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EPA Provides Report to Congress on Its Capacity to Implement Certain Provisions of the Lautenberg Act
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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.