Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is a Washington, D.C. law firm providing chemical and chemical product stakeholders unparalleled experience, judgment, and excellence in matters relating to TSCA, and other global chemical management programs.
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By Lynn L. Bergeson, Charles M. Auer, and Margaret R. Graham

On January 14, 2019, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont, the Vermont Public Interest Group; Safer Chemicals, Health Families; and two individuals (plaintiffs) followed up on their earlier notice of intent to sue and filed a complaint against Andrew Wheeler and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to compel EPA to perform its “mandatory duty” to “address the serious and imminent threat to human health presented by paint removal products containing methylene chloride.”  Plaintiffs bring the action under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 20(a) which states that “any person may commence a civil action … against the Administrator to compel the Administrator to perform any act or duty under this Act which is not discretionary.”  Plaintiffs allege that EPA has not performed its mandatory duty under TSCA Sections 6(a) and 7.  TSCA Section 6(a) gives EPA the authority to regulate substances that present “an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment” and TSCA Section 7 gives EPA the authority to commence civil actions for seizure and/or relief of “imminent hazards.”  Plaintiffs’ argument to direct EPA to ban methylene chloride is centered on the issue of risk to human health only, however, stating that it presents “an unreasonable risk to human health” as confirmed by EPA.  Under TSCA Section 20(b)(2), plaintiffs are required to submit a notice of intent to sue 60 days prior to filing a complaint which they did on October 31, 2018.

Background

On January 19, 2017, EPA issued a proposed rule under TSCA Section 6 to prohibit the manufacture (including import), processing, and distribution in commerce of methylene chloride for consumer and most types of commercial paint and coating removal (82 Fed. Reg. 7464).  EPA also proposed to prohibit the use of methylene chloride in these commercial uses; to require manufacturers (including importers), processors, and distributors, except for retailers, of methylene chloride for any use to provide downstream notification of these prohibitions throughout the supply chain; and to require recordkeeping.  EPA relied on a risk assessment of methylene chloride published in 2014, the scope of which EPA stated included “consumer and commercial paint and coating removal.”  The proposed rule stated that in the risk assessment, EPA identified risks from inhalation exposure including “neurological effects such as cognitive impairment, sensory impairment, dizziness, incapacitation, and loss of consciousness (leading to risks of falls, concussion, and other injuries)” and, based on EPA’s analysis of worker and consumer populations' exposures to methylene chloride in paint and coating removal, EPA proposed “a determination that methylene chloride and NMP in paint and coating removal present an unreasonable risk to human health.”  The comment period on the proposed rule was extended several times, ending in May 2017, and in September 2017 EPA held a workshop to help inform EPA’s understanding of methylene chloride use in furniture refinishing. 

No further action was taken to issue the rule in final, however, until December 21, 2018, when EPA sent the final rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review.  On the same day, EPA also sent another rule to OMB for review titled “Methylene Chloride; Commercial Paint and Coating Removal Training, Certification and Limited Access Program,” which has not previously been included in EPA’s Regulatory Agenda; very little is known about this rule.  Plaintiffs do not refer to it in the complaint but there is speculation, based on its title, that this second rule may allow for some commercial uses of methylene chloride.

Commentary

We recall the lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Counsel (NRDC) in 2018 challenging EPA’s draft New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework document as a final rule.  The current action further reflects the commitment of detractors of EPA to use the courts and every other means available to oppose the Administration’s TSCA implementation efforts.  Whether and when this court will respond is unclear.  What is clear is that the case will be closely watched, as the outcome will be an important signal to the TSCA stakeholder community regarding the utility of TSCA Section 20(a)(2) to force non-discretionary EPA actions that the Administration may be disinclined to take. 


