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By Christopher R. Blunck and Lynn L. Bergeson

In a letter dated July 28, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledged the receipt of a Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 21 petition requesting EPA to “initiate a proceeding for the issuance of a risk management procedural rule under TSCA section 6” submitted on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Coatings Association, the National Association of Home Builders, the Toy Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  In the acknowledgement letter, EPA states that the request is not a valid petition under TSCA Section 21.  EPA goes on to state “[‌u]nder TSCA section 21, as it relates to TSCA section 6, any person may petition EPA to initiate a proceeding for the issuance, amendment, or repeal of a rule under TSCA section 6 imposing chemical-specific regulatory controls for setting forth facts showing such action is ‘necessary’” and that “Section 21 does not provide a means for petitioning EPA to initiate a procedural rule.”  The acknowledgement letter further states that “EPA will, however,  consider your request as a petition under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) for the issuance of a procedural rule” and that the “petition is under review by the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT), which is responsible for programs under TSCA.” 

As mentioned in our memorandum addressing the TSCA Section 21 petition, there are requirements under the APA that agencies respond to APA petitions for rulemakings within a reasonable time, that Petitioners are given prompt notice of a denial, and that a brief statement of the grounds for denial be included.  A denial of a petition under the APA may be judicially reviewed and set aside if determined to be “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On March 8, 2017, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) introduced S. 578, the “Better Evaluation of Science and Technology Act” or “BEST Act,” a bill that would amend title 5 of the United States Code, commonly referred to as the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), to “provide requirements for agency decision making based on science.”  Although the BEST Act does not refer to the recently amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), it is apparent that it plans to implement the same science standards stipulated in amended TSCA, for all federal agencies that use “scientific information” (which the bill does not define) in their rulemakings, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Section 2 of the BEST Act uses language quoted verbatim from TSCA Section 26, subsections (h) Scientific Standards, (i) Weight of Scientific Evidence, and (j) Availability of Information. 

S. 578 was one in a package of regulatory improvement bills that Lankford introduced on March 8, 2017, which his press release stated were “aimed at improving the federal rulemaking process so the final regulations work better for the American people.”  Lankford is a vocal critic of some agencies’ practices regarding scientific integrity, stating that “agencies occasionally use hidden science to support their regulatory decisions instead of transparent conclusions, data, and methods,” and that, instead, “Agencies should use the best available science that has been peer-reviewed by an independent third-party, make sure conclusions are verifiable and reproducible, and assure the data is transparent and publically available.”