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.

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
Under the Reports Consolidation Act of 2000, each agency’s inspector general must prepare an annual statement summarizing what the inspector general considers to be “the most serious management and performance challenges facing the agency” and to assess briefly the agency’s progress in addressing those challenges. On November 29, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released its report regarding EPA’s fiscal year (FY) 2023 top management challenges. According to the report, the eight top management challenges for EPA in FY 2023 include:

  • Providing for the Safe Use of Chemicals: The public must be able to depend on the EPA’s ability to conduct credible and timely assessments of the risks posed by pesticides, toxic chemicals, and other environmental chemicals.

OIG states in its full report that it conducted an evaluation in 2020 of EPA’s progress toward meeting deadlines established by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) as amended by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act), focusing primarily on TSCA’s existing chemicals program. OIG recommended that the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) assistant administrator publish the annual existing chemicals plan, including the anticipated implementation efforts and required resources; conduct a workforce analysis to assess the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics’ (OPPT) capability to implement TSCA; and specify what skill gaps had to be filled in FY 2021 to meet the TSCA requirements. According to OIG, on February 7, 2022, OCSPP certified that it had completed all corrective actions for the recommendations in its report. More information on OIG’s 2020 report is available in our August 18, 2020, blog item.
 
OIG notes that an audit of TSCA’s New Chemicals Review Process is currently ongoing as part of its FY 2022 Oversight Plan. According to OIG, the objective of that review is to determine the extent to which EPA is using and complying with applicable records-management and quality-assurance requirements and employee performance standards to review and approve new chemicals under TSCA to manage human health and environmental risks.
 
According to OIG, per EPA, “an increased workload and the need for resources -- especially staff trained in specific science skills -- are major factors in not being on track to meet many of the EPA’s statutory deadlines.” Citing a trade press article, OIG states that “[s]pecifically, the OCSPP stated that it does not have the resources to address statutory requirements. The OCSPP also stated that it has not received the necessary funding to complete its mission.” For example, OCSPP reports that it has approximately 310 full-time equivalent staff but estimates that it needs about 500 full-time equivalents for its mission. EPA also cited a lack of resources for its failure to post publicly the risk reports for 1,240 new chemicals.
 
In FY 2022, EPA requested an additional $15 million and 87.6 full-time equivalents -- a 35 percent increase from the FY 2021 enacted full-time equivalent level -- to meet the increased responsibilities from the Lautenberg Act. The FY 2022 enacted budget provided for 25.6 full-time equivalents for TSCA programs, however. Furthermore, according to OIG, OCSPP conducted a recent assessment that recommended that the office hire more staff, mitigate the workload to manage the workforce’s daily stress, modernize information technology (IT) systems, and eliminate the use of multiple tracking systems.
 
OIG concludes that many of the Biden Administration’s top priorities rely on the work of the OCSPP. Both EPA OIG and EPA have noted that key OCSPP programs face a steep staffing shortage and a lack of planning that could negatively impact critical chemical work, however. Absent the resources OCSPP needs for its TSCA programs, EPA “will remain challenged with meeting its statutory deadlines.” OIG states that if OCSPP is unable to balance the workload with its resource needs, EPA “will continue to face the key challenge of ensuring the safety of chemicals.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a webinar on December 6, 2022, to provide an overview to stakeholders about its November 16, 2022, supplemental proposed rule modifying and adjusting certain aspects of the fees rule established under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). EPA states that it is publishing these changes to ensure that collected fees provide it with 25 percent of authorized TSCA costs consistent with direction in the fiscal year 2022 appropriations bill to consider the “full” implementation costs of the law. According to EPA, updating TSCA fees will strengthen its ability to implement successfully TSCA in a way that is both protective and sustainable and significantly improve on-time performance and quality. The webinar will provide stakeholders an opportunity to provide comment to EPA on the supplemental proposed rule. Registration for the webinar is open. Stakeholders who wish to provide oral comments during the webinar are asked to register by December 1, 2022. Comments on the supplemental proposed rule are due January 17, 2023. More information on the supplemental proposed rule will be available in our forthcoming memorandum.


 

This webinar has been rescheduled from December 7, 2022. The new and correct date and time is December 14, 2022, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. (EST).