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson, Christopher R. Bryant, and Margaret R. Graham

Following through on a commitment he made in November 2018, President Trump on January 9, 2019, formally nominated Andrew Wheeler to serve as the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Mr. Wheeler has served as EPA’s Acting Administrator since the resignation of Scott Pruitt in July 2018.  Mr. Wheeler previously worked in the law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels and was chief counsel to the Senate’s Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee.  Before his time at the Senate EPW Committee, Mr. Wheeler served in a similar capacity for six years for the Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, Wetlands, and Nuclear Safety.  Mr. Wheeler completed his law degree at Washington University in St. Louis, his MBA at George Mason University, and his undergraduate work at Case Western Reserve University in English and Biology.  Mr. Wheeler’s confirmation hearing in front of the Senate EPW Committee is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. (EST) on January 16, 2019.  It will be webcast on the EPW Committee website.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson, Carla N. Hutton, and Margaret R. Graham

On December 21, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) Nancy B. Beck, Ph.D., signed a Federal Register document denying a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 21 petition requesting that EPA amend the Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule to increase asbestos reporting, exclude asbestos from certain exemptions, and lift Confidential Business Information (CBI) claims on asbestos information reported under the CDR rule.  Due to the government shutdown, the notice has not yet been published in the Federal Register, but EPA has posted a prepublication version.  EPA’s carefully reasoned response to the request is set forth in the notice.  

The petition was filed on September 27, 2018, by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, American Public Health Association, Center for Environmental Health, Environmental Working Group, Environmental Health Strategy Center, and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (Petitioners).  According to EPA, Petitioners requested the following specific amendments to the existing CDR rule to collect information for the ongoing asbestos risk evaluation being conducted under TSCA Section 6(b) (required to be completed by December 22, 2019), and, if necessary, any subsequent risk management decisions under TSCA Section 6(a):

  1. Amend the CDR rule to require immediate submission, “from January 1, 2019, to April [30], 2019,” of reports on asbestos for the 2016 reporting cycle. 
  2. Amend the naturally occurring chemical substance exemption at 40 C.F.R. § 711.6(a)(3) to make the exemption inapplicable to asbestos;
  3. Amend the articles exemption at 40 C.F.R. § 711.10(b) to require reporting pursuant to the CDR rule for all imported articles in which asbestos is present at detectable levels;
  4. Amend the CDR rule to exclude asbestos from the exemption at 40 C.F.R. § 711.10(c) to require the reporting of asbestos as a byproduct or impurity;
  5. Amend the reporting threshold for CDR at 40 C.F.R. § 711.8(b) to set a reporting threshold of ten pounds for asbestos; and
  6. Amend 40 C.F.R. § 711.8 to add processors of asbestos and asbestos-containing articles as persons required to report under the CDR rule.

In addition to the above requests, Petitioners also requested that EPA use its authority under TSCA Sections 14(d)(3) and 14(d)(7) to lift CBI claims on asbestos information reported under the CDR rule.  EPA responds in detail as to why it is denying each of these requests.  A short summary is below.

