By Charles M. Auer, James V. Aidala, and Lynn L. Bergeson
On February 27, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in a Federal Register notice that it was denying a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 21 petition that requested regulatory action under Section 6 to “prohibit the purposeful addition of fluoridation chemicals to U.S. water supplies,” and that it was making available its response to the petition. 82 Fed. Reg. 11878. The petition was received by EPA on November 23, 2016, and EPA had 90 days in which to respond by either granting or denying the requested action.
- EPA’s response was relatively comprehensive as it went through and provided its views on numerous aspects and issues at play including:
- EPA’s interpretation of the Section 6 provisions regarding conditions of use which asserts that TSCA requires EPA to comprehensively consider and address all conditions of use for a chemical or category of chemicals when considering and taking action under Section 6(a). This point was first made in EPA’s proposed procedural rule for risk evaluations (82 Fed. Reg. 7562, Jan. 19, 2017) that is currently open for comment.
- EPA’s belief that Congress, under the new law, did not intend to empower Section 21 petitioners for regulation under Section 6 to promote chemicals of particular concern and force expeditious action based on risks arising from individual uses of those chemicals (helpfully, in its response, EPA suggests use of a petition under the Administrative Procedure Act to the petitioners for such cases).
- The scientific adequacy of the petitioners’ risks claims for the general public from exposure to fluoridation chemicals in drinking water. EPA identified and discussed in some depth the numerous weaknesses it saw in health, exposure, and risk aspects.
- The petitioners’ inadequate consideration of the public health benefits of fluoridation of drinking water.
- Inadequate support by the petitioners for their belief that action was needed under TSCA rather than under the Safe Drinking Water Act, because of the latter’s purported limitations.
While comment could be offered on many of the points discussed in the decision, we limit our reactions to a few key points. The first is that, given all of the work that is at play under new TSCA, we are frankly surprised that EPA saw the need for such a detailed and comprehensive response to the petitioners. From our perspective, a much shorter and more focused response would have provided an adequate basis for the denial decision.
The second is the way that EPA used its response as a platform to advocate for its interpretation that Section 6 requires that EPA consider all conditions of use in proceeding under that Section. While this point was made in its proposed procedural rule for conducting risk evaluations, that rule was, as indicated, only a proposal and, moreover, it was issued under the prior Administration. This decision, however, because it can be legally challenged by the petitioners, equates to a judicially reviewable act as the petitioners may commence a civil action in federal district court to compel EPA to initiate a rulemaking as requested in the petition. Interesting, too, is the fact that the decision was issued under the new Trump Administration. Given that the response was signed less than a month after the Inauguration, we do not want to over-interpret its significance (perhaps EPA was merely “reiterating” rather than “advocating” its position of record). We also note in passing that it was signed on the same day that the new Administrator was sworn in (February 17).
EPA’s response in this case is expansive and detailed, not only with respect to what EPA concluded the claimed risks of fluoride to be, but also regarding the considerable detail on what the agency apparently has concluded are required elements to qualify as sufficient to grant a Section 21 petition for TSCA Section 6(a) action in the future. The granularity of the discussion is extraordinary.
That EPA disagreed over the possible risks of fluoride is not the most interesting part of the notice. EPA’s response includes what in essence is the following argument about what is required to make a Section 21 argument that EPA can grant: the petition must include a complete risk evaluation, including an analysis of all conditions of use, showing how the TSCA risk standard is exceeded, before EPA would grant the petition.
EPA explicitly states, for example, that if a petition showed that a chemical use clearly exceeds the TSCA risk standard, and did not include all the conditions of use, EPA would still deny the petition to initiate action to control the risk. The notice states (at 11880):
- EPA recognizes that information on a single condition of use, could, in certain instances, suffice to demonstrate that a chemical substance, as a whole, presents an unreasonable risk. Nonetheless, EPA concludes that such information does not fulfill a petitioner’s burden to justify “a rule under [TSCA Section 6],” under TSCA Section 21, since the information would merely justify a subset of an adequate rule.”
So even if a chemical use is shown to cause great harm, it would not merit EPA granting the petition since it is not a complete risk evaluation as EPA wishes to define it. The notice explains EPA’s rationale for this position, essentially arguing that since EPA must assess “all conditions of use” in any control rule they might promulgate, then any outside petition must include all of the same homework before it can be granted.
This seems to obviate the very purpose of Section 21 petitions for Section 6 action, which in the past has been viewed as one way for the public to identify risks of concern to EPA which, for whatever reason, may not be on EPA’s radar. This asserted view, that only a comprehensive risk evaluation considering all conditions of use will suffice, presents a very high threshold for action -- and seemingly an impossibly high threshold to move EPA to act.