Registration is open for the "Articles under TSCA" webinar on December 14, 2022, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. (EST).

When the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) focused its attention on chemical substances and chemical mixtures, while largely exempting the regulation of chemicals in “articles,” generally meaning finished products or manufactured goods. EPA’s more recent announcement of its intent to regulate chemicals in articles to a much greater extent has caught many in the regulated industries off guard and reflects a significant shift in U.S. chemical regulation policy. This change in policy affects all commercial entities that deal with a physical product, as they must now become familiar with the law, its requirements, and the chemical makeup of their finished goods. This webinar will cover the policy changes that led to the regulation of articles, EPA’s authority to regulate these articles, and what companies need to know to stay in compliance.
 
Register now to join Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Eve Gartner, and Lynn L. Bergeson for the Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) webinar “Articles under TSCA.”

Topics Covered:  

  • What products in commerce qualify as articles;
     
  • What EPA’s change in approach means as a practical matter for the supply chain; and
     
  • The importance and challenges of transparency in product sourcing.

Speakers Include:

Richard E. Engler, Ph.D. is Director of Chemistry with B&C. Dr. Engler is a 17-year veteran of EPA and is one of the most widely recognized experts in the field of green chemistry, having served as senior staff scientist in EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) and leader of EPA’s Green Chemistry Program. He has participated in thousands of TSCA substance reviews at EPA, as well as pre-notice and post-review meetings with submitters to resolve complex or difficult cases, and he draws upon this invaluable experience to assist B&C clients as they develop and commercialize novel chemistries.
 
Eve Gartner is the Managing Attorney for the Toxic Exposure and Health Program at Earthjustice, where she leads a team of professionals charged with protecting human health from toxic chemicals. Ms. Gartner works with groups around the country to develop state policies that will reduce exposures to chemicals and pesticides. She also serves as part of Project TENDR, a collaboration of scientists, health professionals, and children’s health advocates working to develop policy approaches to address the link between environmental exposure and neurodevelopmental disorders.
 
Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner, B&C, has earned an international reputation for her deep and expansive understanding of how regulatory programs pertain to nanotechnology, industrial biotechnology, synthetic biology, and other emerging transformative technologies. Ms. Bergeson counsels corporations, trade associations, and business consortia on a wide range of issues pertaining to chemical hazard, exposure and risk assessment, risk communication, minimizing legal liability, and evolving regulatory and policy matters.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on November 10, 2022, that it is requesting nominations of prospective candidates for membership on the Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) established under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 87 Fed. Reg. 67898. Any interested person or organization may nominate qualified persons to be considered for appointment to the SACC. Individuals may also self-nominate. Nominations are due December 12, 2022.
 
SACC serves as a scientific peer review mechanism of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP). According to EPA, SACC provides independent scientific advice and recommendations to EPA on the scientific basis for risk assessments, methodologies, and pollution prevention measures and approaches for chemicals regulated under TSCA. Currently, there are 17 SACC members, with eight membership terms that will expire over the next year.
 
EPA states that its “rigorous scientific peer review processes ensure all Agency decisions are founded on credible science and data. Science provides the foundation for EPA policies, actions and decisions made on behalf of the American people.”
 
To be considered, all nominations should include the following information:

  • Current contact information for the nominee (including the nominee’s name, organization, current business address, e-mail address, and daytime telephone number);
     
  • The nominee’s disciplinary and specific areas of expertise;
     
  • Research activities;
     
  • Recent service on other federal advisory committees and national or international professional organizations; and
     
  • When available, a biographical sketch of the nominee, indicating current position and educational background.

EPA states that it is seeking nominations from individuals who have demonstrated high levels of competence, knowledge, and expertise in scientific and other technical fields relevant to chemical safety and risk assessment. EPA seeks nominees with expertise in a variety of disciplines and focus areas, including human health and ecological risk assessment, biostatistics, epidemiology, pediatrics, physiologically based pharmacokinetics (PBPK), toxicology and pathology (including neurotoxicology, developmental/reproductive toxicology, and carcinogenesis), and chemical exposure pathways to susceptible life stages and subpopulations (women, children, and other potentially exposed subpopulations).
 
