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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On November 14, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued its decision in a case challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) prioritization and risk evaluation rules.  Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families v. EPA, No. 17-72260.  Petitioners argued that provisions in the risk evaluation rule relating to EPA’s evaluation of the risks from a substance’s “conditions of use” violate several of the Toxic Substances Control Act’s (TSCA) requirements.  Specifically, petitioners claimed that:  (1) TSCA requires EPA to evaluate risks associated with a chemical’s uses collectively before determining that the chemical is safe; (2) EPA must consider all of a chemical’s conditions of use in that evaluation; and (3) when considering conditions of use, EPA must evaluate past disposals of all chemicals, as well as the use and subsequent disposal of chemicals not currently or prospectively manufactured or distributed in commerce for that use.  Petitioners maintained that various provisions of the risk evaluation rule demonstrate that EPA will not do any of these three things.  The court held that it lacks jurisdiction to review petitioners’ first challenge, and that their second challenge fails on the merits.  The court granted in part the petition for review with respect to petitioners’ third challenge to EPA’s exclusion of “legacy uses” and “associated disposals” from the definition of “conditions of use,” and those portions of the risk evaluation rule’s preamble are vacated.  The court notes that because petitioners’ challenges to EPA’s prioritization rule are “entirely encompassed” within their challenges to the risk evaluation rule, the challenges rise or fall together.  The court thus focused only on the risk evaluation rule.
 
More information on the case is available in the following blog items:


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On June 28, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed its response to the non-governmental organizations’ (NGO) supplemental brief in a case challenging EPA’s prioritization and risk evaluation rules.  Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families v. EPA, No. 17-72260.  According to EPA, petitioners “have plausibly alleged standing to challenge only the definitional interpretation of ‘conditions of use’ and the two provisions still subject to EPA’s motion for voluntary remand.”  As to the remainder of petitioners’ claims, EPA maintains that their allegations “are based on hypotheticals and other non-final agency actions currently being considered by the agency.”  EPA argues that the court should dismiss petitioners’ challenges to:  (1) EPA’s preamble statements about the potential scope of future risk evaluations; (2) EPA’s regulatory provisions leaving the door open to issue early risk determinations; and (3) the remaining information-gathering provisions still at issue.  EPA states that if it “ever takes final agency actions based on the decisions Petitioners hypothesize, those would be the proper actions for Petitioners’ challenges.”
 
A coalition of industry associations filed a supplemental brief in support of EPA on June 28, 2019.  The coalition states:  “Although it is theoretically possible that EPA could exclude a use of a particular chemical that could affect the risk evaluation in a way that could cause the agency not to regulate some use of a chemical that could injure Petitioners’ members, that does not create a justiciable controversy now, before the Rules have been applied.”  (Emphasis in original.)  The coalition asks the court to dismiss the petitions for lack of jurisdiction.
 
As reported in our June 26, 2019, blog item, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments on May 16, 2019, and afterward ordered petitioners to file a supplemental brief addressing why they should be allowed to bring a lawsuit against EPA.