EPA Semiannual Regulatory Agenda Postpones Regulation of Methylene Chloride, NMP, and TCE

The EPA Fall 2017 Regulatory Agenda defers Agency action on three chemicals for which the proposed rules had indicated bans would be forthcoming:

  • Methylene chloride in paint strippers,
  • N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) in paint strippers, and
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE) as a spot cleaner in dry-cleaning and as a degreasing agent.

The rulemakings are listed as “long-term actions” and will be issued “to be determined” in the Semiannual Regulatory Agenda.   EPA has not explained the reason for the deferrals.   Proposed regulations for methylene chloride and NMP were issued in January 2017.  Further information on EPA’s past actions regarding methylene chloride can be found here. Further information on EPA’s past actions regarding NMP can be found here.  Proposed regulations for TCE were issued in December 2016 and January 2017.  Further information on EPA’s past actions regarding the substance can be found here.

The rulemakings were developed under section 6(a) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  They address uses of the chemicals identified to be of concern in risk assessments published prior to the Lautenberg amendments to the statute.  In addition to the proposed rules on these uses of concern, all three chemicals are also are among the first substances selected for risk evaluation under the Lautenberg amendments.  EPA is required to complete each of those risk evaluation within 3 years of its initiation.  (The amendments also allow the Agency two years after each risk evaluation is published to issue final rules restricting the uses of chemicals that present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.)  A larger set of uses than those identified above will be considered in the forthcoming risk evaluations.  However, EPA has been sued over the final rule for the risk evaluation process.  One issue challenged in that litigation is the scope of uses that will be addressed by the process.  That litigation is ongoing.

EPA Determines to Update to Standards for “Small Manufacturers and Processors” for TSCA Reporting

On November 30, 2017, EPA published a final determination, as required under the amended TSCA, that an update is warranted to the size standards for small manufacturers and processors currently used to determine which small businesses are exempt from reporting regulations under TSCA Section 8(a).  EPA’s determination was made after reviewing public comments and consulting with the Small Business Administration (SBA).  The determination today does not include changing the standards themselves. The future revisions to the standards will occur by subsequent rulemaking, which allows for further opportunities for consultation with the SBA and public notice and comment.

EPA to Hold Public Meeting on Identifying Potential Candidates for Prioritization for Risk Evaluation

EPA is holding two meetings in December to discuss ongoing implementation activities under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act, which amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). On December 11, 2017 EPA is holding the second public meeting on possible approaches for identifying potential candidate chemicals for EPA’s prioritization process under TSCA. The meeting will be held December 11, 2017, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Horizon Ballroom, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20004.

As amended, TSCA required that EPA establish processes for prioritizing and evaluating risks from existing chemicals. EPA will describe and take comment on a number of possible approaches that could guide the Agency in the identification of potential candidate chemicals for prioritization.

EPA will accept questions from the public in advance of the meeting, and will respond to these questions at the meeting as time allows. To register to attend, submit questions, and learn more follow this link.

EPA to Hold Public Meeting on New Chemicals Review program

EPA is holding two meetings in December to discuss ongoing implementation activities under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act, which amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). On December 6, 2017, EPA is holding the first public meeting on new chemicals. The first meeting is to update and engage with the public on the Agency’s progress in implementing changes to the New Chemicals Review Program as a result of the 2016 amendments to TSCA, including discussion of EPA’s New Chemicals Decision-Making Framework.

The meeting will be held December 6, 2017, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Horizon Ballroom, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20004. EPA will describe its review process for new chemicals under the amended statute, and interested parties will have the opportunity to provide input on their experiences with the New Chemicals Review Program since the statute was amended and to ask questions.

EPA will accept questions from the public in advance of the meeting, and will respond to these questions at the meeting as time allows. To register to attend, submit questions, and learn more follow this link.

EPA Issues Three Final Rules under New TSCA

On June 22, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released pre-publication Federal Register notices of the final framework actions under the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. The final rules include:

  • The Inventory Reset Rule (AKA the Active-Inactive Rule), which requires industry to report chemicals manufactured, imported, or processed in the U.S. over the past ten years;
  • The Prioritization Process Rule, which establishes EPA’s process and criteria for identifying High-Priority chemicals for risk evaluation and Low-Priority chemicals for which risk evaluation is not warranted at this time; and
  • The Risk Evaluation Process Rule, which establishes EPA’s process for evaluating High-Priority chemicals to determine whether or not they present an unreasonable risk to health or the environment.

EPA also published pre-publication notices concerning the scopes of the risk evaluations to be conducted for the first ten chemical substances under new TSCA, and a guidance document to assist interested persons in developing and submitting draft risk evaluations.

