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.”

Lautenberg Act: EPA releases Implementation Plan and other resources.

Following President Obama’s signing, last week, of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, EPA has begun to roll out a variety of resources to help stakeholders understand this update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Today, EPA posted its Implementation Plan for the Lautenberg Act, a “roadmap of major activities EPA will focus on during the initial year implementation.” The requirements and goals outlined in the Plan are based on deadlines set in the statute. The agency noted that the Plan is a “living document” that will be updated over time.

Notably, the Plan states that the Lautenberg Act’s passage “effectively resets the 90-day review period” for submitted Premanufacture Notices (PMNs). As an “Immediate Action” under the Plan, EPA’s goal is to meet the “applicable” deadlines for reviewing and making affirmative determinations on all PMNs and Significant New Use Notifications (SNUNs). The agency says it “will make every effort to complete its review and make a determination within the remaining time under the original deadline.”

Another “Immediate Action” under the Plan is the routine review and making of determinations on new confidentiality claims for the identities of chemicals offered for commercial distribution. These Confidential Business Information (CBI) claims must receive a determination within 90 days and upheld claims will result in the chemical receiving a unique identifier and associated information. EPA also set a goal of creating a plan to link such associated information in 30 days, by mid-July. For CBI claims not related to chemical identity, EPA is required to review and make determinations for at least 25% of new claims, with a goal of developing an approach for routine review by mid-July. EPA plans to provide additional information on required statements and certifications for asserted CBI claims by mid-July as well.

The new law allows EPA to publish proposed and final rules, under Section 6, for chemicals with risk assessments completed prior to the enactment of the Lautenberg Act. These rules must be consistent with the scope of the risk assessments, “even if they do not cover all conditions of use.” EPA has set “Immediate Action” goals to address the identified risks associated with trichloroethylene (TCE), methylene chloride (MC), and N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP), with various proposed and final rules anticipated to be released from October through December 2017.

Other mandatory actions to be completed within the first year of implementation include:

  • Scope of Initial Risk Evaluations: The scope of the first ten Work Plan chemicals’ risk evaluations will be published in mid-June 2017.
  • Annual Plan for Risk Evaluations: The first annual plan, providing updates on evaluations to be started or completed each calendar year, among other things, will be due January 2017.
  • Additions to Mercury Export Ban: The initial list of mercury compounds prohibited from export is slated for publication mid-September 2016.
  • Mercury Inventory: EPA must publish an inventory of mercury supply, use, and trade in the U.S. by April 1, 2017, and update it every three years thereafter.
  • Small Business Definitions: By mid-December 2016, EPA must review the standards for identifying small manufacturers and processors and determine whether revisions are warranted.
  • Report to Congress: EPA’s first report to Congress must be submitted by mid-December 2016. The report must address the agency’s capacity and resources needed to conduct risk evaluations and issue rules addressing unreasonable risks, as well as EPA’s capacity to conduct industry-requested risk evaluations, the likely demand for such requests, and anticipated schedule for meeting that demand.

Beyond the first year of implementation, the Plan outlines “Framework Actions” that will guide the program on a longer-term basis. These are all on the same timeframe and include:

  • Initial Risk Evaluations: The list of ten Work Plan chemicals will be published in December 2016, with scope of assessments published in June 2017, as mentioned above.
  • Prioritization Process Rule: The Proposed Rule establishing EPA’s process and criteria for prioritizing chemicals for risk evaluations is expected by mid-December 2016; the Final Rule in June 2017.
  • Risk Evaluation Process Rule: The Proposed Rule establishing EPA’s process for evaluating the risk of high priority chemicals is expected in mid-December 2016; the Final Rule in June 2017.
  • Fees Rule: EPA plans to meet and consult with industry in developing the rules for collecting newly-authorized fees, including those for industry-requested risk evaluations, which must be fully funded by fees. The Proposed Rule is expected mid-December 2016 and the Final Rule in June 2017.
  • Inventory Rule: This rule will collect information via required industry reporting on chemicals manufactured or processed in the last ten years to determine which chemicals on the TSCA Inventory are “active” or “inactive.” Publication of the Proposed Rule is slated for mid-December 2016 and the Final Rule in June 2017.
  • Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals: This committee will be established to provide independent advice and scientific and technical expertise on the law’s implementation. EPA aims to establish the Committee by mid-December 2016, six months before the statutory deadline. The agency plans to publish the applicable Federal Register notice in early September 2016, with public comment accepted through early November 2016.

