By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on February 11, 2021, that it is inviting small businesses, governments, and not-for-profits to participate as Small Entity Representatives (SER) to provide advice and recommendations to a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panel for asbestos, part 1: chrysotile asbestos. The Panel will focus on EPA’s development of a proposed rule to address unreasonable risks identified in EPA’s recently completed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) risk evaluation for asbestos, part 1: chrysotile asbestos. As reported in our January 4, 2021, memorandum, of the six use categories evaluated (chlor-alkali diaphragms, sheet gaskets, other gaskets, oilfield brake blocks, aftermarket automotive brakes/linings, and other vehicle friction products), EPA states that it found that there is unreasonable risk to workers, occupational non-users (ONU), consumers, and/or bystanders within each of the six chrysotile asbestos use categories. EPA found no unreasonable risk to the environment. EPA is now moving to the risk management step in the TSCA process by working to draft regulations to protect public health from the unreasonable risks identified in the final risk evaluation.
According to EPA, the Regulatory Flexibility Act requires agencies to establish an SBAR Panel for rules that may have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The SBAR Panel will include federal representatives from the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and EPA. The SBAR Panel will select SERs to provide comments on behalf of their company, community, or organization and advise the Panel on the potential impacts of the proposed rule on small entities. EPA states that it is seeking self-nominations directly from the small entities that may be subject to the rule’s requirements. EPA notes that other representatives, such as trade associations that exclusively or at least primarily represent potentially regulated small entities, may also serve as SERs. Self-nominations may be submitted online and must be received by February 25, 2021.
EPA states that in addition to engaging with small businesses, it “is executing a robust outreach effort on risk management that includes formal consultations with state and local governments, tribes, and environmental justice communities.” EPA notes that there will also be an open public comment period on any draft risk management regulation.