  1. 2016 Reporting Cycle:  EPA states that based on the extensive research and data gathering already conducted during the asbestos risk evaluation process, EPA believes that “the requested amendments to the CDR rule would not lead to the reporting of new information that would contribute to EPA’s ongoing asbestos risk evaluation or, if needed, subsequent risk management decision(s)” and Petitioners have “failed to set forth sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to require immediate past reporting of the manufacturing and use of asbestos under the CDR rule for the 2016 reporting cycle.”
  2. Naturally Occurring Substances Exemption:  EPA states that removing the exemption for reporting on naturally occurring substances for asbestos would not provide any additional data to EPA “given that the purpose of domestic manufacturing or importing of raw asbestos is to make asbestos diaphragms, for which EPA already has use and exposure information” and Petitioners have “failed to set forth sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to lift the naturally occurring chemical substances exemption for asbestos under the CDR rule.”
  3. Articles Exemption: EPA states that it believes that lifting the articles exemption for the reporting of asbestos under the CDR rule “would not provide any new use information that would inform the ongoing risk evaluation or any subsequent risk management decisions, if needed” and that Petitioners “have failed to set forth sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to lift the articles exemption for asbestos under the CDR rule.”
  4. Reporting as a Byproduct or Impurity:  EPA states that it does not believe that making the requested amendment to the CDR rule would result in “reporting of asbestos as an impurity or a byproduct, for uses that are known or reasonably ascertainable,” that Petitioners “have not provided evidence that there are such known uses that are ongoing but remain outside the scope of the asbestos risk evaluation,” and “have failed to set forth sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to lift the byproducts and impurities exemptions for asbestos under the CDR rule.”
  5. Reporting Threshold of Ten Pounds:  EPA states that Petitioners “fail to show that lowering the reporting threshold would provide any new information to EPA” and, therefore, finds that the Petitioners “have failed to set sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to lower the CDR reporting threshold for asbestos.”
  6. Adding Processors to CDR:  EPA states that it does not believe that “requiring processors of asbestos under the CDR rule will provide useful information not already in its possession,” Petitioners “have failed to indicate what additional information EPA would collect by requiring asbestos processors to report under the CDR rule” and, therefore, EPA finds that the Petitioners “have failed to set forth sufficient facts to establish that it is necessary to issue the requested amendment to require processors of asbestos to report under the CDR rule.”
  7. Lifting CBI Claims:  EPA states that Petitioners’ request to lift CBI claims on asbestos information reported under the CDR rule is "not appropriate for a TSCA Section 21 petition, as a TSCA Section 21 only pertains to the “issuance, amendment, or repeal of a rule under TSCA sections 4, 6, or 8, or an order under TSCA sections 4 or 5(e) or (f),” therefore, a TSCA Section 21 petition “is not a vehicle to petition EPA to initiate an action under TSCA section 14.”  Further, EPA states that it believes that “disclosure of CBI would have no practical relevance to the risk evaluation or risk determination as the CBI claims are limited and EPA retains the ability to characterize the information without revealing the actual protected data.”

Please look for the full analysis in our upcoming memorandum that will be posted on our Regulatory Developments page. 


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson, Christopher R. Bryant, and Margaret R. Graham

In the last hours of the 115th Congress, the Senate on January 2, 2019, approved the nominations of three individuals to serve in key environmental posts: 

  1. Alexandra Dapolito Dunn -- EPA Toxics Office:  The Senate approved the nomination of Alexandra Dunn to serve as the Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP).  Ms. Dunn had been serving as the administrator for EPA Region 1.  She previously was executive director and general counsel for the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS).  Prior to joining ECOS, Ms. Dunn served as executive director and general counsel for the Association of Clean Water Administrators.  Ms. Dunn also has extensive experience in environmental education, having served as dean of Environmental Law Programs at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University.  In addition, she has taught at the Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America, and, most recently, as an adjunct associate professor of law at the American University’s Washington College of Law.  Ms. Dunn received a B.A. in political science from James Madison University and a J.D. from the Columbus School of Law.  More information on Ms. Dunn’s confirmation hearing is available in our blog item Senate EPW Committee Holds Hearing on Nomination of Alexandra Dunn to Lead OCSPP.
  2. Mary Neumayr -- CEQ: The Senate also approved the nomination of Mary Neumayr to head the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).  Ms. Neumayr currently serves as chief of staff for the CEQ.  Prior to joining CEQ in March of 2017, she served in a variety of positions with the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the U.S. House of Representatives, including Deputy Chief Counsel, energy and environment in 2017; Senior Energy Counsel from 2011 to 2017; and Counsel from 2009 to 2010.  Ms. Neumayr also served as Deputy Counsel for environment and nuclear programs at the U.S. Department of Energy from 2006 to 2009, and Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the environment and natural resources division at the U.S. Department of Justice from 2003 to 2006.  Prior to her government service, Ms. Neumayr was in private legal practice from 1989 to 2003.  She received her B.A. from Thomas Aquinas College and her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
  3. Kelvin Droegemeier -- OSTP:  Finally, the Senate also approved Kelvin Droegemeier to serve as the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  A meteorologist from the University of Oklahoma, Mr. Droegemeier previously served as Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin’s secretary of science and technology.  He was also previously on the National Science Board for 12 years during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

 
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By Richard E. Engler, Ph.D. and Margaret R. Graham

As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently closed due to the lapse in appropriations, EPA has ceased all work reviewing new and existing chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Regarding new chemicals, although the Central Data Exchange (CDX) may still accept submissions, EPA will not process any information submitted via CDX until EPA reopens and it is not clear how EPA will set “Day 1” for TSCA Section 5 notices submitted during the shutdown.  

