By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On February 9, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was extending the comment period for the two recently proposed rules issued under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to ban certain uses of trichloroethylene (TCE): proposed rule to ban certain uses of TCE in aerosol degreasing and as a spot cleaner in dry cleaning facilities (issued December 16, 2017); and proposed rule to regulate the use of TCE in vapor degreasing (issued January 19, 2017). EPA is extending the comment period for the proposed ban on TCE as an aerosol degreaser and for spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities from the initial deadline of February 14, 2017, to March 16, 2017, and for the proposed ban on TCE as a commercial vapor degreaser from the initial deadline of March 20, 2017, to April 19, 2017. EPA did not state any information on why it was extending the deadline, but requests for extensions were filed in both dockets.
More information on the proposed rules is available in our memorandum EPA Proposes Regulation of TCE Use in Vapor Degreasing under TSCA Section 6(a) and in our blog item EPA Proposes Prohibiting Use of TCE.
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Charles M. Auer, and Margaret R. Graham
On December 7, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would be issuing a rule proposing to prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution in commerce of trichloroethylene (TCE) for certain uses under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), due to its determination that there are significant health risks associated with TCE use in aerosol degreasing and for spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities. The proposed action is significant for several reasons, including that it represents the first use in a very long time of TSCA Section 6 as well as the first Section 6 control action taken under new TSCA. Specifically, EPA is proposing to prohibit the use of TCE in “aerosol degreasing and for use in spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities; to prohibit commercial use of TCE for aerosol degreasing and for spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities; to require manufacturers, processors, and distributors, except for retailers of TCE for any use, to provide downstream notification of these prohibitions throughout the supply chain; and to require limited recordkeeping.” We look forward to a close reading of the proposed rule and to evaluating the arguments, the policy points, and the evidence provided by EPA to satisfy the various legal requirements, including those under Section 6(c) and Section 26.
EPA’s online Fact Sheet on TCE lists questions and answers as related to the proposed rule. In response to Question 3, What are the potential risks of TCE to people?, EPA states that its 2014 risk assessment found TCE to be “carcinogenic to people through all routes of exposure, which include inhalation, dermal (skin), and ingestion.” The pre-publication of the proposed rule is available on EPA’s website. Once it has been published in the Federal Register, comments must be submitted within 60 days of publication.
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Charlie M. Auer, and Margaret R. Graham
On October 21, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reopened the comment period on a proposed rule revising regulations governing significant new uses (SNU) of chemical substances under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), per a request from a commenter. EPA states in its Federal Register notice that this request was “reasonable and is therefore reopening the comment period … [for] all interested persons.” The proposed rule would amend the TSCA SNU regulations to align them with revisions to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communications Standard (HCS), as occasioned by OSHA's March 2012 final rule modifying the HCS to conform to the United Nations' (U.N.) Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), changes to OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) respirator certification requirements pertaining to respiratory protection of workers from exposure to chemicals. The proposed rule would also amend regulations for SNU rules (SNUR) previously proposed and issued and make a “minor” change to reporting requirements for premanufacture notices (PMN) and other TSCA Section 5 notices.
The brief notice reopening the comment period does little to reinforce the magnitude and consequences of these proposed changes. Our memorandum TSCA: Proposed Revisions to Significant New Use Rules Reflect Current Occupational Safety and Health Standards provides a detailed account of the significant and complex issues that these changes raise, briefly reiterated here:
- The challenges in aligning labeling, as well as legal and regulatory ambiguities. EPA has devoted considerable effort to clarifying the application of HCS/GHS requirements to Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) but unresolved issues still remain. The implementation of these revisions will most likely present similar challenges.
- EPA’s use of the hierarchy of controls (HOC) approach in the significant new use provisions, even though Congress did not include this approach in new TSCA. The wisdom of the inclusion of the HOC approach, even though we recognize and appreciate the importance of HOC as an element in a system to manage or eliminate occupational risks, is questionable and inconsistent.
- Whether or not EPA's review considered the possibility that new TSCA may materially impact the content of the proposal. There are signs, such as EPA’s inclusion of old TSCA citations, that point to them not having done this review, and there are no reassurances from EPA that new TSCA’s potential impacts were considered.
Our memorandum TSCA Reform: Proposed Changes to SNUR Procedures Would, Perhaps Inadvertently, Result in Disclosure of CBI to Third Parties/Possible Competitors also brings to light another important legal issue, concerning interesting anomalies that appear in the proposal's discussion of bona fide requests and the disclosure of information potentially considered confidential. EPA proposes to modify the procedures for determining if a specific substance or chemical use is subject to a SNUR when the substance, production volume, or use is claimed as confidential business information (CBI). The source of EPA’s authority to disclose CBI in the ways described in the proposed rule is unclear, as neither old nor new TSCA specifies them, such as the statutory basis and rationale for informing a bona fide intent notice (BFN) submitter of confidential use or production volume conditions. Also, EPA does not justify why disclosure to the BFN submitter is necessary. The current proposed SNUR provides for neither equal disclosure nor equal confidentiality as a result of BFN submission.
Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) Managing Partner Lynn L. Bergeson and Senior Policy and Regulatory Advisor Charles M. Auer have recently published two articles on important issues as related to the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA):
The concept of “conditions of use” plays an important role in TSCA as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. Conditions of use is a centralizing concept under which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determines how a chemical is made, processed, used, and disposed. The term is defined in TSCA Section 3 and also appears one or more times in the following Sections: 5, 6, 9, 14, 18, 21, and 26. The term is not used in Sections 4 and 8. B&C’s BNA article explores the use and application of conditions of use under Sections 5 and 6 and provides insights into the implications of what may be its unusual use in Section 5 in comparison to Section 6.
Among its other requirements and authorities, Section 5 of new TSCA generally requires that a company timely submit to EPA a notice of its intent to manufacture or process a new chemical or significant new use (NC/SNU). EPA is then required to conduct a review of the Section 5(a)(1) notice and make a determination on the NC/SNU and take required additional actions. Questions have been raised as to whether the review period is fixed and requires that EPA determinations and actions be completed within that period, or if the statute can be read to permit a more flexible review period along the lines of how it was interpreted and applied in old TSCA with the use of voluntary suspensions. Charles M. Auer and Lynn L. Bergeson’s September ABA article analyzes that question.
Other B&C articles on amended TSCA and other regulatory issues of interest are available on our website.
In-House Counsel Beware: TSCA Reform Impacts Everyone, an article by Lynn L. Bergeson, on Law360, outlines the extensive revisions to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that will impact legal practices and business operations, due to the new TSCA law, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. The content includes:
- TSCA Reform, What Just Happened?;
- The New TSCA and the New Normal;
- How the New TSCA Will Impact Product Manufacturers; and
- A list of seven “need-to-know” aspects for in-house counsel regarding how the new law works, when these impacts will occur, and how best to be prepared for them.