presents estimates for its annual costs, calculated by dividing the average lifecycle costs of the actions by the number of years the statute provides for the agency to complete those actions, and then multiplying the result by the numbers of actions required/anticipated to be underway each year.  The total annual costs range from $12.3 million for FY2017 to $35.8 million for FY2021.  The report refers to the rule to implement the fee collection provisions, stating it is “currently under development,” but does not provide any more details on when it will be issued.

On January 30, 2017, President Trump issued a Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies in the Federal Register which directs federal agencies to “support the expansion of manufacturing in the United States through expedited reviews of and approvals for proposals to construct or expand manufacturing facilities and through reductions in regulatory burdens affecting domestic manufacturing.”  82 Fed. Reg. 8667.  The memo will require the Secretary of the Department of Commerce (DOC) to conduct outreach to stakeholders concerning the impact of federal regulations on domestic manufacturing and to solicit comments for 60 days concerning “Federal actions to streamline permitting and reduce regulatory burdens for domestic manufacturers.”  DOC is also instructed to coordinate this process with the Secretaries of EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), among others, and within 60 days after the process is completed, to submit a report setting forth a plan to streamline federal permitting processes for domestic manufacturing and “to reduce regulatory burdens affecting domestic manufacturers,” identifying “priority actions as well as recommended deadlines for completing actions.”

Also on January 30, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order on reducing regulation and controlling regulatory costs casually referred to as the “one in, two out” order which states that when executive departments and agencies “publicly propos[e] for notice and comment or otherwise promulgat[e] a new regulation, [they] shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed.”  The order also states that no incremental costs can be accrued for any new regulations unless required by law or advised in writing by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  For any costs that are accrued, it is directed for them to be “offset by the elimination of existing costs associated with at least two prior regulations.”  In the order, the OMB Director is tasked with providing guidance on implementation, as well as identifying the total amount of costs allowed for each agency “in issuing new regulations and repealing regulations for the next fiscal year.”  The regulations exempt from this order are: regulations issued with respect to a military, national security, or foreign affairs function; regulations related to agency organization, management, or personnel; and other categories exempted by the OMB Director. 


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson, Carla N. Hutton, Charles M. Auer, and Oscar Hernandez, Ph.D.

On January 13, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposed rule that would establish a process for conducting risk evaluations to determine whether a chemical substance presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, including an unreasonable risk to a potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation, under the conditions of use.  The process would not consider costs or other nonrisk factors.  Risk evaluation is the second step, after prioritization, in a new process of existing chemical substance review and management established under recent amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  The proposed rule identifies the steps of a risk evaluation process, including scope, hazard assessment, exposure assessment, risk characterization, and finally a risk determination.  EPA proposes that this process be used for the first ten chemical substances to be evaluated from the 2014 update of the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments, chemical substances designated as High-Priority Substances during the prioritization process, and those chemical substances for which EPA has initiated a risk evaluation in response to manufacturer requests.  The proposed rule also includes the required “form and criteria” applicable to such manufacturer requests.  EPA posted a pre-publication version of the proposed rule on its website.  When the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, it will begin a 60-day comment period.  This is the third foundational rule released during the week of January 9, 2017.  An in-depth memorandum on the proposed risk evaluation process, as well as memoranda regarding EPA’s proposed requirements for TSCA Inventory notification and prioritization process for reviewing existing chemicals, will be available on our website under the key phrase TSCA.


 

By  Lynn L. Bergeson and Molly R. Blessing


As noted in our blog posting on November 16, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on December 1, 2016, that its Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) will hold a public meeting on December 14, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EST) to update the public on changes to the New Chemicals Review Program under the Toxic Substances Control Act, as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (TSCA).  Note the time change from EPA’s previous announcement of this public meeting; the meeting time has been extended to end at 3:00 p.m. instead of the original 12:00 p.m.  Reportedly, the response to EPA’s earlier notice was quite robust so EPA has extended the public meeting by three hours.

EPA states that it will “describe its review process for new chemicals under the amended statute, as well as discuss issues, challenges, and opportunities that the Agency has identified in the first few months of implementation.”  Interested parties will have the opportunity to comment “on their experiences with the New Chemicals Review Program, including submittal of pre-manufacture notices (PMNs), microbial commercial activity notices (MCANs), and significant new use notices (SNUNs) under section 5 of the law.”  Information obtained during this meeting and from submitted written comments will be considered as EPA works to “implement the new requirements and improve the efficiency of its review process under TSCA.”

In-person and webinar registration is available now.  EPA is requesting that interested parties register by December 13, 2016. Written comments will be accepted via www.regulations.gov under Docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0658 and must be submitted by January 14, 2017.

More information on new chemicals review under amended TSCA is available in our memorandum TSCA Reform: An Analysis of Key Provisions and Fundamental Shifts in the Amended TSCA, as well as on the Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. website under Regulatory Developments: TSCA.

Commentary

As noted in our earlier blog, given the considerable impact of new TSCA on EPA’s New Chemicals Program, this public meeting is a must attend for TSCA stakeholders.  Interested parties should come to the meeting with thoughtful questions and clear expectations as to what stakeholders can usefully share with EPA at the meeting.  This could be the first of several such meetings to help interested parties understand the processes OPPT is developing in response to new TSCA, add greater transparency to those processes, and to assist EPA as appropriate with implementing the new law.