We are unaware of EPA publishing a formal notice that it is suspending the review period of new chemical notices, but EPA will not be making any determinations on such notices during the shutdown.  Submitters should continue to submit any required information (e.g., Notices of Commencement) even though EPA will not process or review such submissions. 

EPA actions on existing chemicals (including risk evaluations and publication of the updated TSCA Inventory with active/inactive status) will be delayed.  As previously reported, the first preparatory meeting on the Colour Index (C.I.) Pigment Violet 29 risk evaluation (scheduled for January 8, 2019) will be cancelled if the shutdown continues through January 4, 2019, at 5:00 p.m., which appears probable.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On December 31, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), even though they had already shut down due to funding issues, announced that if the government shutdown continues through 5:00 p.m. (EST) January 4, 2019, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals’ (SACC) January 8, 2019, Preparatory Virtual Meeting for the January 29 through February 1, 2019, meeting on Colour Index (C.I.) Pigment Violet 29 will be cancelled, and discussion of charge questions will be folded into the face-to-face meeting scheduled for January 29 through February 1, 2019.  Further, if the shutdown continues through 5:00 p.m. (EST) January 11, 2019, the TSCA SACC’s January 29 through February 1, 2019, Peer Review of the draft risk evaluation for C.I. Pigment Violet 29 will be postponed.  More information on the draft risk evaluation of C.I. Pigment Violet 29 is available in our memorandum EPA Publishes First Draft TSCA Chemical Risk Evaluation.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On December 18, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Ninth Circuit) issued an order granting in part respondent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) motion for partial voluntary remand of certain provisions of its final rule on Procedures for Chemicals Risk Evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Specifically, EPA’s motion for partial voluntary remand, filed August 6, 2018, sought remand with vacatur of 40 C.F.R. Section 702.31(d) (Penalty Provision) and remand without vacatur of 40 C.F.R. Sections 702.37(b)(4) (Relevancy Provision) and 702.37(b)(6) (Consistency Provision).  The Ninth Circuit granted EPA’s motion to remand and to vacate the Penalty Provision, but referred EPA’s motion to remand without vacatur for the Relevancy and Consistency Provisions.  The Penalty Provision states that “[s]ubmission to EPA of inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading information pursuant to a risk evaluation … is a prohibited act … subject to penalties.”

EPA stated in its motion that its “request to remand the Penalty, Relevancy, and Consistency provisions is reasonable, timely, and will serve the interests of judicial economy,” but it has not yet decided on a specific course of action.  EPA sought remand to address the potential concerns that petitioners stated in their opening brief.  EPA stated that vacatur was only appropriate for the Penalty Provision, however, as “nothing in the proposed rule or rulemaking record gave any indication that EPA was contemplating extending the Penalty Provision beyond manufacturers, and EPA did not purport to make that change in response to public comments, the Penalty Provision is not a logical outgrowth of the proposed rule.” 

As for the Relevancy and Consistency Provisions, EPA stated that they should be remanded but not vacated for the following reasons:

  1. EPA believes that the concerns about these provisions can be addressed through modifications to the language of the regulations;
  2. The unintended consequences of the Relevancy and Consistency Provisions that Petitioners allege are not serious; even if a manufacturer were to rely on those provisions to withhold information, EPA has independent authority to collect that information or require development of new information as needed to conduct its risk evaluations; and
  3. The disruptive effects to EPA could be considerable if these regulations were vacated while EPA completes its remand process; if the provisions are vacated, manufacturers could (intentionally or unintentionally) submit junk science or irrelevant material, requiring EPA to consume limited resources and take time out of the statutorily-mandated schedule to review the information.  Further, vacatur of the Relevancy Provision would be particularly disruptive because it would eliminate altogether the affirmative requirement for manufacturers to submit lists of information when requesting risk evaluations; and could delay EPA’s information gathering if it had to request or order such information from the outset.