The petitioners in this case may decide to challenge the EPA decision. Activists concerned about the possible risks of fluoride have in the past been persistent and dogged about their cause. In this decision, however, there is potentially more than a disagreement over possible risks of fluoride; there might also be arguments over what is or is not sufficient for Section 21 petitions to be granted, or possibly about EPA’s general interpretation, as elaborated in the denial notice and in the risk evaluation procedural rule, that new TSCA does not provide discretion for EPA to evaluate less than all conditions of use in new actions under Section 6.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On February 9, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its 2017 Annual Report on Risk Evaluations. Per Section 26(n)(2) of the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA is directed to publish an annual plan at the beginning of each calendar year identifying the chemical substances that will undergo risk evaluations during that year – both risk evaluations that will be initiated and that will be completed -- the resources necessary for completion, and the status and schedule for ongoing evaluations.
Per amended TSCA Section 6(b)(4), on December 19, 2016, EPA designated ten chemical substances for evaluation to determine whether they presented an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment. Those chemicals are:
- 1, 4 Dioxane;
- Methylene Chloride;
- Pigment Violet 29;
- Carbon Tetrachloride;
- Cyclic Aliphatic Bromide Cluster (HBCD); and
The report provides an update pertaining to the risk evaluations of these ten chemicals. Risk evaluations on these chemicals have already begun, and EPA anticipates issuing a scoping document for each of them by June 19, 2017. The scoping document will include “the hazard(s), exposure(s), condition(s) of use, and the potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation(s) the Administrator expects to consider in the evaluation.” EPA has established a docket for each of the ten chemicals and is holding a public meeting on February 14, 2017, to present information on the specific uses and conditions of use for the chemicals. EPA is currently accepting written comments and materials in the individual dockets until March 15, 2017.
Under Section 6(4)(G) of TSCA, EPA is required to complete these risk evaluations within three to three and a half years. EPA’s initial report to Congress issued on January 18, 2017, detailed the resources it needed for completion of the risk evaluations.
More information on EPA’s proposed processes for prioritizing and evaluating chemicals beyond these first ten is available in our memoranda EPA Proposes Procedures to Prioritize Chemicals for Risk Evaluation under TSCA and EPA Releases Proposed Chemical Risk Evaluation Process under New TSCA.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On February 9, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was extending the comment period for the two recently proposed rules issued under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to ban certain uses of trichloroethylene (TCE): proposed rule to ban certain uses of TCE in aerosol degreasing and as a spot cleaner in dry cleaning facilities (issued December 16, 2017); and proposed rule to regulate the use of TCE in vapor degreasing (issued January 19, 2017). EPA is extending the comment period for the proposed ban on TCE as an aerosol degreaser and for spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities from the initial deadline of February 14, 2017, to March 16, 2017, and for the proposed ban on TCE as a commercial vapor degreaser from the initial deadline of March 20, 2017, to April 19, 2017. EPA did not state any information on why it was extending the deadline, but requests for extensions were filed in both dockets.
More information on the proposed rules is available in our memorandum EPA Proposes Regulation of TCE Use in Vapor Degreasing under TSCA Section 6(a) and in our blog item EPA Proposes Prohibiting Use of TCE.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On January 19, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Federal Register notice announcing it will be holding a public meeting to receive public input and information on uses and conditions of use for the initial ten chemicals to be evaluated under Section 6(b)(2)(A) of the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) on February 14, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EST), at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Polaris Room, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20004. 82 Fed. Reg. 6545. EPA states that the information it gathers on uses and the conditions of use will assist it in identifying potential exposure scenarios for the ten chemicals.
Registration is available online and remote access will be available for registered participants. Public dockets for each chemical have been established. Written comments and materials will also be accepted in these dockets on www.regulations.gov. EPA requests for them to be submitted by March 1, 2017.
Additional information, including links to the public dockets, is available on EPA’s website and in our blog item EPA Announces Initial List of TSCA Section 6 Chemicals for Risk Evaluation.