EPA states that nominees should have backgrounds and experiences that would contribute to the diversity of scientific viewpoints on the committee -- including professional experiences in government, labor, public health, public interest, animal protection, industry, and other groups -- and as the EPA Administrator determines to be advisable (e.g., geographical location; social and cultural backgrounds; and professional affiliations).

Tags: SACC, OCSPP, Review

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has provided a report to Congress on its capacity to implement certain provisions of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Lautenberg Act). The report provides point-in-time estimates of EPA’s current estimated capacity and resources needed to implement the 2016 Lautenberg Act amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). EPA states that it recognizes its responsibility to identify and implement opportunities to reduce costs as it incorporates lessons learned since the Lautenberg Act was enacted and builds the scientific, regulatory, and other infrastructure needed to implement the program effectively. For example:

  • The resources included in President Biden’s fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget request would allow EPA to modernize its information technology (IT) systems, which at times hinder and significantly slow chemical review work. These improvements will ultimately reduce TSCA implementation costs;
  • The resources included in the FY 2023 budget request would allow EPA to increase and further diversify the expertise of the TSCA program’s scientific workforce, which will reduce re-work and enable more timely and robust chemical reviews, and thus ultimately reduce TSCA implementation costs;
  • As EPA further develops its scientific and regulatory tools (including but not limited to systematic review, techniques to assess chemical risks to potentially exposed and susceptible subpopulations, and potential measures to address occupational safety), EPA expects costs of developing these tools to decrease;
  • EPA has made significant efforts to enhance its intra- and inter-agency coordination to improve the efficiency of the prioritization, risk evaluation, and regulatory processes by identifying and resolving concerns earlier, thus increasing EPA’s capacity to implement the Lautenberg Act in accordance with statutory deadlines; and
  • Many of the first 30 chemicals subject to the amended TSCA risk evaluation and regulatory process are high production volume substances used by many sectors for many purposes, and about which health and environmental concerns are known to exist. As EPA continues to meet the TSCA mandate continuously to select and evaluate chemical substances from among the thousands of chemical substances in commerce, it is reasonable to expect that a reduction in the scope and complexity of each risk evaluation, as well as the associated risk management actions, would reduce implementation costs.

According to the report, the combination of the resources included in Biden’s FY 2023 budget request, an amended fees rule, and EPA’s ongoing efforts to build and improve the scientific, regulatory, and other infrastructure needed to implement TSCA more efficiently should, over time, reduce the levels of resources needed in the future. Our forthcoming memorandum will include a detailed summary of the proposed rule and an insightful commentary.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) New Chemicals Program will host a webinar on October 18, 2022, on EPA’s process for assessing the potential risks of new chemicals under Section 5 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the types of data EPA considers in this assessment. The webinar will cover examples of quantitative and qualitative data unlikely to be accepted for engineering assessment, considerations EPA makes when evaluating data, and clarifications of common misconceptions in EPA’s new chemical assessments.
 
As reported in our June 27, 2022, memorandum, in June 2022, EPA announced a broad outreach effort to describe to stakeholders how EPA evaluates engineering data (i.e., data related to environmental release and worker exposure) provided for new chemical submissions and common issues that cause EPA to have to reconduct risk assessments (“rework”). The goal of this effort is to prevent delays of EPA’s new chemical reviews caused by rework.
 
This will be the second in a series of webinars intended to increase the efficiency and transparency of EPA’s new chemical determinations. As reported in our July 28, 2022, memorandum, in July 2022, EPA hosted the first webinar, analyzing common issues that cause EPA to have to rework risk assessments. Meeting materials are available for those who missed the first webinar.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on October 11, 2022, that the Office of Research and Development’s (ORD) Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) will review the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) New Chemicals Collaborative Research Program. 87 Fed. Reg. 61313. The meeting will be held October 24-25, 2022, via videoconference. Attendees must register by October 23, 2022. Comments must be received by October 23, 2022, to be considered by BOSC. EPA states that requests for the draft agenda or to make a presentation at the meeting will be accepted until October 23, 2022.
 
BOSC is a federal advisory committee that provides advice and recommendations to ORD on technical and management issues of its research programs. The meeting agenda and materials will be posted on BOSC’s website. According to the Federal Register notice, proposed agenda items for the meeting include, but are not limited to, review of the New Chemicals Collaborative Research Program.
 