More information on the appeals to the TSCA framework rule on risk evaluation is available on our blog.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson, Susan M. Kirsch, and Margaret R. Graham

On November 29, 2018, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) held a hearing on the nomination of Alexandra Dapolito Dunn to be the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator (AA) for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP).  The hearing was webcast and is available on the EPW Committee website.

In a rare sharing of bipartisan support for a Trump Administration nominee, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced Ms. Dunn, stating “Ms. Dunn has a deep passion for working with communities, for environmental justice, and for leveraging the expertise of nongovernmental organizations.”  Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) stated he was encouraged by her plans for the office.  Ms. Dunn assured lawmakers that, if confirmed, she will “commit to implementing the law, following the law, and bringing all the provisions of the law to full effect.”  Dunn also emphasized her intention, if confirmed, to leverage the experience and expertise of EPA career staff, including establishing “open door” hours dedicated to connecting with career staff.  Dunn’s written testimony is available on the EPW Committee website.  Senators may submit additional questions for the record (QFR) through November 29, 2018, for Ms. Dunn’s response by December 3, 2018.  It is being reported that Ms. Dunn could be confirmed as early as next week assuming there are no objections.

Ms. Dunn has been serving as the Regional Administrator for EPA’s New England Region (Region 1) since January of this year.  Prior to joining EPA, Ms. Dunn served as Executive Director and General Counsel for the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to helping state agencies improve environment outcomes for Americans.  More information on Ms. Dunn’s experience and accolades is available in EPA’s press release announcing her nomination.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On November 29, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has scheduled the first public meetings of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC).  The first meeting, a preparatory virtual meeting, and will be held on January 8, 2019, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (EST).  The second meeting, a four-day in-person meeting, will be held on January 29, 2019, from 1:00 p.m. (EST) to 5:30 p.m. and on January 30, 31, and February 1, 2019, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (EST).  The official announcement is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on November 30, 2018.  Further information, including the location of the in-person meeting and how to register, will be posted on EPA’s TSCA Scientific Peer Review Committees website.

The topic for this first series of meetings is the peer review of the draft risk evaluation for Colour Index (C.I.) Pigment Violet 29 and associated documents developed under EPA’s existing chemical substance process under TSCA.  EPA states that the two-hour preparatory virtual meeting on January 8, 2019, will consider the scope and clarity of the draft charge questions for this peer review -- included with EPA’s Transmission of Background Materials and Charge to the Panel for the TSCA SACC Reviewing the Draft Risk Evaluation for C.I. Pigment Violet 29 (Attachment 23).  The 4-day, in-person, public meeting will be comprised of the peer review panel deliberations and a general TSCA orientation for the TSCA SACC.  A portion of the in-person meeting will be closed to the public, however, for the discussion of information claimed as confidential business information (CBI).

During these upcoming meetings, EPA states that the public is invited to provide oral comments for the peer review on the draft risk evaluation for C.I. Pigment Violet 29 and related documents; comments submitted by January 14, 2019, on the draft risk evaluation will be provided to the peer review panel members before the in-person meeting.  Comments on the draft charge questions will be accepted prior to and during the 2-hour preparatory virtual meeting (but preferably by January 7, 2019); the TSCA SACC peer review panel will consider these comments during their discussions. 

More information on the draft risk evaluation for C.I. Pigment Violet 29 is available in our memorandum EPA Publishes First Draft TSCA Chemical Risk Evaluation.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On November 26, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) announced that Lek Kadeli joined OCSPP’s Immediate Office as Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator (AA) (Management).  EPA states that Lek has extensive experience managing and supporting a wide range of environmental and human health related programs.  Lek has worked at EPA previously; for eight years he was the Principal Deputy AA in EPA’s Office of Research of Development (ORD), serving several periods during that time as ORD’s Acting AA.  Lek has also served as Director for ORD’s Office of Resource Management and Administration; Chief of ORD’s Resources Planning and Execution Staff; Office of International Activities Senior Budget Officer; and, as a budget analyst in the Office of Administration and Resource Management’s Office of Comptroller.