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Carla N. Hutton, Charles M. Auer, and Richard E. Engler, Ph.D.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is scheduled to publish a proposed rule on January 13, 2017, that would require a retrospective electronic notification of chemical substances on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory that were manufactured (including imported) for non-exempt commercial purposes during the ten-year time period ending on June 21, 2016. EPA would also accept such notices for chemical substances that were processed. The recent TSCA amendments require EPA to designate chemical substances on the TSCA Inventory as either “active” or “inactive” in U.S. commerce. EPA states in the pre-publication version of the proposed rule that it would use these notifications to distinguish active substances from inactive substances. EPA would include the active and inactive designations on the TSCA Inventory and as part of its regular publications of the Inventory. EPA also proposes to establish procedures for forward-looking electronic notification of chemical substances on the TSCA Inventory that are designated as inactive, if and when the manufacturing or processing of such chemical substances for non-exempt commercial purposes is expected to resume. According to the proposed rule, upon receipt of a valid notice, EPA would change the designation of the pertinent chemical substance on the TSCA Inventory from inactive to active. The proposed rule includes the procedures to submit retrospective and forward-looking activity notifications, the details of the notification requirements, exemptions from such requirements, and procedures for handling claims of confidentiality. Publication of the proposed rule will begin a 60-day comment period. More information on the final rule will be available in our forthcoming memorandum, which will be available on our website under the key phrase TSCA.
The attorneys, scientists, policy experts, and regulatory advisors of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®), The Acta Group (Acta®), and B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C. (BCCM) endeavor year-round to keep you informed on key developments as they happen, and prepared for looming changes and deadlines, to help you maintain compliance and competitive advantage as you market your products throughout the world. As the new year begins, we offer you this look back at the top stories of 2016 (as measured by clicks, reads, and shares by readers of our blogs and e-mails), a year that was full of surprises and dramatic shifts -- many of which will play out well into the new year.
June 22, 2016
TSCA Reform: An Analysis of Key Provisions and Fundamental Shifts in the Amended TSCA
September 22, 2016
Proposition 65: OEHHA Adopts Revisions to Its Proposition 65 Warning Regulations
August 8, 2016
TSCA Reform: Proposed Changes to SNUR Procedures Would, Perhaps Inadvertently, Result in Disclosure of CBI to Third Parties/Possible Competitors
June 29, 2016
TSCA Reform: EPA Publishes First Year Implementation Plan
April 8, 2015
K-REACH: List of Priority Existing Substances Submitted for Consultation
December 20, 2016
TSCA: EPA Amends Procedures for TSCA Section 6 Rulemaking
January 6, 2016
EPA Releases Preliminary Risk Assessment for Neonicotinoid Insecticide Imidacloprid
January 8, 2016
EPA Sued Over Guidance Classifying Seeds Coated with Neonicotinoid Insecticides as Treated Articles Exempt from Registration under FIFRA
February 10, 2016
Bayer Announces That It Will Not Submit Voluntary Cancellation Requests for Flubendiamide
October 19, 2016
Brazil Delays Promulgation of Final Industrial Chemicals Regulation
October 6, 2015
EPA Announces Revisions to Its Worker Protection Standard
September 28, 2016
EPA Announces Regulatory Determinations on MCANs and PMNs
January 13, 2016
EPA Denies SDA Nomenclature Petition, But Options for Adding Biobased Sources Remain Open
December 1, 2016
Brexit -- An Overview of Transformative Developments and Their Potential Impact on European Chemical Laws
Top Articles Authored by B&C:
Kathleen M. Roberts, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Charles M. Auer, Lynn L. Bergeson, "An Analysis of Section 8 of the New Toxic Substances Control Act," BNA Daily Environment Report, August 9, 2016.
Lynn L. Bergeson, Charles M. Auer, "An Analysis of TSCA Reform Provisions Pertinent to Industrial Biotechnology Stakeholders," Industrial Biotechnology, Volume 12, Issue 4, August 2016.
Charles M. Auer, "Old TSCA, New TSCA, and Chemical Testing," BNA Daily Environment Report, August 16, 2016.
L. Bergeson, B. Auerbach, L. Campbell, T. Backstrom, S. Dolan, J. Vergnes, R. Engler, J. Bultena, K. Baron, C. Auer, "The DNA of the U.S. Regulatory System: Are We Getting It Right for Synthetic Biology?," Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Synthetic Biology Project Report, October 15, 2015.
Coming first quarter 2017 from ABA Books:
Lynn L. Bergeson, Charles M. Auer, New TSCA: A Guide to the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act and Its Implementation, American Bar Association (2017).