As reported in our March 14, 2022, memorandum on the draft document entitled “Modernizing the Process and Bringing Innovative Science to Evaluate New Chemicals Under TSCA,” the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) proposes to develop and implement a multi-year collaborative research program focused on approaches for performing risk assessments on new chemical substances under TSCA. On April 20-21, 2022, EPA held a virtual public meeting to provide an overview of the program and give stakeholders an opportunity to provide input. EPA has posted the meeting materials in the online docket. A summary of the meeting is available in our April 22, 2022, memorandum.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on October 3, 2022, two new online tools available to the public that provide additional information on environmental enforcement and compliance in their communities. EPA states that through improved transparency, advanced technologies, and community participation, these tools empower the public to help EPA ensure compliance nationwide and protect public health and the environment.
 
EJ Metrics Integrated with ECHO
 
Members of the public can use EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) website to search for facilities in their communities to assess their compliance with environmental regulations. In addition, EPA has now integrated Environmental Justice (EJ) metrics in the basic ECHO facility features, allowing users to:

  • Search for facilities in areas with possible EJ concerns;
  • Investigate pollution sources in areas with possible EJ concerns;
  • Examine and create EJ enforcement-related maps; and
  • Analyze trends in compliance and enforcement EJ data.

EPA has posted a short video tutorial to help users get started: EJ and ECHO.
 
Benzene Fenceline Monitoring Dashboard
 
Beginning in 2015, petroleum refineries were required to install air monitors around the perimeter of their facilities. Petroleum refineries must monitor benzene concentrations and report the results to EPA on a quarterly basis. Those results are now accessible to the public on EPA’s Benzene Fenceline Monitoring Dashboard. According to EPA, the Dashboard improves public access to program data concerning benzene emissions along refinery fencelines and allows for a more detailed analysis of those data. Public access to this information advances public transparency and EJ.
 
A short video tutorial is available to help users get started.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a webinar on October 13, 2022, on its web-based Interspecies Correlation Estimation (Web-ICE) tool. According to EPA, protecting the diversity of species from the adverse effects of chemicals is a significant environmental challenge. EPA acknowledges that information on the effects of chemicals on species is either very limited or lacking entirely, making management and mitigation of environmental contaminants difficult. EPA developed the Web-ICE tool to allow toxicity extrapolation from standard test organisms to diverse taxa, including endangered species. The publicly-accessible application allows risk assessors and environmental managers from all sectors to estimate chemical toxicity to a diversity of fresh and saltwater invertebrates and fish, birds and mammals, and aquatic plants (algae) that may have limited toxicity data. The training webinar will provide an overview of Web-ICE, including a brief overview of ICE models, demonstration of its application with example case studies, and a tutorial on using the Internet application. Registration is open.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
As reported in our July 18, 2022, blog item, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received a petition on June 16, 2022, under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) from Daniel M. Galpern on behalf of Donn J. Viviani, John Birks, Richard Heede, Lise Van Susteren, James E. Hansen, Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions, and Climate Protection and Restoration Initiative. The petition requests EPA “to phase out the anthropogenic manufacture, processing, distribution, use, and disposal of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, fossil fuels, and fossil fuel emissions.” In a September 14, 2022, letter, EPA denied the petition. According to the letter, of the various actions described in the petition, EPA determined that only the request to initiate a proceeding for the issuance of a rule under TSCA Section 6(a) is within the ambit of a TSCA Section 21 petition. EPA states that based on its review, and after careful consideration of the specific requests, it is denying the request to initiate a proceeding for the issuance of a rule under TSCA Section 6(a) because, “although EPA shares the petitioners’ concerns regarding the threat posed by climate change, the Agency found that the petition was insufficiently specific and failed to establish that it is necessary to issue a rule under TSCA section 6, in light of ongoing and expected federal government actions, the relative efficiency of TSCA rulemaking, and lack of TSCA section 6(a) authority to regulate historical GHG emissions.” EPA will publish in a forthcoming Federal Register notice its reasons for denying this portion of the petition, as well as its reasons for declining to address under TSCA Section 21 the other petitioned actions. EPA has posted a prepublication copy of the Federal Register notice.


 
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