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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On November 9, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the agenda and meeting materials for its December 6, 2017, New Chemicals Review Program Implementation meeting.  NOTE WELL: This is a critically important meeting for companies that innovate in the chemical space and are now preparing Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) Premanufacture Notifications (PMN) or will in the future.  EPA states that this meeting will update and engage with the public on EPA’s progress in implementing changes to the New Chemicals Review Program as a result of the 2016 amendments to TSCA, and will include a discussion of EPA’s draft New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework.  The meeting materials include:

  • Agenda for Public Meeting.  The Agenda includes the following topics: the decision-making framework; TSCA orders and Significant New Use Rules (SNUR) in the context of new chemicals review; the Points to Consider document as well as the pilot results and other questions; the decision guidelines manual; chemical categories; sustainable futures; a discussion of questions submitted in advance; and two public comment periods.  Featured speakers are Nancy Beck, Ph.D., Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OSCPP) and Jeff Morris, Ph.D., Director of the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT).
  • New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework:  Working Approach to Making Determinations under Section 5 of TSCA.  EPA states that this document includes EPA’s general decision framework for new chemicals and a breakdown of how EPA intends to approach each of the five types of new-chemical determinations required.
  • Points to Consider When Preparing TSCA New Chemical Notifications (Draft).  This draft document, dated November 6, 2017, provides concise information to assist submitters in preparing a PMN, Significant New Use Notice (SNUN), or exemption notice (e.g., Low Volume Exemption or LVE) that (1) meets the requirements of TSCA Section 5 and applicable regulations; and (2) facilitates EPA’s review of Section 5 notices by ensuring that the information received accurately and completely reflects the intended manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce, use, and disposal of the new chemical substances subject to the Section 5 notice.  EPA states this is a draft published for comment, but does not specify a deadline for submitting comments.
  • Overview of Comments Received on the Draft "Points to Consider" Document.  This document summarizes 151 comments received on the draft Points to Consider document.  It organizes them by topic.  The topics addressed are aquatic haz/tox; chemistry; data; engineering; environmental release and disposal information; fate; a general category; human health haz/tox; regulatory; release to water; standard review; uses; risk; exposure; and prenotice meetings.  These comments have not been posted in the docket for this meeting.
  • New Chemicals Decision Guidelines Manual – Detailed Outline.  EPA states that this manual will summarize how EPA reviews new chemical submissions and the policies and decision guidelines used in making decisions under TSCA Section 5.  It will provide an overview of both risk assessment and risk management approaches. Further, it is intended to help stakeholders determine what forms of regulation and restrictions on the manufacture, distribution, use, and/or disposal of a new chemical substance may arise from an EPA determination.

The December 6, 2017, meeting will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST) at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Horizon Ballroom, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., in Washington, D.C., and will be available by remote access for registered participants.  Online requests to participate must be received on or before December 5, 2017.  EPA states it plans to utilize the feedback it receives from the public meeting and comments received to improve policy and processes relating to the review of new chemicals under TSCA.  EPA will be accepting questions from the public in advance of the meeting, and will respond to these questions at the meeting as time allows, if such questions are received by November 20, 2017.  Questions and comments can be submitted in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0585 on www.regulations.gov with a copy to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)Registration for this meeting is available online.  In addition to hearing oral comments at the meeting, EPA is also accepting written comments and materials submitted to the docket for this meeting until January 20, 2018.

More information on the subsequent Approaches for Identifying Potential Candidates for Prioritization for Existing Chemical Risk Evaluations meeting on December 11, 2017, is available in our blog item EPA Schedules Two Meetings to Discuss TSCA Implementation Activities, Requests Comments.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On September 25, 2017, Petitioners Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) (collectively Petitioners) in Ninth Circuit Case Nos. 17-72260 and 17-72501 (regarding review of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) framework rule Procedures for Prioritization of Chemicals for Risk Evaluation) filed a joint opposition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) motion to transfer to the Fourth Circuit and hold cases in abeyance.  On September 14, 2017, EPA filed a motion for these Ninth Circuit cases to be moved to the Fourth Circuit where there is currently another challenge to a TSCA framework rule (Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, et al. v. EPA, Case Nos. 17-1926, et al.; Petition for Review of Procedures for Chemical Risk Evaluation under TSCA).  Petitioners oppose EPA’s request for the case to be moved to the Fourth Circuit, stating that “Congress expressly gave Petitioners the right to select a forum” and “eleven of the fifteen Petitioners elected to file their petition in [the Ninth Circuit] … now believe that both sets of petitions should be consolidated in this Court.”  The Motion to Intervene of American Chemistry Council, et al. on EPA’s behalf is still pending.  On September 25, 2017, EPA filed a response to the motion to intervene stating that they took no position on it.  The Petitioner’s briefs in both cases are still due October 30, 2017.