EPA Grants First ‘Conditional’ Approval Under TSCA Reform

EPA recently approved a new chemical additive subject to the conditions of the polymer exemption criteria.  The Agency found that the chemical substance is “not likely to present an unreasonable risk” under TSCA (5(a)(3)(C)), so long as it meets the requirements of the polymer exemption as described under 40 CFR §723.250(e)(1).  Specifically the Agency found that the substance presents both a low human hazards and a low environmental hazard.  The requirement that “the chemical must be manufactured such that it meets the polymer exemption criteria” gives little insight into restrictions that EPA might impose on future conditional approvals.

EPA’s Determination for Premanufacture Notice explains that although the agency estimates that the new chemical substance will be very persistent, it is unlikely that the chemical substance would present an unreasonable risk, given that it has low potential for bioaccumulation, low human health hazard, and low environmental hazard.  The Determination’s discussion of potential exposures is particularly interesting.  The Agency explained that, although the exposure to a new chemical substance is potentially relevant to whether a new chemical substance is likely to present unreasonable risks, EPA did not estimate the exposure.  The Agency elected not to estimate exposure because the substance present low health and environmental hazard.  The Determination concludes that, “Due to low hazard, EPA believes that this chemical substance would be unlikely to present an unreasonable risk even if exposures were high.”

The name of the substance was claimed confidential business information, as was the manufacturers name. The generic substance name is 2–alkenoic acid, 2–alkyl–, alkyl ester, polymer with 2–alkyl 2–propenoate and a-(2–alkyl-1-oxo-2-alken-1-yl-[iquest]-alkoxypoly(oxy-1,2-alkanediyl), ester with a–2–alken–1–yl–[iquest]–hydroxypoly(oxy–1,2–alkanediyl).

The approval, announced online on May 12, 2017, was the first time EPA has approved a new chemical with a condition since the Toxic Substances Control Act was amended in June 2016.

EPA Reopens Consultation on TSCA Small Manufacturer and Small Processor Definition

The EPA reopened its consultation with the public regarding the definition of “small manufacturer” and “small processor” under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

TSCA, as amended, requires EPA to review the size standards for small manufacturers and processors, which are currently used in connection with reporting regulations under TSCA Section 8(a). EPA preliminary decided that a revision in the size standards was warranted, but it wanted the public’s input as well. As such, EPA requested public comment on whether a revision of the current size standard definitions is necessary. It also requested a consultation with the Small Business Association to review the definition.

The comment period ended in January, but EPA is now accepting further comment on this issue until May 24, 2017.

Irene Hantman to present at American Chemical Society 253rd National Meeting in San Francisco April 4

The symposium is titled, “Recent Developments in TSCA Regulation — New Requirements for Chemicals in Commerce.” Ms. Hantman will be presenting with:

  • Maria Doa, Director, Chemical Control Division, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, EPA
  • David Liu, Principal Ramboll Environ
  • Keith Matthews, Counsel, Wiley Rein LLP

The symposium will include an overview of TSCA and the Lautenberg Amendments, discuss regulatory updates from EPA including changes to how the Agency evaluates new chemicals, and discuss implications for chemicals in commerce such as changes to CBI protections and the Nanomaterials Reporting Rule. The program abstract is provided below.

The June 22, 2016 enactment of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act effectuated a sea change in U.S. chemicals regulatory policy and imposed many new requirements on EPA and the manufacturers, importers, and processors of chemical substances. Some requirements took effect the moment President Obama signed the Act; other changes will be implemented over the next few years. Lautenberg mandates that the Agency issue a number of new rules by June 2017. To meet this schedule, EPA will be taking and responding to comments on its proposals during the spring of 2017. Proposed rules will affect the identification of chemicals currently in commerce through a TSCA “Inventory Reset,” and how EPA assesses the risks presented by these chemicals. The Inventory Reset process could have significant impacts on a company’s ability to continue routine manufacturing activities (for example, substances classified as inactive will not be allowed in commerce, or there may be questions about the actual identity of compounds now in commerce). Importantly, the final rules implementing the Prioritization and Risk Assessment processes will determine the processes and criteria that EPA will use to identify high priority chemicals for risk evaluation, how it will evaluate the risks presented by these chemicals and the amount of flexibility that EPA will allow in these processes. In addition, the Agency will revisit the Confidential Business Information (CBI) claims on chemicals presently in commerce, including claims that withhold the actual identity of chemicals. Submitters will be required to substantiate past claims to continue receiving CBI protections.

* * * * *

For a copy of the presentations contact Ms. Hantman at ihantman@verdantlaw.com.