“Later Mandatory Actions” designated in the Plan include the publication of an Alternative Testing Methods Strategy by June 2018 and negotiated rulemaking on byproducts reporting for Chemical Data Reporting (CDR), with a Proposed Rule (by negotiating process) anticipated in June 2019.

In addition, EPA will hold an informational overview of the Lautenberg Act by webinar tomorrow, June 30, at 2:00 p.m. EST. The webinar will be accessible here: http://epawebconferencing.acms.com/overviewreform/. Audio will be available by phone by dialing 866-299-3188 and entering the code 2025648098#.

Other resources from EPA’s website about the Lautenberg Act include a summary of key provisions, a Frequently Asked Questions document, and the full text of the Act itself.

President Obama to sign Lautenberg Act tomorrow.

The White House has announced that on Wednesday, June 22, President Obama will sign into law the “Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act,” the long-awaited update to the 40-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The Senate passed the Lautenberg Act by voice vote on June 6, two weeks after the House approved the negotiated legislation. Both houses of Congress approved different versions of the bill in 2015, but were unable to reach a deal to reconcile the legislation until last month.

The bipartisan bill gives EPA new authority to regulate chemicals based on impacts to health and the environment, not cost, and order testing via order rather than rulemaking. Existing chemicals in commerce will be screened and prioritized for risk assessment, and industry will be allowed to apply for fee-funded expedited assessments. Fees for new and existing chemicals will be collected into a “TSCA Implementation Fund” to defray about 25% (initially $25 million annually) of the program cost. For new chemicals, EPA will be required to make an affirmative safety finding that the substance is not likely to present an unreasonable risk. The Lautenberg Act also provides for an “Inventory reset” under Section 8 of TSCA, requiring industry to report to EPA which Inventory chemicals they have manufactured or imported in the previous ten years. Most claims of Confidential Business Information (CBI), which allow companies to avoid disclosing certain information to EPA, will now have to be substantiated when made and will expire after ten years unless re-substantiated. EPA will be required to review and approve or deny past CBI claims for chemical identities on the Inventory.

The preemption of state and local laws was a major sticking point throughout TSCA reform negotiations, resulting in a complicated system of limited preemption. Generally, restrictions by states will not be preempted until EPA takes action on a particular substance, while reporting, monitoring, and disclosure requirements will not be affected. State actions in effect by April 22, 2016, or actions taken under a law in effect on August 31, 2003, will not be preempted. The Act also provides for a process under which states can seek waivers from preemption.

After the Lautenberg Act is signed into law, EPA will soon face a variety of tough implementation challenges. Within the first six months, EPA must designate ten chemicals from the Work Plan for risk assessment. Within the first year, EPA must develop guidance for industry-initiated risk evaluations and rules for Inventory reset reporting, prioritization of chemicals, and risk evaluation process.

Whether EPA will receive adequate funding from Congress to achieve all these goals remains to be seen; the Lautenberg Act does not permit EPA to assess fees unless Congress has appropriated at least the amount appropriated for the “Chemical Risk Review and Reduction” program project in FY 2014. Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out its appropriations bill for FY 2017, which included language to meet that requirement.

Bicameral, bipartisan deal reached on TSCA reform.

Today, a bipartisan group of lawmakers announced that a deal was reached to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), with changes to reconcile the House and Senate legislation “pretty much agreed to,” according to Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Jim Inhofe (R-OK).

House Democrats Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) immediately responded by criticizing the deal as “weaker than current law.” The Representatives blamed House Republicans for “walk[ing] away from a bipartisan deal we agreed to last month.” Earlier this week, 40 House Democrats sent a letter urging Rep. Pallone to support a proposal backed by the Humane Society of the United States to reduce animal testing.

While no details on the content of the deal were released, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) said the legislative language would be released within a few days.

Sen. Inhofe said the negotiated bill could pass both chambers of Congress by the end of next week.

Senators reach deal on TSCA reform.

Senators central to the effort to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) have reportedly reached a deal that will allow the stalled legislation to move forward. Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Jim Inhofe (R-CA) and Ranking Member Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who has been a fierce critic of the Senate proposal, announced on Friday that they had “reached an agreement on key sticking points of the TSCA reform bill.” The content of the agreement has not yet been made public, but according to Politico’s Morning Energy, it involves “some resolution on Senate language calling for state action on high-priority chemicals to be paused while EPA performs a risk review.” A Senate aide told Politico that the final text will take most of this week to finalize.

The next step will be to win House approval before both chambers get the chance to vote on the negotiated legislation. A bi-partisan group of House Energy and Commerce Committee members also released a statement on Friday, calling the deal “an important step forward” and calling for “keeping the momentum going.”