On September 28, 2017, in Fourth Circuit Case Nos. 17-1796, et al. (referenced above), the court granted the Motion to Intervene on EPA’s behalf of American Chemistry Council, et al.  A new briefing schedule has still not been set. 

On September 29, 2017, in D.C. Circuit Case No. 17-1201 (EDF v. EPA; Petition for Review of TSCA Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Requirement), EPA filed a motion to extend deadlines in scheduling order, stating that “in light of the potential for other parties to file additional petitions in this Court until October 24, 2017, the parties now jointly request that the Court extend all deadlines in the Court’s September 5, 2017, order by an additional 35 days.”  The court has not ruled on EPA’s request yet; if it denies it, the briefing schedule will begin on October 5, 2017.

More information on these petitions for review is available on our blog under key phrases framework rules and petition for review.   


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On September 14, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a motion in the two Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals cases regarding review of the EPA Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) framework rule Procedures for Chemical Risk Evaluation under TSCA:  Safer Chemicals Healthy Families v. EPA, Case No. 17-72260 (filed August 10, 2017); and Environmental Defense Fund v. EPA, Case No. 17-72501 (filed September 6, 2017), requesting that the cases be transferred to the Fourth Circuit and to hold the cases in abeyance.  In the motion, EPA states three reasons why these cases should be transferred:

  1. "It is in the interest of judicial economy for the same court to hear the challenges to both EPA Rules,” and “[a]lthough the two Rules are distinct and have separate administrative records, the parties anticipate that there will be some overlap of issues.”
  2. “It would be more convenient for the parties and conserve travel resources for these cases to be heard in the Fourth Circuit, because all counsel of record are located in Washington, DC, or New York.”
  3. “The Fourth Circuit may be able to resolve the petitions for review more quickly than this Court given the respective complexity of the courts’ dockets.”

In this motion, EPA also requests for these cases to be held in abeyance as it “will conserve party resources to wait until resolution of EPA’s motion to transfer before completing any scheduled filings, particularly because the two have different schedules” and “the deadline for interested persons to file petitions for review of the Prioritization and Risk Evaluation Rules has not yet expired…. additional petitions for review … could be filed as late as October 2, 2017.” 

In Case No. 17-72260, Petitioners’ briefs are due October 30, 2017, and Respondent EPA’s briefs are due November 28, 2017.  A briefing schedule has not been scheduled yet in Case No. 17-72501.  On September 11, 2017, in Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, et al. v. EPA, Case No. 17-1926, the Fourth Circuit case regarding review of EPA’s TSCA framework rule Procedures for Chemical Risk Evaluation under TSCA, the Fourth Circuit rescinded the briefing schedule.  A new briefing schedule has not been set. 

More information on these petitions for review is available on our blog under key phrases framework rules and petition for review.  


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On September 1, 2017, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) filed a petition for review in the U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (No. 17-1201) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) framework rule TSCA Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Requirements, published on August 11, 2017 (82 Fed. Reg. 37520). 

This is the third and final challenge by EDF to the framework rules implementing amended TSCA (there are only three framework rules), but the seventh total challenge, as other parties have also petitioned for review.  On August 11, 2017, EDF petitioned for review of the TSCA framework rules Procedures for Chemical Risk Evaluation under TSCA and the final rule Procedures for Prioritization of Chemicals for Risk Evaluation, filed on August 11 (Second Cir. Case Nos. 17-2464 and 17-2403, respectively).  Per the Consolidation Orders of the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, both of EDF’s August 11 petitions have now been consolidated with other petitions for review of the same orders.  Case No. 17-2464 was moved to the Fourth Circuit, and Case No. 2403 was moved to the Ninth Circuit. 