Implementing the 2016 TSCA Amendments – Progress & Prognosis

Verdant Attorney Irene Hantman will speak on Wednesday, February 22 at a panel discussion among experts on implementing the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The program includes a panel of legal experts, current and former EPA officials, and representatives from environmental NGOs and trade groups. The panel will discuss topics including:

  • The potential effects of the change in Administration
  • Congress’ oversight role
  • Regulatory actions already taken by EPA
  • Regulatory actions required during 2017

The program includes an informal brown bag lunch for in-person participants in Washington, D.C., as well as dial-in participation. If attending in person, please RSVP to Gina Dean at gina.dean@apks.com; teleconference information is forthcoming. This event is sponsored by the Pesticide, Chemical Regulation, and Right-to-Know Committee of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (SEER), with co-sponsorship by the Environmental Law Institute and SEER’s Special Committee on Congressional Relations, and hosted by Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP.

Please see the announcement [PDF] for more details.

GENERAL INFORMATION:

Location: Arnold & Porter LLP, 601 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001

Arrival Time: 11:45 am; plan to arrive in advance to check in and pass through security; the dialogue will begin promptly at noon and will conclude at 2:00 pm.

Moderator: Larry Culleen, Partner, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP

Panelists:

  • Jim Jones, Former Assistant Administrator, US EPA [invited]
  • Wendy Cleland-Hamnet, Office Director, Office of Pollution Prevention & Toxics, US EPA
  • Mike Walls, VP Regulatory & Technical Affairs, American Chemistry Council [invited]
  • Richard Denison, Lead Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Ernie Rosenberg, President & CEO, American Cleaning Institute
  • Lynn Bergenson, Managing Partner, Bergeson & Campbell
  • Martha Marrapese, Partner, Keller & Heckman
  • Irene Hantman; Verdant Law

 

Lautenberg Act: EPA names ten Work Plan chemicals for initial risk evaluations.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the ten Work Plan chemicals for review under the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which updated the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Yesterday, the agency released the list of substances, which will be the first to undergo risk evaluations under the new law. The list is mainly made up of flame retardants and industrial solvents, many of which are used in consumer products, as well as asbestos, the notoriously carcinogenic mineral used in building materials.

The chemicals are:

  • 1,4-Dioxane
  • Bromopropane
  • Asbestos
  • Carbon Tetrachloride
  • Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster
  • Methylene Chloride
  • N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP)
  • Pigment Violet 29
  • Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene
  • Trichloroethylene (TCE)

Under the Lautenberg Act, EPA must select ten chemicals from the 2014 Work Plan by December 19, 2016. The Work Plan contains 90 chemicals with potential for high hazard and exposure, as well as considerations including persistence and bioaccumulation. The agency notes that in choosing the ten chemicals, it “took into account recommendations from the public, industry, environmental and public health groups, and members of Congress and tried to give weight to chemicals where work on assessing risks were underway.”

Among the listed chemicals, EPA has already completed risk assessments for methylene chloride, NMP, and TCE, and taken early steps towards assessments for 1,4-Dioxane and the Cyclic Aliphatic Bromides. For methylene chloride, NMP, and TCE, the agency plans to proceed with Section 6(a) rulemaking for the limited uses defined for the completed risk assessments; the chemicals’ remaining uses will now be newly evaluated. The ongoing rulemaking for these chemicals were included as “Immediate Actions” in EPA’s First Year Implementation Plan for the Lautenberg Act.

The reformed TSCA requires that EPA evaluate existing chemicals to determine whether they “present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.” The list’s publication in the Federal Register will trigger the three-year statutory deadline for completing the risk evaluations. In the next six months, EPA must release a scoping document for each chemical. The remaining 80 Work Plan chemicals will also be reviewed, as the law requires EPA to begin a new evaluation for every completed evaluation, with half of all EPA-initiated evaluations drawing from the Work Plan list until it is exhausted. In addition, EPA must have at least 20 chemical risk evaluations ongoing by the end of 2019.

Environmental groups mostly praised the decision to prioritize asbestos, a fire-resistant material that causes mesothelioma cancer which outgoing Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) called “the poster child for TSCA reform.” However, Earthjustice criticized EPA’s failure to include lead, citing children’s exposure to the neurotoxin via “ongoing, unnecessary uses of lead in consumer products.”

In a statement, the American Chemistry Council emphasized that a chemical’s inclusion in the list was only the first step in a process based on high quality data and the weight of scientific evidence. The industry group also said “it is imperative that EPA engage stakeholders early and often throughout the risk evaluation process, including through peer review and public comment.”