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Charles M. Auer, and Margaret R. Graham
On December 7, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would be issuing a rule proposing to prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution in commerce of trichloroethylene (TCE) for certain uses under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), due to its determination that there are significant health risks associated with TCE use in aerosol degreasing and for spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities. The proposed action is significant for several reasons, including that it represents the first use in a very long time of TSCA Section 6 as well as the first Section 6 control action taken under new TSCA. Specifically, EPA is proposing to prohibit the use of TCE in “aerosol degreasing and for use in spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities; to prohibit commercial use of TCE for aerosol degreasing and for spot cleaning in dry cleaning facilities; to require manufacturers, processors, and distributors, except for retailers of TCE for any use, to provide downstream notification of these prohibitions throughout the supply chain; and to require limited recordkeeping.” We look forward to a close reading of the proposed rule and to evaluating the arguments, the policy points, and the evidence provided by EPA to satisfy the various legal requirements, including those under Section 6(c) and Section 26.
EPA’s online Fact Sheet on TCE lists questions and answers as related to the proposed rule. In response to Question 3, What are the potential risks of TCE to people?, EPA states that its 2014 risk assessment found TCE to be “carcinogenic to people through all routes of exposure, which include inhalation, dermal (skin), and ingestion.” The pre-publication of the proposed rule is available on EPA’s website. Once it has been published in the Federal Register, comments must be submitted within 60 days of publication.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On July 26, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice in the Federal Register soliciting a second round of comments on the burdens and value of information it periodically collects addressing significant new use rules (SNUR) for existing chemicals. Specifically, EPA submitted a request to renew the approval of an existing information collection request (ICR), Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 5(a)(2) SNURs for Existing Chemicals, to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This notice provides chemical manufacturers and other interested parties a second opportunity to comment on certain questions, specifically: whether the agency accurately estimated the burden of responding to SNURs that it issues for chemicals in commerce; whether the agency could minimize the burden; and whether the information it collects is necessary.
The first ICR was issued on September 2, 2015, and comments were due November 2, 2015. Only two comments were filed in response to the initial ICR, by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates (SOCMA), two trade associations. ACC and SOCMA stated in their comments that EPA underestimated the burdens its SNURs impose on chemical manufacturers and their customers.
This renewed ICR states that EPA estimated that six companies would be affected by its new use rules for existing chemicals, creating an estimated total burden of 1,025 hours per year and a cost of $100,595.
Comments are due August 25, 2016.
SNURs are deeply unpopular to some in the chemical community and welcomed outcomes of the premanufacture notice (PMN) or significant new use notification (SNUN) process to others. Most would agree that the cost of compliance with a SNUR can be difficult to estimate with any degree of precision. Some of us are also of the view that TSCA, as recently amended, may result in many more SNURs given the new “determination” requirements under TSCA Section 5(a). The comment period opened by today’s Federal Register notice provides an excellent opportunity to provide comment to EPA and thus help to ensure that EPA has an accurate and current basis upon which to estimate the cost.
On July 18, 2016, Bloomberg BNA’s Daily Environmental Report reported on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new chemical notice process, and included insight from industry leaders at Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) July 14, 2016, webinar, The New TSCA: Impacts on New and Existing Chemicals Programs.
B&C Managing Partner Lynn L. Bergeson was quoted as saying that premanufacture notifications, or PMNs, that chemical manufacturers must submit before they can produce or import a new chemical, and significant new use notifications, which companies must submit before they can make or use certain chemicals in new ways, “need to be much more strategic, thoughtful and detailed.”
Both the old and newly amended TSCA state the EPA's “authority over chemical substances and mixtures should be exercised in such a manner as to not impede unduly or create unnecessary economic barriers to technological innovation,” Bergeson stated, referring to Section 2601(b)(3). The new law makes “very consequential changes” to the new chemicals provisions of TSCA as EPA will have to balance carefully the requirements imposed by different sections of the law.
Richard A. Denison, Ph.D., Senior Scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, stated that the changes the amended law makes to EPA's new chemicals program “are not trivial.” Further, the changes will make it easier for the public to understand why EPA concludes that new chemicals may or may not enter commerce, what restrictions it may impose on the uses of those chemicals, and why.
BNA’s article, “Detailed New Chemical Applications Needed to Boost Market Chances: Attorneys,” is available online, through paid subscription.
If you are having trouble understanding basic process flows under the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), please reference Dr. Richard A. Denison’s flow charts that depict the basic processes applicable to existing chemicals already in commerce, and applicable to new chemicals prior to market entry. Comparisons are shown between the processes under the old and new TSCA. Dr. Denison is a Lead Senior Scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). There are three flowcharts available:
- How the Lautenberg Act Works (Existing Chemicals);
- How the Original TSCA Worked (Existing Chemicals); and
- TSCA vs. Lautenberg Act (New Chemicals).
You can access the flow charts in Dr. Denison’s blog post on EDF’s Health webpage: Understanding basic process flows under the new TSCA.