In the Fourth Circuit, the opening brief, record from agency, and the appendix are due September 20, 2017, and the response brief is due October 20, 2017.  In the Ninth Circuit, the Petitioners’ briefs are due October 30, 2017, and Respondent EPA’s briefs are due November 28, 2017.                                       


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On August 10, 2017, and on August 11, 2017, petitions for review of two of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final “framework rules” issued under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) were filed in federal court.  These six lawsuits seek review of the final rule Procedures for Chemical Risk Evaluation under TSCA and the final rule Procedures for Prioritization of Chemicals for Risk Evaluation under TSCA.  The petitions were filed by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, et al. on August 10, 2017 (Cases 17-72260 and 17-72259); the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, et al. (including the Natural Resources Defense Council) on August 11, 2017 (Cases 17-1926 and 17-1927 (consolidated)); and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) on August 11, 2017 (Cases 17-2464 and 17-2403), in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth, Fourth, and Second Circuits, respectively.  In the Ninth Circuit, the Petitioner’s Briefs are due October 30, 2017, and Respondent EPA’s briefs are due November 28, 2017; in the Fourth Circuit, the opening brief, record from agency, and the appendix are due September 20, 2017, and the response brief is due October 20, 2017; in the Second Circuit, a briefing schedule has not been posted yet. 

In its petitions for review, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, et al. state that they challenge the rules as “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law; in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations; and without observance of procedure required by law.” On the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ website, the organization states that the petitions allege the rules “fail to provide the protections against unsafe chemicals that Congress required in the critical priority-setting and risk evaluation provisions of the new law, which are intended to ensure that unreasonable risks to health and the environment are fully assessed and eliminated.”  In its petitions for review, EDF does not list any details as to why it is seeking review (nor do the rules require petitioners to do so), but on its website it states that “EPA has issued framework rules that violate the letter and intent of the law,” and that EDF has filed lawsuits challenging those rules and “will continue to monitor EPA’s actions to ensure EPA complies with the law and protects public health.”  The petitions for review filed by the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, et al. do not list any details as to why they are seeking review. 


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
  
On August 7, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a press release stating that it has eliminated the new chemical backlog of over 600 chemicals:  “[t]he current caseload is back at the baseline and now in line with the typical active workload.”  The press release also announces improvements to new chemical safety reviews, which include operating principles, improvement of EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) new chemicals program, and further transparency, as detailed below. 

EPA states it is committing to the following operating principles in its review of new chemicals:

  • Where the intended uses in premanufacture notices (PMN) or other TSCA Section 5 notices (such as low volume exemption (LVE) requests) raise risk concerns, EPA will work with submitters, and, if the submitters submit timely amended PMNs addressing those concerns, EPA will generally make determinations based on those amended submissions.
  • Where EPA has concerns with reasonably foreseen uses, but not with the intended uses as described in a PMN or LVE application, as a general matter, those concerns can be addressed through significant new use rules.
  • As described in the risk evaluation rule released on June 22, 2017, identification of reasonably foreseen conditions of use will be fact-specific.  It is reasonable to foresee a condition of use, for example, where facts suggest the activity is not only possible, but, over time under proper conditions, probable. 
  • The purpose of testing in a Section 5 order is to reduce uncertainty in regard to risk.  Specifically, it is to address risk concerns that gave rise to a finding of “may present unreasonable risk” or another Section 5 finding other than “not likely to present unreasonable risk.”  In addition, consistent with the statute, any request for testing by EPA will be structured to reduce and replace animal testing as appropriate.

EPA states it will continue to improve of its TSCA new chemicals program in the following ways:

  • Redeploying staff to increase the number of Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) staff working on new chemicals;
  • Initiating a LEAN exercise (via EPA’s new time-saving and cost-effective tools) to streamline work processes around new chemicals review; and
  • Institutionalizing a voluntary pre-submission consultation process so that submitters have a clear understanding of what information will be most useful for EPA’s review of their new chemical submission, and of what they can expect from EPA during the review process.  While such engagement prior to submission is an additional up-front time and resource commitment by submitters and EPA, it should more than pay for itself with faster, better-informed EPA reviews.

EPA states it needs to be more transparent in how it makes decisions on new chemicals under TSCA, and will be instituting the following to implement that goal:

  • In Fall 2017, EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) intends to release, for public comment and stakeholder engagement, draft documents that will provide the public with more certainty and clarity regarding how EPA makes new chemical determinations and what external information will help facilitate these determinations;
  • EPA will facilitate a public dialogue on its goal of continued improvement in the new chemicals review program; and
  • EPA will continue posting weekly web updates of program statistics, so that manufacturers and the public can determine the disposition of cases as quickly as possible.

 
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