Most recently, Lek worked at the World Bank Group in Washington, D.C. as the co-program manager of the Pollution Management and Environmental Health Program, Environment and National Resources Global Practice.  Lek holds a B.A. in Political Science from George Mason University, and a M.A. in National Security Studies from Georgetown University.


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

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a Federal Register notice on November 15, 2018, announcing the availability of and seeking public comment on the first draft chemical risk evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg).  The draft risk evaluation for Colour Index (C.I.) Pigment Violet 29 is intended to determine whether C.I. Pigment Violet 29 presents an unreasonable risk to health or the environment under the conditions of use, including an unreasonable risk to a relevant potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation.  According to the notice, EPA is also submitting these same documents to the TSCA Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) to peer review the draft risk evaluation.  EPA intends to publish a separate Federal Register notice containing the peer review meeting details.  Comments on the draft risk evaluation are due January 14, 2019.  EPA will provide all comments submitted on the draft risk evaluation to the TSCA SACC peer review panel, which will have the opportunity to consider the comments during its discussions.  More information is available in the full memorandum.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) will hold a hearing on the nomination of Alexandra Dapolito Dunn to be the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator (AA) for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) on Thursday, November 29, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. (EST) in room 406 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.  The hearing will be webcast and will be available on the EPW Committee website.

Ms. Dunn has been serving as the Regional Administrator for EPA’s New England Region (Region 1) since January of this year.  Prior to joining EPA, Ms. Dunn served as Executive Director and General Counsel for the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to helping state agencies improve environment outcomes for Americans. While at ECOS, Ms. Dunn helped state governments improve water infrastructure, reduce air pollution, clean up contaminated sites, manage chemical safety, and enhance economic development.  Before joining ECOS, Ms. Dunn was Executive Director and General Counsel for the Association of Clean Water Administrators.  Ms. Dunn was also a former chair of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (SEER).  More information on Ms. Dunn’s experience and accolades is available in EPA’s press release announcing her nomination.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson, Kathleen M. Roberts, and Richard E. Engler, Ph.D.

In September 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a consent agreement with Chevron USA, Inc. (Chevron) related to an alleged violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 

EPA’s issuance of a consent agreement for the alleged TSCA violation is not especially newsworthy.  Neither is the agreed upon penalty for the violation, which could be considered minor based on the penalty provisions allowed under TSCA.  What is newsworthy here is that the alleged violation, technically three as the violation occurred on three separate days, was related to the research and development (R&D) exemption.  Specifically, EPA alleged that Chevron did not appropriately label chemicals that it had distributed to other companies for R&D purposes.  In our experience, the R&D exemption under TSCA is seldom the subject of enforcement scrutiny.  This may be changing.

 The R&D exemption is a critical aspect of TSCA and it offers many companies significant flexibility to research new chemical innovations.  The exemption is self-implementing and thus does not require pre-approval by or submissions to EPA.  Nonetheless, there are specific restrictions and recordkeeping requirements associated with reliance on that exemption.  The consent agreement at issue here confirms that EPA will hold companies accountable to these requirements.  The enforcement action is an important reminder to all entities relying upon the R&D exemption to ensure that they comply strictly with each element of the exemption requirements as identified under TSCA Section 5(h)(3).

Companies relying on the R&D exemption for new chemical development may wish to review internal files and processes to ensure compliance, as EPA has shown its intent to pursue violations and associated penalties for non-compliance instances.

 


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On October 17, 2018, the Trump Administration published its Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Regulatory Agenda).  There are many interesting entries, some of which are flagged here.

Not surprisingly, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed implementing Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) amendments to enhance public health and chemical safety as one of its top priorities.  According to EPA, the amendments to TSCA that were enacted in June 2016 require EPA “to evaluate existing chemicals on the basis of the health risks they pose -- including risks to vulnerable groups and to workers who may use chemicals daily as part of their jobs.”  If unreasonable risks are found, EPA must then take steps to eliminate these risks but, “during the risk management phase, EPA must balance the risk management decision with potential disruption based on compliance to the national economy, national security, or critical infrastructure.”  The following TSCA items were included. 