One point in particular that we draw attention to is a sentence at the top of page 86714 in the Federal Register notice describing the affirmative determinations that initially are tied to unreasonable risk determinations, then goes on to claim that there is an alternative concerning “insufficient information to allow for a determination.”

Pursuant to the amended law, EPA is now required to make an affirmative determination as to whether or not the new use or new chemical presents, may present, or is not likely to present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, or, alternatively, if there is insufficient information to allow for a determination.

This reading of the law is plainly at odds with the text that clearly states (Section 5(a)(1)(B))  that EPA has to “make a determination under subparagraphs (A), (B), or (C) of paragraph (3).”  The insufficient information provision appears at Section 5(a)(3)(B)(i). and, thus, “insufficient information” is both included within (B) and is a determination.  We also note that in discussing the affirmative determinations, EPA has omitted discussion of the substantial production/exposure determination at Section 5(a)(3)(ii)(II).  

While this may only represent an error in drafting the notice, it is also possible that it indicates a basic misunderstanding of the new chemicals provisions, a view that may find support in some of the decisions recently communicated to our clients in “action letters” on Section 5 notices.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On November 10, 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reportedly received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) draft proposed risk evaluation rule under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Procedures for Evaluating Existing Chemical Risks Under the Toxic Substances Control Act.  This is a much anticipated procedural rule that will establish EPA’s process for evaluating the risk of so called “high priority” chemicals.  This is the second rule of three Framework Action rules that amended TSCA has directed EPA to issue in final within one year of enactment, or by mid-June 2017.  The Inventory rule, which will require industry reporting of chemicals manufactured/processed in the previous ten years, is expected to be sent to OMB soon.  Whether election transition issues will complicate and perhaps slow the review process is unclear but certainly not unlikely.

More information on the implementation of amended TSCA is available in our TSCA Reform News & Information website and in our TSCA Reform memoranda.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On July 25, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its intention to hold two public meetings on August 9, and August 10, 2016, to obtain input on the processes that will be used to prioritize and evaluate chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act:

  • August 9, 2016:  EPA states that this public meeting will inform its proposed rule on conducting risk evaluations to determine whether a chemical presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment; and
  • August 10, 2016:  EPA states that this public meeting will inform its proposed rule to establish a risk-based process for chemical prioritization.

The public meetings are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and will be held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Horizon Ballroom, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. EPA states that the input obtained during these meetings will be considered as the EPA develops its proposed procedural regulations for risk evaluation and chemical prioritization.  EPA is recommending that any interested participants register in advance.  

More information concerning EPA’s implementation of the amended TSCA is available in our memorandum EPA Publishes First Year Implementation Plan, as well as on the Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) website under Regulatory Developments: TSCA.

Commentary

It is critically important that stakeholders attend and participate in these meetings. While the timing is regrettable in light of vacation schedules, EPA is under intense pressure to issue rules later this year and EPA has no choice other than to keep the process moving.  EPA is to be commended for scheduling these opportunities as quickly as it has, and its efforts should be acknowledged by robust stakeholder engagement.


 

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) has learned that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is planning to convene a stakeholder workshop in Washington, D.C. on August 9-10, 2016, for a public dialogue on prioritization and risk evaluation.  We also understand that EPA may host an industry meeting on August 11-12, 2016, to consult on fees.  The dates and topics will be confirmed when EPA makes announcements in the Federal Register.


 

On June 22, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rolled out its new Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act Frequent Questions webpage.  This webpage will be a resource for Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform-related updates and implementation plans.  EPA has also posted a summary of key provisions, its six essential principles for reform of chemicals management legislation, the presentation from its informational webinar on June 30, 2016, in which EPA provided an overview of the new TSCA, and an unofficial version of TSCA as recently amended.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On June 29, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted an Implementation Plan that outlines EPA’s plans for early activities and actions under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, legislation that significantly amends many of the provisions of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  The amended TSCA has been identified as Public Law Number (Pub. L. No.) 114-182.  EPA notes that the new law imposes new responsibilities on EPA, while providing “comparatively short” deadlines to implement them.  EPA “takes these responsibilities and deadlines seriously,” and intends for the Implementation Plan to be a roadmap of the major activities on which EPA will focus during the initial year of implementation.  EPA organizes the Implementation Plan by the statutory timeframes during which the activities must be completed, rather than by what is of importance to EPA.  EPA states that the Implementation Plan is a living document, and EPA will further develop it over time.  EPA cautions that the Implementation Plan “is NOT intended to be a comprehensive listing of all requirements in the new law.” 

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is pleased that EPA is making strong early efforts to communicate and engage with stakeholders about its early implementation of the new TSCA and its thinking regarding specific provisions.  Completing the items listed in the Implementation Plan represents a prodigious amount of work for EPA over the coming months and years.  Stakeholders will need to be prepared to respond thoughtfully to rules, lists, and process descriptions as they appear in the Federal Register, or as they are posted.

More information on EPA’s Implementation Plan is available in our memorandum TSCA Reform: EPA Publishes First Year Implementation Plan.