The rules in the proposed rule stage are:

  • Microorganisms: General Exemptions From Reporting Requirements; Revisions of Recipient Organisms Eligible for Tier I and Tier II Exemptions, 2070-AJ65.  The Regulatory Agenda states that EPA is still developing a revised proposal that will address concerns raised by commenters in response to its preliminary determination that certain strains of Trichoderma reesei and Bacillus amyloliquefaciens 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.  EPA is also 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 was scheduled to issue a proposed rule by October 2018.
  • Long-Chain Perfluoroalkyl Carboxylate (LCPFAC) and Perfluoroalkyl Sulfonate Chemical Substances; Significant New Use Rule (SNUR), 2070-AJ99.  The Regulatory Agenda states that EPA is developing a supplemental proposal for part of a SNUR under TSCA Section 5(a)(2) for LCPFAC chemical substances to make inapplicable the exemption for persons who import a subset of LCPFAC chemical substances as part of certain articles.  This rule was scheduled to be proposed by October 2018 and issued in final by November 2019.  EPA’s initial proposed rule was issued on January 21, 2015.
  • 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), 2070-AK21.  The Regulatory Agenda states that EPA is developing a proposed rule that establishes 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 is scheduled to issue the proposed rule by January 2019 and the final rule by December 2019, as TSCA directs a final rule to be issued by December 16, 2019
  • TSCA Chemical Data Reporting Revisions and Small Manufacturer Definition Update for Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements Under TSCA Section 8(a), 2070-AK33.  The Regulatory Agenda states that before the next Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) period of 2020, EPA intends to revise the reporting requirements to better align with new statutory requirements resulting from TSCA, as amended, to address submitters' feedback following the 2016 submission period, and may consider reporting requirements for inorganic byproducts.  EPA is also proposing amendments to the size standards for small manufacturers, which impacts certain reporting and recordkeeping requirements for TSCA Section 8(a) rules, including CDR.  EPA is scheduled to issue the proposed rule by December 2018 and the final rule by October 2019.
  • Regulation of Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Chemicals Under TSCA Section 6(h), 2070-AK34.  The Regulatory Agenda states that EPA is developing a proposed rule to implement TSCA Section 6(h), as amended, which directs EPA to issue regulations for certain persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemical substances that were identified in the 2014 update of the TSCA Work Plan.  TSCA directs these regulations to be proposed by June 22, 2019, and issued in final form no later than 18 months after proposal.  According to the Regulatory Agenda, EPA will issue a proposed rule by June 2019.
  • Technical Issues; Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products, 2070-AK47.  EPA is proposing to amend the regulations promulgated in a final rule published on December 12, 2016, concerning formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products, specifically to address certain technical issues and further align the final rule requirements with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Airborne Toxic Control Measures (ATCM) Phase II program.  EPA issued the proposed rule on November 1, 2018, in the Federal Register; comments are due by December 3, 2018.  EPA expects to issue a final rule by March 2019.  

The rules in the final rule stage are:

  • Review of Dust-Lead Hazard Standards and the Definition of Lead-Based Paint, 2070-AJ82.  EPA issued a proposed rule on July 2, 2018, that would lower the current dust-lead hazard standards (DLHS) from 40 mg/ft2 and 250 mg/ft2 to 10 mg/ft2 and 100 mg/ft2 on floors and window sills, respectively, per a final decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  The Regulatory Agenda states that while EPA has proposed standards of 10 mg/ft2 and 100 mg/ft2 for floors and window sills respectively, EPA encouraged public comment on the full range of candidate standards analyzed as alternatives to the proposal, including the option not to change the current standard or to reduce the floor dust standard but leave the sill dust standard unchanged, since reducing floor dust lead has the greatest impact on children's health.  EPA is scheduled to issue the final rule by June 2019.  More information on the proposed rule is available in our memorandum “Recent Federal Developments -- July 2018.”
  • SNUR for Toluene Diisocyanates (TDI) and Related Compounds, 2070-AJ91.  The Regulatory Agenda states that EPA is preparing the final version of a proposed SNUR issued on January 15, 2015, under TSCA Section 5(a)(2) for 2,4-toluene diisocyanate, 2,6-toluene diisocyanate, toluene diisocyanate unspecified isomers, and related compounds; and that there are no changes in the chemicals subject to the SNUR between the proposed and final rule.  EPA is scheduled to issue the final rule in November 2018.
  • Significant New Uses of Chemical Substances; Updates to the Hazard Communication Program and Regulatory Framework; Minor Amendments to Reporting Requirements for Premanufacture Notices, 2070-AJ94.  On July 28, 2016, EPA issued a rule proposing changes to the applicable significant new uses of chemical substances regulations at 40 C.F.R. Part 721 to align EPA's regulations, where possible, with the final revisions to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Hazard Communications Standard.  The Regulatory Agenda states that EPA is reviewing the comments received and is planning to issue a final rule in February 2019.
  • Certain Nonylphenols and Nonylphenol Ethoxylates; SNUR, 2070-AJ96.  The Regulatory Agenda states that EPA is reviewing the comments received on the proposed SNUR issued on October 1, 2014, for certain chemical substances commonly known as nonylphenols (NP) and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) and is planning to issue a final rule in September 2019.  More information on the proposed SNUR is available in our memorandum “EPA Proposes SNUR for Nonylphenols and Nonylphenol Ethoxylates.”
  • Methylene Chloride; Rulemaking Under TSCA Section 6(a), 2070-AK07.  The Regulatory Agenda states that EPA is scheduled to issue the final rule prohibiting the consumer and commercial paint stripping uses for methylene chloride by December 2018.  In a press release issued on May 10, 2018, EPA stated that it will not re-evaluate the paint stripping uses of methylene chloride and will rely on its previous risk assessments.  See our memorandum “EPA Will Send Final Methylene Chloride Rule to OMB ‘Shortly’” for more information on the proposed rule. 
  • Asbestos; SNUR, 2070-AK45.  The Regulatory Agenda states that EPA’s proposed SNUR under TSCA Section 5(a)(2) for certain uses of asbestos that are no longer in use in the United States is scheduled to be issued in final by January 2019.  The proposed SNUR was issued on June 11, 2018, and the comment period ended on August 10, 2018.  More information on the proposed rule is available in our memorandum “Monthly Update for June 2018.”

The following Long-Term Action was also listed:

  • N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP); Regulation of Certain Uses Under TSCA Section 6(a), RIN 2070-AK46.  The Regulatory Agenda states that EPA’s two co-proposals for NMP that were proposed on January 19, 2017 (as part of RIN 2070-AK07), will be issued in final with a future date “To Be Determined.”  The first co-proposal would prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution in commerce of NMP for all consumer and most commercial paint and coating removal and the use of NMP for most commercial paint and coating removal.  The second co-proposal would require commercial users of NMP for paint and coating removal to establish a worker protection program and not use paint and coating removal products that contain greater than 35 percent NMP by weight, with certain exceptions; and require processors of products containing NMP for paint and coating removal to reformulate products such that they do not exceed 35 percent NMP by weight, to identify gloves that provide effective protection for the formulation, and to provide warnings and instructions on any paint and coating removal products containing NMP.  For more information on the proposed rule, please see our memorandum "Monthly Update for February 2017."

For information on the TSCA items included in the Spring 2018 Regulatory Agenda, please see our blog item “EPA’s Spring 2018 Unified Agenda and Regulatory Plan Includes TSCA Rulemakings.”


 
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B&C is launching a podcast November 1, 2018.  It’s called All Things Chemical™ and it will engage listeners in intelligent, insightful conversation about everything related to industrial, pesticidal, and specialty chemicals and the law and business issues surrounding chemicals. B&C’s talented team of lawyers, scientists, and consultants will keep listeners abreast of the changing world of both domestic and international chemical regulation and provide analysis of the many intriguing and complicated issues surrounding this space.

A teaser introduction to the podcast is available now.  Full episodes will be available November 1, 2018, on iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher.


 
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